Several weeks ago Capital One rolled out new bonuses on two of their popular Spark credit cards, which I consider to be among the all-around best business credit cards. To me, these cards are more interesting than ever before, given that in 2018 Capital One rolled out the ability to convert Spark and Venture miles into airline miles.
With two Spark cards currently having increased bonuses, which of the two cards is better? I’ll share my take below.
Increased Spark Business Card Bonuses
- 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
- 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
Note that there are no tax implications to the bonuses on either cards, as welcome bonuses and rewards for credit card spending aren’t taxed, whether in cash or miles.
The Spark Cash Used To Be The Better Card
The two cards offer the following rewards structures:
- The Capital One Spark Miles offers unlimited 2x Spark miles per dollar spent
- The Capital One Spark Cash offers unlimited 2% cash back
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.
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.
The Spark Cash is great if you want to earn cash back rewards
How The Spark Miles Has Taken The Lead
That finally changed late last year, as I started to prefer the Spark Miles to the Spark Cash. That’s because since December 2018, 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 Partner||Transfer 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|
This means that for every dollar spent on the card you’re earning either two cents towards travel or up to 1.5 airline miles, which is some excellent flexibility to have. Furthermore, sometimes we see transfer bonuses, which can get you even more value for your miles.
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 spending
- 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.
Transfer Spark miles to Air Canada Aeroplan
Calculating The Breakeven Point
With the Spark Miles 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). Personally I’d probably be happy acquiring most of those mileage currencies at the rate of 1.33 cents each.
The Spark Miles Has Another Unique Benefit
In addition to the flexibility to convert Spark Miles rewards into airline miles, there’s another advantage of the Spark Miles over the Spark Cash.
Several months ago the Spark Miles added a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit as a benefit. With this, you receive a statement credit once every four years when you charge the Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check fee to your card.
For someone who would benefit from that, that’s an $85-100 benefit right there.
The Spark Miles has the advantage of offering a TSA Pre-Check credit
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. The bonus may not be available for existing or previous Spark cardholders. These spend bonuses may be earned independently, meaning you may earn one or both.
As you can see, you can get both the Spark Miles and Spark Cash, so you can still take advantage of this deal if you only have one of these cards.
Beyond that, 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
While I’ve historically preferred the Spark Cash to the Spark Miles, the mileage transfer feature on the Spark Miles has made that the better card, in my opinion. On top of that, the Spark Miles offers a TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry fee credit, which the Spark Cash doesn’t.
Do you prefer the solid cash back of the Spark Cash, or do you prefer the travel redemptions of the Spark Miles?