Three things you should know about donating points and miles to charity


You may give that stash of airline miles to assist out a charity.


This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet

Charitable donations are usually in style across the holidays, and this yr the wants of many nonprofits have shot by the roof amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the recession and pure disasters.

Greater than 90% of nonprofits mentioned they’ve been negatively impacted by COVID-19, in accordance with a survey performed from Could 28 to June 3 by the Charities Help Basis of America.

Money could also be tight for you, too, however there are methods you’ll be able to donate to charity this yr with out dipping into your checking account. When you’ve got a stash of airline miles, lodge factors or bank card factors which might be gathering mud, you’ll be able to select to give them away to a variety of organizations.

When you’ve got no approach or intention of utilizing such rewards your self — which could be the near-term case for journey miles particularly, because the pandemic rages on — donating them could make sense. Loads of loyalty applications supply the choice to take action straight, and a few nonprofits even focus on gathering donated frequent flyer miles.

However listed below are three issues to know concerning the course of beforehand:

1. You normally can’t write off such a donation in your taxes

When you select to donate your lodge factors or airline miles to charity, you gained’t be eligible for a tax deduction, as you can be with straight-up money donations. The IRS doesn’t sometimes view your rewards as earnings, and subsequently you’ll be able to’t embrace them if you happen to itemize your deductions.

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And customarily, if you happen to’re taking an ordinary tax deduction, you’re not capable of declare charitable donations in any respect, whether or not you give factors otherwise you give money. Nevertheless, in early 2020, the CARES Act launched an incentive: Taxpayers who take the usual deduction are allowed a $300 tax deduction for charitable donations.

However even nonetheless, donations of factors and miles gained’t qualify for a write-off.

2. The charity is unlikely to get the very best worth from such a donation

A number of airline, lodge and bank card rewards applications make it relatively easy for you to donate your rewards with just a few clicks. However what isn’t as simple to determine is the worth of these factors you’re donating.

Many loyalty applications don’t disclose what number of {dollars} the charity you select will obtain on your factors or miles donation. However normally, it gained’t be the identical worth that you can count on to get if you happen to used them for journey.

Take Hilton

Honors factors, for instance. By way of its Giving Again Program, Hilton Honors helps donations for all kinds of charities together with the American Crimson Cross, Habitat for Humanity and Make-A-Want Basis. For each 10,000 Hilton Honors factors you donate, the charity of your selection will obtain $25.

In line with NerdWallet’s real-world valuations, Hilton Honors factors are value about 0.4 cent every.

Meaning 10,000 factors would usually equal about $40 in Hilton lodge redemptions. When you select to donate your Hilton factors to charity, a significant chunk of the worth is misplaced.

3. Money rewards, from a cash-back bank card, could be a greater choice

As a substitute of donating factors and miles earned out of your bank card on to a charity, think about donating the earnings from a cash-back bank card as an alternative. This may very well be a greater answer for each you and the charity:

  • You could possibly nonetheless get the tax deduction. When you money out your rewards as regular after which flip round and donate that money to a charity, you’ll nonetheless normally be capable of take an itemized deduction. On this situation, you’re donating precise cash now, not factors or miles. 

  • You’ll get good worth on your rewards. The worth of the money you donate to your charity is clear and simple. Save your factors and miles for journey, and also you’ll know that you need to use them later for his or her most worth. (However do a little analysis on the charity and any related charges so that you be ok with the place your cash goes.)

  • It’s simpler for the charity. Typically the airline miles you’re donating are given within the type of a money donation to the charity, however generally the charity will get management of the particular miles to make use of for flights. The flights may also help transport sick youngsters to get the care they want, reunite service members with their households or mobilize emergency responders to supply essential support. In lots of instances, the charity may very well be beholden to spotty award flight availability with the intention to redeem the donated miles. With a money donation, a charity can use the cash within the best and only methods for what it wants essentially the most.

Nerd tip: Bear in mind that if you happen to use your bank card itself — versus rewards earned from that card — to cost a charitable donation, processing charges can lower into the worth of your present. Donate by money or examine and the charity will get the complete quantity.

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In fact, many charities are completely happy to take donations in any type you’re capable of give. So if you happen to’re inclined to present however can’t swing the money, donating your unused factors or miles can nonetheless be rewarding for you and for the group. Nicholas Ellinger, chief model officer at Moore DM Group — which helps fundraising for a few of the largest charities on this planet — encourages individuals to “make these an ‘and’ present, the place you give your miles and a money donation, fairly than an ‘or’ present, in case your funds enable.”

However earlier than you click on the donate button, ensure you’re sure about your selection. As soon as your factors have been given away, the donation can’t be reversed.

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Erin Hurd is a author at NerdWallet. E-mail:


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