Best credit cards for charitable donations
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The best credit cards for charitable donations help you earn generous rewards on your spending while making it easy to give back. Some cards in this niche let you directly donate your points or miles to charity, while others let you redeem rewards for cash back you can use to support organizations you truly care about. Some cards—often called affinity credit cards—are associated with a particular charity or cause and automatically make donations as you swipe.
Before you sign up for a credit card for charitable giving, however, you should have an idea of how these cards work and the features that set them apart. Read on to learn which credit cards for charity we recommend, their main benefits and steps you can take to donate your points or miles to charity.
Best credit cards for donations to charity
First off, you should know that any cash back credit card can work for charitable giving. After all, you can almost always redeem cash back for a statement credit on your account or a check in the mail, both of which can be used to make a donation to the charity of your choice.
However, some cards make donating to charity more seamless or rewarding, and these are our top picks.
Discover it Cash Back: Best for direct donations
The Discover it® Cash Back doesn’t charge an annual fee, and cardholders earn 5 percent cash back on the first $1,500 they spend in bonus categories each quarter (then 1 percent back), as well as 1 percent back on other purchases. Discover will even double your rewards after the first 12 months, and cash back can be donated directly to various charities through the Discover credit card portal or over the phone.
Amalgamated Bank Maximum Rewards World Mastercard: Best for socially responsible banking
Amalgamated Bank is considered a socially responsible bank since it’s a Certified B Corporation that supports sustainable organizations and takes a stand on a wide range of social issues, from climate change to immigrants’ rights. With that in mind, the Amalgamated Bank Maximum Rewards® World Mastercard®* can be a good choice for socially responsible banking and donating to charity.
This card offers an unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases with no annual fee. Cardholders can also earn a $30 bonus, after spending $600 on purchases within three billing cycles after account opening.
Sunrise Banks Everyday Rewards+ Card: Best for customer impact
Another card option from the socially responsible banking world is Sunrise Banks Everyday Rewards+ Card*. This bank is also a Certified B Corporation, and the certifying organization has recognized it as among the “best for the world” for its positive impact on its customers.
It’s also among the best when it comes to rewards on spending and donations that you can feel good about. The card offers unlimited:
- 4X points on dining, takeout and food delivery
- 2X points at groceries, gas and electric vehicle charging, and streaming services
- 1X points on all other purchases
Plus, you can qualify for a $200 bonus reward (20,000 points) after you spend $1,000 on your card within 120 days of opening your account.
Susan G. Komen Customized Cash Rewards credit card: Best for breast cancer research
The Susan G. Komen® Customized Cash Rewards credit card* is the best card to choose if you want to help fund breast cancer research. This card gives back in more than one way. First, the Susan G. Komen Foundation receives at least $3 and 0.08% of all retail purchases made with the card, provided a transaction is made and the account stays open for at least 90 days. The foundation also receives $3 for each renewal of a card in good standing when a card does not have a $0 balance.
Second, depending on how you apply, the card potentially has a rewards bonus that’s extra charitable. Some card applicants may receive this special offer: Spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of opening a qualifying account and receive a $200 online cash rewards bonus — plus, Bank of America will donate an additional $200 to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Third, cardholders can earn rewards that can be donated to charity. Specifically, customers earn 3 percent cash back in the category of their choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings), 2 percent back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1 percent on everything else. However, there’s a $2,500 cap on bonus rewards in the combined 3 percent and 2 percent category purchases per quarter, after which the cardholder earns 1 percent back.
The Nature Conservancy Customized Cash Rewards credit card: Best for conservationists
Are you a nature lover or conservationist? The Nature Conservancy Customized Cash Rewards credit card* is also offered by Bank of America, and it comes with the same rewards rate. Specifically, cardholders earn 3 percent back in a category of choice among several options, 2 percent back at grocery stores and wholesale club purchases and 1 percent back on everything else. The same $2,500 cap applies on combined spending in 3 percent and 2 percent bonus categories each quarter, after which the cardholder earns 1 percent back.
This card also offers a $200 online cash rewards bonus if you spend $1,000 on purchases within 90 days of opening an account, but there’s no matching donation to the charity. Even so, Bank of America makes a contribution to The Nature Conservancy when cardholders make purchases.
Wells Fargo Active Cash Card: Best rewards rate
Finally, consider the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card if you want to earn the highest cash rewards rate possible to donate to charity. This card doesn’t charge an annual fee, yet you can earn 2 percent cash rewards on purchases you make. A $200 cash rewards bonus offer is also available when you spend $1,000 on purchases within three months of account opening.
How to choose a card for donations
Nearly any rewards credit card could work for donations provided you can redeem rewards for statement credits or cash back. This means that even premium travel credit cards can work for charitable giving provided you can redeem rewards for these flexible options.
To find the best credit card for charitable giving, you can simply look for the credit card that offers the highest rewards rate on the purchases you make most often. This could mean looking for a grocery store credit card or finding one that offers bonus rewards on gas. You can also forget about bonus categories and go with a card that offers the highest flat rate of cash back you can find.
In the meantime, you’ll want to decide whether you want a card that lets you donate points directly to charity or do it on your own.
How to donate points and miles to charity
Several credit card issuers make it easy to donate rewards to charity, including Bank of America and Discover. In the meantime, AmEx’s partnership with JustGiving makes it possible to donate American Express Membership Rewards points to various charitable causes, and Citi lets you donate ThankYou points to charities like the American Red Cross and SmileTrain starting at 2,500 points.
Chase offers another generous option. The Chase Pay Yourself Back program, which arose during the pandemic, was extended to let eligible cardholders redeem points for statement credits toward past donations to select charities through December 31, 2022. This benefit is available if you have one of their Sapphire, Ink and Freedom cards. Depending on the card, if you redeem within the program’s timeline, it can boost the value of your points by 25 to 50 percent when you use them to pay yourself back for charitable donations.
You can also donate airline miles or hotel points through various programs, such as:
- Alaska Mileage Plan
- American Airlines
- Choice Privileges
- Delta Air Lines
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- IHG Rewards
- Marriott Bonvoy
- Southwest Rapid Rewards
- United Airlines
- Wyndham Rewards
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Some credit cards for charity make direct donations based on new card sign-ups or a percentage of spending. Others let users redeem their rewards for charitable donations.
You can donate to charity with a credit card or a debit card, and you can often donate credit card rewards to charity directly. Remember that if you choose to make a charitable donation using your credit card, you’ll owe interest on the donation amount unless you pay the balance in full by your credit card’s billing due date.
Credit card fees for donations are not tax-deductible, but donations made to charity with a credit card may be. That said, you typically cannot deduct donations made with credit card rewards on your taxes.
We included a couple credit cards that give directly to charity on their own in this guide, including the Susan G. Komen® Customized Cash Rewards credit card and The Nature Conservancy Customized Cash Rewards credit card. Both of these cards are issued by Bank of America, and the bank makes charitable donations regardless of how you redeem your rewards.
The bottom line
Credit cards for charitable giving make it easy to give to causes you love. If anything, they let you earn a little extra on your spending that you can donate even if money is tight.
That said, you’ll want to compare the best credit cards to find one that suits your needs and spending style. Take the time to compare rewards programs to make sure you can cash in your points and send them directly to charitable organizations once you’re ready.
*The information about the Amalgamated Bank Maximum Rewards® World Mastercard®, Sunrise Banks Everyday Rewards+ Card, Susan G. Komen® Cash Rewards Visa® credit card from Bank of America and The Nature Conservancy Customized Cash Rewards credit card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.