Capital One’s business card portfolio includes both the Capital One Spark Miles for Business (review) and Capital One Spark Cash Plus (review). Personally I have both of these cards, though when the next annual fee is due, I’ll probably just keep one or the other, given the overlap in benefits.
Let’s compare the two cards in this post — I’ll talk about the big picture differences, and then more specifically about my own situation, and which card I think makes the most sense.
Basics of the Spark Miles vs. Spark Cash Plus
On the surface the Capital One Spark Miles for Business and Capital One Spark Cash Plus seem like they have totally different value propositions, but they’re more similar than you might think. Taking the excellent welcome bonuses out of the equation, let’s take a look at the basics of each of these cards.
- The card has a $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
- The card offers 2x Venture miles per dollar spent with no foreign transaction fees; those rewards can be transferred to Capital One’s airline and hotels partners, or can be redeemed for one cent each toward travel purchases
- The card offers a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit once every four years, as well as lounge access twice annually, either to Capital One Lounges or Plaza Premium Lounges
- The card is a credit card, meaning it has a pre-set spending limit
- The card has a $150 annual fee
- The card offers 2% cash back on all purchases with no foreign transaction fees
- The card offers a $150 cash bonus when you spend $150,000 or more on the card in an anniversary year; in other words, if you’re a big spender, this recoups the annual fee
- The card is a charge card, meaning it has no pre-set spending limit, and is potentially ideal for big purchases
These cards aren’t as different as they seem
Logically many people are probably thinking that these two cards are similar in name only, as one card earns cash back you can spend toward anything, while one card earns travel rewards.
What’s great is that while the Capital One Spark Cash Plus is a cash back card on the surface, in reality rewards can be converted into Capital One miles, assuming you have the card in conjunction with a card earning those miles. This can be done directly on Capital One’s website, and is an easy process.
Since I value Capital One miles at significantly more than one cent, this is how I would choose to use my rewards. In other words, for my purposes the two cards have virtually identical rewards structures — both earn me 2x Capital One miles, it’s just a function of whether I’m earning them directly or indirectly.
Why I’m trying to decide between these two cards
As I’ve explained when sharing my Capital One card strategy, I have both the Capital One Spark Miles for Business and Capital One Spark Cash Plus. I picked up both of the cards with excellent bonuses, as you’re allowed to have both cards. I’m happy I’ve had the chance to try both cards, though on an ongoing basis I can’t really justify having both, since they serve the same purpose for me.
The next time I’m billed an annual fee on one of these cards, it’s going to be time to decide whether I plan on keeping the Spark Miles or Spark Cash Plus.
For all practical purposes, the rewards here are the same for me, since I plan on using these cards to earn Capital One miles.
With that in mind, here’s my take on the Capital One Spark Miles for Business:
- On an ongoing basis, the card’s annual fee is $55 lower, so it has that going for it
- In theory there’s value to the card’s Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit, but in reality I have so many cards with these credits that I’m not sure it makes much of a difference
- The Capital One Lounge or Plaza Premium Lounge access is useful on the surface, but I get that with the Capital One Venture X, so I don’t consider there to be much incremental value
- The card directly earns Capital One miles; I suppose it’s possible that at some point in the future rewards on the Spark Cash Plus can no longer be converted into miles, so in a way it seems safer to earn the currency I actually want to earn
Meanwhile here’s my take on the Capital One Spark Cash Plus:
- If you can spend $150K per year on the card in an anniversary year, getting a statement credit equivalent to the $150 annual fee is awesome, and essentially makes this a no annual fee card for mental accounting purposes
- Many will appreciate the lack of a pre-set spending limit on this card, for situations where you want to make a big business purchase that another card doesn’t have a big enough credit limit for
- Some might appreciate the flexibility of earning cash back rather than travel rewards, in the event we see significant devaluations at some point in the future
I’m curious to hear what OMAAT readers would do. My initial thought is that keeping the Capital One Spark Miles for Business is the logical option.
However, I think I’m underestimating the value of the Capital One Spark Cash Plus having no pre-set spending limit, for situations where I’m making a big purchase and want to maximize my rewards. Furthermore, if I could shift more spend to the Spark Cash Plus, maybe I could earn the annual bonus, which would make the math work out even better.
I have both the Capital One Spark Miles for Business and Capital One Spark Cash Plus, and have shifted most of my business spending to these cards, given their excellent rewards structures. Since I have these cards in conjunction with the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, the value of the two cards very much overlaps.
In the long run, it probably doesn’t make sense to hold onto both of these cards. I’m just not sure if I should go with the lower annual fee of the Spark Miles, or the lack of a pre-set spending limit and potential spending bonus of the Spark Cash Plus.
What’s your take on the value of the Spark Miles vs. Spark Cash Plus?