Philanthropy and giving to charitable causes is not only an old US tradition and a founding block of American communities, it's also been the driving force behind cutting-edge research, education and social projects.
Many top US universities and colleges wouldn't exist if it weren't for philanthropy. Today US charitable giving reaches far beyond our own borders, funding environmental and humanitarian projects the world over.
According to the National Philanthropic Trust, 95.4% of US households give to charity (the average annual household contribution is $2,974). Total American philanthropy in 2014 reached $358.38 billion, or 7.1% more than in 2013. (See more statistics).
Among the estimated 7.9 billion hours of service volunteered by around 64.5 million US adults (worth an estimated $175 billion), the top voluntary activities include selling items or fundraising for charitable causes at 25.7%, collecting and distributing food at 23.8%, general labor or transportation at 19.8%, and tutoring or teaching, which made up 17.9% of voluntary activity.
Most of us have some cause that we are passionate about, but not all of us have extra money to support these. But there are easy ways to make a difference without making a dent in your budget.
Many credit cards give you rewards when you use them to make purchases. These usually don't amount to a whole lot, and can often only be redeemed for bits and bobs that you might not need or even want.
But some credit cards give you the option to donate your rewards to charitable causes as a financial donation. That way instead of collecting another gadget just for the heck of it, you can put those rewards to good use.
American Express Members GiveIf you have an American Express card that earns Membership Rewards® points, like The Platinum Card® from American Express, a GET.com advertiser, you can use the Members GiveSM program to redeem your points to make a donation to your choice of over 1 million charities. You will need to redeem a minimum of 1,000 points at a time, and each 1,000 Membership Rewards® points you redeem equals a $10 donation. If you redeem more than 500,000 points through Members Give in one calendar year, any points you redeem for donations in that calendar year above 500,000 will get a lower rate of $5 donation per 1,000 points.
Capital One No Hassle GivingThis program from Capital One partners with Network For Good to forward your donation to registered charitable organizations as listed on GuideStar (more than 1.2 million IRS-registered charities). Capital One covers the processing fees, so the entire amount you donate goes to the designated charity. Donations made by redeeming your No Hassle Rewards® are 100% tax deductible (to the full extent allowed by law). Donations cannot be returned or canceled once they have been processed. You can earn No Hassle Rewards® using Capital One rewards credit cards like Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card.
Citi Donate with PointsThe ThankYou® Points you earn with many Citi rewards credit cards can be donated through PointWorthy.com with no processing fee. That means the full amount you donate goes to the charitable organization. You have to redeem a minimum of 1,000 points for a $10 donation. In order to donate your ThankYou Points through PointWorthy, you will have to link your ThankYou account to a PointWorthy account. You can choose to cancel a donation within 15 days of making it, and if a donation you make is returned, PointWorthy will credit the ThankYou Points back to your ThankYou member account. You can also combine your points with a payment from your Citi credit card, but I wouldn't recommend it because although ThankYou points can be donated with no fee, you will pay a 10% processing fee on credit card donations. You do earn ThankYou Points for cash donations you make with your eligible Citi card through the program, but if you can pay with ThankYou Points only, more of your donation will go to the cause you want to support.
Another benefit that makes a credit card useful for charitable giving is if a card rewards you by letting you earn points, miles or cash back for your donations. Some cards may not have many options for redeeming rewards towards donations, but do let you earn high cash back or points for your giving.
Here's our pick of highly-rated credit cards that let you redeem your rewards as donations or earn rewards for charitable donations:
|Credit Card||Features||Intro APR||Regular APR||Annual Fee||Why we like it||We least like||Credit Required||Related links|
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
17.49% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
|Related Links Read our review of Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card or view more details of Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. See more Capital One credit cards.|
The Platinum Card® from American Express
|Related Links Read our review of The Platinum Card® from American Express or view more details of The Platinum Card® from American Express. See more American Express credit cards.|
Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Average, Fair, Limited
|Related Links Read our review of Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card or view more details of Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card. See more Capital One credit cards.|