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The Spark line of business credit cards are built for small business owners craving lucrative rewards for everyday non-bonus spending. The two cards in the family with annual fees, the Capital One Spark Cash for Business and the Capital One Spark Miles for Business, are solid cards that can earn flexible rewards for your business expenses, but if you’re debating which one to apply for, ask yourself these two questions:
- Would I rather put money back into my business or potentially reward myself with a vacation (or use points for business travel)?
- How much effort am I willing to put into learning about convoluted redemption schemes?
If you lean toward travel spending, and are willing to put time into figuring out how to redeem points for maximum value, you have your answer, as the only material difference between these two cards is how you redeem your rewards. Spark Miles is a transferable points-earning credit card, while Spark Cash is a cash-back credit card. Both land on TPG‘s current list of best business credit cards and have a lot in common with each other, as we’ll see in this analysis.
|Capital One Spark Cash for Business||Capital One Spark Miles for Business|
|Annual Fee||$95 (waived for the first year)||$95 (waived for the first year)|
|Earning Rates||2% cash back on all purchases||2 miles per dollar on all purchases|
|Sign-Up Bonus||For a limited time, earn $500 after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. Plus, earn an additional $1,500 after you spend $50,000 in the first six months.||For a limited time, earn 50,000 miles (worth $700 based on TPG’s valuations) after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. Plus, an additional 150,000 miles after you spend $50,000 in the first six months.|
|Value of Rewards||N/A||1.4 cent per mile|
Each card charges the same annual fee, and waives that fee during the first year of card ownership. Each also comes with no-fee authorized user cards for employees. The biggest difference is in the redemption value, but let’s walk through each of them.
The Spark Cash comes with a $500 cash bonus after you meet the $5,000 minimum spending requirement within 3 months and another $1,500 cash bonus after you meet the $50,000 spend requirement in the first 6 months. 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 $5,000 spending requirement in the first 3 months and 150,000 miles after you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months. The miles can be used to book new travel directly through Capital One or to erase a previous travel purchase made within the last 90 days at a value of 1 cent per mile or transferred to one of Capital One’s airline transfer partners starting in December 2018.
Depending how you redeem your miles, you could get significantly greater value from them by leveraging transfer partners, so we value the welcome bonus of the Spark Miles a bit higher at $700. If you maximize the Spark Miles sign-up bonuses and earn the full 200,000 miles, you’ll have a stellar $2,800 worth of rewards, based on TPG’s valuation.
For the Spark Cash, 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 okay. The Spark Miles, on the other hand, earns 2 transferable miles per dollar. Since we value Capital One miles at 1.4 cents apiece, the Spark Miles effectively offers a 2.8% return on all spend.
Here’s where the big difference between the two cards lies. As mentioned earlier, rewards from the Spark Cash can be redeemed for a statement credit or a check, and 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 — very straightforward. You can also redeem for credits for previous purchases or for gift cards, although redemption values vary.
With the Spark Miles, you can redeem your miles at a fixed value of 1 cent apiece by booking travel directly through Capital One or erasing a previous travel purchase made within the last 90 days — as with the cash back, this redemption method is very simple. If, on the other hand, you enjoy the thrill of finding and booking high-value premium-cabin awards, you could squeeze more value from your points by transferring them to Capital One’s new airline transfer partners at a 2:1.5 rate. For example, you could book a Lufthansa first-class award seat for 116,000 Capital One miles through Avianca LifeMiles or American Airlines business class seat to Europe for about 67,000 Capital One miles through Etihad Guest.
Neither of these cards charges foreign transaction fees, which comes in handy if you travel internationally. Both cards also come with identical Visa Business benefits, including auto damage and collision protection and purchase protection.
|Capital One Spark Cash for Business||Capital One Spark Miles for Business|
|Rental Car Insurance||Primary if the rental is for commercial or business purposes; secondary if for personal reasons||Primary if the rental is for commercial or business purposes; secondary if for personal reasons|
|Lost Luggage Reimbursement||Up to $3,000 per person||Up to $3,000 per person|
|Travel Accident Insurance||$250,000 for common carrier loss of life benefit; $125,000 for loss of a hand or foot, sight of one eye, speech or hearing||$250,000 for common carrier loss of life benefit; $125,000 for loss of a hand or foot, sight of one eye, speech or hearing|
|Purchase Protection||Up to $500 per claim and up to $2,500 per year||Up to $500 per claim and up to $2,500 per year|
With both cards, you can receive custom itemized quarterly and year-end summary reports to help you plan your budget.
Either of these cards could make sense for your business, especially if you’re able to meet the $50,000 spending requirement in the first 6 months to earn the significantly increased sign-up bonuses. You’ll just need to judge how you want to collect your hard-earned rewards. If it’s travel rewards you’re after, the Spark Miles would be the no-brainer. The beauty of the card is that it doesn’t force you to make a serious time commitment up front as you will earn a minimum of 2% back on every purchase you make even if you don’t utilize the airline transfer partners. However, if you’d rather use your rewards toward putting money back into other business expenses, the Spark Cash might be the better pick for you.
As a reminder, we don’t know how long the two cards’ elevated sign-up bonuses will be around, so if you’re interested, you’ll want to apply for the Capital One Spark Miles for Business or Capital One Spark Cash for Business sooner than later.
Additional reporting by Mike Cetera.
- 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