Earn Miles While Helping Others


Thanks to partnerships between airlines and charities, you have the opportunity to reap reward miles for your generosity. Call it aviation altruism, if you will.

American Airlines and United Airlines are working with such long-standing and reputable nonprofits as the United Services Organization (USO), Susan G. Komen and the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) to entice travelers into donating in exchange for a hike in bonus miles.

It’s a win-win alliance from the perspective of corporate philanthropy and cause-related marketing; the charities to whose coffers they are providing stimulus; and you, for being able to achieve your award perks quicker, with a tax write-off to boot.

American Airlines has a couple of such programs. To benefit the USO, take that summer vacation early, and help our servicemen and servicewomen overseas by giving them access to entertainment abroad and supportive family initiatives. After an initial $25 contribution, every dollar you contribute will earn you another 15 American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

The mileage you can earn in a year has a ceiling of 60,000. The promotion does not count toward Elite status. For your tax ledger, miles are evaluated at 2.75 cents per mile below 6,000, 2.5 cents for sums north of that marker. Be sure to act soon, because there is a July 10 expiration date.

American Airlines’ social footprint stretches beyond that of helping our troops in need, as they have demonstrated a commitment to help find a cure for breast cancer as well. When you help out the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, you’ll get 10 miles per dollar pledged.

American Airlines and Susan G. Komen have partnered for the Miles for the Cure program
American Airlines and Susan G. Komen have partnered for the Miles for the Cure program


AAdvantage members can donate directly through an encrypted website that ensures anonymity. Options for potential benefactors include general donations of $25, $50 or $100. As an alternative, gifts can be designated Honoraria or Memorials, which commemorate survivors and victims alike via a heartfelt tribute card.Combatting cancer is not limited to American. United has thrown its hat in the ring as a fellow patron and champion of the cause. Starting with a gift of $100 toward the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR), frequent flyers can now earn up to a 35 percent spike in MileagePlus miles, on top of the usual 10 miles accrued for every dollar spent.

United is  offering bonus miles for charitable contributions
United is  offering bonus miles for charitable contributions


The offer is only good until June 30, so donate soon. Estimated to be at fair-market value, the maximum bonus miles are earned with a gift of $19,230. That level of generosity will fetch you up to 250,000 miles. Monthly gifts can also be set up on your credit card.Even if you like to donate just because it feels good, you might as well take advantage of these offers and bolster your reward miles. You can earn thousands of miles just for helping others.