Skip to Main Content

Giving Tuesday: Smart ways to use credit cards to donate this year

Kids receiving UNICEF backpacks
AFP/Getty Images
Bankrate Logo

Why you can trust Bankrate

At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for . The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

Advertiser Disclosure: The credit card offers that appear on the website are from companies from which this site receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or available credit card offers. Information about credit cards and card offers is accurate as of the date of publication.

After the madness of Black Friday subsides and consumers recover from the click-for-all shopping experience connected with Cyber Monday, the world takes a moment to consider giving.

November 27, 2018 is Giving Tuesday.

What is Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday is a worldwide day of donating, celebrated the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and after the massive consumer spending days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Launched in 2012, Giving Tuesday is the official kickoff to the season of giving and time to focus on holiday and end-of-year donations to your favorite causes.

Americans donated over $400 billion to charities in 2017, up 5% from the previous year. Overall revenue from online fundraising grew by an astounding 23% last year.

While these numbers are impressive, there are hundreds of charitable organizations that need support.

Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity to give for a variety of reasons. Besides the overall fantastic feeling that comes with giving to a good cause, the donations are also tax deductible when given to a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization, which will give back to you during tax season.

Why use a credit card to donate on Giving Tuesday?

Donating on Giving Tuesday is even easier when using credit cards for everyday purchases, especially with the arrival of the holiday gift-giving season.

Using a credit card to send a charitable donation often involves little more than visiting the official website of your favorite cause. Most major charities allow supporters to gift monetary donations through one-time payments or recurring payments charged directly to a credit card each month.

In the wake of significant relief efforts after devastating natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, Harvey, and Irma, many charities set up donations via text message. Giving money during times of crisis is possible with the help of apps such as MobileCause and Snowball.

Here are just a few more uncomplicated options for using credit cards to help your favorite worthy cause.

Donate the points you’re not using

If you’ve amassed a considerable amount of credit card rewards points, instead of allowing the points to expire, consider donating unused rewards to charities on Giving Tuesday.

Many credit card loyalty programs allow users to donate rewards, bonuses and cash back to charities such as UNICEF, the Red Cross, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Consult the rewards section for your specific credit card for more information on participating charities.

Even frequent flyer miles are welcomed, especially by charities like the Make-A-Wish foundation. The foundation’s director of public relations says that airline travel is the non-profit’s most significant expense and donated miles are a “critical and budget-relieving resource.”

If your current credit card does not offer rewards, review Bankrate’s best rewards credit cards and consider applying today. If your current credit card has a cash back option on every purchase, you can use those accumulated dollars and cents  for your charitable donation.

Buy from companies who support Giving Tuesday

This extensive list of companies who donate to charity includes hotel chains, airlines, restaurants, and retailers.

AmazonSmile, a site operated by Amazon, donates 0.5 percent of the price of eligible purchases to the nonprofit organization of your choice. Just sign up in advance, select your favorite charity, then shop through the AmazonSmile storefront instead of

The Kellogg corporation will host a digital food drive in cooperation with Amazon. Through a donation page, users can select from a list of participating Feeding America *food banks and review their “wish list.”

These items include non-Kellogg manufactured foods.  Customers can select items from the wish list and ship the order directly to the food bank.

Apply for credit cards that automatically give back

It’s important to note that while using a credit card to donate on Giving Tuesday is the best method, there may be fees involved depending on the financial institution. In some cases, a transaction or interchange fee is deducted meaning the charity doesn’t receive the full donation amount.

Applying for credit cards co-branded by specific charitable organizations or explicitly created for charitable donations is one way to avoid these fees. For example, the Charity Charge World Mastercard® Credit Card.

The Charity Charge card automatically donates 1% cash back to your specified charity or will split that amount among a few charities.

Instead of writing a check to your favorite charity, find credit cards that support a cause with every transaction and maximize your gift.

More quick but powerful ways to give on Giving Tuesday

  • There’s a good chance your employer also match donations to charitable organizations. This list of 51 major employers who match donations to nonprofits includes GE, Bank of America, Starbucks and CVS.
  • A few quick donation options include saying “yes” to the cashier when he or she asks if you’d like to donate $1 to a specific charity. If you gave on your last visit to the store, why not do it again?
  • While grocery shopping, pick up a few extra cans of vegetables, soup, broths or other canned items and drop those cans off at a local food bank on the way home.
  • Use your card at local Salvation Army or Goodwill Stores for those smaller gifts for office Christmas parties or tokens of appreciation for the mailman.
  • Don’t forget to support local charities! The Giving Tuesday website makes finding charities in your area simple. Users can search by city, state, organization type or even organization name.

Giving back more than once a year

It’s important to remember that charitable giving isn’t something to do only around the holidays or for tax purposes.

Whether it’s a donation of time, money or the power of your voice in your local community, find a way to give back on November 27th, and give yourself the gift of giving.

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.