Changes to US Mint’s Direct Ship Program


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.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    Can anyone confirm from recent direct ship purchases if they are still treated as regular credit card transactions? I started to make an order the other day, but the way the pending charge on my card appeared was different than before. It made some kind of reference to dollar coins, and I was afraid it might be treated as a cash advance.

    I'm willing to spend some coins into circulation for the Mint (even though I know darn well that they will not stay there for long), but I'm not going to pay cash advance fees and interest to do it.

    Until I know for sure, I won't be ordering any more coins through the program.

  2. Anonymous says

    Oh, I forgot to mention in the last post that I cancelled the order before it posted. That's why I still need an answer.

  3. Michael says

    I queried the Mint directly specifically citing the LA Times story, and they replied:

    "Your purchase will be annotated as a credit card purchase."

    The last order that I personally placed on January 4, 2010 was treated as a regular purchase on my American Express card.

  4. Anonymous says

    I just received a 2 box order($500)of Sac dollars 2 weeks ago and they are NOT counted as a cash advance on my Hilton Amex. I earn the points and get to spend the dollars in the soda machine and at places like the farmers market where they really like them. I've had some folks ask me to sell them rolls which I do at face value.

  5. Anonymous says

    looks like the mints product schedule has been updated. all products now have a release date.

  6. Anonymous says

    Thanks for the update on the way these orders are treated. As long as it won't cost me anything extra, I'll continue to order and spend these coins. The only problem is, I know the places I spend them are bound to just include them in their own bank deposits, instead of giving them out in change to customers. In the end, the coins STILL don't circulate!

  7. stgecko says

    To help ensure the coins get circulated from the individual businesses I ask the clerks to give them back to the customers as change. All have agreed thus far.
    Some of them only agreed after they got their fill for their own collections/piggy banks. I'd follow up with the same clerk on my next visit to that business and they told me they were giving them back out as the customers change.

  8. Anonymous says

    That's a good idea. It's funny how some of the people at the places I spend the coins act all excited to get them, like they're worth something.

    Sometimes people refuse to accept the dollar coins as change when the clerk tries to give them out, and request a paper dollar instead. That is a hard hurdle to overcome.

  9. john says

    I am wondering if they are going to come out with new presidential dallars other than the ones they have now? They say they are all out? Will they get more?

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