Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
The Spark line of business credit cards from Capital One is built for small-business owners craving rewards for everyday, non-bonus spending. And the two cards in the family with annual fees — the Capital One Spark Cash Plus (see rates and fees) and the Capital One Spark Miles for Business (see rates and fees) – are both solid options.
If you’re debating which one to apply for, ask yourself these two questions:
Would I rather have cash to put back into my business or save up for a future travel redemption?
How much effort am I willing to put into learning about loyalty programs and award redemptions?
The answers to these questions will help determine which Spark card is best for you. But regardless, both of these cards are on TPG’s current list of best business credit cards and have a lot in common.
Let’s take a closer look.
Capital One Spark Cash Plus
Capital One Spark Miles for Business
$95 (waived for the first year.)
2% cash back on all purchases, plus 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.
2 miles per dollar on all purchases, plus 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.
Earn $1,200 once you spend $30,000 in the first three months.
Earn 50,000 miles (worth $925 based on TPG’s valuations; not provided by the issuer) after you spend $4,500 in the first three months after account opening.
The Capital One Spark Cash Plus currently comes with a healthy bonus of $1,200 once you spend $30,000 in the first three months.
That’s a nice return, though business owners with smaller budgets may find it unachievable. The cash back can be redeemed in the form of a statement credit or a check.
THE POINTS GUY
The Spark Miles card earns 50,000 miles after you meet the $4,500 spending requirement in the first three months. The miles can be used to book travel directly through Capital One; cover a previous travel purchase made within the last 90 days at a value of one cent per mile; or transfer those miles to one of Capital One’s 18 travel partners.
TPG values Capital One miles (an estimate calculated by TPG and not the card issuer) at 1.85 cents apiece, which makes the welcome bonus on the Spark Miles card worth $925.
The icing on the cake is that with both of these cards, you’ll also earn rewards while spending your way to the welcome bonus since you’re getting at least 2% cash back (on the Spark Cash Plus) or 2 miles per dollar (on the Spark Miles) for all your purchases.
For the Spark Cash Plus, you’ll earn 2% cash back on all purchases, plus 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. That’s a pretty standard return, so you can use this card to maximize non-bonus spending and make out okay.
If your business has many operating expenses, you can also get the card’s $150 annual fee refunded every year you spend at least $150,000 on the card.
Note also that the Spark Cash Plus is technically a charge card, not a credit card, meaning your balance must always be paid off in full monthly.
On the other hand, the Spark Miles earns 2 miles per dollar on everyday business purchases, plus 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Since we value Capital One miles at 1.85 cents apiece, the Spark Miles effectively offers a 3.7% return on all spending and a 9.3% return on Capital One travel purchases.
Here’s the big difference between the two cards.
As mentioned earlier, rewards from the Spark Cash Plus can be redeemed for a statement credit or a check. You can set up automatic redemptions at a set time each calendar year or when you hit a specific dollar figure in earned cash back — which is very straightforward. You can also redeem these dollars to cover previous purchases or for gift cards.
With the Spark Miles, you can redeem your miles at a fixed value of one cent apiece by booking travel directly through Capital One or covering a previous travel purchase made within the last 90 days.
THE POINTS GUY
As with cash back, this redemption method is very simple. However, if you enjoy finding and booking high-value premium-cabin awards, you could squeeze much more value from your points by transferring them to Capital One’s airline or hotel partners.
Neither of these cards charge foreign transaction fees, which is handy if you travel internationally. Both cards also have identical Visa Business benefits, including auto damage and collision protection, purchase protection, lost luggage reimbursement and travel accident insurance.
With both cards, you can receive customized, itemized quarterly and year-end summary reports to help you plan your budget.
With the Spark Miles, you’ll also get an up-to-$100 credit annually for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. And you’ll get two free entries to Capital One lounges each year.
WYATT SMITH/THE POINTS GUY
The Spark Cash Plus and Spark Miles cards could both be great options for your small business. If you lean toward travel spending and are willing to spend time figuring out how to redeem miles for maximum value, your answer is the Spark Miles, a transferable points-earning credit card. You’ll also get a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit and access to Capital One lounges.
Otherwise, the Spark Cash Plus is a cash-back credit card that’s solid for everyday business expenses but won’t get you outsized value when it comes to travel.
Either of these cards could make sense for your business needs. It comes down to how you want to collect — and then redeem — your rewards.
Official application link: Capital One Spark Miles for Business
Official application link: Capital One Spark Cash Plus
Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox, Chris Dong, Mike Cetera, Madison Blancaflor and Jason Stauffer.