Raise your hand if you’ve seen the Capital One commercials for Spark Business credit cards – the ones with the Visigoth barbarians running a pizza place, a home security firm, and a fashion show. Cute, right?
The Spark commercials advertise 2% cash back or double miles on every purchase – something that two of the Spark business cards offer – the Spark Miles and Spark Cash cards. Credit-Land.com looks at the nitty-gritty of the Spark card terms and conditions and decodes the hype.
How Many Sparks Does it Take to Light a Fire?
There are actually more than two Spark Business cards. They are:
Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business
Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business
Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business
These cards share some things in common, so let’s look at the benefits that they all come with.
Business Credit Bureau Reporting
All of the Spark cards report not only to the consumer credit bureaus – Experian, TransUnion, Equifax and Innovis – but also to three major business credit bureaus. Experian Business, Small Business Financial Exchange, and Dun & Bradstreet are business credit bureaus that can help your business secure a good credit rating separate from your personal one.
When you are trying to get a loan for your business, having a good business credit rating can be a big help. New businesses may not qualify for a loan without a personal guarantee from the owner, saying they will be liable for the loan, putting their personal assets and credit on the line. The faster a business builds up its own credit history, the sooner the business may be able to secure a loan without a personal guarantee. Business credit bureau reporting can help this process along.
Every business has to file taxes every year, and depending on the size of your business, you may or may not have an accountant on staff to go through all the receipts for the year and categorize all of the company spending. How much did you spend on printer ink this year? What about cell phone bills? Coffee and bagels for meetings? All of these things need to be itemized, and for a small business this can take a lot of time. Time is money, and who wants to spend either one when someone else will do the job for you? Spark cards offer quarterly or yearly spending reports to help you keep track of your expenses.
Your Business Name on Your Card
For a relatively new business owner, it’s not only useful, but can be exciting to have your business name emblazoned as many places as you can get it. The Spark Business credit card will display your business name on the front, lending your business credibility in the eyes of anyone you hand your card to. A small thing, maybe, but when you see “Peggy’s Pie Parlor” or “Doggie Daycare, Inc.” on your Spark card, you’ll have tangible evidence of your new venture.
Employee Cards at No Additional Cost
Some companies charge you for each extra card you order, but not Spark. Order employee cards at no additional cost. It’s easy to track spending by employee, too – they will be categorized on your statement, so you know exactly who bought what, when.
Zero Dollar Liability for Fraud
If your card is compromised and someone makes fraudulent charges on it, you won’t be liable. That gives you peace of mind, especially when you have several cards out there in the hands of your employees. You can rest easy, knowing you’ll be protected from false charges.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
If you travel abroad frequently for your business, it’s essential to have a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. None of Capital One’s cards carry foreign transaction fees – which typically run 2‐3% at other banks.
Get Down to Business: Spark Classic
With this card, you’ll earn one percent cash back on every purchase you make. 1% cash back for the Spark Classic card is self‐explanatory – no catch there. Redeem your cash automatically by receiving a check each year on a specific date, or you can request your cash back any time, online or by phone.
The Spark Classic has a steep 23.49% (Variable) APR and no annual fee.
The card offers no limits and no expiration dates on rewards. You can keep accruing cash back as for the life of the card, without ever hitting a ceiling.
Show Me the Money: the Spark Cash cards
The Spark Cash Select Card and the Spark Cash card both offer cash back rewards – the Select offers 1.5% back on all purchases, while the regular Spark Cash offers 2% cash back on all purchases. Both offer additional cash bonuses as well, with the Spark Cash Select giving a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 within three months of approval and the regular Spark Cash card giving a one‐time $500 cash bonus for spending $4,500 within three months of approval for the card.
The Spark Cash Select card has no annual fee and carries an APR of 13.49% - 21.49% (Variable), in addition to offering 0% on purchases during introductory period. The Spark Cash card – which offers greater rewards – comes with an annual fee ($0 intro for first year; $59 after that) and the APR of 17.49% (Variable), with no introductory period. Again, there is no expiration and no limit on rewards.
When Sparks Fly: the Spark Miles cards
When we talk about this type of miles cards, remember that these are not miles that will actually count toward a frequent flyer program. They are essentially still a cash bonus, in the form of “miles” that you redeem for cash toward travel. The Spark Miles gives two miles per dollar spent on any purchase and a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles for spending $4,500 on purchases within three months of approval. Annual fee is $0 intro for first year; $59 after that and allows you to redeem your miles for any travel expense, not just airfare. The Spark Miles Select has no annual fee and only pays 1.5 mile per dollar. You will get a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months of approval.
The Spark Miles Select card has introductory APR and the ongoing APR of 13.49% - 21.49% (Variable). The Spark Miles card has the APR of 17.49% (Variable), and no introductory promotional period. There is no limit of rewards and they never expire.
Best in Show
The Spark Cash card and the Spark Miles card are the ones featured in the commercials – the ones that offer 2% cash back or two‐for‐one miles on every purchase. The rewards are good, some of the best offered, which is probably why they are the only two Spark cards that carry an annual fee. Their 17.49% (Variable) APR isn’t super low, but isn’t terribly high either. Of course it’s always best to pay off your entire balance every month in any case. These two cards are also going to be the ones with a little bit more stringent requirements for being approved. If you can’t get them, you might be approved more easily for one of the Select cards, which offer lower reward rates but still have all the positive features of every Spark card.
Capital One has a history of offering great business credit cards, and the Spark cards continue that tradition. Beyond just cute commercials, they are solid cards that any business owner should consider carrying.