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Think twice before putting that Haiti donation on your Visa

Post by Kim Bradford on Jan. 14, 2010 at 1:59 pm with No Comments »
January 14, 2010 8:27 pm

UPDATE: Visa has now agreed waive interchange fees through the end of February on donations made to major, U.S.-based charities, including American Red Cross, AmeriCares, CARE USA, Direct Relief International, Habitat for Humanity, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps. Oxfam America, Save the Children, US Fund for UNICEF and World Vision.

Most donors know to check out a charity’s legitimacy before they give. Some even go as far as to check to see how much of the donation will been spent on direct aid versus administrative costs. But how many of us consider how we give?

Huffington Post points out that in the wake of devastating earthquake in Haiti, banks and credit card companies stand to make a bucket load of cash off Americans’ contributions to aid for that country.

About 97 percent of these donations will actually make it to the designated organizations — but the other 3 percent will be skimmed off by banks and credit card companies to cover their “transaction costs.”

That’s potentially millions that the earthquake victims won’t receive. Shameless. American banks and credit card companies already make $250 million a year off regular charitable giving – you’d figure that would be enough.

The credit card companies waived their fees once – for the 2004 tsunami disaster – but so far only American Express has stepped forward to do it this time.

So what to do if you don’t have an American Express card? If you’re a Capital One cardholder, it waives transaction fees for charitable gifts at its Web site. You can also text “haiti” to 90999 and the International Red Cross will get $10 (billed to you on your cell phone bill). Or you could go the old-fashioned route and mail the charity a check, although that doesn’t get the money there as quickly.

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