Chase Ink Business Preferred vs. Capital One Spark Miles for Business: Which card is right for you?
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
The world of small-business credit cards doesn't have many premium-card options. Business owners find that even if a card carries enough perks to outweigh its annual fee, they're going to have a tough time justifying an expense that doesn't directly grow their bottom line.
However, for small businesses looking to rack up valuable travel rewards on their purchases without paying a hefty fee, there are plenty of great options. Two of these, the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business and the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, offer access to an incredible collection of transfer partners and currently have two of the most valuable welcome bonuses of any business credit card on the market. Today we're going to take a look at how these two stack up against each other and help you decide which is right for your business.
The first thing most people look at when considering a new card is, of course, the welcome bonus. It's the fastest way to earn a meaningful amount of miles and both of these cards deliver quite nicely.
The Chase Ink Preferred is offering the largest bonus of any of the Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning cards: 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. (worth $2,000 based on TPG's valuations). Chase is also sending out mailers to some customers with a high targeted offer for up to 160,000 points. Like nearly every Chase credit card, the Ink Preferred is restricted by the "5/24 rule," meaning you'll be automatically rejected if you've opened five or more credit cards across all issuers in the last 24 months.
The Capital One Spark Miles for Business is currently offering an all-time-high welcome bonus of up to 200,000 miles, broken up over two spending tiers:
- Earn 50,000 miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months
- Earn an additional 150,000 miles after spending $50,000 on purchases in the first six months
Thanks to an ever growing list of airline transfer partners, TPG values Capital One miles at 1.4 cents each, making this bonus worth $2,800. However, you'll earn an additional 100,000 miles as you spend your way toward the bonus, giving you a total haul of 300,000 Capital One miles worth $4,200, based on TPG valuations. If you're more interested in earning cash back for your business, the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business is offering a similar offer of up to $2,000 after spending $50,000 on purchases in the first six months, but you won't be able to transfer this bonus to airline partners. It goes without saying that $50,000 is a lot to spend, even for established businesses, but if you have large inventory expenses or are actively growing your business, this target might be within your reach.
Further Reading: Best ways to redeem 300,000 Capital One miles
One of the biggest differences between these two cards is the way they earn rewards for your spending after the initial welcome bonus. The Ink Preferred offers 3x Ultimate Rewards points (a 6% return based on TPG's valuations) on your first $150,000 in combined annual spending across the following bonus categories:
- Travel, including airfare, hotels, rental cars, trains and taxis
- Shipping purchases
- Internet, cable and phone services
- Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
After that, the card earns 1x on all purchases. If you max out this cap every year, you'll walk away with 450,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $9,000 based on TPG's valuations).
If you don't frequently spend in these specific categories, you might be better served by the Spark Miles for Business, which offers a fixed 2x miles per dollar (a 2.8% return) on all purchases. However, as part of the 200,000-mile mega-bonus offer, Capital One also announced that it would be adding a 5x bonus category to the Spark Miles for hotels and rental cards booked via Capital One travel. This isn't quite as nice as the 10x miles for hotels.com purchases you can get on the personal Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (when booked with the card via Hotels.com through Jan. 31, 2020), but this 7% return is better than you'll get on the Ink Preferred and makes the Spark Miles more competitive.
Further Reading: The best credit cards for everyday spending
Both of these cards earn valuable transferable points and it's really hard to go wrong with either the Chase Ultimate Rewards or Capital One Miles ecosystem. In fact, both cards earn miles that can be transferred to the following airline partners:
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue
- Emirates Skywards
However, there are a few differences that are worth pointing out. Let's start with the Ink Preferred. In addition to the above partners, Ultimate Rewards points can transfer to the following airlines:
- Aer Lingus
- British Airways
- Virgin Atlantic
All points transfer at a 1:1 ratio and they transfer instantaneously to most partners. If you have a last-minute business meeting and need to be on a specific flight that doesn't have any award space, you can also redeem your points directly through the Ultimate Rewards portal toward the cost of paid tickets and receive a 25% bonus, making your points worth 1.25 cents each. You'll also earn miles and elite qualifying miles on flights booked this way.
Another advantage that Chase Ultimate Rewards has over Capital One is that it partners with a number of hotel loyalty programs. You can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt, Marriott and IHG, though Hyatt is by far the best value with free nights starting at only 5,000 points and topping out at 30,000 points for top-tier properties like the Park Hyatt Sydney.
For more information on redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards, check out the following guides:
When Capital One announced the addition of airline transfer partners to select cards at the end of 2018, it settled on the following list:
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue
- Avianca LifeMiles
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- EVA Infinity MileageLands
- Finnair Plus
- Hainan Fortune Wings Club
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club
- Singapore KrisFlyer
Points transfer to most partners at a 2:1.5 ratio, though Singapore, and Emirates transfer at a 1:1 ratio.
Some of these partners overlap with Chase but Capital One also has some valuable transfer options that Chase does not. For example, about half of the awards I book are through either Avianca LifeMiles or Aeroplan, which both offer very affordable rates for long-haul premium-cabin awards on Star Alliance carriers or domestic flights on United. Ultimately it's up to you to look at the two lists of partner programs and see which one better suits your need.
Maybe you love transferring to Virgin Atlantic for cheap ANA and Delta awards and opt for Chase or maybe you stick with Capital One for Avianca, Aeroplan, Etihad and more. Either way, both programs offer you the flexibility to book flights through all three of the major airline alliances.
It's also worth noting that the Spark Miles for Business still allows you to redeem your miles at a fixed rate of 1 cent each to book new travel through the Capital One portal or to erase eligible travel purchases from your billing statement. Although the Spark Miles doesn't offer a bonus for this type of fixed-value redemption like the Ink does, it does compensate with its higher earning rate on most purchases.
For more information on redeeming Capital One Miles, check out the following guides:
Both of these cards carry a $95 annual fee (though only the Spark waives it for the first year) and you generally won't find many perks on cards that are this cheap. Still, each card has benefits worth highlighting in addition to the fact that neither charges foreign transaction fees.
With the Ink Preferred, you'll receive the following benefits:
- Cellphone protection: When you charge your monthly cellphone bill to the card, you and eligible employees on the plan receive up to $1,000 per claim for damage or theft of cellphones. You’re limited to three claims in a 12-month period and must pay a $100 deductible per claim.
- Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance: If you must cancel or cut a trip short due to a covered issue (like illness or severe weather), you’re eligible for up to $5,000 of coverage for prepaid, nonrefundable travel expenses.
- Trip delay reimbursement: If a covered trip is delayed by a covered hazard for 12 or more hours — or long enough to require an overnight stay — you’ll be eligible for reimbursement of up to $500 per ticket in reasonable expenses (though the definition of reasonable can be pushed a bit and Chase happily reimbursed me a suite at the St. Regis Bangkok when my flight was cancelled by a typhoon). You only need to charge part of your common carrier fare to the card to use this benefit, so you’ll be covered on award tickets if you put the taxes and fees on the card.
- Primary car rental coverage: If you use the Ink Business Preferred card for the entire cost of a car rental and are traveling for business purposes, you’re covered for theft and damage in the U.S. and in most countries around the world. This doesn’t offer any liability coverage but you are covered up to the actual cash value of the vehicle you’re renting.
- Purchase protection: In addition to the cellphone protection, you’re covered for other purchases. If an eligible item is damaged or stolen within the first 120 days after purchase, you’re covered up to $10,000 per claim ($50,000 per account).
- Extended warranty protection: Purchases with a U.S. manufacturer’s warranty of three years or less will get coverage for an extra year.
Meanwhile the Capital One Spark Miles for Business offers cardholders the following benefits:
- Purchase security — Covers your new purchases for up to 90 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per cardholder.
- Auto rental collision damage waiver — When you rent a vehicle using your 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 case of theft or collision damage. This is valid on most rentals in the U.S. and abroad, and coverage is primary when the rental is for business purposes, 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 — Doubles the time period of the original manufacturer’s U.S. warranty up to one additional year on warranties of three years or less.
- 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.
Both the Ink Preferred and Spark Miles for Business are incredible cards to help your business earn valuable travel rewards on your expenses. The first question to ask yourself is whether your business will be able to hit the $50,000 of spending required to earn both tiers of the Spark Miles bonus.
Outside of that, it's up to you to decide which card will be more rewarding for your ongoing spending -- 3x points on your first $150,000 in select business categories or 2x on all purchases -- and which program offers transfer partners better suited to your travel needs.