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Here's how to donate your credit card rewards to charity on Giving Tuesday (or any day)

Donating your credit card rewards to charity is a great way to give back this holiday season. Here’s how you can get started on Giving Tuesday.

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Giving back is more important than ever as the coronavirus pandemic has upended the lives of millions across the globe. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are a great way to save money on holiday gifts, the profits frequently go to major retailers, not local businesses or those in need.

Thankfully, there are alternative ways for you to spend your money and give back to your local community. This past weekend, American Express celebrated its annual Small Business Saturday, and December 1 marks Giving Tuesday, a global movement that encourages millions of people to give back.

While you can always donate online or drop off food and clothing to a shelter, there’s another, less conventional way to give back: credit card rewards donations. The simple act of donating credit card rewards can make a big difference for nonprofit organizations.

How to donate credit card rewards to charity

If you’ve been holding on to credit card rewards points and miles, you should consider donating some (or all) of them to charity this holiday season. You can give back by donating your credit card rewards points or miles through a variety of programs.

Select card issuers provide the option to redeem your rewards as donations to partner charities and nonprofit organizations, typically by logging into your card's online rewards account and navigating to charity redemptions.

Here are four major card issuers that allow these redemptions:

American Express

If you have an Amex card that earns Membership Rewards® points, like the American Express® Gold Card, you can donate to more than 1.5 million registered U.S. nonprofit organizations thanks to Amex’s partnership with JustGiving.

And when you donate your points to Feeding America through Giving Tuesday, Amex will make a 10X match for the dollar amount of each donation up to $1,000,000 in total donation matches. For example, if you donate $100, American Express matches with $1,000.

Discover

Discover cardholders can donate their rewards to a variety of partner charities and nonprofit organizations, including the American Cancer Society and Make-A-Wish. Every year, Discover contributes an additional $25,000 to the organization that receives the most donations from cardmembers.

Chase

While you can’t directly donate your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to charity, there’s a roundabout way to do so. Simply use your Chase Ultimate Rewards® card to make a donation to an eligible charity, like Habitat for Humanity and Feeding America. Then redeem your points for a statement credit with Pay Yourself Back to recoup your donation.

When you redeem points for eligible charity donations with Pay Yourself Back, you'll wind up using fewer points compared to a traditional statement credit redemption, since points are worth 25% more this way (50% for Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders).

A $25 charitable donation would typically require 2,500 points. But with Pay Yourself Back, it only costs 1,667 or 2,000 points, depending on the card you have.

Citi

Cardholders who have a Citi card that earns ThankYou® Points, like the Citi Premier® Card and Citi Rewards+℠ Card, can redeem points to American Red Cross, No Kid Hungry and more.

Airline and hotel charitable options

Redeeming your credit card points for charitable donations through your card issuer's online rewards portal is an option if you have a general rewards card.

But if you have a co-branded airline card or hotel card, you’ll need to go through the brand's loyalty program in order to redeem airline miles or hotel points to charities. For example, Alaska Airlines has partnerships with a number of organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, and Delta Airlines allows you to donate miles to as many as 5 partner charities, including Habitat for Humanity. Click on the links below to learn how each brand handles the redemption process for charitable giving.

Airline

Hotel

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.