The Capital One Spark Miles card is not one of our top-rated travel credit cards. You can review our list of the best travel credit cards for what we think are better options.
Full Review of Capital One Spark Miles
Solid bonus, albeit with high required spending
Simple rewards program
Flexible travel-redemption options
Your personal credit history could be affected
Not as flexible as cash back
- Solid Bonus, Albeit for High Required Spending: This card offers a bonus of 50,000 miles, worth up to $500 in travel purchases, if you spend $4,500 in the first three months of opening the account. That bonus is on the high side for a business credit card—but then so is the spending requirement. Most cards require spending of no more than $3,000 in the first three months.
- Simple Rewards Program: The card offers a flat 2 miles per dollar on most of your purchases, but for hotel and rental car reservations made through Capital One Travel, you’ll earn 5 points per dollar. There’s no cap on either rewards rate. This means that for most of your purchases, you don’t need to keep track of different rewards rates for different spending categories. And while the card charges a $95 annual fee after the first year, you only have to spend $4,750 annually at the 2-mile-per-dollar rate to break even—of course, that’s assuming you don’t carry a balance on the card and so have to pay interest charges.
- Flexible Travel Redemption Options: The Capital One Spark Miles offers some of the most flexible travel rewards around. When you’re ready to redeem, you’ll have three options: redeeming for travel directly through Capital One, getting a statement credit against previous travel purchases, or transferring your miles to one of the bank’s airline partners. More details on those options in a minute.
- Your Personal Credit History Could Be Affected: Capital One, like most major business credit card issuers, reports account activity on its cards to the commercial credit bureaus, allowing you to establish a business credit history. But unlike most major business card issuers, Capital One also reports your account information to the consumer credit bureaus. This means that if you rack up a large balance on your card or miss a payment, it could damage both your business and personal credit histories. The only other major business credit card issuer that does this is Discover.
- Cash Back is Far Less Rewarding: If you're interested in using your rewards to book travel, you'll get a lot of flexibility with Capital One miles. But if you want to redeem your miles for cash, the redemption rate for this card is unusually meagre. They’re worth only half as much as redemptions for travel—50,000 miles, for instance, would be worth only $250 in cash back. If you want a card that offers maximum rewards flexibility with cash back, consider the Capital One Spark Cash.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
Flies often for business or leisure
Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
Earning a primary or side income from a small business
The Capital One Spark Miles is a solid option for small business owners who are comfortable using their card rewards for travel purchases, and who plan to use the card regularly. You'll need to charge roughly $413 per month in regular (2-miles-per-dollar) purchases over the year to justify the card's annual fee—but that spending would be reduced by a lot if you had any hotel and rental car purchases, which earn a heftier 5 miles per dollar spent.
The card is particularly well-suited to businesses who charge enough to reach the fairly steep minimum spending requirements for the card's bonus. That means charging at least $1,500 to the card for each of your first three months of account membership, which earns the 50,000-mile bonus.
Finally, the Capital One Spark Miles is best for business owners who plan to keep the card's balance fairly low relative to its credit limit, and to make on-time payments. That’s because your business’s activity with the card will be reported to both the commercial and consumer credit bureaus.
Capital One Spark Miles Bonus
New cardholders will earn 50,000 miles when they spend $4,500 in the first three months.
Note that the period during which you have to meet the minimum spending requirement begins when your account is opened, not when you receive the card in the mail.
Rewards Earning Details
The card earns 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. While that’s a solid rate, it’s important to keep in mind that the bank may have a limited selection of hotel brands and car rental companies. Plan to run price comparisons with other travel websites to make sure you’re not spending more than you'd get back with the accelerated rewards.
The card also offers a flat 2 miles per dollar on every other purchase you make, which is a very good base rewards rate. Just keep in mind that the card charges a $95 annual fee the first year. If your business doesn’t spend a lot, you may be able to get more value out of a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee, even if the rewards rate is a bit lower.
Rewards Redemption Details
The Capital One Spark Miles is primarily a travel credit card and offers two redemption options for travel:
- Purchase Eraser: With this option, you’ll use your card to book travel through any eligible travel agent, website, or resource. Then once the transaction posts, you’ll have 90 days to use your miles to “erase” the purchase, and get a statement credit for the value of the miles used for the expenditure.
- Book travel: You can use your miles to book travel directly through your rewards account with Capital One.
Both of these redemption options give you a value of 1 cent per mile, which is standard for many travel credit cards. You can also redeem your miles for cash back, gift cards and more, but you’ll generally receive less value per mile with these redemption options.
In addition to giving you some flexibility with travel redemptions, Capital One also allows you to transfer your miles to one of the bank’s airline partners. These include:
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- Air France KLM Flying Blue
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Alitalia MilleMiglia
- Asia Miles
- Avianca LifeMiles
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
- Finnair Plus
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
With most of these partners, you can transfer your miles at a rate of 2 Capital One Miles to 1.5 miles with the partner airline. The three exceptions are JetBlue, Emirates and Singapore Airlines, which offer less favorable rates of 2 Capital One miles to 1 partner mile.
While you technically lose miles with these transfers, it is possible to still get more value out of your rewards this way. For example, we found a business-class flight on Emirates from Los Angeles to Phuket, Thailand, for 250,000 miles plus $1,738 in taxes and fees. The cash price was a sobering $7,224 in cash.
If you were to transfer your miles, you’d need to move 333,333 Capital One miles to Emirates, and if you use the card to pay the taxes and fees, you could then use 173,800 Capital One miles to get a statement credit for the purchase—that’s a total of 507,133 miles.
If, however, you were to pay the cash price with the card then get a statement credit, you’d need an improbable 722,400 miles to cover the full cost.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
As with any rewards credit card, plan to use this card for all of your purchases to ensure you get miles back on every transaction.
Also, for all business trips, consider booking your hotel and rental car through Capital One Travel to earn more miles. Just plan to compare the prices the platform offers with other travel websites to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
When it comes to redeeming your miles, it's possible to squeeze more value out of them by flying with one of Capital One’s airline partners. This increased value typically requires international business-class or first-class tickets, but if you have such aspirational travel goals, it could be worth stockpiling your rewards to fulfill them.
If you don’t have any plans to travel internationally, or you don’t want to spend the time researching redemptions with travel partners, it may be best to redeem directly with Capital One through the travel partner or as a travel statement credit.
Capital One Spark Miles Outstanding Benefits
The card's only outstanding benefit is its application fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
This perk is worth up to $100 every four years. If you're approved for one of the programs, you’ll get expedited security screening at participating U.S. airports, the opportunity to bypass U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspections line when returning to the U.S., or both.
- 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, behind American Express and Discover. Its overall rating, however, was slightly above the average for national card issuers.
Capital One'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 bank’s mobile app, which was ranked second among banks by J.D. Power in its 2019 U.S. Banking Mobile App Satisfaction Study.
Capital One allows you to lock and unlock your card—as well as employee cards—from the mobile app. This feature can come in handy if you need to control errant card usage among your employees, or one of you loses a card. Beyond that, Capital One’s security features are standard for the industry.
The Capital One Spark Miles offers rewards that are solid on regular purchases, and better than that on hotels and rental cars—admittedly a limited range of travel expenses—which earn 5 miles per dollar spent. Combined with a decent bonus, albeit for a fairly highly spending requirement, this card could be lucrative for the right business. Still, it hardly stands out from the pack. While it lacks a bonus, the Blue Business Plus card from American Express, for example, offers 2 points per dollar on the first $50,000 spent each year and has no annual fee. The Chase Ink Business Preferred also has a $95 fee, earns 3 points per dollar spent on select travel categories and offers a bonus that’s worth $1,000 when used for travel—twice the value of the bonus for the Capital One Spark Miles.
Beyond this card's rewards, it's important to consider its possible implications for your personal credit score. One of the card's drawbacks is that Capital One reports account activity on business cards to consumer credit bureaus. If you prefer to have maximum separation between your personal and business affairs, it may want to opt for a card from another issuer that doesn’t report its activity to consumer credit bureaus.