Double miles on everything: Capital One Spark Miles for Business credit card review
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The Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business has long been a solid business credit card. It became even more competitive last December when it added the ability to transfer miles to more than a dozen airline partners. Now, an impressive sign-up bonus is on the table, so it’s a great time to consider whether the Spark Miles card is a good fit for your business. Card Rating*:⭐⭐⭐⭐
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
My mom has owned and operated a small business doing accounting work and tax preparation since I was a child. Until recently, however, her small business — now grown to five employees — didn’t earn any points or miles on their business credit card. They wanted one card for all their spending, and opted for the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business — which earns cash back instead of miles — because they prefer the ease of earning cash.
But if your small business requires travel — or you want to provide travel perks to yourself or your employees by using the miles earned on business spending — the Spark Cash has a sister card, the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business, which should provide more value. In this post I’ll cover what you need to know about the Capital One Spark Miles for Business and how it can help your business, earning a flat rate of two miles per dollar spent on all purchases.
Who is this card for?
The Spark Miles for Business was created for — you guessed it — business owners looking to earn flexible rewards for their business expenses. Not everyone will be able to apply for a business card, but you may be more eligible for a business card than you think. If you sell items on the side online or freelance or drive for Uber, those count. And there are many reasons to get a business card.
This card is best for everyday purchases since it earns two miles per dollar spent on all purchases. So it’s a good fit for businesses that only want one card, don’t want to have to keep up with different spending categories and want a way to fill in the gaps on non-bonus spending. The Spark Miles is also a great starter business credit card because you can add one or more cards later that offer bonus categories such as travel, dining or office supplies, depending on the spending your business does most.
Further reading: How to choose the right credit card for your business expenses
Sign-up bonus: As much as $2,800 in value
The Spark Miles is currently offering a limited-time sign-up bonus of up to 200,000 miles: 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 in the first three months and 150,000 bonus miles when you spend $50,000 in the first six months of your account opening.
You can easily redeem your miles for a fixed value of 1 cent each, in which case the 50,000-mile bonus would be worth $500 and the full 200,000-mile bonus would be worth $2,000. But TPG’s valuations peg the value of Capital One miles at 1.4 cents because you can transfer your miles to select airline partners. So TPG values the 50,000-mile bonus at $700 and the full 200,000-mile bonus at $2,800 (bonus value based on TPG valuation and not provided by issuer).
To determine how much the sign-up bonus will be worth to you, you’ll need to consider how you’ll use your miles and how much you’ll be able to spend within your first six months with the card. But even if you can only spend $5,000 in your first three months and then redeem your miles at one cent each, you’ll still get $500 in value from the bonus — which is great considering the $95 annual fee is waived for your first year.
Main benefits and perks
The Spark Miles doesn’t offer as many perks and benefits as some pricier business cards, but it offers a surprising amount for a card with a $95 annual fee (waived the first year). For many cardholders, the biggest perk might be earning five miles per dollar spent on hotel and rental car bookings made through Capital One Travel. Based on TPG’s valuations, this is a 7% return.
Another useful perk is a statement credit for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four years (up to $100). Both programs can make travel easier, and all you need to do is pay for the application fee with your Spark Miles card. You can even use it for an employee if you want. The Spark Miles card also offers primary car rental collision coverage when you’re renting for business purposes and pay with your card, as well as secondary coverage when you rent for personal reasons.
You’ll also have access to Visa SavingsEdge, a program similar to Amex Offers that provides cardholders access to exclusive savings with participating merchants. Just remember that you’ll need to enroll in the program online and activate offers before making qualifying purchases. Plus, when you purchase eligible items with your card you’ll get purchase protection against damage or theft in the first 90 days as well as extended warranty protection that can add up to two years to an original manufacturer’s U.S. warranty.
The Spark Miles card also offers the following benefits that may be particularly useful for small businesses:
- No foreign transaction fees — Make purchases overseas without accumulating extra charges just because you’re out of the country.
- Free employee cards — Add employees as authorized users and set spending limits for their cards.
- 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.
Further reading: 5 lesser-known perks of the Capital One Spark Miles for Business
How to earn miles
The beauty of the Spark Miles is its straightforward earning structure. Outside of the five miles per dollar spent that you’ll earn on hotel and rental car bookings made through Capital One Travel, you’ll earn two miles for every dollar spent with no annual cap. Factoring in our valuation of 1.4 cents per mile, this means you’ll get a 2.8% return, which is great for everyday purchases.
Although it keeps things simple, not having any bonus categories besides hotel and rental car bookings made through Capital One Travel means that there may be more rewarding options for some purchases. If a large chunk of your credit card spending is focused in a category such as gas or office supplies, other cards offer a significantly higher return. Consider having a few business cards and using them for different types of expenses.
Further reading: These are the Capital One credit cards that earn transferable miles
How to redeem miles
You can transfer your Capital One miles to a dozen airline partners at a 2:1.5 rate, and to three more at a 2:1 rate. Since the card earns two miles per dollar spent, that basically equates to 1-1.5 miles or points with an airline transfer partner for every dollar spent with the card.
You could leverage Capital One’s transfer partners for redemptions like Lufthansa first-class award seats between the U.S. and Europe for 116,000 Capital One miles when booking through Avianca LifeMiles, or American Airlines business-class seats between the U.S. and Europe for about 67,000 Capital One miles when booking through Etihad Guest.
If you’re not sure how to transfer your Capital One miles and redeem for award flights, check out the following guides:
- How to transfer Capital One Miles to airline partners
- Best ways to redeem Capital One Miles for domestic flights
- Best ways to redeem Capital One Miles on Star Alliance airlines, Oneworld airlines and SkyTeam airlines
- To transfer or not to transfer: What to do with Capital One Miles
Although transferring your miles will get you the most bang for your buck, if it’s simplicity you’re after and you don’t want to worry about finding award space, you could redeem your miles at a fixed value of 1 cent apiece toward travel purchases. You can use your miles when booking new travel through Capital One or you can use your miles to erase any eligible travel purchase you’ve made with the card in the last 90 days. Eligible travel purchases aren’t just limited to flight and hotel bookings, but also include things like Uber rides and Airbnb stays. And there’s no minimum redemption amount as long as you’re erasing an entire purchase.
However, if you’re going to redeem your miles at a fixed rate of 1 cent apiece, you might be better off with the Spark Miles’ sibling, the Spark Cash. The Spark Cash provides more flexibility since it earns 2% cash back on all spending instead of earning miles.
Further reading: Redeeming Capital One miles for maximum value
Which cards compete with the Spark Miles?
Now that Capital One miles can be transferred to airline partners, the Spark Miles is comparable to other cards that earn transferable currencies. There are many business cards that earn transferable points or miles, so in this section we’ll focus on the best everyday spending cards for businesses that earn transferable points.
The most direct competitor of the Spark Miles is the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card From American Express. The Blue Business Plus doesn’t have an annual fee (see rates and fees) and earns two Membership Rewards® points on all purchases, but the two points per dollar spent earning is only on the first $50,000 spent annually (you’ll earn one point per dollar spent thereafter) and the card charges a 2.7% fee on foreign transactions (see rates and fees). We value Membership Rewards points slightly higher than Capital One miles (2 cents each vs 1.4), but the value you get from each currency depends on your personal travel habits and redemption goals.
From Chase, the closest competitor would be the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card. The card earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases, but you can convert these earnings to Ultimate Rewards points if you also have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. Assuming you also have one of these cards that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards, you’ll get an effective 3% return on all purchases with the Ink Business Unlimited as opposed to an effective 2.8% with the Spark Miles. Again, the return you get ultimately depends on your personal habits. And the Ink Business Unlimited charges a 3% foreign transaction fee.
If you like the idea of the Spark Miles but aren’t sold on the $95 annual fee after the first year, you might also want to consider the Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business. This light version of the card earns 1.5 miles on all spend, comes with a smaller sign-up bonus (20,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months) and carries similar benefits, including no foreign transaction fees, but doesn’t charge an annual fee.
Further reading: The best business credit cards of 2019
The value provided by the Capital One Spark Miles for Business was significantly improved when Capital One added airline transfer partners almost a year ago. And, Capital One has continued to improve the Spark Miles card with the addition of a statement credit for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee that you can get every four years.
if you’re looking for simplicity, the Spark Miles card may be a good card for all your business spending since it earns two miles per dollar spent on all purchases. But even if you already have one or more cards that earn bonus miles in certain categories, the Spark Miles card may be able to boost your earnings on purchases that don’t fall into your current bonus categories. With the elevated sign-up bonus, now’s a perfect time to see if the Spark Miles can help your business earn more on its spending.
Apply here for the Capital One Spark Miles for Business card
For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus Card, please click here.
Additional reporting by Ethan Steinberg.
Featured image by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.
LIMITED TIME OFFER: Earn up to 200,000 bonus miles with this business card, plus 5x miles on hotels and car rental booking through Capital One Travel, and 2x miles on all other purchases.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn up to 200,000 bonus miles worth up to $2,000 to spend on travel—flights, hotels and more
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months and earn 150,000 bonus miles when you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of your account opening
- Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions, and miles won't expire for the life of the account
- Earn 5X miles on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One Travel℠ using a Spark Miles card
- Transfer your miles to 10+ leading travel loyalty programs like JetBlue™, Air Canada, and Emirates™
- Redeem your miles instantly for any travel-related purchases, from flights and hotels to ride-sharing services
- Fly through security with one statement credit for either the $85 TSA Pre✓® application fee or the $100 Global Entry application fee
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that