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Compare charity credit cards: How to spend for a good cause

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That plastic in your wallet can do a world of good — or at least help contribute to a good cause.

Your credit card isn’t just useful for purchases: You can also use it to support your favorite charities. You can get a credit card that donates a percentage of your spending, donate through an airline or hotel loyalty program or even join a bank that makes a positive impact on the world.

Here are the ways you can leverage a credit card to support great causes around the globe.

Our pick for charitable giving

Charity Charge World Mastercard® Credit Card

  • Cash back to the nonprofits, K-12 schools, colleges and religious organizations of your choice
  • Intro purchase APR
  • Intro balance transfer APR
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Compare charity credit cards

One of the easiest ways to deploy your spending for good is to get a charity credit card. This category includes affinity credit cards, which sponsor specific organizations and display charity logos front and center.

Usually, a provider donates a percentage of your spending to the charity of your choice. In some cases, you’ll simply receive more credit card rewards for charitable donations.

Charity credit card Annual fee Donation amount APR
Charity Charge World Mastercard® Credit Card
Charity Charge World Mastercard® Credit Card
$0 1% cash back, donated to selected charities 16.24% to 22.24% variable
Susan G. Komen BankAmericard
Susan G. Komen® Cash Rewards Visa®
$0 $3 after opening card and on renewal; 0.08% of retail purchases donated to Susan G. Komen 16.24% to 26.24%.
World Wildlife Fund Credit Card
World Wildlife Fund Credit Card
$0 $3 after opening card and on renewal; 0.08% of retail purchases donated to World Wildlife Fund 16.24% to 26.24%
US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card

US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card

$0 for the first year; $49 thereafter No donations; instead, earn 3x FlexPoints when you make a charitable donation with your card 14.99% to 24.99%
HaloCard

HaloCard

$0 1% cash back donated to your selected charities 13.90%
Sierra Club Visa Platinum

Sierra Club Visa Platinum

$0 Percentage of spending (set by TCM Bank) donated to Sierra Club 10.74% to 20.74%
Nature Conservancy BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card

Nature Conservancy BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card

$0 $3 after opening card; at least 0.05% of retail purchases donated to the Nature Conservancy 13.99% to 23.99%
Defenders of Wildlife BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card

Defenders of Wildlife BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card

$0 At least $1 after opening card; at least 0.05% of retail purchases donated to Defenders of Wildlife 13.99% to 23.99%

Charity Charge World Mastercard® Credit Card

Charity Charge World Mastercard® Credit Card
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  • 1% cash back donated to your selected charities.

The Charity Charge World Mastercard® Credit Card is a great charitable card on the market. That’s thanks in large part to its flexibility: You’ll earn 1% cash back that you can donate to up to three charities of your choice. Charity Charge World Mastercard® Credit Card has more than 1.5 million schools and charities in its database.

The card comes with no annual fee, and your donations are automatic and tax-deductible. Furthermore, Charity Charge World Mastercard® Credit Card covers the cost of donation processing fees, so you can rest easy knowing that 100% of your contributions go to your charities.

Susan G. Komen® Cash Rewards Visa®

Susan G. Komen® Cash Rewards Visa®
  • Donations to Susan G. Komen.

When you open the Pink Ribbon card, keep it open for at least 90 days and use it within that period, Bank of America makes a $3 donation to Susan G. Komen. The bank also donates 0.08% of your retail purchases to the organization. Each time you renew your card and meet Bank of America’s conditions, Susan G. Komen receives $3.

The card itself is a solid pick. It has no annual fee, a 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers, good cash back on everyday purchases and a $150 signup bonus.

World Wildlife Fund Credit Card

World Wildlife Fund Credit Card
  • Donations to the World Wildlife Fund.

When you open the World Wildlife Fund Credit Card, keep it open for at least 90 days and use your card within that period, Bank of America makes a donation of $3 or more to the World Wildlife Fund. The bank also donates 0.08% of your retail purchases to the organization. When you renew your card, the World Wildlife Fund receives $3.

The card has no annual fee, a 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers, good cash back on everyday purchases and a $150 signup bonus.

US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card

US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card
  • Get more points when you donate.

The FlexPerks card works differently than other charitable cards. It doesn’t send donations to nonprofits; rather, it rewards you for making contributions. Each time you make a qualifying charitable donation, you receive 3x FlexPoints on your donation. Redeem FlexPoints for rewards like travel, merchandise, gift cards and statement credit.

The card comes with a $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($49 thereafter). It’s also a Visa Signature, so you’ll get benefits like concierge service and exclusive benefits at the Visa Luxury Hotel Collection.

HaloCard

Halocard
  • 1% cash back donated to your selected charities.

The HaloCard is similar to the Charity Charge World Mastercard® Credit Card: You’ll earn 1% cash back that you can donate to up to three charities in the HaloCard database. HaloCard also pays any donation processing fees.

The card has no annual fees or balance transfer fees. You’ll also receive a 9.90% purchase APR for six months and a 7.90% balance transfer APR for 12 months. After those introductory rates end, you’ll get a respectable 13.90% APR for purchases, balance transfers and cash advances.

Sierra Club Visa Platinum

Sierra Club Visa Platinum
  • Donations to the Sierra Club.

Each time you use your Sierra Club Visa Platinum, a percentage of your purchase is donated to the Sierra Club. You’ll also earn 1x points on all purchases that you can later redeem for merchandise and travel.

The card comes with no annual fee. You can also take advantage of a 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers.

Nature Conservancy BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card

Nature Conservancy BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Donations to the Nature Conservancy.

When you open and activate your Nature Conservancy card, Bank of America donates at least $3 to the Nature Conservancy. The bank also donates at least $0.05 per $100 you make in retail transactions.

The card comes with no annual fee, a 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers, good cash back on everyday purchases and a $150 signup bonus.

Defenders of Wildlife BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card

Defenders of Wildlife BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Donations to the Nature Conservancy.

When you open your Defenders of Wildlife card, Bank of America donates at least $1 to Defenders of Wildlife. The bank also donates at least $0.05 per $100 you make in retail transactions.

The card comes with no annual fee, a 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers, good cash back on everyday purchases and a $150 signup bonus.

Should you get an affinity credit card?

Charitable credit cards sound great — you can donate to your favorite charities through everyday spending. But are these cards all they’re cracked up to be?

Strictly based on the math, the answer is no. Consider the BankAmericard World Wildlife Fund card, for example:

  • When you open your card, Bank of America donates $3 to WWF.
  • The bank also forwards 0.08% of your purchases to the organization. If you spend $5,000 on the card in a year, the WWF gets only $4. (When you think about it, 0.08% is a very low rate — less than a tenth of a percent.)
  • In total, that’s $7 a year in donations.

A card like the Charity Charge World Mastercard® Credit Card is a much better choice. At a 1% rewards rate, your $5,000 in spending nets a $50 donation to your selected charities.

Though 1% is a decent rate, you could earn more through other credit cards. With the Citi Double Cash, for example, you’ll earn 2% cash back. That means on $5,000 of spending, you’d earn $100. Then you could cash out the money and donate it. Sure, your gift isn’t be automatic, but your charity gets a bigger check.

The buzz factor

Pound for pound, charitable cards don’t generate the most donations. However, they can be useful for generating buzz. For example, your friends might see you use your card, get curious about the sponsored charity and become members of the organization. That could ultimately be worth more than a mere donation.

Some cards lend themselves well to this kind of exposure. It’s helpful if the card sponsors a well-known organization, like the Susan G. Komen Foundation or the World Wildlife Foundation. It also helps if the card is eye-catching, as it’s more likely to start conversations.

BankAmericard World Wildlife Foundation

The BankAmericard World Wildlife Foundation card stands out, and it can help you recruit new WWF members.
Sometimes, a charity credit card is about more than just donations. It can offer a reason to talk about your charity, an easy way to recruit new members or simply a warm feeling each time you buy something.

Charitable programs

You don’t have to get a charity credit card to make a donation. Some credit card providers allow you to donate through special programs.

  • Through American Express’s Members Give, you can donate to more than 1 million charities. Donate by charging your card directly, redeeming Membership Rewards points or buying Members Give Charity Certificates.
  • Capital One’s No Hassle Giving lets you donate rewards or cash to the charities of your choice.
  • Discover makes it easy to donate cash back bonuses to its partner organizations that include the American Cancer Society, American Red Cross and World Wildlife Foundation.
  • Through Citi’s ThankYou program, you can redeem points for donations to such organizations as the American Red Cross and Smile Train.

Charitable programs

Starting at 2,500 points, you can redeem ThankYou points to make charitable donations.

Donate points and miles

Several airlines let you donate miles to good causes. Travel is a huge expense for many charitable organizations, so your extra miles can go a long way.

  • Alaska Airlines. Through the Charity Miles Program, you can donate your miles to such organizations as Dream Foundation, Hero Miles and Make-A-Wish.
  • Aeroplan. Aeroplan’s member donation program allows you to donate miles to more than 200 charities. Make a one-time donation or recurring donations of 2% of your mile earnings. And on top of whatever you donate, Aeroplan donates another 10%.
  • American Airlines: American Airlines lets you donate cash to its Miles to Stand Up and Miles for the Cure programs (you’ll receive miles as a reward). Or donate your miles to the airline’s Miles of Hope, Miles for All Who Serve and Miles for Kids in Need programs.

Donate points and miles

American Airlines lets you donate miles for various charitable categories.

  • Delta. Through Delta’s SkyWish program, you can donate miles to charities like Children’s Miracle Network and Habitat for Humanity.
  • Frontier Airlines. As an EarlyReturns member, you can make donations to organizations like the American Cancer Society and Make-A-Wish. To donate, call the EarlyReturns line at 1-866-263-2759.
  • Hawaiian Airlines. Donate your HawaiianMiles to around a dozen organizations. At the end of the year, Hawaiian Airlines matches the miles donated to each charity — up to 500,000 miles each.
  • JetBlue. Donate points to more than 2.5 million causes through the TrueBlue program.
  • Southwest. Donate Rapid Rewards points to nine charities.
  • United Airlines. Donate your MileagePlus miles to around 50 charities, including Feeding America, March of Dimes and Ronald McDonald House Charities.

What you need to know about airline credit cards

Is my charitable donation tax-deductible?

When you make a cash donation through your credit card, your charitable gift is tax-deductible. On the other hand, donations of credit card rewards — such as points and miles — aren’t tax-deductible.
In some cases, cash back donations may be tax-deductible — for example, if you redeem your cash back and then make a cash donation.

Donating hotel points can help charities provide accommodations for staff, members and beneficiaries. Some hotel programs convert your points into cash donations.

  • IHG Rewards Club. You can donate points to the IHG Foundation, which teaches hospitality skills to community members, provides disaster relief, invests in local communities and helps protect the environment.
  • Marriott Rewards. Donate points to the American Red Cross, Hotels for Heroes, or International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
  • Hilton Honors. When you donate Hilton Honors Points, Hilton Honors forwards a cash donation to an organization of your choice. Donate points through PointWorthy.
  • Wyndham Rewards. Donate points to Hotels for Heroes or Polaris.
  • Choice Privileges. Donate points to eight organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club and Armed Forces Relief Trust.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest. Donate Starpoints to Clean the World, American Red Cross and UNICEF.

How hotel credit cards work

Triple-bottom-line banks

Affinity credit cards and charitable credit card programs get the lion’s share of attention. But there’s another way you can support causes you care about: Do business with a triple-bottom-line bank.

This type of bank, like every other financial institution, looks to turn a profit. But it’s also committed to social responsibility — such as supporting fair labor. It also promotes initiatives in environmental sustainability.

Triple-bottom-line banks

Beneficial State Bank is a well-known triple-bottom-line bank.
When you apply for a credit card from a triple-bottom-line bank, you indirectly support its social and environmental causes. This could be a good option if you like the bank’s mission, and especially if you’re not thrilled to get a card from a big bank.

Nusenda Platinum Cash Rewards Credit Card review

Frequently asked questions about charity credit cards

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