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US Mint Closes Airline Rewards Card Loophole

The U.S. Mint has closed a loophole that allowed owners of credit cards with airline miles to rack up free fares— without spending any money. Credit card users across the country are smacking their heads and asking themselves why they didn’t think of that earlier. In an effort to spread $1 coins into circulation, the U.S. Mint had been offering what it thought was a zero-sum deal to consumers: the ability for citizens to purchase large quantities of $1 coins at face value.  In other words, you charge $5,000 on your credit card, and a few days later $5,000-worth of $1 coins would arrive on your doorstep.

We’re guessing you can already see where this is going.  More than a few clever consumers with airline rewards cards figured out they could charge immense shipments of the coins, deposit them at the bank, and pay off their credit card bill at no final cost to them.   Thus, these consumers accumulated thousands upon thousands of free miles in a fashion that was, surprisingly, completely legal. Now before you go scrambling to the U.S. Mint website, we have to give you some bad news: the loophole is now closed.  The Mint noticed a large percentage of their coins were being purchased by the same consumers, all by credit card, which tipped them off to the air miles scheme.  Since all the coins were being returned to banks (which in turn would ship them back to the U.S. Mint), none of the coins actually entered circulation. To remedy this situation, the Mint has changed their policy and no longer allows their coins to be purchased by credit or debit cards.  $1 coins can still be purchased at the U.S. Mint but nobody will be able to use them to get free airline tickets anymore!

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Iryna Rasko

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Logan Abbott's picture

Logan Abbott is a personal finance and credit card expert with over 5 years of experience writing about each topic. He is a graduate of the USC Marshall School of Business, and also contributes to other online finance publications. He has been quoted in the New York Times, San Diego Union Tribune, TheStreet, and more.

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