Unlimited 2% cash back on everything: Capital One Spark Cash for Business credit card review
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The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business provides 2% cash back on all purchases, making it a solid card for everyday spending as well as a compelling choice for businesses that want one card to use for all their spending. Card Rating*:⭐⭐⭐1/2
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
When I started working to maximize my own credit card spending, I was surprised to learn that my mom’s small business wasn’t earning any points, miles or cash back on its spending. She was open to getting a new card, but was insistent that her company would use one card for all business spending — she and her employees didn’t want to worry about remembering to use the correct card each time they made a purchase. So, they opted for the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business.
The information for the Capital One Spark Cash has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
The Spark Cash earns 2% cash back on every purchase, with no cap to the cash back you receive each year. You can use this cash back on whatever you’d like. My parents cover their annual property taxes on their office condo using their cash back, but you have the freedom to decide when and how to use yours.
Whether you use the Spark Cash as your primary business card or only use it for purchases that don’t fall into the bonus categories on your other business cards, it’s one of the best business credit cards for flat-rate cash back. So, let’s take a look at what this card is all about.
Who is this card for?
There are a few types of small business owners for whom the Spark Cash makes the most sense:
The time-strapped entrepreneur
It can take a lot of time and energy to track your points and miles and figuring out how to redeem them for maximium value. The Spark Cash takes away all the guessing, since you’ll earn the same 2% fixed-rate cash back on all your business spending. This means you won’t get the benefit of high-value bonus categories or the outsized returns that some transferable points can unlock, but if your top priority in a business rewards credit card is ease of use, leaving a few bucks on the table may not be among your chief concerns. The Spark Cash is a great card to add to your wallet if you’re looking to maximize cash back returns while still keeping 100% of your mental effort focussed on growing your business.
The business that doesn’t spend on travel or other typical business needs
If your firm spends very little money on office supplies or travel, a rewards credit card that offers bonus rewards for earning in these categories or earns points or miles that are best used for travel may not make much sense. Instead, you may be better off opting for a card like the Spark Cash that offers a decent fixed-rate reward on all its spending.
The owner looking to fill in the blanks
If you already have a business card that offers bonus points in categories where your business spends a lot, such as travel, dining and office supplies, then it might be time to switch gears and add a card that can help you maximize rewards for nonbonus purchases.If your business doesn’t spend much in non-bonus categories, you may be fine accepting a smaller return on these purchases. But, if you incur significant expenses for which you don’t currently get bonus earnings, you may want to get the Spark Cash to use on these everyday purchases.
Further reading: How to choose the right credit card for your business expenses
A $500 sign-up bonus
The Spark Cash offers a sign-up bonus of $500 once you spend $4,500 on purchases within three months from account opening.
This bonus is on top of the 2% cash back you’ll earn on all purchases. This means you’ll earn an effective 13% return on the first $4,500 you spend within your first three months. That’s a great initial return for a flat-rate cash back business card with a $95 annual fee that’s waived your first year. You’ll also earn 2% cash back on your first $4,500 in spending.
Main benefits and perks
You won’t see the travel-related benefits that high-end business travel rewards credit cards offer, but the Spark Cash does come with a selection of perks to help small business owners that are a great value relative to its annual fee.
Perhaps most importantly, you can get employee cards at no additional cost and you’ll earn the same 2% cash back on their spending as well. Note that if employees are allowed to use the account, they’ll be authorized users and will have equal charging privileges unless you establish individual spending limits.
You’ll also have zero fraud liability if your card is lost or stolen and you can get automatic fraud alerts via text, email or phone call. Historically I’ve put little value in this benefit, but the way Capital One handled fraudulent changes for my mom’s business when they had a compromised card provided assurance to her firm and allowed them to get back to work quicker.
When you rent a car for business purposes using your Spark Cash, you can decline the rental car company’s collision insurance and be covered by the card up to the cash value of the vehicle in the case of theft or collision damage. This is valid on most rentals in the U.S. and abroad, and coverage is primary if the vehicle rental is for commercial and/or business purposes, which means you can make a claim without involving your own personal car insurance policy. If you rent for personal reasons, the coverage will be secondary.
Other benefits and perks on the Spark Cash include:
- Purchase protection — Covers eligible new purchases on your card for up to 90 days against damage or theft.
- Extended warranty protection — Doubles the length of the manufacturer’s warranty on eligible new purchases made with your card.
- Lost luggage reimbursement — Checked or carry-on luggage is covered if lost or stolen when you charge your ticket to the card.
- No foreign transaction fees — Make purchases overseas without accumulating extra charges just because you’re out of the country.
- Easy accounting — Download your purchase records quickly and securely to multiple formats including Quicken, Quickbooks and Excel.
- Travel and emergency assistance services — A wide range of emergency services including legal or medical referrals, ticket replacement and more.
- Account and business management tools — Pick your own monthly due date, set up AutoPay and download year-end itemized reports of spending.
- Assign an employee as account manager — This employee can then make purchases and payments, review transactions and resolve any problems on the account.
If you compare the Spark Cash card to its sister card, the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business, you’ll find that the Spark Miles provides two additional benefits for the same annual fee: up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years and five Capital One miles per dollar spent on hotel and rental car bookings when paid with the card through Capital One Travel. If either of these benefits would be useful to your business — or you want to earn Capital One miles that can be redeemed toward travel instead of cash back — then check out our review of the Spark Miles to see if that card would be a better fit for you. The information for the Capital One Spark Miles for Business has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
How to earn
Earning is simple and straightforward with the Spark Cash: you’ll earn unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases. There’s huge value to be had in simplicity, in this case not having to keep track of any bonus categories or annual limits when you go to use your card.
But if you’re looking to maximize your earnings, you’ll want to also have one or more other cards that earn bonus cash back in the categories where your business spends the most. For example if your business spends a lot at office supply stores or on internet, phone or cable services, you may want to put these expenses on the Ink Business Cash Credit Card to earn 5% cash back on up to $25,000 in combined purchases in these categories each account anniversary year. And, you can still use the Spark Cash to earn 2% cash back on all your other business purchases. The information for the Ink Business Cash has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Further reading: The top five business cash-back credit cards
How to redeem
There isn’t much to say about redemptions on the Spark Cash — you simply redeem your earned cash back in any amount, either in the form of a statement credit or a check. You can also set up automatic redemptions at a set time each calendar year or when you hit a specific dollar figure in earned cash back. You can also redeem for credits for previous purchases or for gift cards, although redemption values vary.
Which cards compete with Spark Cash?
The Spark Cash provides 2% cash back on all purchases. Although cards like the Ink Business Cash Credit Card and the Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card provide higher cash back earning on purchases in select categories, these cards only provide 1% cash back on everyday spending. As such, these cards aren’t true competitors to the Spark Cash. Instead, they are cards to consider getting in addition to the Spark Cash if you’re looking to book your earnings in select categories. The information for the Bank of American Business Advantage card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Likewise, cards like the Capital One Spark Miles for Business and Blue Business® Plus Credit Card From American Express earn a set rate of transferable points or miles on all purchases. If you can put these points or miles to use and are willing to take the time to determine how to redeem them for maximum value, you may be able to get a higher return.
But, the cards that compete directly with the Spark Cash provide cash back at a set rate on all purchases. Here are three cards that directly compete with the Spark Cash in this manner:
For a limited time, you can earn up to $300 cash back; up to $100 in the form of statement credits at each of the following merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make an eligible purchase with your card within the first three months of account opening. Offer ends 11/4/2020. The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card earns 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%. Especially since American Express business cards don’t count toward Chase’s 5/24 rule, the Amex Blue Business card may be a better choice if your business doesn’t spend much more than $50,000 each year in credit card spend. However, the Amex Blue Business Card does charge a 2.7% foreign transaction fee (see rates and fees) so it won’t be the card for you if your business makes purchases with merchants outside the U.S.
The Ink Business Unlimited earns 1.5% cash back per dollar spent on all purchases and doesn’t charge an annual fee. If you pair this card with an Ultimate Rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, its rewards redemption value can be higher than Spark Cash. But, then you’ll need to pay an annual fee for one of the additional cards to enable transfers to Ultimate Rewards transfer partners.
Mathematically, assuming you’re looking for a card that you’ll use for all your business expenses, you’d need to spend $19,000 per year — or about $1,584 per month — to justify the Spark Cash over the Ink Business Unlimited after the first year.
However, both cards have unique benefits that may lead you to choose one over the other. For example, the Ink Business Unlimited card won’t count against your Chase 5/24 count but levies a 3% foreign transaction fee. Check out our full card review for the Ink Business Unlimited to learn more about the card.
The information for the Ink Business Unlimited and Ink Business Preferred has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
The Spark Cash Select is a no annual fee version of the Spark Cash that earns 1.5% cash back per dollar spent on all purchases. So, you’re trading half a percentage point in rewards value to avoid an annual fee. That — and a smaller sign-up bonus — is the main difference between the Spark Cash Select and the Spark Cash. As with the Ink Business Unlimited, if your business spends more than $19,000 per year, you’ll get enough cash back to justify having the Spark Cash instead of the Spark Cash Select.
The information for the Capital One Spark Cash Select has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Further reading: Best business credit cards
There are business credit cards on the market that will earn a greater return than the Capital One Spark Cash for Business. But, for business owners that don’t want to worry about bonus categories or finding the best way to redeem points or miles, the Spark Cash can be a simple solution that provides a consistent return on each purchase.
It also makes for a sound second credit card if you’re looking to boost your earning on everyday non-bonus spending. And, if you travel internationally, this card is also handy to have for purchases abroad since it charges no foreign transaction fees.
For rates and fees of the Amex Blue Business Cash, please click here.
Featured image by TPG staff.
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