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The Capital One Spark Miles for Business has long been a solid business card pick, but was never truly competitive due to the lack of transfer partners. However, that’s changing come December 2018 and definitely deserves another look.
The card is currently offering the highest welcome bonus of any business credit card and comes with valuable perks like primary car rental coverage and no foreign transaction fees. It has a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year.
Who Is This Card For?
The Capital One Spark Miles for Business was created for — you guessed it — business owners looking to earn flexible rewards for their business expenses. While this means that not everyone will be able to apply, you may be more eligible for a business card than you think, given that selling items on the side online and freelancing counts.
The card is best for everyday purchases so anyone looking to fill in the gaps on non-bonus spending will want to consider it. It’s also a great starter business credit card, though it might make sense for you to pair it with one that offers bonus categories like travel and dining or office supplies, depending on the types of spending your business does most.
For a limited time, the Spark Miles comes with a welcome bonus of up to 200,000 Capital One miles. You’ll earn 50,000 miles when you spend $5,000 in the first three months, plus another 150,000 miles when you spend $50,000 in the first six months. While that may seem like a high spending requirement, this is a business card after all and many companies should be able to easily meet that number with their normal expenses. Once airline transfer partners go live in December, the 200,000 miles from the sign-up bonus will be worth a stellar $2,800 based on our valuations — the highest welcome bonus of any business card currently available.
In reality, if you reach the minimum spends, you’ll actually be walking away with even more miles than that. Since the card earns 2 miles per dollar (more on that soon), the $50,000 in spending to meet that second tier would get you another 100,000 miles on top of the sign-up bonus, meaning you could get a whopping 300,000 miles total, worth $4,200 based on our valuations.
The beauty of the Spark Miles is how straightforward its earning structure is. You’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar spent with no annual cap. Factoring in our valuation of 1.4 cents per mile, you’re basically getting a 2.8% return on all spend, which is great for everyday purchases.
Although it keeps things simple, not having any bonus categories also means that there may be more rewarding options for certain purchases. For example, The Business Platinum® Card from American Express earns 5x points (a return of 10%) on flights purchased through Amex, and the Ink Business Cash Credit Card earns 5% cash back (a return of 10% when paired with an Ultimate Rewards-earning card) on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year. Fortunately, there are no rules that restrict you from pairing each of these cards.
Starting in December, you’ll be able to transfer your miles to a dozen airline partners at a 2:1.5 rate. Since the card earns 2x miles on everyday spend, that basically equates to 1.5 miles or points with an airline transfer partner for every dollar spent with the card. Some redemptions you could unlock by leveraging Capital One’s transfer partners include Lufthansa first-class award seats for 116,000 Capital One miles through Avianca LifeMiles and American Airlines business-class seats to Europe for about 67,000 Capital One miles through Etihad Guest.
Although transferring your miles will get you the most bang for your buck, if it’s simplicity you’re after and don’t want to worry about blackout dates or finding award space, you could redeem your miles at a fixed value of 1 cent apiece when booking new travel through Capital One or “erasing” any eligible travel purchase you’ve made with the card in the last 90 days. Eligible travel purchases aren’t limited to flight and hotel bookings, but also include things like Uber rides and Airbnb stays and there’s no minimum redemption amount.
If you want additional flexibility and would rather put money back into your business, you might be better off with the Spark Miles’ sibling, the Capital One Spark Cash for Business, to earn 2% cash back on all spend.
The card benefits on the Spark Miles are identical to those offered by the Spark Cash. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s included with this Visa Business card:
Purchase protection — Covers your new purchases for up to 90 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account.
Auto rental collision damage waiver — When you rent car for business purposes using Spark Miles, 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 US and abroad, and coverage is primary, which means it applies before your own car insurance policy. If the rental is for personal reasons rather than business reasons, though, coverage is secondary.
Extended warranty — Extends the time period of a US manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year on eligible warranties of three years or less.
No foreign transaction fees — Allows you to make purchases overseas without accumulating extra charges just because you’re out of the country.
Visa SavingsEdge — Similar to Amex Offers, cardholders have access to exclusive savings with participating merchants. You must enroll in the program online and activate offers before making qualifying purchases.
Free employee cards — Add employees as authorized users and rack up rewards through their per diem spending.
Which Cards Compete With the Spark Miles?
Now that Capital One is introducing airline transfer partners, the card is in the same general category as American Express Membership Rewards- and Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning cards.
The most direct competitor of the Spark Miles is the Blue Business℠ Plus Card From American Express. The card doesn’t have an annual fee and also earns 2x points on all purchases, but it’s capped at the first $50,000 spent annually (then 1x points thereafter). 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 option would be the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card. The card earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases (a return of 3% when paired with an Ultimate Rewards-earning card) and comes with a $500 (or 50,000-point) welcome bonus after you spend $3,000 in the first three months, but as with the Blue Business Plus, the return you get ultimately depends on your personal habits. Also being a Visa Business card, the card carries many of the same benefits, but it does charge foreign transaction fees.
If you like the idea of the Spark Miles, but aren’t sold on the $95 annual fee, you might also want to consider the Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business. This “lite” version earns 1.5 miles on all spend, comes with a smaller sign-up bonus (20,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months) and carries similar benefits, including no foreign transaction fees, but has no annual fee.
While many issuers have been focusing on adding new perks and elevated bonus categories, sometimes, the only change a card needs isn’t with the card itself but rather its rewards programs as a whole. In the case of the Capital One Spark Miles for Business, the addition of airline transfer partners represents a significant enhancement to an already-valuable card. The current limited-time sign-up bonus of up to 200,000 miles (which is really 300,000 miles when you factor in the miles you’ll earn through spending) is incredible, especially considering that you could get it without paying any annual fees in the first year. Just remember that depending on your company’s spending habits, you might want to pair this card with one that offers bonus categories to maximize your rewards.
- Earn 2 miles per $1 on every purchase, every day
- Earn up to 200,000 miles. Earn a bonus of 50,000 miles when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account
- Plus, earn 150,000 miles when you spend $50,000 within the first 6 months. Limited Time Offer
- Miles won't expire for the life of the account, and there are no categories to limit where or what you buy
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
- There's no limit to the amount of miles you can earn
- Redeem miles for travel, cash back, gift cards and more
- No foreign transaction fees and fly on any airline, anytime, with no blackout dates or seat restrictions