Free Money: The Uncle Sam Scam

If you have a credit card with an awesome cash back, rewards or air miles program, then brace yourself. What follows may be an opportunity for you to exact a bit of vengeance on credit card companies who have hit you with 29.9% interest rates, as well as over-limit and late payment fees.

The savvy deal hunters in the FatWallet Forums discovered over a year ago how to get credit card reward points quite literally for free. They take advantage of something called the Circulating $1 Coin Direct Ship Program offered by The United States Mint (that's our government's real mint, not the late-night TV fake mints that sell 9/11 commemorative coins and Obama memorabilia).

Here's how this particular grift works. "Currently, you can order either $250 or $500 in John Quincy Adams Dollar Coins from the U.S. Mint at FACE VALUE, with FREE SHIPPING AND HANDLING and pay with any major credit card," a user explains in the FatWallet Forums.

Are you with me so far? You pay for the coins using your credit card with the best available rewards program, say, 2% unlimited cash back in the case of the Schwab (Stock Quote: SCHW) Invest First credit card.

Since the U.S. Mint offers free shipping, you are getting the coins with no added fees. Upon receiving them, you take them to your bank, deposit them, and use the funds to swiftly pay off your credit card bill (before any interest accrues).

Net result? If you bought  $1,000 in coins on your card and then immediately paid it all off, assuming you have 2% cash back, this means you just made $20 or more for only a few minutes of effort. In addition to that, you might also have accrued 1,000 points or air miles. The Mint gets its new coins in circulation, and you get a sweet reward -- everyone wins, except the credit card company (that's a change, isn't it).