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Wealth and Wants

Easy ways to give your credit card rewards to charity this holiday season

If you’re short on cash and like to donate to your favorite cause, here’s another easy way to do it

Summary

Many credit card issuers offer cardholders opportunities to use their rewards to donate to their favorite charities. Learn how to spread some cheer without putting out cash for the holidays.

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An often overlooked way to spread some cheer during the holiday season is to donate your credit card rewards to charity. Many card issuers make this very simple. Keep reading to find out how.

Check out all the answers from our credit card experts.

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Chase

Thanks to Chase’s Pay Yourself Back program, cardholders can stretch their Ultimate Rewards points 25% to 50% further when they use their participating Chase credit cards to make a donation to an eligible charity – and subsequently offset the contribution with points.

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

Through Dec. 31, 2022, the 25% bonus applies to cardholders who have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Freedom Flex℠ , Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Freedom® Student credit card, Chase Freedom (closed to new applicants), Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card and Ink Plus Business. Chase Sapphire Reserve card cardholders get a 50% bonus through 2022.

American Express

Amex card members can donate their Membership Rewards points to a much longer list of nonprofits – more than 1.5 million, in fact – thanks to a partnership with JustGiving. The valuation isn’t quite as lofty, however. These points are each worth 1 cent when they’re given to charity, versus 1.25 cents  or 1.5 cents apiece on the aforementioned Chase cards. Still, each Membership Rewards point is worth only 0.6 cents when redeemed for a statement credit, so donating them via JustGiving is a better value.

Discover

Discover encourages its cardholders to donate their cash back to 10 partners: the American Cancer Society, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the American Red Cross, Carbonfund.org, Children’s Miracle Network, Junior Achievement, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Make-A-Wish, Operation Homefront and the World Wildlife Fund. Since all Discover cards earn cash back in dollars and cents rather than a more complicated points-based format, what you see is what you get with respect to the valuation.

Citi

There are six charities that partner with the Citi ThankYou points program: the American Red Cross, No Kid Hungry, Smile Train, Susan G. Komen, UNICEF and World Central Kitchen. Each ThankYou point is worth 1 cent apiece when it’s given to one of these organizations. That’s on par with cash back or statement credit redemptions on some Citi cards, but a much better deal than the Citi cards that give only 0.5 cent per point for cash back or statement credits.

Charity-specific credit cards

While there are some credit cards that are directly affiliated with certain charities and social or environmental causes (such as the Charity Charge Mastercard, Aspiration Zero and the Susan G. Komen Customized Cash Rewards Visa credit card from Bank of America), it’s often a better deal to earn as much cash back as possible from a general-purpose credit card and then donate that if you so choose. For instance, earning 2% cash back on every purchase with a no-annual-fee card like the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card and then donating that to your favorite charity would probably be more lucrative than these charity-specific cards.

Bottom line

The holidays are an expensive time of year, and while giving cash to your favorite cause may not be in your budget right now, you can consider giving your credit card rewards to charity to make a positive impact without spending any additional money.

Many airlines and hotel chains also let you donate those points and miles. And nonprofits can often make good use of unused gift cards and gently used clothing and other household items, too. Sometimes it pays to be creative when considering what you can give to make someone else’s holiday season a little brighter.

Have a question about credit cards? E-mail me at ted.rossman@creditcards.com and I’d be happy to help.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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