While the holidays lend to traditions of material gift-giving, there’s also an important element of giving back associated with the festive season. Thanks to collaborations with select charities, numerous loyalty programs allow their members to engage in charitable giving without ever pulling out a checkbook or credit card. Each has its own platform for converting points or miles into donations, often at cash equivalents.
While donating points and miles won’t qualify for any tax deductions, it does allow frequent fliers and credit cardholders to make a difference without spending a dime. Here are nine programs where you can use points and miles for good this holiday season.
1. American Airlines AAdvantage
American Airlines allows you to donate your AAdvantage miles to partner organizations that fall under four umbrellas: Social Good, Global Health and Well-Being, Heroes, and Our Planet. By giving miles to Social Good, for example, you’ll support organizations such as the American Red Cross, Feeding America, and UNICEF.
2. American Express Membership Rewards
Through a partnership with JustGiving, American Express cardholders can convert Membership Rewards points to money for charities, nonprofits, or fundraisers. Cardmembers can choose from 1.5 million registered U.S. nonprofit organizations through the JustGiving search engine and even donate a combination of points and cash. (Word of caution: Be diligent when looking for your desired recipient on the JustGiving page; far too many random crowdfunding sites and personal fundraising pages live within it.)
3. Chase Ultimate Rewards
Through Ultimate Rewards’ “Pay Yourself Back” feature, cardholders of select Chase cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve can use Ultimate Rewards points to offset charges that fall under specific categories. One such category is “Select Charities” and includes Habitat for Humanity, International Medical Corporation, and United Way, among others.
Until December 31, 2022, redeem Ultimate Rewards points toward these charities with a 25 percent bonus for Preferred cardholders and a 50 percent bonus for Reserve cardholders.
4. Citi ThankYou
Through a partnership with CODE (Red), Citi cardholders can gift ThankYou points to the PayPal Giving Fund, which provides relief to low-income countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic. ThankYou points can also be used as monetary donations to numerous charities ranging from American Red Cross Disaster Relief to No Kid Hungry to Smile Train, a global charity that empowers local medical professionals to deliver surgical services and long-term care to children with cleft lips and palates.
5. Delta SkyMiles
Through Delta’s SkyWish landing page, Delta SkyMiles members can allocate miles to any of 15 U.S.-based charities, including Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Make-A-Wish America, as well as 19 international organizations.
6. Hilton Honors
Hilton Honors has teamed up with PointWorthy for its giving back initiatives. Simply set up a PointWorthy account, link your Hilton Honors account to it, search for your desired organization, and let the charitable giving begin. You can donate to multiple causes at once—just be sure to select Hilton Honors as your method of payment.
7. Marriott Bonvoy
Marriott Bonvoy members can cash out their points as contributions to dozens of charities from the World Central Kitchen to the World Wildlife Fund. As a special promotion this holiday season (and until December 31, 2021), Marriott is matching contributions made to four charities in particular: UNICEF USA, National Park Foundation, NAACP, and International Rescue Committee.
8. Southwest Rapid Rewards
Through its “Points for a Purpose” program, Southwest Airlines allows Rapid Rewards members to allot points to seven different beneficiaries, ranging from Ronald McDonald House Charities to the Hispanic Heritage Foundation.
9. United MileagePlus
With “Miles on a Mission,” United makes it easy for MileagePlus members to contribute their miles to 20 different partner charities, including Conservation International, Guide Dogs of America, and Shriners Hospitals for Children. Also in this portfolio is Miles4Migrants, an organization spearheading the resettlement of refugees from Afghanistan and dedicated to helping refugees, asylees, and asylum seekers worldwide.