The Clock Is Ticking: Which Spark Business Card Offer Is Better?

In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile at a Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Please check out my advertiser policy for further details about our partners, including American Express, Capital One, Chase, and Citi, and thanks for your support!

Update: These offers for the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business and the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business have expired. Learn more about the current offers here.

In mid-November, Capital One rolled out some fantastic new welcome bonuses on two of their best business credit cards, which was accompanied by some great news. Note that these offers are scheduled to end on January 28, 2019, so you have just over two weeks remaining to take advantage of them.

With that in mind, which of the two cards is more compelling?

The increased Spark Business welcome bonuses

The Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business has a $95 annual fee that’s waived for the first year, and offers a tiered welcome bonus of up to 200,000 miles, as follows:

  • Earn 50,000 Spark miles when you spend $5,000 within the first three months
  • Earn an additional 150,000 Spark miles when you spend $50,000 within the first six months

Meanwhile the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business has a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year, and offers a tiered welcome bonus of up to $2,000, as follows:

  • Earn $500 when you spend $5,000 within the first three months
  • Earn an additional $1,500 when you spend $50,000 within the first six months

Historically I’ve thought the Spark Cash is better

The two cards offer the following rewards structures:

Historically each Spark mile has been redeemable for one cent towards the cost of a travel purchase, meaning that each dollar spent on the card earned you two Spark miles, which can be redeemed for two cents towards travel.

So in the past I’ve said that the Spark Cash is a better option than the Spark Miles, given that I’d rather have two cents of cash that I can spend on anything than two cents that I can only spend on travel.

How the Spark Miles has taken the lead

That has finally changed, and at this point the Spark Miles is a better option than the Spark Cash, in my opinion. That’s because since December, miles earned on the Capital One Spark Miles can be transferred to airline programs at a ratio of up to 2:1.5. You’re able to transfer miles to the following programs:

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
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

So this means that for every dollar spent on the card you’re earning either two cents towards travel or 1.5 airline miles, which is some excellent flexibility to have.

To look at the two welcome bonuses in more detail:

  • With the Capital One Spark Cash you’re earning $3,000 after spending $50,000 within the eligible period ($1,000 + $2,000), meaning you’re earning the equivalent of 6% back on that spend
  • With the Capital One Spark Miles you’re earning 300,000 Spark miles after spending $50,000 within the eligible period (100,000 + 200,000), which gets you either $3,000 towards travel or up to 225,000 airline miles; that’s the equivalent of earning six cents per dollar towards travel, or up to 4.5 airline miles per dollar spent

So while I’d rather have two cents cash per dollar spent than two cents towards travel, I’ll take two cents towards travel OR up to 1.5 airline miles over just two cents cash.

Calculating the breakeven point

With the new Spark transfer feature, the breakeven point here is if you value airline miles at more than 1.33 cents each (that’s simply 2/1.5). And personally I’d probably be happy acquiring most of those mileage currencies at the rate of 1.33 cents each.

Capital One Spark application restrictions

The terms of the Capital One Spark Cash and Capital One Spark Miles applications 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

Bottom line

For businesses that spend a fair amount, the limited time welcome bonuses on the Capital One Spark Cash and Capital One Spark Miles are phenomenal. If you’ve been considering either of these cards, you have just over two weeks remaining to take advantage of the offers.

While I’ve historically preferred the Spark Cash to the Spark Miles, with the new feature of being able to convert Spark miles into airline miles, I now prefer the Spark Miles Card.

Do you prefer the solid cash back of the Spark Cash, or do you now prefer the Spark Miles?

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  1. @ Dan — I’ve never heard of someone getting a 1099 for a Spark Cash welcome bonus, though someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

  2. Lucky, you’ve missed a Capital One restriction:

    Captial One business cards are reported to all three credit bureaus, so those wanting to get under 5/24 for Chase applications should be aware.

  3. @Lucky- As a daily spend card, would you use the SPG/Marriott cards or the Spark Miles card for strictly earning airline miles? Thanks!

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