Miles to Give

Miles to Give

This is the ideal time of year to donate to your favorite charities. The holidays are upon us and it’s natural to give thanks for all we have and to want to help those who are less fortunate. Many nonprofits could really use an infusion of goodwill as the year comes to an end.

Also, tax season is almost upon us and you may want to make a few charitable contributions to use as a deduction. Just remember: cash donations are deductible, but miles are not.

Earn Miles for Your Cash Donations

There are probably a few charitable organizations that are close to your heart for one reason or another. If you plan to make a donation to any of them, be sure to use one of your reward-earning credit cards.

Several airlines also offer bonus miles if you make a contribution to a charity through their online portal. Here are a few options:

American Airlines offers 10 miles per $1 donated to the National Foundation for Cancer Research (holiday bonus of 15 miles per $1), the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the USO.

United Airlines and its employees and customers recently came to the aid of the Philippines after devastating Typhoon Haiyan with donations totaling more than $1.5 million as of late November. United is still offering MileagePlus members bonus miles for donating to this cause. Give $50-$99 and receive 250 miles. Contribute $100-$249 and 500 miles will be deposited into your account. A donation of $250 or more garners 1,000 miles. United will also contribute up to 5 million miles toward the disaster relief efforts and the United Airlines Foundation will contribute up to $100,00 in total matching donations to AmeriCares, The American Red Cross, and Operation USA.

Donate Just Because It Feels Good

Many airlines also organize special fundraisers throughout the year for various charities. For example, American Airlines partners with UNICEF all year long. You can donate any foreign or domestic currency on select international flights or in specially marked UNICEF donation boxes at Admirals Club and Flagship Lounges worldwide.

Contribute Those Orphan Miles

Many airlines also facilitate the donation of your miles to worthy charities.
Alaska Airlines Charity Miles Program: Give your orphan Mileage Plan miles to Alaska Airlines Charity Miles, Angel Flight West, Dream Foundation, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Hero Miles, Make-A-Wish, Medical Teams International, National Forest Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy.

American Airlines Miles for Kids in Need: This program provides support for children and families as well as for organizations that dedicate themselves to improving the lives of children everywhere through medical treatment and education.

American Airlines Operation Hero Miles: If you have an affinity for our men and women in the military, consider donating some of your miles to this Fisher House partnership with American Airlines. Donations assist injured members of the military in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as their families.

Delta SkyWish: Delta curates an impression list of nonprofits to which you may donate SkyMiles. Consider giving some of your miles to the American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, amfAR, Canine Assistants, Care, Children’s Cancer Research Fund, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Hero Miles, Habitat for Humanity, Lukes Wings, Make-A-Wish, St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, The Humane Society of the Unite States, The Nature Conservancy, Salvation Army, and UNICEF.

United Airlines: You can donate as few as 500 MileagePlus miles to a large list of charities like the American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation, Fisher House Foundation, Guide Dogs of America, March of Dimes, the US Olympic Team, and the Wounded Warrior Project. For a full list of charities, see United’s website.

US Airways Miles of Hope: This program allows you to donate your Dividend Miles to the American Red Cross, Mercy Medical Airlift, Fisher House Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Keep America Beautiful. If you donate miles between now and December 3, 2013, US Airways will match 1,000 miles for every 5,000 miles you donate up to 25,000 miles.