It seems that the best way to donate regularly to a charity I wish to donate to and get a receipt for it is to use a credit card instead of a check. (Yes, I know this means that slightly less than I am actually charged will make it to the charity.)

It looks like I will be able to itemize my deductions this year, and will include my donations to this charity as part of those deductions (it qualifies). All my credit cards have rewards associated with them. Thus, by donating with a credit card, I'll get some rewards.

Does the IRS care about this, like they want me to account for how much rewards I received and decrease my reported donation by that amount? Have they provided any official guidance on this that someone can point me to? I tried searching for it online but couldn't find anything.

  • The points explicitly state it has no cash value. No cash value = 0. IRS can't tax that.
    – Nelson
    Dec 22, 2022 at 3:28
  • I've seen (don't have any sources ready to link) that rewards don't get reported as income because they are considered "discounts", effectively reducing the purchase price. Not sure whether that matters here, since the charity still receives the full amount (although they spend some of it on CC fees, unless you pay as part of the transaction)
    – yoozer8
    Dec 22, 2022 at 3:29
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    @Nelson: On the other hand, charities keep pushing us to do monthly automatic small donations by credit card rather than yearly larger donation by check, for various reasons that make sense to their marketing and donor development departments. You can't do that and then complain about the card processing costs. (I have automated donations from my side of things, push vs. pull, and have had discussions with charities about whether they want that as one yearly check rather than 12 monthly checks. The response seems to mostly be "whatever keeps you supporting us.")
    – keshlam
    Dec 22, 2022 at 4:57
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    @Nelson "points explicitly state it has no cash value" That assumes the rewards are some sort of points. There are plenty of credit cards where the rewards are cash.
    – blm
    Dec 22, 2022 at 19:20
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    @RonJohn Yep, all cash all the way. My available rewards are denominated in $, when I redeem them it's sending $ somewhere, etc.
    – blm
    Dec 25, 2022 at 18:09

2 Answers 2


Credit card rewards have no relationship whatsoever with charitable giving. Consider two cases:

  • you use a credit card for charitable giving, and your rewards card gives you 1% cashback
  • you use a credit card for random consumer goods, and your rewards card gives you 1% cashback

One doesn't get treated differently than the other. The fact that one is a charity has no bearing on the matter.

It isn't really relevant to the answer, but IRS will treat the cashback or rewards as a rebate/discount. Really simpler that way - no 1099s.

And by the way, that charity-branded tote bag, mug or T-shirt, those are considered "inconsequential" for tax purposes. The same for newsletters of non-commercial quality, or event tickets/admissions for non-sporting events. See IRS Publication 526.

  • It's a rebate, because it's preconditioned on spending (rewards not preconditioned on spending are treated as interest and reported in 1099-INT, but these are extremely rare nowadays).
    – littleadv
    Dec 22, 2022 at 7:18
  • Isn't the difference between the two cases that you are getting a deduction for donations to charity, while you can't write off "random consumer goods" for the most part?
    – Craig W
    Dec 22, 2022 at 22:22
  • @CraigW that doesn't affect the rebate. The rebate is a thank-you for using the card as the payment method. Dec 22, 2022 at 23:26

This is a good question, because normally when you receive a benefit from a charitable organization that you donated to, the tax deductibility of your donation gets reduced by the amount of the benefit.

However, in the case of credit card rewards, you do not need to reduce your deduction because of a credit card rebate.

Your receipt from the charity should show the entire amount that you were charged on the credit card, and should not show the reduced amount that the charity received because of the payment processing fees. If you received something of value for your donation, the receipt will show that as well. You are able to deduct the amount of the donation on the charity's receipt, minus anything of value you received that is on the receipt.

Credit card rebates/rewards are not considered taxable income, and do not reduce any tax deductible purchase.

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