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Capital One offers five different Spark business credit cards, and this review covers the two cards designed for travel:
- The Capital One Spark® Miles Select® for Business: 1.5 miles per dollar, no annual fee, 0% intro APR for 9 months (with a regular 14.74%–22.74% Variable APR after that)
- The Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business: 2 miles per dollar, $95 annual fee (waived the first year)
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 come with a nice set of extra benefits as well, which are sure to make traveling a bit cheaper and more comfortable.
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.
If you’re considering one of the Spark Miles cards, you should know that the Spark Cash cards are better options all around. They have the same terms and features, but the Spark Cash cards allow you to redeem your rewards as statement credits for their full value.
Keep reading to learn more about the Spark Miles cards, but remember that the Spark Cash cards are more useful.
Our Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
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, with no annual fee and offering 1.5 miles per dollar, is good for less traveling and spending. The Spark Miles — $95 annual fee, 2 miles per dollar — is better for more traveling and spending.
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, rather than certain categories, making them more flexible than some other travel reward cards when it comes to earning rewards. They each have a decent signup bonus as a reward for spending a certain amount in the first 3 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.
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.
Insider Advice: Using These Cards as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy
- The Spark Cash business cards are better than the Spark Miles cards because they allow you to redeem your rewards for statement credits, rather than being limited to travel expenses like the Spark Miles cards.
- The Spark Miles card is appropriate if you’ll spend more than $19,000 per year, because that will earn you more rewards value after the annual fee. Otherwise, you’ll earn more with the Spark Miles Select.
- Choose one of these cards or another Capital One Spark card if you are looking to build business credit history, since they report to major business credit bureaus.
- Don’t get one of these cards if you want to build your personal credit history, since business cards differ from regular credit cards in some important ways.
- Plan your spending to hit the signup bonus for either card so you don’t miss out on that extra $200–500 in reward value.
- Use the 9-month 0% intro APR offer on the Spark Miles Select like an interest-free loan to help get your business off the ground. Don’t forget to make your minimum payments every month. After the introductory period, the regular 14.74%–22.74% Variable APR applies.
- Read the Guide to Benefits that comes with your card to make the most of all the perks that come with it, like discounts through the Luxury Hotel Collection. These cards are issued at either the Visa Traditional or Visa Signature tier, and the benefits vary depending on which you get.
- Earn rewards more quickly by distributing free copies of these cards to your employees. Individual credit limits can be set on employee cards.
- Bring these cards with you when traveling outside the country because they have no foreign transaction fees to worry about.
The Spark Miles card is more rewarding, offering 2 miles per dollar spent while the Spark Miles Select offers 1.5 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 the Spark Miles provides the equivalent of 2% cash back and the Spark Miles Select provides the equivalent of 1.5% cash back, as long as you redeem those miles for travel expenses.
Spark Miles Select
- 1.5X miles per dollar on all purchases
- 20,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 on purchases in 3 months
- 2X miles per dollar on all purchases
- 50,000 bonus miles for spending $4,500 on purchases in 3 months
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 way to redeem your miles is to use them to pay for travel expenses, which will provide 1 cent per mile.
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.
There are two ways to redeem miles for travel expenses:
- To pay for past travel purchases you’ve made with your card, using the Purchase Eraser® service
- To pay for travel reservations booked through Capital One
Pay for Past Travel Purchases with Purchase Eraser
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.
Pay for Travel Reservations Booked Through Capital One
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.
How to Offset the Annual Fee
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?
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.
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.
Which Card is Better for You?
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.
|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 the same set of extra benefits for both of these cards.
These cards are available at two different Visa service levels, and the benefits you get will depend on your level — Visa Traditional (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.
Reports to Business Credit Bureaus
These cards report your activity to the business credit bureaus Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, and Small Business Financial Exchange. 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.
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.
24/7 Concierge Service
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.
Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection
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:
- Best available rate guarantee
- Automatic room upgrade upon arrival, when available
- Complimentary in-room Wi-Fi, when available
- Complimentary continental breakfast daily
- $25 USD food or beverage credit
- VIP Guest status
- 3PM check-out upon request, when available
Fine Wine & Food
Visa Signature cardholders get discounts at over 50 wineries in Sonoma County, California.
The benefits at wineries include:
- Purchase 1 standard tasting using a Visa Signature card and receive 1 complimentary tasting of equal or lesser value
- Preferred pricing on non-wine purchases over $50, where applicable
- Savings on wine purchased same day in the Tasting Room
- Savings on Reserve tasting or special wine and food pairings
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:
- Save $10 on purchases of $50 or more at GNC.com
- Buy a $75.00 Macy’s eGift card & get a $5.00 Macy’s eGift card
- Save 20% on purchases of $200 or more at Cole Haan (online or in-store)
- Buy/renew a 3-month Audible Gold Gift Membership for $45 plus applicable taxes and receive a $5 Amazon.com gift card
- Free Pearl Harbor Tote Bag with purchase of $25 or more at USS Arizona Memorial Museum Store in Hawaii
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.
The Costs & Fees
|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% for 9 months||14.74%–22.74% Variable||24.74% Variable||0%|
|Spark Miles||$0 for the first year, then $95||Not Available||18.74% Variable||24.74% Variable||0%|
|Card||Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|Spark Miles Select||31.15% Variable||Up to $39||See Terms|
|Spark Miles||31.15% Variable||Up to $39||See Terms|
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 Bottom Line
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 the same extra 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|
|Cash Back||2 miles per dollar||1.5 miles per dollar|
|Spending Bonus||50,000 miles for spending $4,500||20,000 miles for spending $3,000|
|Annual Fee||$95 (waived the first year)||None|
|Intro APR||None||9-month 0% APR on purchases (then 14.74%–22.74% Variable ARP)|
Would you pay the annual fee on the Spark Miles in order to earn more rewards? 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’ll need to redeem your rewards for travel expenses in order to get the best value of 1 cent per mile.
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.
How to Apply for the Spark Miles or Spark Miles Select Credit Cards
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.
Alternatives to the Capital One Spark Miles Business Cards
- Capital One Spark Cash and Spark Cash Select for Business: (Review): The two Spark Cash cards are just like the two Spark Miles cards, except they offer cash back instead of miles
- Chase Ink Business Cash Card (Review): No annual fee, 0% intro APR for 12 months for purchases and balance transfers, up to 5% cash back on certain purchases
- The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express (Review): $175 annual fee waived the first year, up to 3X points on certain categories of your choice, must be paid in full monthly
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express (Review): $95 annual fee waived the first year, very rewarding for Starwood guests, many valuable hotel and resort benefits
Capital One Spark Cash Credit Cards
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. The only different 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 the Spark Cash cards more versatile than the Spark Miles 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 have to redeem your miles to pay for travel expenses from the last 90 days to get the full value of 1 cent per mile out of them. 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.
So, the Spark Cash cards are almost always the better choice compared to the Spark Miles cards. They come with 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.
Chase Ink Business Cash
The Chase Ink Business Cash Card (Review) is very rewarding for a card without an annual fee, coming with a 0% intro APR for both purchases and balance transfers for 12 months. 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 $300 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.
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express (Review) has an annual fee of $175, waived the first year, making it 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.
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 be able to choose your own reward category to earn 3 points per dollar in, which is the equivalent of 3% cash back. You can pick one of the following categories:
- airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases for shipping
- U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers
Then you’ll earn 2 points per dollar on all the remaining categories that you didn’t choose (equivalent to 2% cash back). There’s also a signup bonus of 50,000 points for spending $5,000 in 3 months, which is the equivalent of $500.
The Business Gold Rewards 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 that you can find deals that provide the equivalent of at least 4.2% cash back, depending on how and where you transfer the points.
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 this card, but your first employee card will cost a fee of $50 per year, waived the introductory year. Additional employee cards are free.
Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card
The Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card from American Express (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 Starwood properties. It comes with an annual fee of $95 (waived the first year), and there is no intro APR offer.
This card is different than the Spark Miles and the other cards above because it’s designed to be used with one merchant in particular: Starwood Preferred Guest, which includes their portfolio of hotels and resorts, which covers over 1,300 locations around the world. Those purchases will provide up to 5 Starpoints per dollar. You’ll also get 2 Starpoints per dollar for purchases at participating Marriott Rewards hotels. A signup bonus of 25,000 Starpoints is available for spending $5,000 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 access to exclusive VIP moments. One of the best ways to redeem is to get your fifth night free on a stay of five nights or more; we’ve found that you can get the equivalent of over 13% cash back using that method!
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 SPG properties. In one example we found that you could easily redeem your points at a cash back equivalent of 7.8%, for a value of 1.96 cents per point. You’ll also get a 5,000 point bonus every time you transfer 20,000 points or more, making transfers even more profitable.
You’ll be able to offset the $95 annual fee on this card by spending only $750 per year, as long as you don’t mind redeeming your points for a free night at a category 1 hotel. If you want to upgrade and spend that night in a category 4 hotel, you’ll need to spend $2,500 per year to offset the fee.
The extra perks and benefits are exceptional too. They include access to Sheraton® Club Lounges when booking eligible rooms, a fast track to the upgraded SPG Gold status, complimentary internet access, and more. There are no foreign transaction fees, so you can bring this card to different hotels around the world without paying extra.
As you can see, the Starwood Preferred Guest card is more complicated than the Spark Miles cards, but it also has much more to offer. The annual fee is the same as the Spark Miles. That being said, the Starwood card is still only useful if you often stay at Starwood Preferred Guest 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.
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