I am happy to write this post because it is something that I think is important and rewarding at the same time. As Thanksgiving approaches, it is always a time to give thanks for everything we have and think about those who are less fortunate than we are.
It is in that spirit that I tell you about Kiva.org. Kiva is a non profit organization that makes micro loans to individuals and groups in third world countries. While this is a great cause, the reason I am posting about this over other charities is that you can use your miles earning card to make the loans! These loans get paid back to you over the next 4-12 months into your Kiva account which you can then either reloan or cash out to your Paypal account. Here is a video overview of how Kiva works.
- You make four $25 microloans to different individuals or groups on Kiva.
- You put the total amount of $100 on your SPG American Express which gives you 1 Starpoint for every $1 spent so you receive 100 Starpoints.
- Over the next four months you receive a repayment of $25 a month into your Kiva account.
- You then withdraw the $100 to your Paypal account.
A perfect use of this would be when you need to meet a spending requirement to get a sign on bonus but don’t quite have enough spending to reach it. If you are $500 short to reach the bonus when your time is almost up, just make $500 in loans to cover the shortfall. You will still need to have the funds to pay the card when it becomes due but you will get 100% of the charge amount back within several months with no fees of any kind. I have even used Kiva to liqudate some Visa gift cards I had laying around by using the Visa gift card at the payment section.
Signing up for Kiva is free and easy and just requires your email address and a password to get started, or you can log in using your Facebook account. Once you are signed up, here is how to make a loan.
First click on the Find a Loan button from your Portfolio Page.
Next look through the borrowers and read their story to find out how the loan will be used, the repayment schedule, and the lending institution’s delinquincy and default rates. If you like what you see, click on the “Lend $25 button” to add that loan to your cart.
I like to keep the default sort as “Repayment Term” because the sooner you get your money back, the more loans you can make and more miles you can earn! When you have selected all of the loans you want to make, then click on My Basket or Checkout to start the payment process. They automatically add a donation to Kiva at the bottom, but you can remove it with a few clicks so the total just reflects the loans.
Click on Continue and then Pay Now on the next screen. Kiva’s payments are processed through paypal, but to use your miles earning credit card, you need to click on the “Don’t have a Paypal account?” link on the payment screen, even if you have a Paypal account.
From there it is pretty straightforward. Enter your miles earning credit card information, review and purchase and your loans are made! I have had mixed results using Gift cards(after registering my address online) so it may or may not accept gift cards depending on the particular card. Repayments normally begin within 1-2 months and are completed by 4-6 months depending on the loan.
You will get an email once the payments begin to trickle in, and then you can withdraw the funds to your paypal account where you can do with them as you wish!
So there you have it, a way to earn some miles while helping others! I suggest starting with $100 to see how everything works and then increasing your amount as your bonus needs change. While there are other ways to meet spending requirements such as buying gift cards and utilizing prepaid cards (which I will be writing about soon), this one is unique in that it has zero costs other than some time while you wait for repayments to come in. As always feel free to leave a comment with any questions below. Hat tip to the awesome Frequent Miler article for telling me about Kiva.