mrpickles is now blogging and recently posted an extensive explanation of buying coins from the US mint with your credit card to earn miles, and depositing the money back into the bank to pay off the credit card.
The context for the post is how to quickly meet your minimum spend requirements for a credit card signup bonus, but the lessons are broadly applicable.
I first covered the opportunity in June 2008.
It’s not as easy as it used to be, there are limits on the amount of money you can do this with (no doubt thanks to the Wall Street Journal piece on the practice). Most folks have long assumed that the deal died after this article, but I pointed out last year that it was still alive, just no longer in unlimited quantities.
Some credit cards don’t like this. The US Bank Flexperks program hasn’t been awarding points as I understand it. Large volume purchasers with Chase cards have had problems, but only large volume folks.
And it’s no longer easy to order large volumes of coins, you have to limit your orders these days to 4 boxes of $250 in coins every 10 days.
In fact, the only real change was that the US Mint issued a warning on its website: “There is a 4-box $1 coin limit for every 10-day period on any and all $1 coin orders. Beyond that your credit card will not be authorized.” This is something that I can work with. The coins come prerolled in $25 rolls, 10 to a box. Each box costs $250 so 4 boxes works out to $1000/per order/per 10 days. To simply meet the $2,500 spend requirement on my BA card, all I needed to do was order 10 boxes total.
The coins come with free shipping, so there’s no cost to earn the miles which for most credit cards show up as purchases. Getting them back into a bank account can be a hassle because you have to schlep the coins and then some bank tellers don’t like to deal with them, mrpickles has some good suggestions for handling them with your bank in a friendly way like not showing up at the end of the day or on a weekend.