Full Review of Capital One Spark Cash
Decent bonus, albeit for commensurate spending
Simple rewards program
Your personal credit history could be affected
- Decent Bonus, Albeit for Commensurate Spending: The Capital One Spark Cash card offers a $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 in the first three months of opening your account. While there are bigger bonuses available with similar spending requirements it still equates to roughly an 11% return on your initial spending which is a solid value.
- Simple, Lucrative Cash-Back Rewards: The card offers a flat 2% cash back on every purchase you make. If you prioritize simplicity, that’s likely music to your ears. You don’t have to worry about which merchants qualify for bonus category spending, and there’s no cap on the amount that qualifies for the 2% rate. In other words, it’s easy to know how much you’re getting back every time you use the card. That's especially helpful as you approach renewal time, and a decision on whether it’s worth paying the card's $95 annual fee (which is waived the first year). At the 2% cash-back rate, spending $4,750 a year would reap sufficient rewards to justify the card's cost. Beyond that, further rewards from additional spending represent pure profit—provided, of course, that you don’t carry a balance and allow interest charges to offset those earnings.
- Your Personal Credit History Could be Affected: Like most major business credit card issuers, Capital One reports your activity on its cards to the commercial credit bureaus, which can help you establish a business credit history. But Capital One also reports that information to consumer credit bureaus. This means that racking up a huge balance or missing a payment on the car could potentially drop your personal credit score, especially if the problem occurs repeatedly.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize cash back earnings across spending categories
Earning a primary or side income from a small business
Incurs gasoline or other commuting expenses each month
The Capital One Spark Cash is a solid choice for businesses who plan to charge quite a lot to a card, a minimum of $500 or so a month. It’s especially suited to owners who plan to run up far higher spending at the outset. That’s because charging $4,500 to the card within your first three months earns a $500 bonus.
This card's flat 2% cash-back rewards have an appealing simplicity for businesses that have little time to master the multiple rewards rates of certain cards, and don’t spend enough in any one category to justify the time required for such monitoring. Ideally, it’s also a card for those who don’t have to worry about business cash flow or other issues that could interrupt their ability to make regular on-time payments or otherwise be an excellent customer. That’s because, unlike most other business-card issuers, Capital One provides the credit behavior of their business-card holders to consumer credit reporting agencies.
Multiple missteps with this card, then, could eventually compromise your ability to get additional personal credit with favorable terms. That could be a big negative for business owners who want a clear separation between their business and personal dealings.
Capital One Spark Cash Bonus
Once you’re approved for the card, you’ll earn $500 if you spend $4,500 in the first three months. Keep in mind that the timeframe begins with account opening, which happens when you’re approved, rather than from the date you receive the card in the mail.
Remember, too, that you’ll also earn 2% cash back on the spending required to earn those bonuses.
Rewards Earning Details
You’ll earn a flat 2% cash back on every purchase you make. You’ll be hard-pressed to beat that base rewards rate, at least on all purchases you make. However, be mindful that the card charges an annual fee after the first year. Consequently, to justify that $95 tab, you’ll essentially forgo a significant amount of the additional rewards you make with this card compared with one that has no annual fee.
Rewards Redemption Details
The cash back you earn with the card can be redeemed for cash at any amount and at any time, and your rewards will never expire. You can also buy gift cards and more.
If you elect to receive rewards in cash, you can choose between receiving it as a general statement, a statement against specific purchases, or as a paper check. You can even set up automatic redemptions once your balance reaches $25, $50, $100, $200, $500 or $1,500. Those automated rewards can make it even more appealing for business owners who want as much simplicity as possible.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
This card's cash-back rewards are worth the same regardless of how you redeem them. So other than using your card for every purchase you can, there’s not much you can do to maximize the value of the cash back you receive. You should, of course, try to pay off your balance on time and in full every month to avoid interest charges, which can dramatically offset or even eliminate the benefits of the rewards program. If you plan heavy spending soon after you get the Capital One Spark Cash, the card's bonus makes it worthwhile to plan to meet this perk’s spending requirements, perhaps by moving up major purchases to meet the three-month deadline. But beware the temptation to spend indiscriminately to earn the rewards. Reckless spending you can't repay could mean losing the earned value of the bonus, and more, to interest charges and could even imperil your business with debts you ultimately can’t service.
- Rental car insurance
- Travel assistance
- Extended warranty protection
- Free employee cards and customized spending limits
- Year-end summaries
- Purchase records in multiple formats
Capital One was ranked third in the J.D. Power 2019 Credit Card Customer Satisfaction Study. The bank offers free business credit report access through its Business CreditWise program—no other major business credit card issuer offers this benefit.
The bank's customer service team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which is standard among credit card issuers. You can manage your account online or with the Capital One mobile app, which was ranked second among banks by J.D. Power in its 2019 U.S. Banking Mobile App Satisfaction Study.
You can lock your card from the mobile app, which can come in handy if you lose the card or have it stolen. This functionality also applies to employee cards, which readily empowers you to control errant card usage. Beyond that feature, Capital One’s security features are standard for the industry.
Fees to Watch Out For
For the most part, the Capital One Spark Cash’s fees are in line with industry standards, with just one exception. Typically, cash-back credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee, but this one doesn’t.
If your business consistently charges more than about $5,000 a year to credit cards, the Capital One Spark Cash’s rewards program allows you, steadily and with simplicity, to rack up enough in cash back rewards to justify its $95 annual fee.
If such spending is beyond your means, it’s worth comparing the Capital One Spark Cash with other top business credit cards that offer comparable cash-back rates. The Amex Blue Business Cash Plus, for example, provides 2% cash back on the first $50,000 spent annually. The card lacks a bonus offer, but also lacks an annual fee.
For a relatively big bonus without a huge spending requirement, consider the Chase Ink Business Preferred, which offers 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 in the first three months—that’s worth $1,250 in travel booked through Chase. The card comes with a $95 annual fee, though, and save for special earnings rate for travel and a few other categories, offers less valuable rewards than those of the Capital One Spark Cash.