« go back

Do you need to give Ma’aser from credit card points? What if it is given as a credit statement or to be used for airline miles?

 

If you can only use the points for very specific items you need not give ma’aser. However, if it gives you a broad purchasing power through your credit card it’s considered as a monetary gift and ma’aser must be given.

If it can only be used as miles – and the miles are not being exchanged for cash – or to reduce your credit card debt, ma’aser need not be given.

Ma’aser need not be separated from miles earned on a flight even if exchanged for cash, as it’s considered a rebate on the ticket.

One need not separate ma’aser from rebates, even if they are cash back rebates.

There are those who wish to make a distinction between various types of credit card points as follows: Credit card points received for purchases, whether per dollar or after reaching a certain threshold (say, $1000 within a specific time frame) would, in their opinion, be considered similar to a rebate. However, points that are received for referrals or sign-up bonuses for new accounts (if they’re not attached to spending a specific amount within a specified time frame) are deemed as income. Though it’s hard to justify this line of reasoning – see Hebrew references below – there is room to allow those who follow this opinion to continue doing so.

 

בנוגע למעשר כספים ממתנות שאינן ממון, ראה הלכה יומית אות תשלז.

וכבר כתבו להמתיק הדברים, כיון שאינו מחוייב למכור נכסיו לקיים מצות צדקה, וה״ה שאינו חייב לעשר מחפצים שנתקבלו במתנה.

וגם בנוגע לממון שניתן לו במתנה – באם מוגבל להשתמש רק לצרכים מיוחדים, א״צ להפריש מע״כ, וגם א״צ להוציא מעות אחרות כנגדן – ראה שם. אבל כשיש בידו אפשרות לקנות מזה חייב לעשר – ראה עד״ז חוט שני יו״ט וחוה״מ ע׳ שנא. באורח צדקה י, יג בשמו.

אמנם, בחברת אשראי שאני, שכשנתנו לו כסף לצורך מיוחד, יש אומדנא דדעת הנותן שאינו רוצה שישתמש בו למעשר (וגם אין רצונו שכתוצאה מזה יפסיד ע״י שיוציא ממעות אחרות כנגדן). אבל בנדו״ד לא איכפת להו אם יוציא עוד מעות, אא״כ נאמר שכיון שאין בידו להשתמש בו כרצונו ה״ז בדומה למתנות שנהגו שלא לעשר. וראיתי שכתבו כן בשם החזו״א (ראה דרך אמונה מתנ״ע ז, כז  ובציון ההלכה סז. ארח״ר א ע׳ שצו. – מש״כ בד״א בשם שו״ת יד הלוי ב, מד, המעיין בפנים ישר תחזינה עינימו שלא דק).

וכשחברת האשראי מנכה לו מחובו א״צ לעשר, לפי שאי״ז בגדר ריוח כיון שאינו בעין, או שהוא כמתנת מטלטלין – ראה באורח צדקה ט הע׳ כד. וש״נ.

והנה, פשוט, שא״צ לעשר על החזר כספי. אמנם, כיון שההחזר נתקבל מגוף אחר – חברת האשראי – ולא מהמוכר בעצמו, ה״ז כקבלת ריבית מהבנק, בתוכנית חסכון (אלא שהוא בצורה הפוכה, שמקבל עי״ז שלווה כסף מחברת האשראי) – שבודאי חייב לעשר ע״ז. והן אמנם שלגבי מיסים אין דינו כהכנסה, עכ״פ כאן במדינתנו, אבל דיני הפרשת מע״כ אינם תלויים בחוקותיהם, כפשוט. ובדוחק י״ל שכיון שמע״כ תלוי במנהג, מה שלא נהגו לא נהגו, וע״ד שכתבו כמה בנוגע למע״כ ממתנות. ועצ״ע.

 

Some additional points:

1. Even though it is legal, selling miles is against the airline’s terms and conditions, and the airline can and will take action to close accounts and/or impose other penalties for selling miles. This is because trade-in miles ultimately costs the airlines a lot more money, as much more points end up getting redeemed. Ask The Rav is not endorsing the practice of selling miles, but rather, just answering the question as asked.

If so, the airline completely considers it as a non-cash rebate. If someone goes against the intention of the airline and converts the miles to cash, should it still be regarded as a rebate for Ma’aser purposes? Wouldn’t it be similar to a cash present, where the Mekabel spends it in a way that is completely against the wishes of the Nosen (which I assume he would have to give Ma’aser in such a case)?

2. The miles programs of some airlines are independent businesses to the actual airlines (e.g. Asia Miles for Cathay Pacific and Aeroplan for Air Canada). Furthermore, a customer can often earn and redeem miles for one airline on a different airline. The arrangement between these independent companies are complicated, and the question is whether the miles redemption can be regarded as a rebate given directly by the airline where the money was spent. I am assuming (but I don’t know for sure) that the airline flown pays the airline/company at which the miles accrue, and similarly, the airline/company at which the miles accrue pays the airline where the miles are redeemed, in which case it can still be regarded as a direct rebate because the airline where the money was spent is ultimately the one who pays for the reward redemption.

3. Credit card companies recently began issuing 1099’s for referral bonuses. It is anyone’s guess if and when they start doing that for sign-up bonuses. I am mentioning that because this because it might counteract the point of (וגם אין רצונו שכתוצאה מזה יפסיד ע״י שיוציא ממעות אחרות כנגדן) – Although I don’t know if that point was written with regards to miles.

As far as I see it, the credit card companies are out to catch you in the moment. Any future loss that it might cause you, the credit card company don’t really care about, because they know the typical customer is not thinking about the future when they make an impulsive decision in the present to take up an offer which seems attractive. So they just want to offer you lots of miles to do something now (e.g. sign up or refer), and they don’t really care about the financial cost that the customer might have a result later.

4. A separate but related issue. Some credit card companies (mainly AMEX) give rebates for certain types of spend. An example of the typical type of offer is “spend $100 at Walmart and AMEX will give you $20 back” (for example), and it is pretty clear in this case that Ma’aser does not need to be taken from the savings. But sometimes, the offer is “spend $100 at any small business and AMEX will give you $20 back”. Due to the wide range of places where this offer can be used, it seems like Ma’aser should need to be separated for such an offer?

 

 

#2835


Add Comment

Your Email address will not be published