Capital One Spark Miles Card Review [2019]

Filed Under: Capital One, Credit Cards
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The Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business is one of the most well rounded business credit cards out there. It offers flexible travel rewards that can either be redeemed as cash towards the cost of a travel purchase, or can be transferred to an airline partner.

In this post I wanted to provide a detailed review of the card, which hopefully answers any questions you may have about the Spark Miles:

Capital One Spark Miles Card annual fee

The Capital One Spark Miles has a $95 annual fee, though it’s waived for the first year.

Capital One Spark Miles Card welcome bonus

The Capital One Spark Miles offers a welcome bonus of 50,000 Spark miles after spending $4,500 within three months. Those 50,000 Spark miles can either be redeemed for $500 towards travel purchases, or can be transferred to Capital One partner loyalty programs.

Capital One Spark Miles Card rewards structure

The Capital One Spark Miles offers unlimited 2x Spark miles.

Below we’ll talk about how redeeming Spark miles works, but in general you can expect that this card will offer you the equivalent of a return of two cents on the dollar towards travel, or up to 1.5 airline miles per dollar spent.

Redeeming Spark miles

This is something that changed about the card last year, which for many will make the card more compelling than ever before. There are two primary ways you can efficiently redeem your Capital One Spark miles.

Redeeming Spark miles towards travel costs

One way to redeem Spark miles is at the rate of one cent per mile towards the cost of a travel purchase. This means you’re earning two cents per dollar spent towards travel, since the card offers unlimited 2x Spark miles.

If you want to redeem your miles towards the cost of a travel purchase, there are two primary ways you can do so:

  • You can redeem them for past travel purchases using Purchase Eraser, where you can simply make an eligible travel booking using your card, and then you can go online after the fact and use your miles to pay for it within 90 days of the date of purchase; your credit will be applied to your account within 2-3 days
  • You can book a travel reservation through capitalone.com or book by phone, and each mile can be redeemed for one cent towards the cost of a travel purchase

Eligible travel purchases include purchases made from airlines, hotels, rail lines, car rental agencies, limousine services, bus lines, cruise lines, taxi cabs, travel agents, and time shares.


Redeem Spark miles towards just about any travel purchase

Transfer Spark miles to loyalty partners

This is an exciting new way that you can redeem Spark miles. As of late 2018 it’s possible to convert Spark miles into airline miles in a variety of programs, at a ratio of up to 2:1.5.

Here are the transfer partners and transfer ratios:

Transfer PartnerTransfer Ratio
Aeromexico (Club Premier)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Air Canada (Aeroplan)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Air France KLM (Flying Blue)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Alitalia (MilleMiglia Program)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Avianca (LifeMiles)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Emirates (Emirates Skywards)2 : 1 | 1000 : 500
Etihad Airways (Etihad Guest)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
EVA Air (Infinity MileageLands)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Finnair (Finnair Plus)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Hainan Airlines (Fortune Wings Club)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
JetBlue (JetBlue TrueBlue)2 : 1 | 1000 : 500
Qantas (Qantas Frequent Flyer)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Qatar Airways (Privilege Club)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Singapore Airlines (KrisFlyer)2 : 1 | 1000 : 500

Transfer Spark miles to Air France-KLM for redemptions in KLM business class

How should you redeem Spark miles?

Every dollar spent on the Capital One Spark Miles earns you two miles, and those two miles get you either two cents worth of travel, or up to 1.5 airline miles.

Which redemption option makes more sense depends on your spend patterns. If you value one of the partner miles at more than 1.33 cents each (2/1.5), then generally I’d say that’s the better redemption value.

To simplify things even further, I’d generally say that:

  • If you want to redeem your Spark miles for anything other than flights, your best option is redeeming them at one cent each towards a travel purchase
  • If you want to redeem your Spark miles towards airfare, you’ll get more value for international first and business class tickets when transferring miles to an airline partner
  • If you want to redeem your Spark miles towards economy airfare (especially if it’s reasonably priced), your best option is redeeming them at one cent each to erase the cost of that purchase

Those are very general guidelines, and the best solution very much depends on the specific circumstances.


For economy redemptions you’re often better off redeeming miles for a cent each

Capital One Spark Miles Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check credit

The Capital One Spark Miles offers a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit once every four years. Just charge the $85-100 membership fee to your Capital One Spark Miles Card, and it will automatically be reimbursed. It doesn’t matter who the fee is being paid for, as long as you charge it to your eligible card.

Why you should register for Global Entry over TSA Pre-Check

If you are going to take advantage of this perk, I’d highly recommend registering for Global Entry over TSA Pre-Check. For those of you not familiar, TSA Pre-Check gets you expedited US security screening, while Global Entry gets you expedited US immigration clearance.

So why should you register for Global Entry and not Pre-Check? Because Global Entry also comes with TSA Pre-Check, while the inverse isn’t true (signing up for TSA Pre-Check doesn’t get you Global Entry).

I registered for Global Entry for the first time in mid-2011, and wrote about my experience at the time. Global Entry is valid for five years, and I renewed my membership in 2016.

Capital One Spark Miles perks

The Capital One Spark Miles 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

Capital One Spark Miles application restrictions

The terms of the Capital One Spark Miles 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 Miles & Spark Cash

In addition to the Capital One Spark Miles, there’s also the Capital One Spark Cash.

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.

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:

Combining Spark miles & Venture miles

Both the Capital One Spark Miles and Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card earn miles that can be redeemed for one cent each towards a travel purchase, or can be transferred to an airline partner.

While these cards are marketed differently — “Venture” miles and “Spark” miles — they’re more or less the same for all practical purposes.

What’s cool is that you can actually combine the miles on both cards, so you can rack up a lot of miles this way between your personal and business spend.

You can even share your Spark and Venture miles with others, making these points really flexible.

Bottom line

The Capital One Spark Miles is more lucrative than ever before. The card offers unlimited 2x Spark miles, and those miles can be redeemed for one cent each towards a travel purchase, or can be transferred to an airline partner at a ratio of up to 2:1.5.

If you have a business where you spend a lot in categories that otherwise don’t quality for bonus points on other cards, I’d say this is an excellent option.

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).

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. A strong word of warning:

    Capital One can close your account anytime without any explanation. If they do, all your miles will be forfeited unlike other card issuers.

    Happened to us for legitimate business expenses for a fast growing business with a >1yr record of on-time payments on the Spark cards.

  2. Ben, do you think there’s any chance that Capital One will bring back the 200,000 sign-up bonus on the Spark card?

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