Buying Money With Your Credit Card to Earn Miles

The thread on buying coins from the US mint with your credit card (free shipping), receiving the coins and depositing them into a bank, and using that account to pay off your credit card, is approaching 2500 posts.

Fortunately, Flyertalk member crabbing wrote us a handy Frequently Asked Questions summarizing the details of the deal and how it works.

where do i buy direct ship dollar coins without paying for shipping?
the $1 coins available for purchase at face value with free shipping are available here.

why aren’t the most currently available coins listed?
some time, maybe a few months, after the coins are introduced, they usually become available for direct shipping.

what do i have to do to get free shipping?
free shipping is available on qualifying orders of coins listed on the direct ship page. you are allowed to order $5000 of native american coins, and $500 of each presidential issue.

why does it show a $4.95 shipping fee?
keep going until you get to the final screen and place your order. if the order qualifies, shipping and handling should appear as $0.

what happens if i order more than $5000 n.a. coins or $500 per president?
if you have registered and logged in to your account, your order will probably be canceled automatically. if you have not registered or have not logged in, you may be able to receive repeat orders. some FTers have reported greater success by using different credit cards.

but the website says the limit is “per order” so why can’t i just place another “order”?
yes, we know what the website says. in practice, the limits apply per issue, per household. [nb: i am not aware of any data points regarding using the same credit card but shipping to different addresses (i.e., home and office)]

will my coin purchase be counted as a cash advance (and charged a fee)?
no FTer has reported a cash advance fee for buying the coins. the purchases usually appear as “government services” on the credit card statement, and appear to be treated like any other purchase.

how long does it take for the mint to ship my order?
anywhere from 2 days to over a month. the variables are unknown. expect delays any time the mint changes its rules (like when it instituted user accounts) or makes a new line of coins available.

should i register an account with the mint?
the primary advantages of registering are (1) the ability to track your order and (2) your address and billing info are already filled in when you order. but while logged in you are limited to a maximum of $5000 n.a. coins and $500/president.

when i track my order, it says the order is “on hold,” “in process,” etc. what do these mean?
no one really knows. the only status messages that matter are the ones telling you your order has shipped or has been canceled. sometimes the reason for the cancellation can be inscrutable, such as “line canceled,” which can imply that the mint ran out of direct ship rolls for that issue, or has ceased making that issue available for direct shipping.

are the coins circulating or uncirculating
the direct ship coins are circulating.

when i placed my order, the available credit on my card went down by $500/$5000, but i wasn’t charged. what happened?
the mint puts an authorization hold on your account for the amount of your order. this is normal. sometimes the hold expires before the mint confirms the charge, which can happen if it takes a long time to ship.

i got my coins yesterday, but i was not charged! woo-hoo! did i just get a stimulus grant?
sometimes the charge gets processed and posted after you get the coins. no one has reported getting coins for free.

how are the coins shipped? what if i’m not home when they come?
according to the mint, all orders of merchandise in excess of $300 are upgraded to expedited shipping, which means they are shipped UPS next-day, signature required. if you order more than $2500, the shipment will come in two boxes (which do not always arrive together) and they are heavy!

are there any issues with depositing my coins at my bank?
some banks/branches allow you to drop off the rolls ($25 each) without breaking them. at least one FTer has reported being required to put an account number on each roll. some banks require the rolls to be broken and either put into a coin counting machine or in coin bags.

the biggest problem is with the bags, which are measured by weight and not by the number of coins. worse, the bags are not opened in front of you, making it difficult to dispute a recount.

Basically you can run several thousand dollars worth of these coins through your credit card, earning the miles for those purchases, at no net cash cost. Of course you have the hassle of receiving the coins and getting your bank to take them off your hands. So it’s not zero effort.

Several folks use this method, though, to meet the minimum spend requirement when new credit cards stipulate a certain level of spending before you earn their signup bonus (e.g. Citibank American Airlines cards usually have a $750 minimum spend threshold, Chase United Visa cards usually have a $250 spending requirement).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. Well I have run 22k this month with 2 banks. They are a bit upset but did take them. May slow it down a bit for next month!

  2. where do i buy direct ship dollar coins without paying for shipping?
    the $1 coins available for purchase at face value with free shipping are available here.

    Buenos dias , mi consulta es si puedo realizar una compra de divisas (dolares) con tarjeta de credito online via web, para luego retirarlas en su tienda. Yo me encuentro en la Argentina.
    Espero su pronta respuesta.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *