Coins article on Yahoo- "Fly For Free Thanks To The Mint"

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by MLW20, Jul 15, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. MLW20
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    MLW20 Gold Member

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    Hopefully all of these articles coming out regarding the mint do not ruin the offer...

    Link to the article-
    http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-bu.../fly-for-free-us-mint-forbes?mod=bb-budgeting

    Fly For Free Thanks To The Mine

    For some people, racking up frequent flier miles can border on obsession. Supermarket purchases, restaurant meals, clothing, entertainment -- if it can go on the frequent flier card, it does. But racking up thousands of frequent flier miles for free? That's a trick that all but the truly dedicated can only dream about.

    But it's possible, and best of all, it's legal.

    Not exactly ethical, but it's not a crime -- at least not yet. The trick (it feels more like a scam) is to use a government program meant for promoting the circulation of dollar coins for everyday use. And it's not new: travel hackers have been doing it for years, and it's only recently that the federal government has caught on and done something about it.

    It goes something like this: The U.S. Mint, through a 2005 act of Congress, is required to place $1 billion worth of the golden presidential and Sacagewea dollars into circulation in an effort to stimulate general use. The only problem is, the coins haven't really caught on with the general public. But there is one group of people that have enthusiastically embraced their use: travel hackers, so called because they aggressively look for loopholes in promotional programs and for tips on travel websites for ways in which to make the best use of their travel dollars. Much of this "hacking" involves taking advantage of frequent flier programs in unique and innovative ways.

    The dollar coin trick involves purchasing large amounts of coins with a frequent flier card, waiting for the Mint to ship the coins (free shipping!), and then taking the coins to the bank, where they are deposited and the money is used to pay the credit card charges. No money is lost, the frequent flier miles rack up, and travelers can use them for upgrades or completely free flights whenever they want. According to NPR's Planet Money, which broadcast a story about the scheme on Wednesday morning, the Mint caught on when some customers started buying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of free coins, so it has since limited purchases to $1,000 every ten days. But 3,000 free frequent fliers miles per month still isn't a bad deal. NPR quotes Mint spokesman Tom Jurkowsky about the ways in which the Mint has tried to curb the practice: "Do we feel a little bit violated? Yes, and that's why we aggressively sought measures to eliminate what we called an abuse."

    One site, TravelHacking.org, promotes these methods as a way to gain money through membership through its website, but it's not really necessary to pay any money at all to learn some of the best ways to travel hack -- in fact, many of these methods are enthusiastically promoted on various travel sites. Popular travel website Gadling wrote about the tactic in April, discussing the trick's growing popularity, how it resembles a cash advance, and how the IRS doesn't consider it a cash advance for tax purposes. For many with the financial flexibility to have $3,000 a month in circulation, it seems like too good an opportunity to pass up. As stated above, it's not a new phenomenon: The Wall Street Journal wrote about the coin trick in 2009, which ultimately may have played a role in the Mint's crackdown.

    Contrary to some reports, the practice hasn't ended since the Mint enacted the new rules; it's only slowed down. You can find the web page for the Mint's coin program here.

    And until frequent flier miles card issuers catch on and do something about the practice, it seems likely to attract the sort of customers who are looking at the fine print of their rewards programs for any and all ways in which to maximize their mileage
     
    sobore and JohnDeere19 like this.
  2. u600213
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    u600213 Silver Member

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    Publicity is bad in this case but I've had fun paying for things with $1 coins. I do take issue with the article referencing a website which charges a fee instead of the many other websites and online communities that have information on coins and travel deals and do not charge for membership, but maybe that will cut down on any sudden surge in demand for coins by new coin circulation aspirants . Everything seems to be delayed till the end of July already.
     
  3. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    As of 9:30pm NY time tonight, their article has 1,600 comments.

    The banks had better look out...
     
  4. NYBanker
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    What in the world are you talking about? The IRS has nothing to do with even bona fide credit card cash advances.
     
  5. MLW20
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    MLW20 Gold Member

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    WHAT are YOU talking about???? All I did was post an article that I read, I am not the author of it!!! Read the post before commenting next time.
     
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  6. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    we're doomed. get the coins while we can.
     
  7. MrHalliday
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    MrHalliday Silver Member

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    The coins deal has been "outed" so many times for years now,
    I doubt this particular yahoo article will change anythimng....
     
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  8. Gargoyle
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    Gargoyle Milepoint Guide

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    reporters are so lazy. almost no one goes out to to dig up a new story, so once one outlet finally does, all the others just play copycat. That way they can fill up their pages without actually doing work or research.

    Expect to see a few more clone stories in the next few days.
     
    hulagrrl210, sobore and Freddie Listo like this.
  9. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    I read the post. How else would I have found something buried in the middle of it?

    I did not, however, click through to the link and thought the post. Based on my read last night, I thought the text was written by you commenting on the story. Upon re-reading it, I can see how I thought it was written by someone on this board (as it mainly refers to other articles, and isn't much of an article myself), but now can also see that it is the article itself.

    I couldn't find the reporter's email, but he was on Twitter (@johngiuffo) - so I asked him the same question. From a quick search of his work on Forbes.com, it's clear that he's prone to regurgitation and is not someone who comes up with a lot of original work.
     
  10. MLW20
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    MLW20 Gold Member

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    I hear ya... Honest mistake. Whenever I see articles written about dollar coins I figure they will help to end the offer for everyone.
     
    NYBanker likes this.
  11. Max M

    Max M Gold Member

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    I honestly believe this article put the final nail in the coffin.

    I'm seriously considering closing my Yahoomail account and never again conducting a single yahoo search again.

    For the record, I never got in on this in time, and was planning on buying coins this fall and legtimately distributing them, and earning miles as a reward for distributing them.

    Looks like the Mint's dollar coin distribution plan will work effectively as it's attempt with the Susan B. Anthony coins years ago.
     
  12. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Indeed it did end!

    The reporter never responded to my tweets about taxes. Looking at several of his other works, I was able to find a number of other fairly misleading language.

    Oh well. It's all academic now!
     
    Gargoyle likes this.

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