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RIP Free Miles and Points Courtesy of the US Mint Dollar Coins

by on July 22, 2011 · 45 comments

in Free Miles/ Points

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I can honestly say I never once bought a dollar coin, but I know many of you have. Recently the practice caught a LOT of press with an NPR piece and as of today, you can no longer buy dollar coins with a credit or debit card (per the announcement below). I know this is a sad day for many of you, but all I can say is to pick your head up and focus on the next deal.

All good things must come to an end! However, I’m curious to know how many points/miles you all generated using this method, so feel free to share your thoughts below.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you used to be able to buy coins from the US government with free shipping, thus creating free miles since you could deposit them back into your bank and pay off that same credit card bill. See Mr. Pickles blog post on the topic.

Dear United States Mint Direct Ship Customer:

The United States Mint has eliminated the credit and debit card purchase of $1 Coins through its Direct Ship Program effective July 20, 2011. Customers who wish to purchase $1 coins through the Direct Ship Program can still do so by using a wire transfer, money order or check. Customers who wish to purchase the coins by wire transfer may fax their order to (202)756-6585. Customers interested in purchasing by money order or check may do so by submitting your request in writing to the following address:

United States Mint
PO Box 71192
Philadelphia, PA 19176-6192

Please download the order form which includes wire transfer information and follow the instructions provided on the form. http://www.usmint.gov/downloads/directShip/orderform.pdf
If you currently have an open $1 coin Direct Ship order placed with the United States Mint, that order will be cancelled. Please resubmit your order by wire transfer, check or money order using the order form. The Mint has determined that this policy change is prudent due to ongoing activity by individuals purchasing $1 coins with credit cards, accumulating frequent flyer miles, and then returning coins to local banks.  Local banks, in turn, return coins to the Federal Reserve. While not illegal, this activity is a clear abuse and misuse of the program which was intended to facilitate the use of $1 coins in cash transactions.

The Mint has undertaken several aggressive internal and external actions to mitigate this issue, including restricting chronic and repeated use of credit cards, contacting customers who frequently placed large numbers of orders to ensure they were using the coins for legitimate business purchases, and other measures.  While these efforts eliminated a significant amount of misuse in the program, we believe some abuse still exists. Eliminating the credit and debit card purchase of the $1 coin is the next step in our efforts to root out abuse in this program and ensure it is better targeted toward fulfilling its intended purpose – which is to get the $1 coin into greater circulation.

Thank you for your understanding and your continued support of the $1 Coin Program.

The United States Mint

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Vishal

    I ordered 1000 dollars worth of coins about 10 days ago. That’s it.

  • Anonymous

    Wonder if you could pay it using one of those “convenience checks” that credit cards send you in the mail. Though you would incur cash advance fees (or balance transfer fees, depending on the terms). Guess this would be the next crackdown though.

    I can personally say that I have not ordered coins, though I thought about it recently. Guess my decision was made for me. :)

  • Wield

    I used to max out my SPG (12.5k limit) capital one (20k limit) as well as chase AARP (5%) every week. Depending on availability and cash flow.

    I would say 80-100k a month

  • Elai1231

    Oh man, I just heard of this trick recently. Was going to try.

  • Tom Gorman

    You didn’t have trouble getting a bank to accept the coins? Or trouble physically delivering all those coins? By my math 80,000 coins is something like 1,500 pounds worth of currency + boxes, etc.

  • Wield

    I had a good relationship with the bank. I brought in 9k each time I went , twice a week… It was a good salary.

    2 exemptions

  • Guest

    I don’t think you earn any points/miles/rewards on spends through one of those “convenience checks” — at least with the banks I have my rewards cards with. Oh well.

  • Glen

    About 283,000 mile/points “earned” for me (included bonuses from meeting spend thresholds). Thanks for the opportunity, US Mint! Oh well, on to the next thing!

  • raininspain

    I cannot believe my timing. I got my first miles card a month ago and purchased 4 boxes of mint. They have not shipped yet and I’m gathering they won’t be shipping now. That was my big plan to get to Europe. Now I’ll actually have to save like a regular person;)

  • coin dude

    This is going to be an unpopular comment…

    It’s ABOUT TIME they cut off that huge waste of taxpayer money. Disgusting that it went on as long as it did. Everyone involved knew that those coins were not ending up in circulation. And yet they went on shipping tons and tons of coins, free of charge… and paying credit card companies to finance the transactions. It’s one thing for private companies to use mileage promotions to market their products. It’s quite another for taxpayers to finance a completely nonsensical program.

  • RakSiam

    I only bought coins once. I still have most of them. I use them in vending machines and parking meters. I never really saw the point…it seemed like too much trouble to me with all that hauling to the bank and so forth. With the monthly limits it seemed like a lot of work for not a whole lot of miles.

    Until Congress gets rid of the dollar bill no one will use these coins. They can cry all they want about a few “abusers” but now instead of sending them out they will have to find even more room to store all the coins they are minting. If you want to talk about a waste of taxpayer money…they are still minting these coins as required by law. And since no one wants them they are building new vaults that cost millions and then paying to ship the coins from the mint to this new storage facility.

  • RakSiam

    I am confused by this. I thought you could only get $1000 every 10 days or so. How could you get $100k in a month?

  • http://infamousdx.com Mike L

    I was a light user at ~$15,000 all time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrewprimary Andrew Nelson

    Check into Amazon Payments on FlyerTalk and elsewhere.

  • Miami_studd

    Mint gone, with the new downgrades at UA, and spimpy credit card offers, soon the US frequent flyer market is going to start looking more like europe where a 2 to 5,000 mile sign up bonus AND a huge annual fee the first year, despite huge bank profits is the norm. Welcome to the age of the consumer America.

  • Glen

    Correct. Unpopular comment.

  • Miami_studd

    Soon enough all of these FF blogers will be gone too, as the leisure and fiance industry get more clever and the actual promos get too small or too tricky to be of any value to anyone except the most hard core Sprit/Ryan Air flyer…

  • Glen

    You could request an “exemption” from the Mint. I had an exemption and was ordering $8-10k per month, generally ordering twice a month. The exemption exempted you from the 10-day rule and from amount limits.

  • PJ

    I just received my last 10 rolls out of 20 rolls ( $500 total) yesterday, the 21st of July. I have all good intentions to use them in many dancing clubs which took cash only or surcharge on admissions via credit cards.

    These are other low-octane ways to fill the MINIMUM spedning requirement:
    1. I pay off my adult kids’ expenses with my target credit cards ; they have no problems paying me back with or without rebate they are getting with their own credit cards.. After all we all share travel rewards.
    2. Many insurance bills can be paid in credit cards and can be PAID in advance.
    3. As Mr. Pickles pointed out gift card is a quick way to fill the MINIMUM threshold. I dont mind stocking up on GIFT cards to gas stations I regular patronize. Make sure you get Cash Price on gift cards.

  • Sil

    I just started this last month. I managed to buy 5k. I have an order in process which I guess will be cancelled by U.S. Mint.

  • scott

    Just over $500k since August 2009 for me.

  • purplnurpl

    if you weren’t exempt, you were just a chump. always found it so funny the big points bloggers would talk about schemes to get around the limit of $1k but not actually mention they were exempt from the limit.

  • Nitro1015

    Jeez… I know your just gaming the system, but isn’t there a point where you say this just isn’t right?

  • hobo13

    I was a minor player — just a few $k to meet initial min spend on CC offers quickly.

    Still not sure what’s the bigger waste of taxpayer money — the coin program or NPR!

  • zim

    I also had an exemption, a very favorable relationship with the closest bank and a high line of credit that allowed me to do ~ 50K per week for over 2 million points.
    It turned into a semi-part-time job. Good fun!

  • Vishal

    Just wow.

  • Bucky

    I’m sure it’s unpopular among a very vocal subset of the miles-hacking community, but I pretty much agree with everything you wrote. It would be nice to see more people taking the view that it was good while it lasted, but nothing good lasts forever. There’s more resentment that the free ride is ending than appreciation for all the free travel that people got that they didn’t necessarily earn “fairly” . . .

  • Megan

    I’ve been meaning to buy some gift cards to meet an upcoming minimum spend. But what do you mean by making “sure you get Cash Price on gift cards?” Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/rangersanger C Sanger Clout Smith

    Boooo! I actually used the coins. Ordered a box or two every few months for parking meters, vending machines and coffee. Now there is no incentive.

  • Sam

    Are you kidding me? Credit card bonuses are at an all time high!

  • Sam

    No you are right on. It was a huge waste of taxpayer money and a very stupid thing to subsidize although probably just a drop in the bucket. If they want to get $1 coins in circulation then get rid of the $1 bill, duh!! And they should get rid of pennies while they’re at it. But what do I care, I don’t even use cash anymore…

  • beaver

    Not to me. Maybe there is a point where *you* say it isn’t right. That would just be your opinion though, so of no relevence to those who think otherwise.

  • PJ

    With my Gulf card I get gasoline at Cash price which can be 10 cents per gallon lower than credit price . With Sunoco(?) Exxon or BP I have stations nearby with very decent price for the Premium grade CASH AND CREDIT same price. A side topic: you can use Chase Freedom card to stock up Gasoline gift cards at grocery super markets for 5 % rebate (1st quarter every year) and on top that you get gas at CASH price. A triple/double dip idea : I paid 950 for $1000 Supermarket gift cards and buy Gas Cards with Super market gift cards>>Can you visualize that ALL year along, I am getting grocery gas at close to 10 % off ?

  • Seanp78

    I used them too (only got one box). Great for NYC subway, Subway restaurants :), vending machines, tipping at bars, CVS-self serve machines, and aside from a couple of weird looks, NYC taxis were ok with them too.

  • Fungarkansas

    It’s not right that they cancel placed orders that have yet been shipped. They should honor those orders because they were placed before this announcement came out. Great reputation management there.

  • MJLouise

    Only a couple of thousand over the last couple of years, to meet minimum spend. Glad I stocked some up for the tooth fairy. I had fun spending them at garage sales too. Oh well.

  • pdx coin guy

    I bought $2000 in coins about a year or so ago when British Airways was offering 100,000 miles for $2000 spend on their Chase credit card. Still have about $1000 of that. Use it for convenience store purchases (beer and whatnot), Chipotle, etc.

  • Anon

    8k every 10 days. my local bank loved me – they stopped ordering dollars from the red reserve and got them from me. I had to break the news to my branch VP and she was bummed more than me. Banks don’t get the same good deal we got in buying them.

  • Bakelite

    Good riddance for 2 reasons:

    It was such a stupid wasteful program (free cc use, free fedex shipping what a phukkin joke!)

    They denied me an exemption despite documenting that I was going to pay contractors in cash!

    So goodbye mint cc miles churn! The cc companies will also need to replace that lost biz which is gooooot

    Such a bureaucratic black hole

  • Mpovisils

    My credit card company is constantly sending me checks that I end up shredding. I may be missing something, but couldn’t we use those checks to continue purchasing coins? I know the interest rate is astronomical on the checks so I would be sure to pay it off monthly. Do get reward points for money spent with checks?

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  • Smartgirl2012

    I worked for a bank so it was super easy… I would buy the maximum amount I believe it was $2000 (one a month) and just deposit them at my bank… that way I build double the points and in the end having a free vacation… its wrong but not illegal! who cares I pay my bank enough interest so it was about time they start giving back to me! hope I don’t upset anyone and if I do, get over it… :)

  • Smartgirl2012

    Your smart I was to scared to do that many! but hey I got a vacation or two paid for :)

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