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Credit card showdown: Capital One Spark Cash Plus vs. Spark Miles for Business

Jan. 29, 2022
7 min read
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The Spark line of business credit cards from Capital One is built for small-business owners craving rewards for everyday, non-bonus spending. The two cards in the family with annual fees — the Capital One Spark Cash Plus and the Capital One Spark Miles for Business – are solid cards. 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 advanced redemption schemes?

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 look.

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Comparison overview

 Capital One Spark Cash PlusCapital One Spark Miles for Business
Annual fee$150.$95 (waived for the first year).
Earning rates2% cash back on all purchases.2 miles per dollar on all purchases.
Sign-up bonusUp to $3,000: $500 once you spend $5,000 in the first three months, and $2,500 once you spend $50,000 in the first six 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.
Value of rewardsN/A.1.85 cents per mile (according to TPG; valuations not provided by the issuer),
Employee cardsFree.Free.

Sign-up bonus

The Capital One Spark Cash Plus currently comes with a whopper of a sign-up bonus: Up to $3,000, broken down into $500 once you spend $5,000 in the first three months and $2,500 once you spend $50,000 in the first six months.

That’s a full $2,000 more than the previous sign-up offer on this card. With this tiered bonus, the first half of the sign-up bonus should be easy enough to attain, though business owners with smaller budgets may find the second half unachievable. The cash back can be redeemed in the form of a statement credit or a check.

The Spark Miles card earns 50,000 miles after you meet the same $4,500 spending requirement in the first three months. The miles can be used to book travel directly through Capital One or to cover a previous travel purchase made within the last 90 days at a value of one cent per mile. Another option is to transfer those miles to one of Capital One’s travel partners.

Depending on how you redeem your miles, you could get significantly greater value from them by leveraging transfer partners. That’s why 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.

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Related: Best ways to redeem Capital One miles

Earning rates

For the Spark Cash Plus, you’ll earn 2% cash back on all purchases. That’s a pretty standard return, so you can use this card to maximize non-bonus spending and make out OK.

If your business has many operating expenses, the Spark Cash Plus rewards you with an annual $200 cash bonus after you spend $200,000 in a year. This alone can more than cover the $150 annual fee, not to mention the additional opportunities to earn cash-back rewards with the sign-up bonus and the 2% rewards rate.

The Spark Miles, on the other hand, earns 2 miles per dollar on everyday business purchases. Since we value Capital One miles at 1.85 cents apiece, the Spark Miles effectively offers a 3.7% return on all spending.

Related: Best business credit cards for each category

Redemption options

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

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.

As with cash back, this redemption method is very simple. However, if you enjoy the thrill of 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.

Related: How (and why) you should earn transferable points in 2022

Other benefits

Neither of these cards charge foreign transaction fees, which comes in handy if you plan to travel internationally. Both cards also come with 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.

Related: Earn up to $3,000 cash back with the Capital One Spark Cash Plus

Bottom line

Both the Spark Cash Plus and Spark Miles cards could be great options for your small business. If you lean toward travel spending and are willing to put time into figuring out how to redeem miles for maximum value, your answer is the Spark Miles, a transferable points-earning credit card. 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. You’ll just need to judge how you want to collect — and then redeem — your rewards.

Apply for the Capital One Spark Miles for Business here.

Apply for the Capital One Spark Cash Plus here.

Additional reporting by Chris Dong, Mike Cetera, Madison Blancaflor and Jason Stauffer.

Featured image by JOHN GRIBBEN/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees