A few weeks ago, the US Mint made some changes to their Direct Ship Program. This program has been tweaked many times as the Mint seemingly tries to preserve the utility of the program, while limiting the potential for abuses.
The Direct Ship Program was introduced in June 2008 as a way for businesses and individuals to obtain circulating dollar coins directly from the US Mint. The purpose of the program was to remove barriers and improve circulation of the dollar coin. In the most recent fiscal year, the US Mint reported distributing an astounding $85.2 million worth of coins through the program, representing 18.6% of the total dollar coin shipments.
Abuses of the product came to light in late 2009, when some mainstream publications ran stories about frequent fliers who were using the program to earn miles and other rewards on their credit cards. These individuals would order thousands of dollars worth of coins with their credit cards and then immediately deposit the coins into a bank account. The purchase and deposit would net to zero, as rewards and miles accrued.
The US Mint responded by cutting off some of the known offenders and adding bold messages to their product pages explaining the intended purpose of the program. Further, a message was added that: By clicking “Add to Cart” I agree that I understand, and will comply with, the intended purpose of the Program.
An article in the LA Times had also stated that purchases through the program would be coded as cash advances, so as not to earn rewards. However, I have subsequently confirmed that this is not correct. Orders are treated as regular credit card purchases.
The most recent change to the program has been to restrict orders based on time period, rather than cumulatively. A 4-box limit ($1,000 face value) now applies for every 10-day period across any and all Direct Ship orders. Before the change, the cumulative limits of 50 boxes of Native American Dollars and 2 boxes of Presidential Dollars were in place. Exemptions could be requested under both the old and new limits.
The US Mint currently has available 2001 Sacagawea Dollars; 2010 Native American Dollars; 2007 Presidential Dollars for George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison; and 2008 Presidential Dollars for Andrew Jackson.