Party like it’s 1611 aka living credit card and (dollar) bill-free

Late last year I found out from a friend that the U.S. Mint is making a strong effort to get the $1 Coin into circulation. For no shipping and handling fees, the U.S. Mint will send to consumers $1 Coins through the $1 Coin Direct program.us mint $1 dollar direct website

So I ordered, A few days later…

For over a month now I have been paying for everything with coin! No bills, no credit cards. The only exceptions have been my transit card and online transactions, including the coin purchase. $100 dinner, all in coin! $180 drug prescription – all in coin! Babysitting? coin!

Instead of carrying a wallet I now carry a money bag! People have asked about the weight. A $1 coin weighs about 8g so a $1000 weighs about 17.6 pounds. $50 dollars weighs about a pound. This must be horrible! Actually, no:

  1. I carry my laptop with me anyhow so an extra pound is not horrible.
  2. It is easy to control spending, carrying the extra weight means I just take exactly what I am willing to spend and no more. Really easy to stay in budget when all you have is coin!

The reactions have been all over the place:

  • “Are these quarters?”
  • “Are they collectables?”
  • “Are they gold?” ( Uncirculated $1 coins are shiny )
  • “What? Fine.” (And then dumps them in the drop safe)
  • “Are they real?”
  • “Do I have to take them to the bank?”
  • “I love them, you are taking Caltrain, right?” (Coffee house)
  • “We don’t pass them out as change.” (Safeway)
  • “Sounds like a good idea but don’t you have to spend time converting them to bills?” (Safeway manager – apparently the idea of using money as money is a new concept)
  • “I am going to give them to my wife” (A waiter who bought up the $100 in $1 coins that we paid for dinner with)
  • “My company gives them out as a sign of good luck during the New Years.”
  • “I am going to give these to my kids in the Christmas stockings”

Clearly, the Mint has a ways to go in the educational department, if cashiers are uncertain if the $1 coin is even money!

This program is a great deal for consumers. This is a cash advance through the U.S. government! WTF? Yeap! Lets look at a “traditional” cash advance:

  1. Go to bank
  2. Present credit card
  3. Ask for $1000 in cash.
  4. Get $1000 in cash
  5. Pay credit card bill of $1000 + super cash advance high rate of interest (25%).

Now a U.S. Mint cash advance:

  1. Go to U.S. Mint website.
  2. Enter Credit card information
  3. Ask for $1000 in coin
  4. Get $1000 in coin (5-7 days later)
  5. Pay credit card bill of $1000 + low purchase interest rate ( 0% if you pay in full )
  6. Get cash back from credit card company for “purchase”

This is also a great deal for the U.S. Government as well:

The intended purpose of the Circulating $1 Coin Direct Ship program is to make $1 coins readily available to the public, at no additional cost, so they can be easily introduced into circulation—particularly by using them for retail transactions, vending, and mass transit. Increased circulation of $1 coins saves the Nation money. The immediate bank deposit of $1 coins ordered through this program does not result in their introduction into circulation and, therefore, does not comply with the intended purpose of the program.

According to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, $1 bills last only 42 months in circulation:

Denomination Life Span (months)
$ 1 42 months
$ 5 16 months
$ 10 18 months
$ 20 24 months
$ 50 55 months
$100 89 months

A $1 coin will last 25 years, 7 times longer than a $1 bill. This lifespan difference would mean that replacing the $1 bill with the $1 coin would save the U.S. government $500 million, however:

The Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) stated potential [ANNUAL] savings of up to $500 million in a report issued in September 2002, which was calculated on the premise that the U.S. government cease production of the paper dollar bill. However, the Native American $1 Coin Act of 1997 and the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005, which authorize both the Native American $1 Coin and the Presidential $1 Coin, do not call for the elimination of the paper dollar which is produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Consequently, dollar coins and dollar notes co-circulate in the marketplace.

(Update: ANNUAL was confirmed with a tweet from us mint)

Unfortunately, Safeway is not helping. My local Safeway is just sending the $1 coin back to the bank. This is my letter to them.

The US Mint is trying to increase the circulation of the $1 Coin through the $1 Coin Direct program. ( http://catalog.usmint.gov/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&identifier=8100 )

On this page, the U.S. Mint states:
“The intended purpose of the Circulating $1 Coin Direct Ship program is to make $1 coins readily available to the public, at no additional cost, so they can be easily introduced into circulation—particularly by using them for retail transactions, vending, and mass transit. Increased circulation of $1 coins saves the Nation money.” ($500 million according to https://answers.usmint.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/164 )

I have spent numerous $1 coins at my local Safeway and other retailers. However, I recently discovered that my local Safeway is taking the $1 Coin OUT OF CIRCULATION by continuously not using the $1 Coin for change. I urge Safeway to change this policy. I furthermore urge that the automatic change dispenser be altered so as to issue $1 coins in addition to the quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies.

Please help save our government money and use the $1 coin as currency!

One final note, do NOT help out the U.S. Mint by destroying $1 bills, it looks to be illegal (18 U.S.C. § 333 : US Code – Section 333: Mutilation of national bank obligations):

Whoever mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or
unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank
bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national
banking association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal
Reserve System, with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note,
or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued, shall be fined
under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

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