SkyMiles members who donate to their local United Way online between October 11 and November 11, 2012 will earn a one-time bonus of 1,000 miles for a donation of $50-124; 2,500 miles for a donation of $125-299; or up to a maximum 5,000 miles for a donation of $300 or more. To get the Skymiles, you need to use a special web portal, found here. Of course, you are free to donate more than $300, but you won't get any extra Skymiles.
To maximize Skymiles earnings you need to give either $50 or $125.
I don't think the United Way is losing anything on this deal; Delta is just donating the miles. At one time I valued Skymiles at two cents each, so by that formula the 1,000 miles one receives from a $50 donation would be worth $20. My guess is that they are now worth closer to 1.5 cents each, making the miles worth $15 -- although in an emergency they can sometimes be worth more than a nickle each. The cost to buy 1,000 miles from Delta would be $35.
In any event, by my calculation this is a way for me to give $50 to my local United Way while receiving a $15 rebate. Everybody wins!
Now that you're feeling charitable and have helped out the local United Way, I'll tell you about another deal that in my opinion is just as good if not better. American Airlines has a Miles for the Cure promotion in which it is offering 15 miles for every dollar donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, up to a maximum of 60,000 miles.
So the $50 donation that earns 1,000 Delta Skymiles will only earn 750 AAdvantage Miles. But AA miles are far more valuable than Delta miles. And while Delta miles never expire, AA miles do, so it's a good idea to "poke" your inactive AA account from time to time with miles earn from car rentals, hotel stays or charitable donations.
And the AAdvantage miles rebate can be pretty rich. A $3,000 gift to Komen will generate 50,000 miles, which is enough for two off-peak tickets to the Caribbean, and unlike the case with Delta, with American you can sometimes actually book an award ticket. In the past the IRS has treated airline miles as de minimis, however I am not offering advice, just making an observation.
Some of you are upset. I can sense it. You wanted to donate more but Komen gifts are effectively capped at $3,600 and 60,000 AA miles. Be of good heart as there is still hope!
You can earn even more American miles for donations to the National Foundation for Cancer Research, and we are not talking chicken feed. Your donation of $66,667 will earn you One Million chilly-willy AAdvantage miles. Lesser donations earn fewer miles. Where can you go with a million miles? Anywhere you want. Repeatedly.
Anyone wishing to make a donations in my honor (and to benefit my frequent flyer account) should feel free to do so!.