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Capital One offers five different Spark business credit cards, and this review covers the two cards designed for travel:
These are both designed for small business owners with excellent credit, who spend quite a bit on travel each year. You’ll earn miles for every purchase you make, and you can redeem those miles to pay for your travel expenses.
Both cards offer a nearly identical suite of benefits, which are sure to make traveling a bit cheaper and more comfortable. But the Spark Miles adds a statement credit for the application fee of either Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85), lending it more appeal for travelers.
Capital One also offers a trio of cash back business cards, including one for average credit, and you can check them out in our Review of the Capital One Spark Business Credit Cards.
Consider one of the Spark Miles cards if you want to transfer your miles to an airline loyalty program — otherwise, you should look into the Spark Cash cards. They have the same terms and features (except the TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit), but the Spark Cash cards allow you to redeem your rewards as statement credits for their full value, while the Spark Miles cards do not.
Keep reading to learn more about the Spark Miles cards and see if one is right for you.
We gave the Spark Miles Select and Spark Miles cards 4 out of 5 Stars because they’re good options for business owners who travel, either infrequently or quite a bit. The Spark Miles Select is good for less traveling and spending. The Spark Miles is better for more traveling and spending.
The Spark Miles also delivers a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry statement credit for use once every four years, which backs up this conclusion.
If you spend more than $19,000 per year, the Spark Miles will be more rewarding for you, all other things being equal; if you spend less than that per year, the Spark Miles Select will provide the equivalent of more cash back overall.
These cards let you earn miles on every purchase you make, making them more flexible than some other travel reward cards when it comes to earning rewards. They each have a decent introductory bonus as a reward for spending a certain amount in the first three months. The extra benefits can save you a bit of money while traveling, and make your trips more enjoyable with discounts and room upgrades at hotels. Included are some business-specific benefits to help you manage and organize your spending.
Capital One recently introduced the ability to transfer your miles to a variety of airline loyalty programs, making these cards more valuable and flexible.
The Spark Miles cards can be used to help build your business credit because they report your regular activity to the business credit bureaus, providing another avenue for you to prove your business’s creditworthiness. There are no foreign transaction fees to worry about when traveling outside the country.
Overall, these are pretty rewarding cards with decent benefits, for a good price. The only real downside to these cards is that if you want to get the full value of 1 cent per mile, you need to redeem your miles for travel expenses in particular, rather than any kind of purchase in general. This can make them somewhat limited, depending on your situation. The Spark Cash and Spark Cash Select (Review) are very much like the Spark Miles cards, but you can redeem your rewards as statement credits to pay for any purchases you want.
Both cards offer 5X miles per dollar for hotel and rental car purchases when you book through Capital One Travel℠. Aside from that, the Spark Miles card is more rewarding, offering 2X miles per dollar spent on all other purchases while the Spark Miles Select offers 1.5X miles per dollar.
You’ll be able to redeem those miles for travel purchases at a maximum rate of 1 cent per mile. This means you’ll earn a 5% cash back equivalent for eligible bookings through Capital One Travel℠, along with the equivalent of 2% cash back on other purchases with the Spark Miles and 1.5% back on other purchases with the Spark Miles Select.
You can also transfer your points to a variety of airline partners, which may end up providing more than 1 cent per mile. In that case you’ll be getting better cash back equivalents.
As you can see, the Spark Miles card provides the better rewards, though you’ll end up paying an annual fee with that card.
There’s no limit to the number of miles you can earn, and they won’t expire as long as your account is open. If you want to transfer your miles between accounts, contact Capital One to learn if this is possible for your account.
The most valuable ways to redeem your miles are to use them to pay for travel expenses or for mile transfers. Redeeming for travel expenses will provide 1 cent per mile, while mile transfers will yield different values depending on the particular deal.
You can also redeem them for statement credits or gift cards, but these methods won’t usually provide the full 1 cent per mile so we recommend you always redeem for travel expenses or with mile transfers, which are explained below.
There are two ways to redeem miles for travel expenses:
This option allows you to pay for any eligible travel purchases you’ve made with your Spark card, which makes this the most flexible redemption option.
Just pay as you normally would, and then go to your online account to access the Purchase Eraser service. From there you can redeem your miles to pay for purchases from a wide variety of travel merchants.
This travel category is quite broad and covers most types of purchases that you would expect. You’ll be able to redeem miles to pay for purchases from:
|airlines||hotels||bus lines||taxi cabs||car rentals|
|rail lines||limo services||cruise lines||travel agents||time shares|
Redemptions will take 2–3 days to process, and only travel purchases made in the last 90 days are eligible to be paid for with the Purchase Eraser. Partial redemptions are possible.
To pay for travel reservations with your miles, log on to your account online and use Capital One’s travel service to book your reservation. You’ll have an option to pay with miles instead of by normal methods.
All fees, taxes, and surcharges are included in the cost. Separately itemized transactions cannot be combined for a single redemption.
You can transfer your Capital One miles to several different airline loyalty programs, where you might find a better value than 1 cent per mile.
Most of the transfer rates are 2:1.5 (2 Capital One miles for 1.5 partner miles), although some partners have a lesser rate.
|Airline Partner||Transfer Rate|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||2:1.5|
|Air Canada Aeroplan
|Air France KLM Flying Blue
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
|EVA Infinity MileageLands
|Hainan Fortune Wings Club
|Qantas Frequent Flyer
The Spark Miles card has an annual fee of $95, waived the first year, so you’ll want to earn enough miles to offset that cost every year. So, how much do you need to spend to earn the miles you need?
Let’s just look at the 2X rate. Since you can earn the equivalent of 2% cash back when you redeem your miles for travel expenses, you’ll need to spend $4,750 per year to earn $95 in rewards.
That will provide just enough value to offset the annual fee, but you wouldn’t earn any profit from your miles if that’s all you spent per year. At that rate you should just go with the Spark Miles Select, which only offers 1.5% cash back but has no annual fee, meaning you would have earned $71.25 in profit with the same amount of spending.
Or, if you redeem using mile transfers rather than for travel expense, you may be able to get better than 1 cent per point. In this case you wouldn’t need to spend as much to offset the annual fee. Likewise, if you can make any bookings through Capital One Travel℠ that are eligible for the 5X rate, you won’t have to spend as much.
So, at what level of spending should you pick the Spark Miles over the Spark Miles Select? We’ll answer that question in the next section.
The right card for you will largely depend on how much you plan to spend each year. Although the Spark Miles offers a higher reward rate, the annual fee makes it the more expensive option unless you spend quite a bit of money with it each year.
We’ve broken down the total cash back you’ll earn with each card at a variety of spending levels, deducting the annual fee for the Spark Miles card. We’re using a value of 1 cent per mile here.
|Amount Spent Annually||Cash Back Earned (Spark Miles)||Cash Back Earned (Spark Miles Select)|
As you can see, you’ll need to spend more than $19,000 per year to make the Spark Miles the profitable choice. The more you spend after that, the more you’ll make with the Spark Miles. If you spend less than $19,000 every year you’ll get more value from the Spark Miles Select, even though you’ll be earning rewards at a slower rate.
Capital One provides a nearly identical batch of extra benefits for both of these cards.
There’s just one exception, and that’s the TSA PreCheck/Global Entry statement credit offered by the Spark Miles card.
These cards are available at two different Visa service levels, and the benefits you get will depend on your level — Visa Platinum (basic) or Visa Signature (upgraded). This will depend on your credit history and financial situation. Check your Guide to Benefits to learn exactly which benefits you have access to.
The Spark Miles offers a statement credit that covers the application fee for either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, which is a fairly enticing benefit for frequent travelers. It’s also a good way to offset the card’s annual fee for a full year.
TSA PreCheck is a trusted traveler program that grants access to an expedited security lane at participating airports, and it costs $85 to apply for a five-year membership.
Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck, but it adds the opportunity to skip immigration lines when you’re reentering the country. Instead, you can go to a Global Entry kiosk to scan your passport and fingerprints, and then head to customs. This program’s application fee for a five-year membership is $100.
You can use the Spark Miles’ statement credit once every four years to pay for either program, so that gives you a buffer year to get everything in order.
This benefit covers the application fee of either program, but it’s important to remember that you’re not guaranteed approval. If you’re not approved on your first try, and you want to give it another shot, you’ll either have to wait until the four years is up or foot the bill on your own.
These cards report your activity to the business credit bureaus Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Small Business Financial Exchange. They also report activity to the regular consumer bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
This is a pretty unique feature because most business credit cards, which have the word “business” in their name, don’t actually report your regular activity to either the business credit bureaus or the personal credit bureaus; instead, they only report to the personal credit bureaus when you perform a negative action, like a late or returned payment.
The Spark cards provide a way to build up your business credit, unlike most other business cards which will only affect your personal credit when you do something negative. This feature makes these cards stand out among business credit cards.
You can get custom, itemized reports of your spending to help simplify accounting and taxes. Includes primary and employee cards.
Download your records any time you’d like in a variety of formats, including Quicken®, QuickBooks™ and Excel®.
Speak with specially trained reps whenever you’d like for help with any questions you have. Call toll-free, 1-800-867-0904.
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.
Call the number on the back of your card for non-emergency help with a variety of tasks, like making travel arrangements, getting tickets to events or reservations at restaurants, and finding hard-to-find gifts.
Get up to 15% off at merchants when you shop through the Visa SavingsEdge shopping portal. You’ll find deals at gas stations, hotel chains, restaurants, office supply merchants, tech websites, and more.
Frequent travelers should take note of this benefit, because it provides a variety of perks, discounts, and complimentary services at over 900 hotels around the world, including most of the top brands. When staying at these participating resorts and hotels, Visa Signature cardholders will receive the following benefits:
Visa Signature cardholders get discounts at over 50 wineries in Sonoma County, California.
The benefits at wineries include:
A rotating selection of sports-related discounts and benefits.
One example is an invitation to join Troon Rewards, the reward program of the Troon golf course and merchandise company. This will give you a 10% discount on golf fees and merchandise at Troon courses around the world. Current Troon Rewards members can receive an upgrade in status, either to Gold (15% discount) or Platinum (20% discount).
Visa Signature cardholders have access to a rotating selection of discounts and offers at a wide variety of retailers. There is a nice selection to choose from, with both online and offline offers, and it includes many popular brands so it’s worth checking before you make any major purchase.
Some current examples (at the time this was published) include:
These cards also come with several perks to help out when shopping. You’ll get Purchase Security to cover your items against theft and damage, and an Extended Warranty to protect your purchases longer than usual. Visa Signature-level cards will also get Price Protection, which will reimburse you if you find an item you bought being advertised for a lesser price.
Terms and limitations apply.
You’ll get some travel protections with these cards, like Travel and Emergency Assistance to help you find emergency services when you need them, and an Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver to lighten the cost of your car rentals.
Visa Signature cardholders will also get the Roadside Dispatch service for on-the-road emergency referrals, like tire changes and towing. Travel Accident Insurance is included as well, which provides coverage on common carriers, and the Lost Luggage Reimbursement service will provide up to $3,000 in reimbursement if your luggage is lost or stolen.
Terms and limitations apply.
|Card||Annual Fee||Intro APR for Purchases||Regular APR for Purchases and Balance Transfers||Cash Advance APR||Foreign Transaction Fee|
|Spark Miles Select||$0||0% intro on purchases for 9 months||14.74% - 22.74% Variable||24.74% Variable||None|
|Spark Miles||$0 intro for first year; $95 after that||Not Available||18.74% Variable||24.74% Variable||None|
|Card||Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|Spark Miles Select||31.15% Variable||Up to $39||None|
|Spark Miles||31.15% Variable||Up to $39||None|
As you can see, there are a few simple differences between these cards. The less-rewarding Spark Miles Select has no annual fee, and you’ll also get a 0% intro APR for purchases for 9 months. After that, your regular APR may be a bit lower as well, depending on your credit and financial situation.
The Spark Miles has an annual fee after the first year, though it’s on the small end for travel rewards cards. You won’t get an intro APR with this card, but you can avoid interest charges by simply paying off your balance in full each month (this applies to all credit cards).
Neither of these cards has a foreign transaction fee, a great feature to have on a travel credit card. This makes them both good options if you need a card for spending outside the country. Many credit cards will charge a fee for this, often as high as 3%.
The Spark Miles Select for Business and Spark Miles for Business by Capital One are good travel rewards cards for small business owners. The Spark Miles is designed for people who travel fairly often while the Spark Miles Select can be used effectively by people who don’t travel very much.
Although they are travel-oriented, they both report your credit activity to the business credit bureaus, providing a way to improve your business credit that most credit cards don’t offer. They also have a number of valuable business benefits to help you manage spending and track activity.
Since they offer most of the same benefits, you only need to consider their rewards and costs if you’re trying to pick between the two.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what makes them different:
|Feature||Spark Miles||Spark Miles Select|
|Annual Fee||$95 (waived the first year)||None|
|Intro APR||None||9-month 0% APR on purchases (then 14.74% - 22.74% Variable APR)|
Would you pay the annual fee on the Spark Miles in order to earn more rewards and reap the benefits of the TSA PreCheck/Global Entry statement credit? Or should you go with the Spark Miles Select at no annual fee but lesser rewards, along with a nice 0% intro APR? Remember, you can redeem your rewards for travel expenses to get 1 cent per mile, or use mile transfers to potentially get a better value.
Neither card is necessarily better than the other — they’re just designed for different levels of spending. We calculated above that you’ll need to spend more than $19,000 per year with the Spark Miles card before it becomes more rewarding overall than the Spark Miles Select.
So if you’re going back and forth between these cards, this should be your cutoff point: If you expect to spend less than $19,000 per year with the card, go with the Spark Miles Select. If you expect to spend more than $19,000 per year, go with the Spark Miles.
There are many credit cards, and a Spark card might not be best for you; take a look at some good alternative cards below.
You can apply for the Spark Miles or Spark Miles Select securely on Capital One’s website.
You’ll be taken to Capital One to apply, and they will check both your personal credit history and your business’s credit history. These cards are both designed for excellent credit, so you’ll need a mostly positive record and strong financial situation.
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. 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.
The Capital One Spark Cash for Business and Spark Cash Select for Business (Review) are each almost identical to the Spark Miles and Spark Miles Select, respectively. They have the same reward structure, benefits, costs, and fees, excluding the TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit provided by the Spark Miles. The only other difference is that the Cash cards offer cash back as the spending reward, while the Miles cards offer miles.
Does this make a big difference? Yes.
Although it seems like a small detail, this makes it easier to redeem your rewards with the Spark Cash cards. This is because you’ll get the full value of that cash back whenever you redeem it for a statement credit, so you can effectively use it to pay for any of your past purchases — not just travel.
Compare that to the Spark Miles cards, where you can redeem your miles to pay for travel expenses from the last 90 days to get 1 cent per mile out of them. Or you can go for a point transfer, which could yield 2 cents per point or more. So you could potentially get more out of the Spark Miles cards, but it would take some extra work.
Your miles won’t expire so you can hold on to them as long as you need, but this is less convenient than just getting cash back. If you don’t travel often or you forget to redeem past the 90-day limit, you may not be able to redeem your rewards in a timely manner with the Miles cards.
Another minor difference is that the Spark Miles cards allow you to use your miles to book travel through Capital One, while you can’t do that with the Spark Cash cards. However, this redemption method doesn’t actually save you money — the miles are still worth 1 cent each — so there is no significant convenience here.
But a big difference is that the Spark Miles cards allow you to transfer your rewards to partner airlines, where you could get more than 1 cent per mile. The Spark Cash cards do not have this ability.
So, if you don’t plan to transfer your miles to a partner airline, the Spark Cash cards are always the better choice compared to the Spark Miles cards. They come with nearly all the same benefits, and they have identical interest rates and fees; it’s just easier to claim your rewards with the Spark Cash cards.
Read more in our Review of the Capital One Spark Cash Back Business Credit Cards
The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card (Review) is very rewarding for a card without an annual fee, coming with a 0% Intro APR on Purchases intro APR for purchases only for 12 months. After that you’ll get a rate of 14.74% - 20.74% Variable. The Spark Miles Select has a shorter intro period of only 9 months for purchases only.
The Ink Business Cash provides 5% cash back at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services. This is one of the highest rewards you’re likely to find for office supplies and services on a credit card. You’ll also get 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, which is just as good as the Spark Miles. The Ink card offers $500 cash back for spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, which is a bit better than the Miles cards.
This card comes with standard extra benefits, like travel and shopping protections, but it won’t offer the same kinds of truly valuable perks you’ll get through Visa Signature with the Spark Miles cards — especially the Luxury Hotel Collection.
You can get employee copies of the Ink card to maximize your rewards, just like the Spark cards. The Ink card does have a foreign transaction fee of 3%, however, so you won’t want to use it outside country.
Since the Ink card offers category-specific rewards and the Spark Miles cards offer general rewards, you don’t have to pick between them if you like them both. Just pay with your Ink card whenever you’ll earn 5% or 2% cash back with it, and use your Miles card for everything else.
Read more in our Review of the Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card
The American Express® Business Gold Card (Review) has an annual fee of $295, making it quite a bit more expensive than the Spark Miles cards. But for that price you’ll get enhanced rewards and benefits, and they may be worth the cost for you (Rates & Fees).
This is a charge card, so you’ll need to pay off your balance in full every billing cycle. There are no interest rates because you can never carry a balance from month to month.
You’ll get a variety of bonus categories to earn rewards in:
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
You’ll earn 4X points in the two categories that your business spends the most in each month, and 1X in the others. This makes the card very flexible, able to adapt to your business needs as they change throughout the year.
The Business Gold card lets you transfer the points you earn to a number of different frequent traveler programs, where they can potentially be much more valuable to you. We’ve found deals that provide 2 cents per point or more, which would give you a cash back equivalent of 8% when spending in the 4X categories.
You’ll get some good benefits with this card, such as basic travel and shopping protections, along with access to the American Express OPEN Business benefits. These include expense management tools, a spending analyzer, and the ability to participate in the OPEN business forum where you can communicate with other business owners.
This is a good card to use to fund a business because it has no pre-set spending limit. This doesn’t mean there is no spending limit; it means that the limit will change over time as you use it. There is also an option to pay for certain purchases over time, rather than needing to pay them off in full at the end of the billing cycle as usual.
There’s no foreign transaction fee with the Business Gold card (Rates & Fees).
Read more in our Review of the American Express Business Gold Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (Review) is one of the most rewarding credit cards available, designed for people who travel at least a few times per year and like to stay at Marriott properties. It comes with an annual fee of $125, and there is no intro APR offer (Rates & Fees).
This card is different than the Spark Miles and the other cards above because it’s designed to be used with one hotel brand in particular: Marriott Bonvoy, which includes its portfolio of hotels and resorts and covers over 6,800 locations around the world. Those purchases will provide up to 6 points per dollar.
You’ll also get 4 points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants and gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased from U.S. providers, and on U.S. shipping purchases. An introductory bonus of 75,000 points is available for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
You can redeem those points for a wide variety of great discounts and services, and that’s what makes this card so valuable. You can get free night stays, room upgrades, credit for flights, and more. One of the best ways to redeem is to get your fifth night free on a stay of five nights or more.
Points can be transferred to frequent traveler programs, and this is an excellent way to use them because you’ll be earning points at such a high rate when you stay at Marriott properties. You’ll also get a 15,000 point bonus every time you transfer 60,000 points or more, making transfers even more profitable.
You’ll be able to offset the $125 annual fee on this card by simply taking advantage of the annual Free Night Award, which begins after your first anniversary as a cardholder. The credit can be used for hotels up to Category 5, and these rooms often range in price from around $130 to $300 or more. Even a mid-priced room, at $200, would offset the annual fee for a year and a half or so. And that’s not even taking the card’s additional benefits into account (Rates & Fees).
The extra perks and benefits are solid too. They include complimentary Silver Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy, a fast track to Gold Elite status, complimentary Boingo WiFi, and more. There are no foreign transaction fees, so you can bring this card to different hotels around the world without paying extra (Rates & Fees).
As you can see, the Bonvoy Business card is more complicated than the Spark Miles cards, but it also has more to offer. The annual fee is higher the Spark Miles (Rates & Fees). That being said, the Marriott card is still only useful if you often stay at Marriott Bonvoy locations. There are quite a few brands included, however, and they span the world, so it probably won’t be much trouble finding eligible properties.
Read more in our Review of the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
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