Comparison: Capital One Spark Miles Select Vs. Spark Miles

Filed Under: Capital One, Credit Card Comparisons
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I rank the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business (review) as one of the all around best business credit cards, and as one of the best Capital One credit cards.

What many people don’t realize is that there’s a no annual fee version of the card — the Spark® Miles Select from Capital One®.

I wanted to provide an in-depth comparison of the two cards, for any small business that might be trying to decide between these two. Is there one card that’s absolutely better than the other?

Spark Miles Vs. Spark Miles Select Card

When it comes to deciding which card is right for your small business I’d recommend considering the annual fees, the sign-up bonuses, the return on spending, and the perks. How do those factors compare between the two cards?

Comparing Spark Miles Card Annual Fees

To compare the annual fees on the two small business Spark products:

Long term there’s a $95 difference between the two annual fees, while in the first year you won’t pay an annual fee on either card.

Comparing Spark Miles Card Sign-Up Bonuses

Sign-up bonuses are a big incentive for people to apply for credit cards, and there’s quite a difference between the offers on the two cards:

  • The Spark Miles Card offers 50,000 Spark miles after spending $4,500 within three months, redeemable for a minimum of $500 towards travel
  • The Spark Miles Select Card offers 20,000 Spark miles after spending $3,000 within three months, redeemable for a minimum of $200 towards travel

A $200 bonus on a no annual fee card is solid, though we’re still talking about a difference of $300 in value (or 30,000 Spark miles) between the two cards.

Looking at it another way, the difference in bonuses could more than cover the annual fee on the Spark Miles Card for the first four years (since it’s waived the first year anyway).

There’s a difference of $300 in value between the two Spark bonuses

Comparing Spark Miles Card Rewards Structures

Both of these cards have straightforward rewards structures, which give you a lot of flexibility with your travel rewards:

Spark miles can be redeemed for a penny each towards the cost of a travel purchase, or they can be transferred to a Spark airline or hotel partner at a ratio of up to 2:1.5 (and it may even be better than that, since sometimes they offer transfer bonuses).

This means for every dollar spent:

  • The Spark Miles offers 2.0 cents towards travel, or up to 1.5 airline miles
  • The Spark Miles Select offers 1.5 cents towards travel, or up to 1.0 airline miles

Transfer your Capital One Spark miles to JetBlue

Neither Card Has Foreign Transaction Fees

No foreign transaction fees is a perk that many people have come to expect nowadays from credit cards. While you’d expect a premium card to not have no foreign transaction fees, it’s worth mentioning that the Spark Miles Select doesn’t have foreign transaction fees either, in spite of having no annual fee.

That makes this one of the only no annual fee small business cards earning transferable points that also doesn’t have foreign transaction fees.

Pay no foreign transaction fees for purchases globally

Comparing Spark Miles Card Perks

One feature that’s unique to the Spark Miles Card is that it offers a TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry credit once every four years, while the Spark Miles Select doesn’t. If that’s something you could benefit from, then that changes the first year math between the two cards even more.

TSA PreCheckGet a TSA Pre-Check credit with the Spark Miles

Which Spark Miles Card Is Better For You?

If your small business is still deciding between the Spark Miles Card and Spark Miles Select Card, let me share a few further points to consider:

Breakeven Point On Spending

Taking the sign-up bonuses and annual fee waived for the first year out of the equation, long term what’s the breakeven point between the two cards?

There’s a $95 difference between the annual fees, and the difference in earnings rates is 0.5 Spark miles per dollar spent. Let’s assume you value Spark miles at a cent each (and some may value Spark miles more, in which case you can adjust your math).

If you spend at least $19,000 on the card per year you’d come out ahead with the Spark Miles over the Spark Miles Select.

Why You Should Get The Spark Miles Card With The Option To Downgrade

Regardless of which card you think makes more sense for your small business long term, I think it makes sense to apply for one card over the other:

  • I would apply for the Spark Miles; it has a much better bonus (by 30,000 Spark miles, or $300 in travel rewards), the annual fee is waived for the first year, the rewards structure is 33% better, and you can take advantage of the TSA Pre-Check credit
  • After the first year decide how you like the Spark Miles Card:
    • If you’re getting value out of it, continue using it
    • If you’re not getting value out of it, after a year you can call Capital One and downgrade it to the Spark Miles Select; you keep all the Spark miles you already earned

There’s virtually no downside to this. If you downgrade the card after a year you’ll have received the much better bonus, the better Spark mileage earnings rates, and the fee is waived anyway.

I think many may find that the Spark Miles is worth keeping over the Spark Miles Select, and this way you have the flexibility to decide after a year.

Capital One Venture Cards Have Similar Dilemma

Capital One has some consistency between their personal and business credit cards. There are lots of parallels between the Spark and Venture cards, with the former being business cards and the latter being personal cards.

Recently I compared the $95 annual fee Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (review) and the no annual fee Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card, and largely had similar conclusions.

If you’re looking for a personal Capital One credit card, be sure to check out that comparison.

Bottom Line

For someone who wants a simple small business travel rewards card with no foreign transaction fees, the Spark Miles Card and Spark Miles Select Card are both good in their respective competitive sets.

The Spark Miles offers flexible rewards that I value at a 2%+ return, while the Spark Miles Select is one of the only no annual fee business cards to offer transferable points with no foreign transaction fees.

While either card could make sense, I’d recommend just about everyone apply for the Spark Miles Card — it has a bigger bonus and the annual fee is waived for the first year anyway, and it also earns miles at a faster rate.

After a year you can always decide to downgrade to the Spark Miles Select if you’ve decided that the Spark Miles doesn’t make sense for your small business.

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  1. Should say “Spark Miles Select offers 1.5 cents towards travel, or up to 1.125 [not 1.0] airline miles”

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