US Mint Lets You Buy Cash With A Credit Card

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Reader Chris sends in a way to turn credit into cash:

I just discovered a great way to turn credit into cash. This would be great to use with a 0% intro APR card and stick in the bank.

Circulating $1 Coin Direct Ship Rolls

If you go to checkout these have free shipping. You can only order $500 at a time. I haven’t tried doing it multiple times, but in theory you could do it over and over again. I am planning to max out my card and just take these coins up to the bank when they come in, and just pay the minimum payment each month. I’ll then put the money in a money market to get maximum interest. Just thought you might be interested. Thanks again!

In addition to 0% intro APR cards, it may be easier to just buy them with one that offers cashback or other rebates. Are we finally ready for dollar coins in the US? I know $1 paper bills are wasteful, but I still hate carrying around heavy coins. I used to ask for Sacagawea $1 coins for bridge toll booths until I signed up for the electronic auto-debit system.

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  1. Siggyboss says

    These coins will never be used unless the government forces people to use them. Money should be a convenient tool of exchange chosen by the market. If there was no government fiat money, no one would use money that’s inconvenient like a $1 coin that has little purchasing power. It’s inconvenient to carry around $10 in coins relative to $10 in paper. In the past small coins had good purchasing power when made of precious metals – that’s no longer the case. Only the elderly remember when a little coin purse could carry enough money to buy food for an entire day.

  2. At the end of the day, count the number of coins in your pocket and the number of $1 bills in your wallet. Which do you have more of? I bet for most people, it’s the coins. And for what, 54 cents? What’s that, like one pack of Juicy Fruit, plus tax?

    It’s not that $1 coins are going make our pockets all that full, it’s that they’re already full of worthless metal. We need to accept the fact that inflation has taken away the value of most coins. You can’t even make a local phone call at a phone booth for 25 cents anymore.

    If we dropped all coins lower than the quarter and introduced a $1 coin, we’d have far FEWER coins in our pockets than we do now. Round each transaction to the nearest quarter, and be done with it. If you round up for 13 cents and down for 12 cents, on average, you’re only paying 1/2 a cent more than you were. But now you won’t end the day with a pocketful of useless change that you’re probably just going to throw in a jar and forget about anyway.

    The average life expectancy of a $1 bill is 21 months. For $5 bills it’s a mere 16 months. For coins it’s about 30 years. We could save millions of dollars a year just by switching to coins for the most commonly used bills…. not to mention simply not making millions of coins that no one wants anyway.

  3. JoeTaxpayer says

    Too bad this isn’t for new $100 bills. With rates so low, and a $500 limit, not really sure this is one I’ll chase. There’s the risk no one is home when they try to deliver, and it turns into a ride to the post office with a 20 minute line. Between that wait, and the ride to the bank to wait on line to deposit, there’s little profit left. Still chasing the $10K-$20K checks.

    I think they should ‘force’ the coins out, raise the fee on $1 packs, and charge face value only for the dollar coins until they get accepted. The mint can use the savings, and people will get used to it. I think the next generation will go total emoney anyway. 25 years from now – no cash at all.

  4. That’s a very interesting money proposition. You can buy $500 worth of money, earn 1% reward on your credit card and also earn interest for 2-3 weeks ( assuming that you do not have a 0% interest card for 12 months). The profit comes out to a little over $5.
    The drawbacks are kinda tough however. What happens if someone steals your mail? Your loss is $500.
    How are you going to deposit these coins in your account? Some banks impose fees for counting your change. Others have their own machines to count change.
    Another expense is the gas you used for driving to the bank. And then, what happens if the bank gets suspicious about the amount of coins you deposit there on a daily basis.
    And last but not least, has anyone tried ordering form the US Mint more than once with a credit card? Do you actually earn rewards for buying coins? Or are credit card companies getting smarter?

    And last but not least, is it legal to purchase coins in bulk, and then knowingly to profit from US government?

  5. I actually go to the bank to get about 10 of the 1$ coins when I run out. I always carry 2-3 with me. They are great for all newer vending machines, bar tips, or buying a quick coffee, and I never have to pull out my wallet.

    And the above poster is right – I wouldn’t carry 10 1 dollar coins in my pocket, but 10 dollar bills in my wallet is almost as annoying, because it starts getting so thick.

    I regularly dump all other change out of my pockets, either to put in my car for parking meters, or just into change boxes.

  6. Be careful, sometimes credit cards may consider this purchase a cash advance, in which case you start getting charged interest right away.

  7. Mickey Blue Eyes says

    Don’t forget the $5 shipping. If you’re going to buy $500 of brass dollar coins to earn interest when you deposit them, keep the transaction cost in mind.

    But then again, the direct ship program is better than buying them the normal way. They charge $320 for $250 worth of brass dollar coin bags, plus shipping. What a ripoff! That’s $1.28 per coin.

    The rolls of coins are worse. $1.43 per $1 coin in rolls.

  8. What a great idea! Take a little bit of effort, but doesn’t everything?

    As for the $1 coin vs $1 bill, i’m thinking this might end up being the case down the road as I know the association for the blind are fighting to change the way we produce currency.

    So look for more coins, re-sizing of our bills, or even re-textured currency once/if their plan gets approved 100% – I hope it does to be honest, it will make it MUCH easier for those who are blind to distinguish between a $1 from a $100.

  9. I was getting pretty excited about this, but it looks like the product link isn’t working. I searched through the catalog myself but found that the coins are marked up significantly – e.g. $319.95 for 250 coins. If it was even value and free shipping, this would be a really nice deal. Am I missing something??

    Update: Scratch that, the link is now working again. You have to order the coins from this specific link or be prepared to eat a huge markup. 🙂

  10. Great post, Jonathan, but your e-mailer needs to be careful with his “theory” about multiple charges. The mint has, in similar circumstances, been known to cancel all orders from someone who appears to be abusing the system by making mass orders. I think you can get away with one or two orders, but beyond that, you’re getting into risky territory. And abusing the system makes it more likely that the deal will go away sooner.

  11. Nate:

    What’s a phone booth???


    Several years ago, the Canadian government tried to introduce $1 and then $2 coins into circulation. The only way they could accomplish that was by removing the old bills from the money supply. Based on the long-term costs of printing paper money vs. minting coins, I’d like to see $1 coins replace bills, and would also like to see pennies removed from circulation (I doubt they’ll be missed).

  12. Maybe if they made the coins lighter… I liked the idea about $20 coins, but remember how heavy they used to make the 50 cent pieces. Make the coins thin like a dime and light enough so a pocket of change is not going to take my pants off and I wouldn’t mind it.

    But getting rid of the rest of the coins, stop at the nickle for now and get rid of pennies. Once people have accepted that, then they can move up to dimes. I wouldn’t go much beyond that until inflation eats away at the value more as contrary to what you say, people will NOT be rounding down, they will be marking everything up to the next notch, which basically will be a quick inflation step.

  13. The link doesn’t work.

  14. The link works now, but there’s no free shipping.

  15. Once the quick scan CC/Debit or prepaid cards gets adopted, we might not need to use currency anymore, but it will create a lot of hacking.

  16. When I tried last night, the shipping says it is $4.95 for standard shipping until you reach the last checkout page. Then it will show free shipping.

    I never keep coins on me, the second I get home I dump it in a jar. I just love that my local credit union (with the Rewards checking) also has a free coin counting machine. No more rolling!

  17. “Are we finally ready for dollar coins in the US?”

    Dollar coins have been around for a good few years already…

  18. Yes, but when is the last time that you paid for something with dollar coins, or received change that way? Got any jingling in your pocket? 🙂

  19. At our house, the tooth fairy pays in dollar coins.

  20. Speaking as a Canadian who deals with the $1 coins all the time, I think I prefer them to bills (mind you, I was in Vegas recently and really enjoyed having a light wallet!) simply because if you’re a “dump your coins in a jar” person, it doesn’t take long to save a lot of money. I recently rolled the coins in our spare change tub and there was over $600 (too bad that isn’t a monthly occurrence 😉

  21. Think out of the U.S. box. Other countries have some good alternatives. For example, in Australia, they switched their currency without any great drama. To get an idea of what it now looks like, let’s start with the smallest and lightest coin – the 5 cent piece (no more pennies in OZ). The 5 cent piece is silver and very thin and helps because all sales are rounded up or down. If something comes up at $2.03. You pay $2.05. If it’s $3.01, you pay $3.00 (Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and no one complains, because everytime I’ve shopped and didn’t have the .05, the shop person has said “don’t worry”. Some people talk about getting rid of the 5 cent piece, but basically it serves the same purpose as the penny does in the US. For now it’s here to stay.

    Next largest is the gold $2 coin. Unmistakeably thicker than the 5 cent, small easy to carry, convenient to have. The next gold coin is the $1 coin, a little large and lighter than the $2 dollar. Both are smaller than the US dollar coin. That’s part of the problem with dollar coins in the US –they’re too big. Next comes the silver coins the 10 cent is thin silver, the 20 cent quite a bit larger and thicker, and the 50 cent piece the big clunker with squared edges to distinguish it. Let’s talk bills now: all are different sizes and colors, so no problem with identifiction and more imaginative than green, green, green.

  22. I ordered some today but the site says they’re back ordered until 7/2.

  23. The notes on the US Mint page say”($500) per President.”. I guess that typo means that we can order $21,500 (43x$500) worth of coins. That would make this offer worth the effort.

  24. They charge a shipping cost of $4.95 (standard shipping). How can we get free shipping?

  25. They charge a shipping cost of $4.95 (standard shipping). How can we get free shipping?

  26. # Jonathan Says:
    June 16th, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    When I tried last night, the shipping says it is $4.95 for standard shipping until you reach the last checkout page. Then it will show free shipping.

    I never keep coins on me, the second I get home I dump it in a jar. I just love that my local credit union (with the Rewards checking) also has a free coin counting machine. No more rolling!

  27. You can get 500 thank-you points. Use your Citibank credit card to purchase the coins, and then deposit them into your bank account. Easy 500 points.

    BTW, these coins are beautiful until you hold them in your hand. They are so light and feel cheap.

  28. Some more info to support Jeanne and Sean. I’ve been living in the US and we moved here from Canada with 5 other co-workers (+ wives). And the jury is still out on coins.

    My boss would use a 25 cent bill if they had them, but I lament having to carry a wallet full of ragged bills. And they are ragged, it simply amazes me that vending machines can even read half of these bills.

    From a Canadian perspective, most Canadians are just fine with the “Loonie” and the “Twoonie” ($1 & $2 coins). When they rolled out, they had to forcibly remove the bills from rotation (but that’s just expected). They’ve already discussed removing the penny and introducing a $5 coin. The former is quite likely, though the latter may need a few years.

    So as a guy who often carried lots of cash, I can tell you that dollar coins are not much of a bother, because you typically don’t have very many of them, especially if you have both a 1 & 2. You see, in the US my wallet can easily be filled with a dozen singles for two simple reasons: US bills are hard to sort, lack of the “2”.

    (BTW, how come nobody “sorts” the bills here? In Canada, I’m used to seeing bills all face up, all the same way. That’s not the case in the US.)

    Either way, if I’m out spending Canadian cash, it’s very easy for me to “change down” as I go about my spending. If you get three or four “big coins” in your pocket, you have normally the equivalent of a five, so you just dump that on the next cashier. It’s also easy to find Canadian bills in a wallet to due their color (and the above-mentioned ordering). In the US, I constantly find myself “fishing” for singles b/c they’re not immediately different from the others. I’ve even taken to carrying singles in my pocket but outside my wallet for things like tips or small purchases, just so I don’t have to go fishing.

    But all of the anecdotal stuff aside, I’m pretty disappointed that the Canadian government hasn’t already dumped the penny. I’m appalled that the US has no dollar coins and no two dollar bill.

  29. I placed 5 orders during the past weeks and they said they’d start shipping on 7/2/2008. Unfortunately, all my orders were cancelled yesterday (via their email notification). Today, their website said product is not available.

    Did anyine actually receive any coins? Why did they cancelled all my five orders? Can I re-place any orders?

  30. I just did this a week ago, you are limited to $500 of each type of $1 coin, so I was able to get $2500 worth in one order.

  31. I’ve done this twice coupled with 2% cash back Schwab Invest First card. First time was a $500 order just to make sure everything worked. The mint had shipping problems at the time so the coins took 6 weeks to get to me (but they didn’t charge me until they shipped). Worked flawlessly beyond the slow shipping. Based on that I chose to wait until I’d know I was home for a long period and then bought $7k worth. Got them 4 days, UPS called letting me know when they were going to deliver, signed and took them to the bank. The only annoying thing is the bank had to unroll them all which took some time. Anyway, got $140 for little over 1/2 hour of work and got a $7k loan for two months (start of card billing cycle which won’t be due till a month after that). I’m gonna try to do it again again because as far as I can tell the limits on presidential coins only apply per order and there doesn’t appear to be a limit on the Native American coins.

  32. CC Killer says

    I’ve done this 12 times with 2% cash back Schwab Invest First card. $5000 purchase eash time. Made $1200 in 7 months. Sweet. Thanks

  33. The US mint website details for the $1 coin direct shipping says:

    “The purchase of $1 coins under the Circulating $1 Coin Direct Ship Program is a cash equivalent or cash-like transaction. Ordinarily, such purchases are not eligible for credit card rewards, cash-back, cash rebate, and similar programs. Check with your card issuer for its terms and conditions.”

    Is anyone still doing this, and are you still getting points?

    Also, is shipping still free?

  34. email me and let me know the max i can order in one shipment, i am willing to order different presidents. i need to make a 2500 dollar order. i did it before and only ordered 1400 dollars worth (combination of rolls and bags) the bags are cheaper and much more convienent. i think shipping is free-complete checkout in its entirety-

    expedited (2-3 days) cost an extra 12.95 per bag. thanks for all posted infor

  35. Christopher says

    My last purchase from the mint was not credited. When I called to ask why, the person at the card company said that they no longer award points for the purchase of currency. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

  36. Gates VP says

    FYI, this probably will not work any more.

    NPR’s Planet Money has actually done a couple of posts on this, including a spot on Morning Edition, so it’s safe to say this party is winding down.

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