For most frequent travelers, the end goal is to save up points and miles for upgrades and perks: a free hotel stay or flight for the next vacation. But sometimes, you might find yourself with more points and miles than you know what to do with. If you have extra, consider giving back to the community by donating extra points to charity, much like you would a cash donation. Did you know that many loyalty programs have set charities you can donate your rewards to, and some even let you donate to a charity of your choice? ''Don't let your loyalty rewards expire - consider donating them to charity! Here's how. ''Click To Tweet
If giving back to your community is important to you, and you’re sitting on some valuable points and miles, head to your loyalty program’s website. Typically, you’ll find the donation page as a redemption option.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are a few programs to consider:
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
Using its new donation program, Rapid Rewards Members can donate miles to nine featured charities. Points donated can be used by charities to support their extensive travel needs. For example, the American Red Cross uses points donated to send volunteers on relief missions, while points given to the Ronald McDonald House Charities can help cover the travel costs for families visiting a child in the hospital. There are no fees associated with the donation program so members can donate for free.
JetBlue Airways TrueBlue
TrueBlue members can use the JetBlue Points Donation platform to donate a minimum of 500 points directly to the charities and causes featured in their program. Donations to Make-A-Wish® can help the organization offset travel costs associated with helping sick children fulfill their wishes, and AmeriCares uses donated points to fly doctors for emergency relief.
Members of Marriott Rewards can donate to featured charities including Habitat For Humanity, Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, International Red Cross and Hotels for Heroes. You might need to have a few extra points lying around for some of Marriott’s donation options, as the minimum redemption for the Red Cross, for example, is 7,500 Marriott Rewards points.
American Express Give Back
American Express’s Give Back program is one of the most flexible, as members can donate to any charity near and dear to their hearts, rather than choosing one from a featured list. The program has an option for all cardholders to donate unused rewards points to charities of their choice, pay for charity donations directly using their American Express cards or set up recurring donations throughout the year. American Express also has plenty of information about each charity, including financial reports and mission statements, so donors can rest easy in knowing their charitable points are really being used for good.
Insider tip: if you’ve got an expiration deadline looming, donating points and miles is an easy way to keep your account active – it resets the expiration clock!
Remember, every loyalty program has different rules and regulations, so make sure to read the fine print. This will help you understand the charities your loyalty program supports, the minimum contribution amount required, if tax receipts are issued and how charities can use your gift of points or miles.