Capital One offers five different credit cards in its Spark family of business cards, including two cash back cards which are covered in this review.
These cards are both designed for people with excellent credit:
- Capital One Spark Cash for Business: 2% cash back, $95 annual fee (waived the first year)
- Capital One Spark Cash Select – $500 Cash Bonus: 1.5% cash back, no annual fee
These are general cash back cards, which means that they don’t have any spending categories to worry about. Instead, they provide the same reward no matter where you shop or what you buy.
The Spark Cash offers a higher cash back rate and also has an annual fee. But if you plan to spend more than $19,000 every year with it, it will be the more rewarding choice out of these two. If you won’t be spending that much per year, the Spark Cash Select will end up providing more cash back (not counting any welcome bonuses, which you’ll find for both of these cards).
These cards both report your activity to the business credit bureaus, which means they can help you build up your business credit. This is unlike many other business credit cards.
Should you be using one of these cards to help manage your business spending? Keep reading to find out!
Our Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars
Why We Like Them
We gave the Spark Cash and Spark Cash Select cards 5 out of 5 Stars. They’re good options for business owners to earn cash back on purchases in general, rather than specific categories.
- They’re cheap to use. The Spark Cash Select has no annual fee, while the Spark Cash is just $95 (waived the first year). And you can offset that fee by spending as little as $4,750 per year with the card.
- You’ll earn a competitive amount of cash back with each card, given their fee structures.
- Both cards have a pretty good welcome bonus for spending in the first year.
- Capital One provides a decent set of business-related benefits with these cards. That includes spending and account management tools.
- You can get an unlimited number of employee cards at no cost.
- Capital One business cards report activity to three business credit bureaus. So these cards are good options if you want to improve your business’s credit.
Why They Could Be Better
- You won’t be earning a ton of cash back with these cards, compared to some other business credit cards.
- There are some valuable perks, but nothing to write home about.
There are many other options for business owners to earn rewards on purchases. Check out some alternatives to the Spark Cash cards below, some of which have bonus reward categories.
Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of These Cards
- Use these cards to earn cash back on every purchase, no matter what you’re buying. You won’t need to be concerned with bonus reward categories, and which card to use where.
- Be sure to get the welcome bonus, whichever card you use. You can earn that by spending a certain amount in the first 3 months (see the Rewards section below).
- You should probably only need one of these cards at a time. We’ve calculated if you spend more than $19,000 per year, the Spark Cash will be more profitable than the Spark Cash Select. Otherwise, consider going with the Spark Cash Select, which will end up providing more cash back.
- If you have the Spark Cash, you should be sure to spend enough with the card to offset the annual fee each year. You’ll need to spend $4,750 per year to make up for that fee.
- You can earn more cash back more quickly by assigning employee cards to your employees. You’ll earn cash back whenever the cards are used, and you can set individual credit limits to control spending. Employee cards are free.
- In general, Capital One business credit cards will report to both business and personal credit bureaus, with those business bureaus being Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, and Small Business Financial Exchange. This is unlike most business cards, which only report positive activity to business bureaus and negative activity to consumer bureaus. So, your business spending could drive up your credit utilization, which could hurt your credit scores. However, starting 10/20/20 for new cardholders, the Spark Cash for Business will not report any activity to the personal credit bureaus, as long as the account remains in good standing.
- These cards don’t have foreign transaction fees, so they are good options for business trips outside the country. Most cards charge a fee of up to 3% for every purchase made when traveling abroad.
The Spark Cash is more rewarding, providing 2% cash back no matter where you shop and the largest welcome bonus.
The Spark Cash Select is next, offering 1.5% cash back on every purchase and a smaller welcome bonus.
Spark Cash Select
You can earn an unlimited amount of cash back, and it will not expire as long as your account is open.
You may be able to transfer your rewards between Capital One cards. Contact customer support for your card to learn if you can.
You can redeem the cash back you earn as a statement credit to reduce the balance of your account, or you can have it mailed to you in the form of a check. The statement credit is usually the easiest way to redeem.
Capital One provides an automatic redemption system you can set up. This will automatically redeem your cash back at either a set time every year or when it reaches a specified threshold.
There is also the option to redeem your cash back for certain purchases, gift cards, and other expenses. But these methods are subject to change and will not always grant the full value of 1 cent for every 1 cent you’ve earned. So, it’s usually best to just redeem for statement credits.
How to Offset the Annual Fee
The Capital One Spark Cash card comes with an annual fee of $95, which is waived the first year. It would be best to earn enough cash back every year to offset that fee, and then make some profit on top of that. So how much do you need to spend every year to offset the fee?
This card provides 2% cash back, so if you spend $4,750 you’ll earn exactly $95 in cash back. Any rewards you earn after that will be pure profit.
That means you should expect to spend at least $4,750 with this card every year to make sure it remains profitable for you. However, you’ll need to spend more than that to make the Spark Cash card the right choice between the two Spark Cash cards. If you won’t spend very much you should consider the Spark Cash Select, which has no annual fee but only offers 1.5% cash back.
We’ll discuss exactly how much you need to spend to make the Spark Cash card the right choice in the next section.
Which Card Is Better for You?
We saw above that you’ll need to spend $4,750 per year to offset the annual fee of the Spark Cash card. But that will only let you break even.
If you spent that much with the Spark Cash Select instead you would earn $71.25 in profit, and that would be a better strategy. Without an annual fee, that amount of spending will provide cash back every year even though you earn at a lower rate.
So how much do you need to spend per year to make the Spark Cash card, at 2% cash back, more rewarding than the Spark Cash Select at 1.5% cash back? Here are some example amounts, along with how much cash back you’ll earn after the annual fee is subtracted.
|Amount Spent Annually||Cash Back Earned (Spark Cash)||Cash Back Earned (Spark Cash Select)|
As you can see, you’ll need to spend $19,000 per year to make the Spark Cash card as profitable as the Spark Cash Select. As you spend more than that, the difference in the cash back you’ll earn grows more and more in favor of the Spark Cash card.
So, if you spend more than $19,000 per year the Spark Cash will provide more cash back and it would be the right choice for you; if you won’t spend that much, the Spark Cash Select will be more rewarding overall even though it offers a lower cash back rate.
Capital One provides the same benefits for each card.
Quarterly and Year-End Summaries
You can get custom, itemized reports of your spending to help simplify accounting and taxes. Includes primary and employee cards.
Downloadable Purchase Records
Download your records any time you’d like in a variety of formats, including Quicken®, QuickBooks™ and Excel®.
Spark Business Customer Service Representatives
Speak with specially trained reps whenever you’d like for help with any questions you have. Call toll-free, 1-800-867-0904.
Free Employee Cards
Get an unlimited number of employee cards to distribute to your employees, and earn rewards every time they use them. You can set individual credit limits for the cards.
Eligible purchases are covered for up to $10,000 against damage and theft; limited to $50,000 in coverage per cardholder.
Extended Warranty Protection
Eligible manufacturer’s warranties of three years or less can be doubled, up to one additional year.
If you find an eligible item you bought being advertised for less than you paid within 60 days, you can be reimbursed up to $500 per item, up to $2,500 per year.
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
Get access to an emergency message service, medical and legal referrals, emergency transportation, a lost luggage locator service, and more.
Call 1-800-847-2869 for help if you get stuck on the road, with assistance for flat tires, dead batteries, towing, jump starts, and whatever else you may need. Third-party fees will apply.
Lost Luggage Reimbursement
Get reimbursed up to $3,000 per eligible trip if your bags are lost by a common carrier; limited to $2,000 per bag for NY residents.
Travel Accident Insurance
Cardholders are insured up to $250,000 against accidental loss of life, limb, sight, speech, or hearing when traveling by common carrier; the ticket must be entirely paid for with the card.
The Terms & Fees
|Card||Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|Capital One Spark Cash for Business||20.99% (Variable)||20.99% (Variable)||24.49% (Variable)|
|Capital One Spark Cash Select – $500 Cash Bonus||13.24% - 19.24% (Variable)||13.24% - 19.24% (Variable)||26.99% (Variable)|
|Card||Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee|
|Capital One Spark Cash for Business||$0 intro for first year; $95 after that||None|
|Capital One Spark Cash Select – $500 Cash Bonus||$0||None|
|Card||Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|Capital One Spark Cash for Business||None||3% of the amount of the cash advance, but not less than $10|
|Capital One Spark Cash Select – $500 Cash Bonus||$0 at the Transfer APR||3% of the amount of the cash advance, but not less than $10|
|Card||Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|Capital One Spark Cash for Business||29.40% (Variable)||Up to $39||None|
|Capital One Spark Cash Select – $500 Cash Bonus||29.40% (Variable)||Up to $39||None|
Here you can see a few differences between the cards.
The Spark Cash has an annual fee, but it’s fairly small and only kicks in after the first year. As we’ve discussed above, you can offset this fee by spending $4,750 with the card per year to earn $95 in cash back.
Neither of these cards have a foreign transaction fee, making them good choices to bring with you on business trips outside the country. Most other credit cards will charge a fee, usually of 3%. They’re also Visas, so they’ll be accepted pretty much everywhere around the world.
The Bottom Line
The Spark Cash and Spark Cash Select credit cards from Capital One are both options to help you manage your business spending. They have a few small but important differences that could sway you to pick one over the other.
If you’re going back and forth between the Spark cards, consider the main ways that they are similar and different:
|Feature||Spark Cash||Spark Cash Select|
|Benefits||Full set, including business||Full set, including business|
|Annual Fee||$0 intro for first year; $95 after that||$0|
These cards are different in a few ways, but neither one is necessarily better than the other.
Would you rather earn 2% back and pay an annual fee? Or get 1.5% back and pay no fee? You can offset the annual fee on the Spark Cash by spending $4,750 per year. But remember that you’ll need to spend more than $19,000 per year before the Spark Cash becomes more profitable than the Spark Cash Select. If you won’t spend that much annually, the Spark Cash Select will be the better choice because you’ll end up with more cash back.
Consider the introductory bonuses of these cards as well, which could prove to be quite lucrative.
The additional benefits are the same, so you don’t need to compare them in that category. Take a look at your finances and your spending habits, and think about which one of these cards would bring you the most value.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive business rewards card, there are several others you might be interested in. See some alternatives to the Spark Cash cards below.
How to Apply for the Spark Business Credit Cards
You can apply for one of these Spark Business securely on Capital One’s website, and they’ll check your credit history and your business’s credit history.
The Spark Cash cards are both designed for people with excellent credit.
When you apply, you’ll need to have your basic personal information, along with business information which includes your total annual revenue and your business’s Tax ID Number or Employer ID Number.
They’ll check your credit reports from any of the three major consumer credit bureaus. The approval process can be instant or it may take a few days, and if approved you should get your card within 10 business days.
Alternatives to the Spark Business Credit Cards
The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card (Review) has no annual fee and a 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months, then 13.24% - 19.24% Variable APR. The Spark Cash Select card used to have an intro offer that is now expired.
The Ink card is quite rewarding for certain types of business owners:
You can get employee copies of the Ink card, just like the Spark cards. It also comes with a basic set of shopping and travel protections.
Overall, it has the potential to be quite a rewarding card if you frequently shop at merchants where you’ll get the 5% cash back. There’s no annual fee, so anything you earn is pure profit as long as you avoid interest and penalty fees.
The major difference between the Ink and the Spark cards is that the Spark cards offer general rewards that you’ll get no matter where you shop. The Ink card offers its best rewards in specific categories. A good strategy to maximize rewards could be to combine these cards: use the Ink whenever you’re shopping in the 5% and 2% reward categories, and use a Spark card for every other purchase.
If you’re willing to pay that price you’ll get a variety of bonus categories:
So if you want a rewards program that adapts to your business as your spending habits change throughout the year, this card might be a great choice for you. You can get up to 1 cent per point with the normal redemption methods, like for flights and gift cards. That means you’ll be earning 4% cash back in the 4X categories, 2% back in the 2X category, etc.
You can also transfer your points to participating frequent traveler programs, a great feature that can potentially make those points very valuable. In some cases you can get 2 cents per point or more, which would give you a cash back equivalent of 8% in the 4X categories. But this will vary depending on the program and what the points are used for (flights, hotel rooms, etc.).
There are many benefits with this card that could be very valuable, especially for frequent travelers. Cardholders have access to The Hotel Collection by American Express, for example, which provides discounts and credit at hotels when you book eligible stays.
The Business Gold card comes with a comprehensive set of shopping and travel protections, which are comparable to the Visa benefits of the Spark cards. American Express also provides a suite of business benefits through their OPEN program, which help you manage your account and connect with other business owners.
Overall, the Business Gold card is more rewarding than the Spark cards as long as you spend in its reward categories. And the benefits are a step up as well. But you’ll also be paying quite a bit more for it, so you’ll need to check your finances to see if you’ll use the Business Gold card enough to make it worth the fee.
American Express® Business Gold Card (Rates & Fees)
Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply.
Instead of providing rewards for every purchase or business expenses in particular, it’s meant to be used with hotels and resorts within the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio, which is very broad and includes over 6,700 locations around the world.
This card has an annual fee of $125, and there is no introductory rate on purchases. We found that you can offset the annual fee on this card by simply using your annual Free Night Award at a Marriott Bonvoy property of your choice. So this fee shouldn’t be much of an obstacle for anyone who travels often.
With this card, you’ll earn:
There’s also an option to transfer your points to a variety of airline loyalty programs. You’ll even get a 5,000 point bonus whenever you transfer 60,000 points or more.
The Marriott Bonvoy Business card provides a different value for your points depending on how you redeem them. We’ve calculated that you can earn the equivalent of at least 13.6% cash back with this card if you redeem your points for reservations at Marriott Bonvoy properties. That’s probably one of the best cash back equivalents you’re likely to find.
There are many other valuable redemption methods too, like the airline point transfers mentioned earlier, vacation packages, and much more. These are some of the most rewarding offers available with credit cards, and they definitely beat out the reward options with the Spark cards.
There is an incredible number of benefits, perks, and ways to redeem points with this card. They include automatic Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status along with discounts and special offers. And a wide variety of complimentary services, like priority late checkout and free WiFi, whenever you book eligible stays.
The Marriott Bonvoy Business card can potentially be an extremely valuable credit card, but only for travelers who tend to stay at Marriott Bonvoy properties. If that doesn’t sound like you, this card won’t do you much good and you might be better off with one of the Spark cards.
If you are a business owner who travels often, however, a great strategy could be to pair up the Marriott Bonvoy Business card with one of the Spark cards. Just use your Marriott card whenever you stay at a Bonvoy property to get your points. And then use your Spark card everywhere else to earn cash back.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (Rates & Fees)
Do you have one of the Spark Cash business credit cards from Capital One? How do you use it? Leave your own review of the Spark Cash or the Spark Cash Select below, we’d love to hear from you!
Looking for other business credit cards? Check out our picks for the Best Credit and Charge Cards for Small Businesses and Startups.
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