Via Million Mile Secrets, the US mint deal is officially dead.
They’re no longer accepting credit or debit cards for the purchase of $1 coins, and they say it’s precisely because people were buying the coins to earn frequent flyer miles and depositing the coins in the bank to pay off those credit cards.
But they’ve known for a long time that this was going on. I first wrote about it in June 2008. In the summer of 2009, the deal exploded as the Mint lifted the per-person cap on purchases. Scott McCartney learned all about it on the first Star Mega DO and wrote a Wall Street Journal column about it. That was nearly two years ago.
After attention in the press, the Mint took some heat for letting the practice continue. And they started to scold some people for doing it in some pretty extreme ways.
By the summer of 2010, they had placed a limit of $1000 in purchases every 10 days.
But, of course, people continue to purchase what they mint continued offering to sell. Some credit card programs, like US Bank Flexperks, stopped awarding points for the purchases. And Chase closed down accounts from some very high volume purchasers. But on the whole, things were still chugging along fine, thank you very much, even a couple of years after the deal had gotten public scrutiny.
Most people I spoke to assumed the deal was long dead. After all, it has been talked about in the media and they hadn’t heard about it again! Then a week ago NPR ran a story explaining that the deal was still alive and well. And the Mint continued to get a little too much spotlight for their comfort. So they have finally ended the opportunity.
May she rest in peace.
This wasn’t the first time you could charge money to your credit card and pay if off with that money. There were savings bonds, and Visa debit cards (that you’d turn into money orders), and funding Citibank (and other) online checking accounts by credit card…. those charges counting as purchases rather than cash advances… I opened many a Citi checking account, Citi didn’t limit the amount of initial deposit, and I had a particular Visa with an $80,000 credit line.
So one more in a long string of deals has ended, but none of the other ones in the past was the last one, this probably won’t be either. And in fact it isn’t, there remain other things you can do though in general the scale is too limited to be a bonanza and broadly useful.