Want to support a favorite charity? Donating your travel and airline miles to them is one way to help.

Lots of people participate in travel rewards programs and the rewards they earn there can really add up. Maybe it is because they travel often enough for work that the miles for their travel amount to a considerable total. Other people enjoy planning their travel and other spending habits precisely so that they maximize the benefits of their rewards programs. Still, other people just like to travel — a lot.

In any case, reward program holders need to eventually make decisions about how to spend their credits in the program and in some cases, if the miles or points aren’t spent by a certain point, they expire. Believe it or not, one of the possibilities for spending these rewards is to donate them. Donating can have a positive impact on charities while providing some benefits to the donor as well.

How your donation can help charities

 

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When you donate your travel miles to charities, they’re going to a place where they’ll do some good. Some charities, for example, use these miles to pay for travel for clients that can’t afford the cost of airfare on their own. Groups like this include veterans groups or organizations that provide services to sick people and their families (think Make-a-Wish or St. Jude) or organization that provides volunteers to help in disaster areas around the globe.

Not only do these miles help on their own, but some airlines even partner with organizations so that donated miles add up to a higher value than they typically would. The result? This makes any donation you have go that much further.

How the donation process works

It is one thing to want to donate your miles to a charity, and another thing to adjust your account so those miles are usable by the charity you’d like to help. Most airlines make it as easy as possible to do this. They have set up relationships with a number of charities and processes so that travel reward program account holders can transfer ownership of their rewards to another entity. For further help, you can check out a brief online overview of how the charity donation programs work at most major airlines.

If you want to know exactly how the donation process for your travel rewards works, call their customer service number. They’ll either talk you through the process or conduct the transfer during your phonecall.

As you’ll come to learn, the process for transferring rewards varies slightly for each airline. Sure, it is generally easy. But its also a little bit different. One of the best ways to see what your airline does is to visit their rewards website and search for a donations area. That should explain exactly what you need to do. Alternately, you can call their customer service number. They’ll either talk you through the process or conduct the transfer during your phonecall.

Tax benefits of donating your airline miles

Donating your travel rewards to a charity has benefits — just like cash and other kinds of donations have. When you make your donation, you’ll want to understand and track what the cash equivalent of your donation actually is. While some of this information may be available online. you might find that its easier to call the program’s customer service desk. Once you find an answer for the equivalent value, be sure to document it. Screenshot the page on their website or have the customer service desk email the information to you so that you have it in your records at tax time.

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