How to get Unlimited Frequent Flier Miles

No, this blog has not been hacked by spammers.

As recently as July 1, 2011, an unknown number of travel hackers were ordering thousands of Presidential dollar coins from the U.S. Mint on their frequent flyer credit cards. When the coins arrived, with shipping paid for by the government, the clever travelers returned them to the bank, paid off their credit card, and took a free trip to Hawaii.

“We’ve used them to go on trips around the world,” says Jane Liaw, a 35-year-old public health researcher and science writer in San Francisco. Liaw says she and her husband, who use a variety of tricks for earning miles, are planning trips to Greece and Turkey, “all on miles and points.”

As Planet Money reports, it all started with a failed effort to get Americans to use dollar coins:

In 2005, Congress decided that a new series of dollar coins should be minted to engage the public. These coins would bear the likeness of every former president, starting with George Washington. There would be a new one every quarter. So, far, the Mint has produced coins through the 18th president, Ulysses S. Grant.

The Presidential coins will cost the U.S. Government 16 million dollars by the time it ends in 2016. There are already 1 billion dollar coins locked up in government vaults.

The dollar coin loophole has since been closed; the coins can still be ordered from the Mint website, but the only acceptable form of payment is a debit card or wire transfer.