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

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, the Caribbean, 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, 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 Youth Career Initiative 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 December 4th, doubling all point donations in that time (up to 100 million points).

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. 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. 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 (through December 2nd) inviting flyers to vote for their favorite charity. The top three organizations will be awarded a 1-million-mile grant. Voting is free but is limited to MileagePlus members, with each member getting one vote. So, even if you don’t have any miles to give, this is a super easy way to support your favorite charity right now.

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. Customers can choose to donate any amount of miles over 1,000 to these different efforts.

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 Make a Wish, Best Friends Animal Society, The National Children’s Cancer Society, 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.


Also published on Medium.

Author

Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and the founder of Money@30.com.

Other Articles by Kyle Burbank

Fold Now Allows Users to Buy Bitcoin in the App

The last time I wrote about Fold, things didn't go too well as the app nullified my "quick tip" only a few days after I highlighted it. Despite this, I'm going to give it another go because the app has added a new feature that I think is interesting. Now,...

Travel Tuesday: Away Hanging Toiletry Bag Review

As a frequent (or frequent enough) traveler, you quickly learn that investing in the right luggage can make a big difference to your experience. Not only do you want something that will hold up to the impacts of travel but can also hold all of your essentials in an organized...

How Apple Pay Came in Handy When My Card Was Compromised

Previously, I've made it pretty clear that I'm a big fan of Apple Pay. Having seen how much easier the service makes my life while overseas as well as helped me earn additional cashback here at home, I've welcomed the platform's adoption in recent years. What's more, while some might...