The major credit card issuers have been upping their game when it comes to credit cards lately, and in particular business credit cards, which in the past weren’t generally as lucrative as personal cards.
At the moment Capital One has two especially great welcome bonuses on business cards. A few days ago I wrote a detailed review of the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business, which now earns points that can be transferred to airline loyalty programs.
In this post I wanted to look at the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business, which is one of the best cash back credit cards.
Let’s take a closer look at the card:
Capital One Spark Cash annual fee
The Capital One Spark Cash has a $95 annual fee, though it’s waived for the first year.
Capital One Spark Cash rewards structure
The Capital One Spark Cash offers unlimited 2% cash back. It’s that simple, there aren’t really any catches.
You can get your cash back either in the form of a statement credit or a check. If you want you can set up an automatic redemption preference, with the choice between being paid out at the same time each calendar year, or being paid out when you reach a specific threshold. Or you can just redeem as you go.
Capital One Spark Cash perks
The Capital One Spark Cash offers some other potentially valuable perks, including:
- No foreign transaction fees
- The ability to add employee cards at no additional cost
- Primary car rental coverage (assuming you’re renting for business reasons), purchase security and extended protection (coverage on items lost or stolen within 90 days), travel and emergency assistance services, and more; the full details of this can be found in the cardmember agreement
Is 2% cash back a good return on spend?
For most businesses this is an excellent, straightforward rewards structure. You can potentially get more value out of other cards if you spend a lot in categories that are eligible for further bonuses, or if you’re really good at redeeming miles. However, a vast majority of people aren’t good at redeeming miles, and are at an information disadvantage.
I do think a vast majority of people are best off using a straightforward cash back card with a lucrative rewards structure, like this card.
Just to give one example, I recently met a contractor who had his own business. We started talking about rewards cards, and he asked which card he should be using. I asked him how much he spends per year, which card he uses, and what he wants to use those points for. The answer? About $5 million per year, he uses an Amex Business Gold Card, and he redeems the points for gift cards, where you’re typically getting at most one cent of value per point.
OUCH. That pained me to hear, though I think this is more common than you’d expect. The difference between that and the Capital One Spark Cash would be $50,000 of rewards per year. That’s not even factoring in the difference between him just getting cash however he wants, vs. being tied in to specific gift cards.
I’m sure someone will say “well if someone spends that much on credit cards, $50,000 doesn’t really make a difference.” That really isn’t true. There are plenty of low margin businesses that spend a ton on products, materials, etc., so just because a business spends millions of dollars per year on credit cards doesn’t mean someone is rolling in dough.
Capital One Spark Miles application restrictions
The terms of the Capital One Spark Cash application state the following:
This one-time bonus is available by clicking the “Apply Now” button on this page, and may not be available if you navigate away from or close this page. You may earn one or both spend bonuses. The bonuses may not be available for existing or previous Spark cardholders.
Anecdotally it seems that you can have both the Spark Miles and Spark Cash, though the terms aren’t explicit about that.
Then there are a few general Capital One restrictions to be aware of:
- Capital One pulls from three credit bureaus; personally I don’t find that to be a huge deal one way or another, but it’s worth being aware of
- You typically can’t apply for two cards the same day; the second card (even if different) will automatically be marked as a duplicate
- You can typically be approved for at most one Capital One card every six months, regardless of whether they’re personal or business cards
- While I can’t personally vouch for this, I’ve heard that anecdotally Capital One business cards are often easier to be approved for than Capital One personal cards
Differences between the Spark Cash & Spark Miles
The cards have the same annual fees, and on the surface the two cards seem fairly similar. So what are the differences?
- The Spark Cash offers 2% cash back; that’s cash that you can spend towards anything, and that’s a solid return
- The Spark Miles offers the equivalent of 2% back towards travel, or 1.5 airline miles per dollar spent
So which cards is better depends on whether you want to earn cash for your business spend that you can put towards anything, or if you want to earn travel rewards, with the flexibility to redeem miles as cash towards travel, or to transfer them to airline partners.
There’s no right or wrong answer. Personally I prefer the Spark Miles (and even recently applied for it), since I spend a lot on travel. However, for the average business that may not spend as much on travel, earning straightforward cash back rewards that you can spend on anything might be a better option.
Other business credit cards worth considering
If you’re looking for an extremely lucrative business card, there are a few other options that are worth considering:
- The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express has no annual fee (Rates & Fees), and offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent per calendar year; this is the single most lucrative card for the first $50,000 of non-bonused spend annually, in my opinion (more info here)
- The American Express® Business Gold Card has a $295 annual fee (Rates & Fees) and offers 4x Membership Rewards points on the two categories of the below where your business spends the most each month (the limit applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases for those two categories every calendar year, and you can find more info here):
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases at restaurants
- U.S. purchases for shipping
- U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers
- The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card has a $95 annual fee, has an amazing cell phone protection plan, and offers triple points on the first $150,000 in combined purchases per anniversary year on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines (more info here)
- If you’re willing to get more than one card, there’s huge value in pairing the Ink Preferred with the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card and/or Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card, as the cards offer 1.5-5x points per dollar spent (more info here)
The Capital One Spark Cash is arguably the most lucrative cash back business credit card out there. Unlimited 2% cash back is pretty tough to beat, especially if you don’t want to learn the ins-and-outs of redeeming miles.
For a vast majority of businesses, I think a card like this is a great option for earning generous yet straightforward rewards. However:
- If you do value airline miles or other perks, consider the Capital One Spark Miles
- If you spend a lot in categories that would otherwise be eligible for bonuses on other cards (which could earn you 2-5x points), consider one of the other cards above
Does anyone have the Capital One Spark Cash, and if so, what has your experience been like?
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Business Gold Card (Rates & Fees), and The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees).