You’re traveling for business—a lot. Got that TSA Pre✔ and that Global Entry so you can skip all the lines. You’re a ninja when it comes to overcoming jet lag, and your palate appreciates the widest range of world cuisines possible.
So when it comes time to relax, the last thing you want to do is board another plane and fly somewhere. You’d prefer that little cabin in the nearby woods, with its cozy fireplace and early-morning birdsong.
But what about those airline miles? Due to your extensive business travels, the frequent-flier miles just keep racking up. You have a nagging feeling that you’re missing out on something by not using them, but there are so many it seems impossible to use them all anyway. According to a September 2017 article in the Los Angeles Times, up to 15 percent of all rewards miles expire without being used.
Here’s a solution: consider donating your miles.
While mileage donations are not tax-deductible, they are a great way to put your miles to work, and charitable organizations will use them well. You’ll feel better than you would have if you just let those miles expire, and you’ll really be able to relax in your little cabin. Never done it before?
Luckily, most frequent flyer programs make it pretty darn easy to donate your accrued miles. Just log in to your account and you should see a link and a list of organizations you can donate to. Some programs allow you to donate as little as 500 miles.
How Your Miles Help
Each airline has its own list of charities you can donate to, so check with your mileage plan for the charities they support.
Several airlines partner with Hero Miles. Administered by the Fisher House Foundation—which helps families find housing near loved ones who are receiving medical treatment—Hero Miles provides airline tickets to wounded and ill veterans and their families.
When disaster strikes, the first responders on the ground are usually members of the American Red Cross. Donating your miles helps them send volunteers where they’re needed most—several airlines offer the Red Cross as a donation partner.
If your miles are with Alaska Airlines, your choices can honor the natural beauty of the West with charities like the National Forest Foundation and the Nature Conservancy. Alaska also offers the opportunity to address racial discrimination by donating miles to the United Negro College Fund.
Delta flyers can help build houses for those in need by donating miles to Habitat for Humanity. Dog lovers will appreciate the chance to donate Delta miles to Canine Assistants, which trains service animals.
And finally, you can create a sort of charity feedback loop through American Airlines. The airline allows you to donate your miles to various charities, of course, but it also lets you earn American Airlines miles for every dollar you donate to their two partner charities, Miles to Stand Up, which researches cancer cures, and Miles for the Cure, an offshoot of the Susan G. Komen breast cancer charity.
As the end of the year draws closer, it makes sense to do an audit on your miles, and if you have some to spare—or some that will expire before you’ll need them—consider donating them to an organization that will put them to good use.
Miriam Wolf is the editor of The FruitGuys Magazine. She is a certified personal trainer and health coach.