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‘Tis the season to give miles to charity

We all know a traveling Scrooge or two—those frequent flyers who complain about the worthlessness of their miles while hoarding them just the same. Well, consider me the Ghost of Loyalty Programs Present because I can show you and those Scrooges how to help others with a stash of miles.

This holiday season (or any time you like), consider donating miles to charity. Most major airlines let frequent flyers give up their miles so others can travel to seek medical treatment, provide disaster relief, or join their families in times of need. While you can’t pick just any organization to be the recipient of your goodwill, you can often choose from various charities affiliated with each airline. Currently, you can donate miles to programs such as the American Red Cross, Make-A-Wish Foundation, March of Dimes, and UNICEF.

Each airline has different procedures about how to donate, but essentially you’ll need to go to your airline’s loyalty program website, look for the Use Miles section, and click on Donate Miles. As long as you know your frequent flyer member number and have the minimum number of miles required, you can do good with your mileage stash.

And while you can’t take a tax deduction for donating miles, your actions will extend the life of your remaining miles. That and the warm fuzzy feeling resulting from helping others should be enough to motivate everyone from Tiny Tim to Scrooge himself.

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