On 24 February 2022, the international order was instantly uprooted by Russia’s invasion of the sovereign state of Ukraine. The effects of the invasion cannot be overstated. More than 800,000 civilians have already fled Ukraine, according to the United Nations, and the attacks have unfortunately continued.
The European Union has predicted that up to 4 million people will flee Ukraine as a consequence of the Russian invasion.
Across the Western travel world, we’ve seen a travel boycott as diplomatic relations with Russia crumble. Many Western countries have closed their airspace to Russian carriers, while the major cruise lines have modified their itineraries to now exclude the port of St. Petersburg on Baltic sailings.
Throughout the chaos, however, one must not forget the consequences of the Russian invasion on Ukrainian civilians.
TPG and sister company Lonely Planet donated a combined total of £15,276 ($20,000) to help those most affected by the crisis in Ukraine. And we encourage you to help, too.
Beyond just donating cash, you can donate credit card, airline and hotel points to various causes that support those affected by the crisis in Ukraine. Let’s take a closer look at how to do this and which causes you can support with your points.
Donate American Express points
With close to 2 million registered nonprofits, JustGiving has partnered with American Express to give you the opportunity to donate your Membership Rewards points to an organization of your choice.
For each Membership Rewards point that you donate, American Express will send .54 pence (0.7 cents) to the organization of your choice. If you donate 10,000 points, £53 ($70) will be donated.
When you visit the JustGiving website, scroll down to the search bar and enter the word “Ukraine” to search for an organization.
There are numerous Ukrainian causes that you can donate to via JustGiving, but in order to use your Membership Rewards points, the charity has to be U.S.-based. Although this restriction definitely limits your options, you can donate to organizations like United Help Ukraine and Nova Ukraine. Both of these work broadly to help those affected by the crisis, providing humanitarian aid and evacuation assistance.
There are numerous causes, and you can read through the list here. Again, keep in mind that you’re looking for a U.S.-based organization if you want to use your Membership Rewards points.
To use your points, find a U.S.-based charity you’d like to support, and start the donation process. When you’re prompted to select your payment method, enter the credentials of an American Express card linked to your Membership Rewards account.
Although this might give you the impression that your American Express card will be charged, do not worry. On the next screen, you’ll find a place where you can apply your Membership Rewards points.
Donate Hilton Honors points
You can also donate to organizations providing aid during the Ukraine crisis using your Hilton Honors points via PointWorthy, starting at just 4,000 points, which converts to a £7.65 ($10) donation that Hilton Honors will send). At that rate, if you donate 40,000 points, Hilton Honors will send £76 ($100) to the organization of your choice. Unlike other gifts of points or miles, these donations typically are tax-deductible.
You can visit the PointWorthy website here.
Similar to JustGiving, if you don’t have a charity already in mind, you can type “Ukraine” into the search bar and read about some of the organizations that you can donate to.
Once you arrive at the results page, you’ll find numerous charities available. While all of these causes have their own unique value, you might consider independently researching how each is responding to the Ukraine crisis. For example, although educational funds are extremely important, if you are most called to provide relief, that would be something to keep in mind.
Donate United MileagePlus miles
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Through United’s partnership with Airlink Flight, Americares, the American Red Cross and World Central Kitchen, you can put your MileagePlus miles to use by supporting these organizations as they respond to the crisis in Ukraine.
United has a designated Ukraine landing page. To donate, you can visit the Miles on a Mission homepage. Once you are there, you can select the organization that you want to donate to, and you will be prompted to log in to your MileagePlus account.
You can donate as many miles as you want with a minimum of 1,000 miles.
United is matching up to 5 million miles in donations and up to £76,382 ($100,000) in cash donations. If you donate by 15 April, you can earn the following on a cash donation:
- Members who donate £38-£76 will receive 250 MileagePlus bonus award miles.
- Members who donate £76-£190 will receive 500 bonus award miles.
- Members who donate £191 or more will receive 1,000 bonus award miles.
Cash donations may be tax-deductible.
Donate Delta SkyMiles
Delta Air Lines allows its SkyMiles members to donate miles here.
Although its list of charities isn’t as expansive as United’s, there are still a couple of organizations that are responding to the Ukraine crisis, like the American Red Cross and UNICEF. With a minimum of 1,000 miles per single donation, you can allocate your donations as you please with up to five recipients in each donation.
Donate Virgin points
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has teamed up with The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to allow members to donate Virgin Points which will then be converted to cash as a donation. UNHCR is a global organisation dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees and those forced to flee. They work to ensure that everybody has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge, having fled disaster at home.
Virgin is promising to double the value of donations until 14 April 2022, though have not disclosed at what rate the points convert to cash.
Members can donate from 1,000 Virgin Points at the following landing page.
Unfortunately, there is currently no way to donate British Airways Avios to Ukraine charities.
Donate IHG points
IHG recently sent an email to many of its members encouraging them to donate points to CARE International and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to help the crisis in Ukraine. According to the email, IHG is making, “a significant donation” to these two partners and has invited its members to donate as well.
You can donate your points here in either 2,500; 5,000; or 10,000 point increments.
We often write about how you can make the most from a credit card welcome-bonus redemption to visit the corners of the globe, but now is the time to help those in need in Ukraine. As travellers who maximize the world of points and miles, it’s important to be aware of the challenges of our time.
So consider donating a chunk of your points and miles. Your donation, regardless of size, can make a difference.
Featured photo by Andrey Nekrasov/Barcroft Media/Getty Images.