Spark Miles vs. Spark Cash

September 14, 2015, Written By Jason Steele

When it comes to selecting a credit card, small business owners have their own unique needs. These cardholders are looking for detailed reporting features, in addition to competitive rewards and low fees. Capital One offers a full range of Spark business cards, including the very similar Spark Cash and Spark Miles cards.

While many business reward cards will offer strong returns in a few select bonus categories, the majority will earn rewards worth just 1% on most other spending. In contrast, the Spark Cash and Spark Miles offer rewards worth 2% of spending on all purchases, with no categories to worry about, and no limits. Let’s take a look at these two products, and find out which one will work best for your business needs.

Capital One Spark Miles

Capital One Spark MilesThe Capital One Spark Miles card offers double miles on all purchases, and each mile is worth one cent each as statement credits towards travel purchases. Cardholders can use their card to reserve flights, hotels, car rentals, and cruises, and then redeem their miles to pay for these purchases. To redeem miles, cardholders log into their account, and select from the eligible travel purchases on their previous statements. Once selected, the cardholder’s miles are redeemed at a rate of one cent per mile, and a statement credit is issued.

So when traveling on their miles, cardholders never have to worry about blackout dates, seat restrictions, or the rules imposed by complicated award programs. Furthermore, travelers even have the opportunity to earn rewards from their travel provider, and be eligible for upgrades, unlike other types of travel reward redemptions. Another great feature of this card is the sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles, worth $500, after making $4,500 in purchases within the first three months of card membership.

The benefits of this card for business owners include free employee cards, and the ability to earn rewards for their expenditures. In addition, account holders can receive custom itemized quarterly and year-end summary reports in order to help plan and budget, as well as prepare taxes.

Other important features include a purchase protection policy that covers lost or stolen items within 90 days of purchases. In addition, cardholders receive extended warranty coverage that double the length of the manufacturer’s warranty, up to one year. And when traveling, cardholders are covered by an auto rental collision damage waiver policy, and have access to a 24 hour travel and emergency assistance hotline that offers ticket replacement as well as legal, and medical referrals around the world.

There is a $59 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, and unlike most credit card issuers, there are never any foreign transaction fees. In contrast, most other card issuers will impose a 3% fee on all charges processed outside of the United States. The standard interest rate for this card is 16.9% APR.

Capital One Spark Cash

Capital One Spark CashThe Capital One Spark Cash card offers nearly identical terms as the Spark Miles, with a significant difference. Instead of earning double miles on all purchases, cardholders earn 2% cash back. And instead of earning 50,000 miles as a sign-up bonus, new Spark Cash cardholders have the chance to earn $500 in cash back by using their card to spend $4,500 within three months of account opening. Just as with Capital One’s miles, the cash back earned from this card never expires, and cardholders can redeem to in any amount and at any time.

To receive cash back, cardholder can either go online or call their rewards center. In addition, customers can set a specific threshold to automatically redeem their rewards. Otherwise, Spark Cash has all of the same features and benefits of the Spark Miles card, as well as the identical rates, terms and fees.

Which Card Should You Get?

These two cards are extremely similar, but both offer very competitive value. The advantage of the Capital One Spark Miles card is that cardholders can treat themselves to travel as a reward, and not feel like they must put cash back to their bottom line. For some people, this is an important distinction as their travel rewards becomes a well deserved luxury, rather than just a small discount on their business expenses.

For other business owners, cash will always be king, and they would prefer the flexibility of additional cash back that can be used for travel or any other type of expense. For these cardholders, the Capital One Spark Cash card makes the most sense, as they will not have to actively login and select travel expenses. In addition, there are always some cardholders who have little need for travel rewards, including those who rarely travel, and those whose business keeps them on the road so often, that they prefer to stay at home during their time off. Finally, the Spark Cash card has the advantage of being able to set up automatic reward redemptions, for those who would rather not take the time and effort out of their busy days to worry about redeeming credit card rewards.

Whichever Capital One business card you decide to apply for, you can be assured that you will earn a strong rate of return, while facing a minimum of hassle and fees.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of September 14, 2015. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.