Donate to charities using a credit card

woman in white t-shirt and blue denim jeans sitting on brown cardboard box

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

It’s not just cash or checks that you can use to make donations today – credit cards provide a safe and convenient alternative for giving to your favorite charities. 

You can use credit cards to make recurring monthly donations, one-time contributions, and socially responsible purchases, all from the comfort of your own home. Several major charities accept credit card donations through their websites. 

Some credit card companies may even allow you to convert your credit card rewards into cash donations during the holiday season for partnering charities. 

We’ve put together a list of different ways to give to charity using your credit card. Read on to find out more.

Why use your credit card to donate to charities?

Credit cards are one of the most ubiquitous forms of payment today. They’re easy to carry, give you access to large amounts of money, and can be used with just a simple swipe. 

Almost every business and nonprofit accepts credit cards these days. Credit cards have become so popular that it’s estimated that 176 million Americans own at least one card.

If you’re a regular donor to a charity, using a credit card to make your donations can be safer and more convenient than using a debit card or a check. Credit cards allow you to make quick and easy donations from the comfort of your home. Unlike a check, they don’t carry any risk of bouncing – you’re notified immediately if a credit card transaction is approved. 

You can set recurring donations using your credit card to as many charities as you like. This helps you support meaningful causes over the long term and provides you with the ability to change the donation amount anytime you like. 

Plus, as a credit card owner, you’re protected from fraudulent transactions and security breaches through your bank’s zero liability policy. 

Ways you can donate using your credit card

You can use different features of your credit card to make donations. Credit card companies allow customers to make donations using their credit or collected rewards. Here’s a look at the ways you can support your favorite charities with your credit card.

Through the charity’s website

The easiest way to donate with your credit card is through the charity’s website. Most charitable organizations will have a giving page that accepts online payments. Simply enter your credit card details and select the amount you wish to donate and the online payment system will process it right away. 

Some credit card issuers may offer to match your donation. If this is available, consider taking up the offer to increase the donation that your charity receives. 

Your donation may be eligible for tax deductions if your charity is a qualified nonprofit organization. Don’t forget to keep accurate receipts and bank statements of your credit card donations to use when filing your tax returns. 

By using an affinity credit card

You can also automate your credit card donations by getting yourself an affinity credit card. This special branded credit card directs a small percentage of each transaction as a donation to the charity it is affiliated with. 

Popular affinity credit cards include the World Wildlife Fund Credit Card and the Susan G. Komen Cash Rewards Visa that tackle habitat loss and breast cancer, respectively.

An affinity credit card can help you make donations to charities regularly, especially if you use it daily. Each affinity card comes with its own annual percentage rate (APR), fees, and donation amounts, so check these details carefully to select the card that best matches your needs. Most affinity cards direct between 0.04% to 0.08% of each purchase as a donation. 

By donating your unused credit card rewards

If you’ve accumulated a good amount of credit card rewards points and miles, you might be able to donate them to a charity of your choice.

Some credit card companies organize rewards donation programs around the holiday season to allow customers to redeem their points as donations. Each point or mile you hold is converted into money, which is then sent to one or more of the charities participating in the program.

Your credit card issuer may even match the dollar amount of each donated point or mile to increase the amount of the donation.

Through Paypal

If you have a Paypal account, you can log onto the platform to make a charitable contribution through their Giving Fund page. The platform has more than one hundred charities listed that are involved in everything from science and research to disaster prevention.

Paypal ensures that 100 percent of every donation made through their Giving Fund page goes straight to the charity. It covers all transaction costs for the donation so no fees get deducted from the donor or the receiving organization.

The downsides to making donations with your credit card

Although credit cards make it easier for you to give donations, they are subject to fees. Each time you donate, the credit card network takes a processing fee that reduces the donation amount.

Often this amount does not go over 3 percent. But it is substantial enough to make an impact on larger donations. Mastercard has been known to charge a 2% interchange fee on charitable donations while Visa collects 1.35% of the donation. 

While charities will be grateful to receive any donation amount from you, you might want to consider other payment methods that have low processing fees and transfer a higher percentage of your desired donation amount to them.

Other alternatives for donations

For people who are worried about credit card processing fees, there are other cost-effective alternatives to try. Though they may not be as convenient as credit cards, they can help increase the donation amount that reaches charities.

Write the organization a check 

Checks may be old-fashioned but they remain one of the most common donation methods in the world. They’re favored by philanthropists because of their ability to transfer large sums of money from the owner’s bank account to the charity without any need for processing fees. 

They also work well for people who do not have credit cards. Checks simply take a set amount of money from your bank account and can be mailed or hand-delivered. 

But while checks may be convenient to some, they’re prone to scams and theft. Your check could get stolen in the mail. Or the new charity that’s asking for your donation might be fake. 

If you’re using a check to make your donation, it’s probably best to get the check directly to a charity officer to ensure that the check gets verified and deposited safely.

Use a debit card

You could use a debit card instead of a credit card when making an online donation. Debit cards usually charge lower processing fees than credit cards that get capped at a certain amount, helping you get most of your money to the charity. Credit cards, on the other hand, charge variable transaction fees which are never capped.  

Debit cards can be set to make recurring payments to the nonprofit of your choice just like credit cards. The only key differences between credit cards and debit cards are that debit cards are not protected from fraud and don’t give you reward points or miles that can be redeemed for charitable cash donations.

Donate via fundraising sites

In recent years, a multitude of fundraising sites have appeared around the internet. Websites such as JustGiving and GoFundMe allow thousands of small charities, established nonprofits, businesses, individuals, and communities to set up donation pages to receive funds. 

If you’re looking to find a good, local cause to donate money to, these websites provide plenty of good options. 

Unlike charity websites, these fundraising sites allow customers to donate to specific appeals and projects. They also let them view the names and donation amounts of other donors as well as the total amount that has been raised by the charity.

Most of these sites charge processing fees but they may be waived in some instances. 

Help the environment every day with the Aspiration Zero credit card

In addition to making daily donations with an affinity credit card, you could also get yourself a credit card that plants trees with every purchase you make. 

The Aspiration Zero credit card is a unique carbon credit card that rounds up every transaction you make to the nearest dollar to plant trees with your spare change. 

The card comes with an app that tracks carbon emissions from your purchases. Every month that customers plant enough trees that get them to carbon zero, Aspiration gives you up to 1% cashback. Try Aspiration today to do good for the planet.

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