illustration of how to donate travel rewards to charities

Travel Tuesday: Donating Your Travel Currency on Giving Tuesday

Lest you think we’re done with the retail holidays, today marks another — albeit quite different — one: Giving Tuesday. For those unaware, this is the day that emphasizes charitable donations over retail purchases. Incidentally, while travelers and credit card customers may earn various loyalty points and miles from their purchases, these currencies can also often be donated. With that in mind, I wanted to highlight a few travel currency donation programs I discovered while looking at some of my favorite travel brands.

Donating Points and Miles

Delta logo

Delta

This is what actually inspired this article as I noticed a “donate” option when looking at my Delta SkyMiles account. As part of its SkyWish program, Delta enables flyers to donate to charities in the United States, Asia, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. 

In the U.S., eligible charities include the American Red Cross, Children’s Miracle Network, Habitat for Humanity, Luke’s Wings, Make a Wish, St. Jude’s, and more. For each, you can read about what the various charities use the donated miles for. For example, Make a Wish uses them to help transport children and their families to their Wish destinations. Currently, you can select up to five charities at a time to donate miles to and donations can be for as little as 1,000 miles.

Marriott

Another travel currency that offers a donation option is Marriot Bonvoy. Cleverly, Bonvoy organizes its charitable options by four different categories — the initials of which line up with the four cardinal directions. In this case, there’s Nurture, Sustain, Empower, and Welcome. Nurture includes such options as World Central Kitchen and Unicef, Sustain features the likes of Clean the World and World Wildlife Fund, Empower includes Asian University for Women and the International Rescue Committee among others, and Welcome has the NAACP and PFLAG along with many more.

One difference between Delta’s mileage donation program and the Marriot Bonvoy giving is that, with the latter, your points will actually correspond to a dollar amount to be donated. In this case, 2,500 Bonvoy points will equal $10, with this ratio staying consistent all the way up to a $500 donation for 125,000 Points. Also of note, Marriott is offering a Giving Tuesday matching opportunity through today (November 28th), doubling all point donations in that time (up to 10 million points) to support World Central Kitchen, World Wildlife Fund, and the Legal Defense Fund.

Hilton Hotels & Resorts logo

Hilton

I have to admit — I was a little disappointed when I logged into my Hilton account and failed to find a donate option. However, after Googling, it seems that this is because the hotel chain utilizes a site called Point Worthy for this purpose. After creating a Point Worthy account, you’ll then be able to link your Hilton Honors and donate to a number of charitable organizations. From what I can tell, a $10 donation costs 3,500 Honors points. One nice thing is that, once you link your account, the site will show you the total cash value of your account balance. In my case, my 113929 points meant I could donate up to $325.

What’s also cool about Point Worthy is that you can seemingly donate to any eligible non-profit instead of just a select few charities. On that note, travelers can search for organizations by name, EIN, or keywords. Overall, while the need to make a new account is a bit annoying, there are definitely some advantages to Hilton’s partnership with Point Worthy as well.

United

Going back to airlines, I found that United offers a program called Miles on a Mission — which has raised more than 484,933,585 miles since 2019. Similar to Delta, this appears to be direct mileage donations instead of being converted to cash. Some of the featured options I saw on their site included Special Olympics, World Central Kitchen, Dog Guides of America, and more. On top of that, there are some specific campaigns you can donate directly to. For example, currently, there’s a campaign from Adaptive Adventures, another from Austin Smiles, and many more.

When you do make your donation, you can do so in honor of someone and write a message. Of note, there is a minimum mileage donation of 1,000 miles.

As far as Giving Tuesday promotions go, Miles on a Mission is currently matching  MileagePlus member donations to charity campaigns. In fact, this promotion began back in August and will continue through the end of the year. However, mileage matching is capped at 50,000 miles per eligible charity campaign and there’s a cap of ten million miles total.

American Airlines logo

American Airlines

Thanks to my Bask Bank account, I happen to have a handful of American Airlines AAdvantage Miles. In turn, I came across their somewhat unique mileage donation platform. Rather than allowing you to donate directly to select charities, the airline has four different options: Miles for Social Good, Miles for Global Health and Well Being, Miles for Heroes, and Miles for Our Planet. Each of these options consists of several charities, which you explore by clicking the buttons at the top of the page. Personally, I like to think of these like charitable ETFs… but I’m a nerd. Anyway, customers can choose to donate any amount of miles over 1,000 to these different efforts — although, if you have fewer than 1,000 miles, you can donate your entire balance instead.

For some travelers, selecting a general goal instead of a specific charity may be a welcome change. However, I could see others getting a bit annoyed by this limitation. Either way, you can find more information on American’s site.

Best Western

Lastly, another brand that came up as I was traversing different charity sites was Best Western. Looking at Best Western’s Redemption Mall, it looks as though customers can donate to charities such as The American Red Cross, Hotels for Heroes, Best Friends Animal Society, Project C.U.R.E., and more using points. Specifically, these donations come in $2 increments that cost 500 points. To get started, just select the Charitable Donation filter option on the Redemption Mall site.


Even as Giving Tuesday comes to a close, there are plenty of good reasons to engage in charitable giving. What’s great is that, in addition to donating cash to worthy non-profits, you can also elect to either turn your travel points and miles into cash donations or donate the miles directly. So, whether you have some extra points in your accounts or just want to support a good cause, it may be worth checking out these different programs and platforms. 

Author

Kyle Burbank

Founder ~ Moneyat30
Kyle is a freelance writer - including being the head writer for Fioney.com. He also serves as editorial director for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and the founder of Money@30.com. In 2015, Kyle and his wife Bekah moved from Los Angeles to Springfield MO in pursuit of greater financial freedom. Together, the pair enjoy travel, coffee, and spending time with their dog Rigby. Additionally, as of 2023, they become first-time homeowners.

Other Articles by Kyle Burbank

Caption: Not Some Basic Hotel

Travel Tuesday: Caption by Hyatt Memphis Hotel Review

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to visit Memphis, Tennessee. Despite driving through the city a few times, this was my first proper visit (albeit one that was quite short). To mark the occasion, I decided to look for something that was convenient for me but that also...
bed at Tru by Hitlon Wichita

Hilton is Offering Double Points on Hotel Stays This Summer

Hilton is making it easy to earn bonus points on hotel stays this summer. For stays from May 2nd to September 2nd, Hilton Honors members can earn 2x points. All you need to do is register on the Hilton site and you'll be good to go. Of course, you will...
Solis 5G alone and attached to a backpack

2024 Solis 5G Mobile Hotspot Review

For years, I've been a regular user of Solis mobile hotspots and have used them for several international trips (and some domestic). Of course, as the years have gone on, my Solis 1 device has grown a bit old. While it still works just fine, it has been discontinued and...

Leave a Reply

The "Email" field is empty, you must enter some text to proceed.The text you entered in the "Email" field appears to be invalid, please edit it and try again
Get Posts in Your Inbox
Featured Articles
Caption: Not Some Basic Hotel

Travel Tuesday: Caption by Hyatt Memphis Hotel Review

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to visit Memphis, Tennessee. Despite driving through the city a few times, this was my first proper visit (albeit one that was quite short). To mark the occasion, I decided to look for something that was convenient for me but that also...
bed at Tru by Hitlon Wichita

Hilton is Offering Double Points on Hotel Stays This Summer

Hilton is making it easy to earn bonus points on hotel stays this summer. For stays from May 2nd to September 2nd, Hilton Honors members can earn 2x points. All you need to do is register on the Hilton site and you'll be good to go. Of course, you will...
Solis 5G alone and attached to a backpack

2024 Solis 5G Mobile Hotspot Review

For years, I've been a regular user of Solis mobile hotspots and have used them for several international trips (and some domestic). Of course, as the years have gone on, my Solis 1 device has grown a bit old. While it still works just fine, it has been discontinued and...
working off a Solis WiFi Hotspot

2024 Solis WiFi Hotspot Review: Using the Skyroam Solis Lite Overseas

As someone who regularly “workations” and relies on a solid Internet connection to be productive while traveling, it’s kind of crazy that I went without a WiFi hotspot for so long. That’s mostly because I had never come across a particular device that jumped out at me.  Well, that was...