How to use your credit card points to donate to charities this Giving Tuesday

Nov 29, 2021

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.

This Giving Tuesday, you may want to leverage some of your rewards points balances to help out your favorite causes and organizations.

As background, Giving Tuesday was established back in 2012 as a global generosity movement meant to help inspire people to do good in their communities and around the world. A lot of people use Giving Tuesday as a day to donate to causes they care about. Others use it as a day to volunteer and donate their time, or as a reminder to make someone smile and show the world some light.

If your budget is tight and your points are going unused, the ability to use those rewards to donate on (or after) Giving Tuesday may be a good option for you.

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In This Post

Donating Amex Membership Rewards points

(Screenshot courtesy of JustGiving)

American Express has been the perennial front-runner when it comes to using your points for charity.

Through a longstanding partnership with JustGiving, Amex cardholders can donate Membership Rewards points at a 0.7-cent-per-point valuation to thousands of 501(c)3 nonprofits. Even better, the portal allows you to donate points for all or part of the donation amount, without the need for a specific increment. While it’s not the highest-value option out there, if you’re sitting on a ton of points and wondering what good you can do with them, this could be the option for you.

Related: Best Amex cards of 2021

Chase includes charities in ‘Pay Yourself Back’ feature

Use Pay Yourself Back to offset purchases, like groceries. (Photo by Yagi Studio/Getty Images)
Use Pay Yourself Back to offset purchases like groceries – but you can also use it for charitable donations. (Photo by Yagi Studio/Getty Images)

Chase added a new redemption option for certain cardholders last year called Pay Yourself Back. It allows folks to redeem their Ultimate Rewards points at preferential rates for specific types of purchases. For instance, if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, your points are worth 1.25 cents apiece when redeeming this way, while they are worth 1.5 cents each with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

With both those cards, now through Mar. 31, 2022, the special redemption categories include donations to the following 12 nonprofit organizations:

  • American Red Cross.
  • Equal Justice Initiative.
  • Feeding America.
  • Habitat for Humanity.
  • International Medical Corporation.
  • Leadership Conference Education Fund.
  • NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.
  • National Urban League.
  • Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
  • United Negro College Fund.
  • United Way.
  • World Central Kitchen.

To redeem points this way, simply donate to the nonprofit directly and then log in to your Ultimate Rewards account to redeem points toward the donation amount as a statement credit through the Pay With Points tab.

Points earned through the Chase Freedom Unlimited, the Chase Freedom Flex and the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card are also worth 1.25 cents apiece when redeemed toward donations made to these charitable organizations through Dec. 31, 2022.

Citi adds ThankYou Rewards charitable partners

If you have an excess of ThankYou Rewards points, Citi has a raft of charity partner redemption options. These nonprofits now include:

  • American Red Cross Disaster Relief.
  • American Red Cross International Services.
  • No Kid Hungry.
  • SmileTrain.
  • Susan G. Komen.
  • UNICEF Kid Power.
  • World Central Kitchen.
Screen shot from Citi
(Screenshot courtesy of Citi)

Each ThankYou point redeemed this way is worth 1 cent and you must select among $25 (2,500 points), $50 (5,000 points) or $100 (10,000 points) donations. These set thresholds limit the usefulness of using points, but it’s still a good deal for Citi cardholders who get another redemption option.

Related: Donating airline and hotel points and miles to charity 

Bottom line

These credit card partnerships make it easy to donate using your points. Amex takes the crown when it comes to the sheer breadth of organizations to which you can donate, but Chase cardholders now get potentially more value on a per-point basis for charitable donations –assuming they want to support the choices currently available through the Pay With Points feature. Hopefully, all card issuers will provide even more flexibility and redemption opportunities for causes as we move towards the future.

Related: Best credit cards to maximize your nonprofit donation

Additional reporting by Stella Shon.

Featured image by CarmenMurillo/Getty Images. 

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