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On Feb. 24, Ukraine’s sovereignty was threatened by a Russian invasion that would ultimately lead to a mass exodus of more than 6 million civilians and counting, according to the United Nations. The humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in Ukraine is not to be taken lightly. Millions of Ukrainians are watching their beloved country fall to ash as they contemplate risking their lives by staying behind or seeking refuge in a foreign place. And the violence only seems to intensify.
As the world navigates ways to support those affected by the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, dozens of organizations are working tirelessly in Ukraine and neighboring countries to provide aid to Ukrainian refugees.
If you are looking for ways to help, consider donating your credit card points or making a cash donation to various trustworthy causes that are supporting the people affected by the war in Ukraine. And we encourage you to help in whatever way you can.
To make sure your money or credit card points land in the right hands, let’s take a look at which charities are providing aid to Ukraine and how to go about donating your credit card points or miles.
Here are some charities to consider donating to:
- UNICEF: The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund is on the ground in Eastern Ukraine in order to provide assistance for children impacted the most by the conflict in Ukraine. You can donate monetarily here.
- International Medical Corps: International Medical Corps is working directly and in partnership with local organizations in Ukraine to increase access to medical supplies and services, mental health and psychosocial support, clean water and sanitation, and protection services for displaced individuals affected by the war. You can donate monetarily here.
- Heart to Heart International: Heart to Heart International is aiding Ukraine by shipping medical supplies and medical aid. The supplies will help restock pharmacies, hospitals and clinics in Ukraine. You can donate monetarily here.
- Americares: Americares has emergency response teams in neighboring Poland and Romania in order to meet health needs and coordinate shipments of medicine and supplies for Ukraine. Americares is also working to provide mental health and psychosocial support for refugees and survivors who have experienced trauma. You can donate monetarily here.
- Project HOPE: Project HOPE is on the ground in Ukraine, shipping essential medicines and medical supplies to assist Ukrainians. Additionally, Project HOPE is providing training to physicians in Lviv in order to provide the appropriate care for orthopedic trauma caused by ballistics. You can donate monetarily here.
- GlobalGiving: GlobalGiving has launched its Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund to support humanitarian assistance in Ukraine and surrounding regions where Ukrainian refugees have fled and continue to flee. Donations help provide displaced Ukrainians with shelter, food, clean water, health and psychosocial support, access to education, economic assistance and more. You can donate monetarily here.
- Water Mission: According to Water Mission’s site, they are one of the only nonprofits producing safe water in multiple cities across Ukraine. Water Mission is distributing hygiene kits for refugees and displaced individuals still in Ukraine. You can donate monetarily here.
- World Vision: World Vision in partnership with dozens of partnerships across the region has supported over 57,000 individuals affected by the crisis in Ukraine by providing hygiene kits, emergency food assistance and temporary shelter assistance. You can donate monetarily here.
How to donate your credit card rewards
Though unconventional, donating your credit card rewards is a great way to give back. Whether you have a stockpile of rewards you’re willing to part with or are looking to prevent account closure due to inactivity, it’s better your earnings are put to good use.
Most major credit card issuers let you donate your rewards, but the process (and restrictions) can vary. You’ll typically have a list of partner charities to choose from, including point-donation tiers and dollar amount equivalents.
American Express gives cardholders the option to donate Membership Rewards points through its JustGiving program. American Express converts your points to a monetary donation to your choice of thousands of U.S. charities.
Additionally, cardholders can donate Membership Rewards points through the PayPal Giving Fund and American Express will send 0.7 cents for each Membership Reward point donated to the organization of your choice. The fund was created in partnership with PayPal to support humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine. Through June 15, American Express will match the value of each donation.
If you aren’t sure which charity you’d like to support, you can search for organizations listed on the Paypal Giving Fund’s official site. Cardholders can donate Membership Rewards points to specific U.S.-based fundraisers, crowdfunding efforts or charities, including UNICEF USA, American Red Cross, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee and more.
Hilton Honors points
The Hilton Effect Foundation pledged to support several organizations that are actively providing immediate aid to the people affected by the war in Ukraine. World Central Kitchen and Project Hope are two such international foreign affairs organizations providing on-the-ground aid in Ukraine by providing hot meals and emergency supplies. You can join Hilton’s mission by donating your Hilton Honors points via PointWorthy. Similar to Amex’s JustGiving partnership, cardholders have the option to search by charity. You can also filter by state, cause or specific keywords, so start by searching “Ukraine.”
United MileagePlus miles
United has pledged to match up to $100,000 and 5 million miles in donations to support relief efforts in Ukraine. Cardholders can donate their MileagePlus miles to one of United’s relief partners like Airlink Flight, Americares, American Red Cross and World Central Kitchen.
In addition to matching up to $100,000 in cash donations and up to 5 million miles for each mileage donation, United will award bonus miles for each cash donation:
- Earn 250 bonus miles if you donate $50-$99
- Earn 500 bonus miles if you donate $100-$249
- Earn 1,000 bonus miles if you donate $250 or more
Other credit card issuers
Both Citi and Wells Fargo also allow cardholders to donate points, but the options offered are quite limited. Citi, for example, allows point donations to only eight causes, two of which assist UNICEF and World Central Kitchen.
Keep in mind fees and security
You may be subject to an interchange fee to process your rewards donation (normally a few dollars), but don’t let it be a deterrent from donating. Some issuers waive interchange fees, and in the case of Amex, when you donate through JustGiving, there’s no fee.
If you have a particular charity in mind that isn’t listed by your issuer, you may be able to donate your rewards through them directly or via a third-party point donation site like PointWorthy. It’s important to verify the legitimacy of the charity or website before donating to avoid scams.
Other ways to donate
Donate your airline and hotel rewards
Most major hotels and airlines allow you to donate loyalty points and miles to charity. For example, Marriott is partnered with over twenty organizations you can gift your points in exchange for a monetary donation, including World Central Kitchen and UNICEF, to name a few.
For donation-specifics, check with your airline and hotel loyalty programs; you can also donate miles directly to an organization.
Another worthy option is Miles4Migrants, a nonprofit that uses donated frequent flyer miles to book airfare for migrants, including refugees, experiencing financial hardships. Given the recent surge of Ukrainians seeking refuge in foreign countries, now is the perfect time to donate your stash of unused miles—it could quite literally save a life.
Transfer points to family or friends
Should you personally know someone that needs help (maybe a friend who could use miles, for example, to escape a difficult situation), consider directly transferring your credit card rewards to them or even pooling your points.
Rules and restrictions for point transfers and pooling vary from issuer to issuer, so do your research before reaching out to a loved one.