UBER Hustle: US Mint Dollar Coins for Miles

UPDATE 07/22/2011: This program is now dead. It was fun while it lasted, folks! http://goo.gl/gvAkp

So an interesting article was published today. It sheds some light on what some of us travel hackers have been doing for years – How Frequent Fliers Exploit A Government Program To Get Free Trips. Personally, I’ve probably only gone through about $10,000 worth of these coins in the past 4 years or so.

The premise is simple:

  1. Buy dollar coins from the US Mint (free shipping) with your miles/points earning credit cards – http://goo.gl/6h1fc
  2. Deposit them into your bank account.
  3. Pay off credit card bills.
  4. Rinse, repeat, and PROFIT!
There are, of course, a few caveats to this process.
  • You can only order $1,000 worth of coins every 10 days. That’s generally not an issue unless you really plan to churn these coins.
  • Some banks really frown upon accepting these coins. Some will refuse to take them in their wrapped state from the Mint. Others will count them at a later time without you present. Mostly, they’ll just look at you like you are a complete tool as you shoulder in about 60 lbs. of legal tender.
  • Credit card companies (AmEx) will categorize these purchases as Cash Advances, not regular purchases, thereby not earning you any miles/points.
In the grand scheme of things, this is not how the program was intended to work. It was meant to circulate dollar coins, but it’s pretty obvious that Americans favor the paper bill over the heavy, less portable coin. So my take on the whole deal is this: Take advantage of it while you can! Credit card companies may change their policies like AmEx did. The Mint may not keep up with the demand, leaving you on backorder and without “free” miles. The best tip you’ll get when playing this hustle is – Make friends with a bank teller who won’t mind accepting these and soon enough you’ll be wheeling pallets into your neighborhood Bank of America!
P.S. This article has funny timing because I’m going to deposit my batch of gold coins this weekend!

A few rolls short of $1000