How to Use Your Miles or Earn More Miles in Support of Typhoon Relief

There are several miles and points offers — either for earning points for making a gift, or for using your points to make a donation — that support typhoon relief.

Mommy Points covered this yesterday but since Hyatt and Hilton have added options since then I wanted to share the opportunities as well.

Some of these are a reasonable idea, and other offers should be avoided.

United MileagePlus

United is offering miles based on how much you give to the American Red Cross, Operation USA, and AmeriCares.

  • $50 donation yields 250 miles
  • $100 donation yields 500 miles
  • $250 donation yields 1000 miles

That’s not a lot of miles for your giving, you don’t do this for the miles but if it gets you to pay attention to charity and pushes you to make a gift that’s great.

Hyatt Gold Passport

Hyatt is making a cash donation to support typhoon relief and also matching cash donations from guests. That’s admirable.

But they’re also offering an option to redeem Hyatt points for donations — 5000 points yields a $25 donation. In other words, they’re redeeming Gold Passport points at just half a cent apiece. Unless you have only 5000 orphan points you don’t intend to use, that’s a bad idea. You should redeem your points for a stay, save the cash you would have spent, and donate that instead to provide a whole lot more to charity — easily three times as much (since you can certainly redeem Hyatt points at 1.5 cents apiece towards room nights).

Redeeming your points this way may even reduce Hyatt’s costs more than they’re donating to charity, and I’d give Hyatt a hard time for this if they weren’t coming out of pocket with cash donations.

Hilton HHonors

Hilton is offering 10 points per dollar on donations to 19 different charities. In addition they are matching donations up to $100,000.

Four years ago I called attention to the poor value that Hilton offered in redeeming points for donations to Haitian relief — roughly speaking they were saving money, because donation redemptions cost them less than hotel redemptions. Nicholas Kralev covered this in the Washington Times (a hometown paper for Hilton) and the hotel chain effectively double the value of the offer by matching member donations with their own cash.

Does giving miles — or earning miles for your gifts — even help?

I’ve covered this extensively. It’s usually a bad idea to donate your miles to charity, unless it’s the only way for you to give or you’re redeeming orphan miles you can’t really do anything with.

Most of your donations when there’s a disaster will go to replenish the coffers of a charity (probably a good thing) rather than directly help with immediate efforts.

And small donations will usually fund future solicitations in hopes you’ll give more. The most effective giving is concentrated, focus on a single charity or small number so that the fixed re-solicitation costs attached to your gifts eat up the smallest percentage of your giving.

But in any case, you should probably be giving more than you do, and if these offers make that more likely then on net they are good for the world.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Why do they have to tell us what to donate and how much to donate? Btw Hiltons donation talk is the biggest nonsense. 10 Hilton points is worth only 2cents. Genuine compassion is giving and expecting something in return.

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