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Buying Coins From the Mint

Written by Nickel - 12 Comments

Buying Coins From the Mint

Last night, I finally sat down and placed an order for some Presidential dollar coins from the US Mint. As I noted in a previous post, I’m very close to breaking through a reward tier on my Amex Delta credit card.

In short, once I hit the prescribed spending level, I’ll receive a block of 10k bonus miles. But these aren’t regular bonus miles. They’re Medallion Qualifier Miles (MQMs), which means that they count toward bumping up my flyer status.

With higher status, I’ll accumulate miles more quickly, get periodic seat upgrades, etc. Like I said in the original post, this isn’t a huge deal, but it’s definitely worth pursuing. What I don’t want to do is spend mindlessly to get to the next level.

In my previous post, I outlined some possible strategies for reaching a reward tier without actually spending more money, and readers weighed also weighed in with some idea of their own.

Possibilities included buying coins from the Mint, “pre-paying” for purchases by buying gift cards for groceries, Sam’s Club, Amazon, etc., making our year-end charitable donation a bit early, paying extra toward our cell phone bill to generate a credit (thanks Jason!), and so on.

Buying our Presidential coins

Well… Like I said above, I finally took action on one of these strategies. I bought coins through the US Mint Direct Ship program. As a reader named Chris pointed out, the Mint now limits you to four boxes (4 x $250 = $1000) every ten days.

Believe it or not, I actually all four rolls, so we’ll soon have $1k in coins delivered to our front door. Did I mention that they offer free shipping?

The ordering process was very easy and no, these sorts of purchases are not treated as a cash advance. The Mint actually sells a variety of things in addition to coins, and your card issuer has no way of knowing exactly what you’re buying.

Plans for spending the coins

My intention is to honor the spirit of the program and to resist the urge to simply deposit the coins in the bank. Thus, I’ll gradually spend them down. Ideas for spending dollar coins include:

  • Tipping (maybe even a bit of holiday tipping)
  • Paying allowance (= let the kids spend it)
  • Tooth Fairy money (with four kids, this actually happens reasonably often)
  • Keep some in my car cup holder for random spending

We’ll probably also use a bit of it to replenish our “cash stash,” which fluctuates over time. No, we don’t want all of it in coin form, but it wouldn’t hurt to have some it as dollar coins.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, we bought two rolls of Washington and two rolls of Jefferson coins.

Published on December 3rd, 2010
Modified on December 5th, 2010 - 12 Comments
Filed under: Credit Cards, Travel

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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12 Responses to “Buying Coins From the Mint”

  1. 1
    Tony Says:

    I keep some dollar coins in the cupholder as well. It still surprises me how some individuals have no idea that the gold coin is a $1 coin; some lady thought it was a 50 cent piece.

  2. 2
    Steve Says:

    I try to distribute my dollar coins whenever I am buying something less than $20, and occasionally when I am buying something more than that via cash. I don’t carry them on a regular basis, but if I know I’m going to a street fair, buying something off craigslist, etc I will take some with me.

  3. 3
    Michael Says:

    Vending machines! If you rely on vending machines for snacks, etc., you’ll be pleased to discover that almost all of them now take dollar coins. Even the ones that are finicky about dimes!

  4. 4
    Robert @ The College Investor Says:

    Greatest idea I have read in a while…all I can think about right now is my 2% cash back I’m gonna earn!

  5. 5
    Sun Says:

    If you want to use a coin counting service like coinstar, you get full value if you trade it in for a gift certificate like itunes or amazon. if you have a chase amazon card and 3% for purchases, that’s the better venue for amazon purchases. but if you have a different rewards card like the OP, this would be one way of easily spending all your coins in volume and not have to worry about how you are going to distribute it.

  6. 6
    Corina Says:

    I would recommend keeping them. They are collectables and def. worth preserving. Thats just my two cents.

  7. 7
    Nickel Says:

    Sun: In that case, why not just buy the gift cards directly instead of buying coins and then converting them into gift cards?

  8. 8
    fairy dust Says:

    I just received a Coinstar email this morning that they’re running a $10 bonus promotion — if you turn in $40 worth of coins and pick one of the specific bonus vendors (iTunes is one, Borders is another), then you’ll get an extra $10, so that would be a nice way to use some of the dollar coins :)

  9. 9
    fairy dust Says:

    I just went and looked at the coin order site, and a couple things popped out at me. On the $1 Coin Direct Ship product page, it specifically says: “Please use a separate shopping cart for $1 Coin Direct Ship orders. Mixed $1 Coin Direct Ship and collector product orders will result in an error message.” That seems to negate your point about how they won’t really know what you’re ordering so they will treat any purchase like an item purchase not like a cash advance.

    Plus there’s a FAQ that asks if the $1 coins can be purchased to achieve cc rewards, and the reply is: “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 elegible for credit card rewards, cash-back, cash rebate, and similar programs. Check with your card issuer for its terms and conditions.”

    So while I realize these are just statements on the site designed to warn people off, I find myself wondering if the rewards idea actually works. Does anyone who’s done this know for sure that your cc rewards are triggered by a $1 Coin Distribution Program purchase? Just curious :) Thanks!

  10. 10
    Sun Says:

    If half way through your coin spending, you rather not deal with coin spending, you have the option of coinstar. I ordered $5,000 coins at one time and had difficulty depositing it in any of my accounts. Spending 90 lbs of coins would take a long time, so I opted for coinstar. I spent the coins where I could – restaurants, grocery/drug store, parking meters, etc but I soon realized $5,000 would take a year. Besides the security risk at home, I feel better banking it at Amazon. I would have been better off just buying the GC straight out with my Amazon Chase card which would have given me 3% back, or buying the GC at a supermarket with my Chase Ultimate Rewards which would have given me 5% back. Lesson learned.

  11. 11
    MInTheGap Says:

    Are you sure about the credit card rewards? As far as I’ve read, the mint has changed how they handle these purchases: http://creditcardforum.com/blo.....d-rewards/

    This site claims that they are now considered cash advances, and that interest might start accruing immediately.

    I love dollar coins, my kids collect them, and I’d use them outside of a bank, but when I checked out the mint’s site to see if this post rang true, I noticed that they stated that orders to the direct ship program had to be in a separate cart from any other purchases from the mint. That tells me that they’re processing these orders (and telling the credit card companies about them) differently depending on the order.

    In other words, I think that they’ve attempted to remove this extra reward.

  12. 12
    thad Says:

    @Nickel – maybe Sun was referring to the bonus that Coinstar machines are giving (no fee, plus a $50 gift card to Amazon, Lowes, etc for putting in $40 in coins)?

    I’ve “bought” the Mint $1 coins twice now – I really like them. I use them for vending machines, allowance for my boys, church offerings for the boys for Sunday school, lunch money for the boys at school.

    I did find that the Washington ones were similar in size to a quarter – not if you look closely, of course, but it was annoying enough that I bought a different President for my 2nd batch.

    cheers,
    thad

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