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Capital One Spark Cash Plus review: Is the boosted buying power worth a higher fee?

An excellent catch-all card for everyday business expenses — but at a price

 /  11 min
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At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for and how we rate our cards. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

Snapshot

4.7

Bankrate rating
Info
Rating: 4.7 stars out of 5

Bottom line

If you're a big spender looking for a low-maintenance business rewards card with a reasonable annual fee, the Spark Cash Plus is worth a look.

BEST FLAT-RATE BUSINESS CARD
  • Rewards value
    Rating: 5 stars out of 5
    5 / 5
    APR
    Rating: 1 stars out of 5
    1 / 5
    Rewards flexibility
    Rating: 4 stars out of 5
    4 / 5
    Features
    Rating: 4 stars out of 5
    4 / 5
Excellent (740 – 850)
Info
Recommended Credit

$1,200 cash back

Intro offer

Info

$1200

Offer valuation

Info

2% - 5%

Rewards Rate

Info

$150

Annual fee

N/A

Regular APR

Capital One Spark Cash Plus Overview

The Capital One Spark Cash Plus card offers small-business owners boosted buying power with no preset spending limit, an enormous welcome bonus and a chance to get your annual fee refunded each year you spend $150,000 or more. With a flat 2 percent cash back rate, you can earn rewards simply while building a substantial nest egg.

Yet, the card's annual fee is higher than many cash back business cards’ fees, which could be hard to offset. The Spark Cash Plus also requires complete pay-off every billing cycle since it’s a charge card. This makes it a poor choice if you have a small budget or need to finance purchases or carry a balance to free up cash flow. And although the card's flat cash back rate is generous, it may hold you back if you spend heavily in specific business expense categories, as several competing small-business cards offer 3 percent to 5 percent back on purchases like online advertising, office supplies, gas or travel.
  • Credit Card Cash Back

    Rewards

    • Unlimited 5 percent cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
    • Unlimited 2 percent cash back on every purchase

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

  • Rewards

    Welcome offer

    • $1,200 cash back once you spend $30,000 in the first 3 months of account opening

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Search
    Rates and fees
    • Annual fee: $150 (can be refunded every year you spend at least $150,000)
    • Cash advance fee: 5% of the amount of the cash advance, but not less than $5
    • Late payment fee: 2.99 percent of the unpaid balance of your minimum payment
    • See Rates & Fees

    Expert Appraisal: Exceptional
    See our expert analysis

  • Congrats
    Other cardholder perks
    • Purchase assurance* for up to 90 days
    • Extended warranties* on eligible purchases made with your card
    • MasterRental® Insurance* for eligible car rentals
    • Roadside assistance*
    • Fraud coverage for unauthorized charges
    • No preset credit limit

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

Capital One Spark Cash Plus pros and cons

Pros

  • Checkmark

    Cash back points are easy to rack up, especially when free employee cards can also earn rewards.

  • Checkmark

    It’s a charge card, so there is no APR or defined credit limit to hold back your spending.

  • Checkmark

    You can offset the annual fee every year you spend at least $150,000.

Cons

  • The annual fee might be costly for modest spenders.

  • Since it’s a charge card, you must pay your balance in full each billing period.

  • Typical for charge cards, a penalty fee applies for late payments.

  • Excellent credit is recommended to be eligible for this card.

Why you might want the Capital One Spark Cash Plus

Starting a business isn’t cheap and it's not organized by bonus categories. The Capital One Spark Cash Plus is a great card for everyday business owners who don’t want to spend money on different products and services to maximize a tiered rewards system. A flat-rate card like the Spark Cash Plus can simplify your business spending without sacrificing too much in rewards value.

Rewards rate: A generous flat rate for all purchases

Your and your employees’ cards will earn unlimited 2 percent cash back on almost all your business purchases with no spending caps or bonus categories to juggle. You’ll also get 5 percent cash back when you book a hotel or rental car through Capital One Travel.

The only expenses that Capital One counts as ineligible for rewards are products you return, cash equivalent transactions and account costs like cash advances, balance transfers and checks for accessing your account.

Redemptions: Simple, flexible cash back redemptions

Few issuers simplify reward redemption like Capital One. Busy business owners can set their cash back to automatically redeem once their balance reaches a certain threshold ($25, $50, $200, $500 or $1,500) or at a selected time each calendar year. Although a direct bank account deposit is not included in the card’s redemption choices, you can receive your rewards as:

  • A statement credit
  • A check
  • A gift card
  • Checkout payments through Amazon.com and PayPal
  • Travel bookings through Capital One Travel

Many cardholders can find a way to make the Spark Cash Plus work for them, but you can also convert your Spark Cash Plus cash back into Capital One Miles if you have a Capital One business travel card. Business travelers will certainly want to consider this option because Capital One Miles can be worth an average of 1.7 cents per mile with the right transfer partner, according to Bankrate’s latest valuations.

Credit limit: No preset spending limit

Businesses that prefer a flexible line of credit will find the Spark Cash Plus a suitable choice. As a charge card, it doesn’t have any preset spending limit. Whether your business spends $5,000 in one month or $25,000 in the next, you won’t need to worry about hitting a credit limit — as long as you pay your balance in full at the end of each billing cycle.

This doesn’t mean you have unlimited spending, however. The amount you can spend will depend on your spending behavior, habits, payment history and credit score. If you’re a responsible borrower, Capital One will work with you by giving you access to the credit limit that works for your business.

Why you might want a different business card

The Spark Cash Plus carries a lot of value for big spenders, but if you’re not spending at a pace that’s equal to the card’s welcome offer spending requirement, it might not be the right pick for you. This is especially true considering there are cards with the same flat rewards rate that don’t require an annual fee and lower credit score requirements.

Welcome offer: Great value but only for big spenders

Although this card carries a very valuable welcome offer, it comes with a huge spending requirement. You can earn a one-time cash bonus of $1,200 once you spend $30,000 in the first 3 months. While valuable, this is a big spending requirement, especially considering the short timeframe. If you have a big purchase coming up, now is a great time to apply if you think you can meet the spending requirement.

Annual fee: High fee for average rewards

This card’s annual fee is relatively high, especially considering you can find this card’s rewards rate on other options with no annual fee.

Flat-rate rewards credit cards are a great way to scoop up extra rewards on purchases that fall outside of tiered categories, but unless you spend a substantial amount each year, they earn rewards quite slowly. For instance, you won’t break even on rewards earnings with this card until you spend more than $7,500 on general purchases for your business. With the bonus category, that figure lowers to $3,000 to help offset the annual fee cost. This might not seem like a high spending requirement based on your business, but the card won't be worth it unless you spend at least this amount each year on business purchases or travel.

Even if you spend upwards of $50,000 annually, the Spark Cash Plus may not suit you well. A card like the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card offers 2 percent back on all purchases up to $50,000 (then 1 percent back) per calendar year, and with no annual fee, the Blue Business Cash carries much better long-term value for modest spenders.

Rewards: Tiered rewards may fit your business better

The Spark Cash Plus is a good pick for the cardholder who values simplicity. However, at this credit level, you might want to think more critically about maximizing your rewards. A strong, tiered rewards card could net you more cash back or rewards without much more leg work.

For instance, the no-annual-fee Ink Business Cash® Credit Card is a tiered category rewards card that requires good credit and earns 5 percent cash back on the first $25,000 you spend in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services. It also earns 2 percent cash back on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants. After you reach the $25,000 spending cap each account anniversary year, you’ll earn 1 percent back on all purchases.

Depending on where you spend the majority of your money, you might be able to earn more cash back with the Ink Business Cash than with the Spark Cash Plus. If you max out both 5 percent categories, the Ink Business Cash will earn $2,500 in cash back. The Spark Cash Plus would earn just $1,000 at 2 percent back.

First-year value vs. ongoing value

Although the Spark Cash Plus card comes with a high $150 annual fee (See Rates & Fees), it also gives you a chance to have that fee refunded (if you spend at least $150,000 each year) while enjoying a generous flat rewards rate. To realize the card’s full rewards potential, you not only need to spend a minimum of $30,000 in your first three months to earn the sign-up bonus but also a total of $150,000 per year to have the annual fee refunded.  

That said, even with a more modest $40,000 annual spend, you should still come out on top. If you spent $30,000 in your first three months toward a total of $40,000 per year, you'd still wind up with over $1,000 in cash back in year one when you subtract for the annual fee. Even in year two, you’d still enjoy plenty of breathing room to cover the card’s annual fee based on this spend.

Benefits and costs First-year value Ongoing value (no welcome offers)
Yearly rewards* +$4,000 +$4,000
Welcome offers +$1,200 value (once you spend $30,000 in the first 3 months)
Perks (of monetary value) +$150 (refunded annual fee after spending $150,000 in a year) +$150 (refunded annual fee after spending $150,000 in a year)
Annual fee -$150 See Rates & Fees -$150 See Rates & Fees
Total value $5,200 $4,000

*Based on a $200,000 annual spending assumption.

We tried it: Here’s what our experts say

Credit card expert and Bankrate contributor Holly D. Johnson interviewed several cardholders for their firsthand experience with the Capital One Spark Cash and how it’s helped them manage their small businesses. Several business owners chose it over rival cards due to its flexible spending limit and straightforward, but lucrative, rewards program.

“If one month I need to spend $3,000 and the next month spend $15,000, I can do it without stressing [over having] enough available credit. When I can worry about one less thing, I am a happy man.”

— Max Marvelous, money coach

“I found several [cards] that offered lucrative cash back amounts, but only up to a few thousand dollars — then you get something like 1 percent cash back or no rewards at all on your purchases. The Spark Cash Plus gives me 2 percent back on everything with no limitations. I like that simplicity.”

— Jeffrey Gabriel, co-founder of Saw.com

“I signed up specifically for the 2 percent cash back. The 2 percent cash back gives us a little boost on our profit margins, which helps us offer more competitive pricing…. We pay off our balance every month and use our rewards to help offset that balance.”

— Jeff Neal, operations manager at Critter Depot

How the Capital One Spark Cash Plus compares to other business cards

Few business cards offer 2 percent cash back on all other purchases, and even fewer offer extensive purchasing power like the Spark Cash Plus. However, these alternative picks may be a better value if your business calls for large purchases or a lower annual fee.

Image of Capital One Spark Cash Plus
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Capital One's secure site

Annual fee

$150

Intro offer

$1,200 cash back
Info

Rewards rate

2% - 5%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent (740 – 850)
Info
Image of Ink Business Premier® Credit Card
Bankrate Score
Apply now Lock
on Chase's secure site

Annual fee

$195

Intro offer

$1,000 Cash Back
Info

Rewards rate

2% - 5%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on American Express's secure site

Annual fee

No annual fee

Intro offer

$250 statement credit
Info

Rewards rate

1% - 2%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Best cards to pair with the Capital One Spark Cash Plus card

Who is the Capital One Spark Cash Plus card right for?

Bankrate’s Take — Is the Capital One Spark Cash Plus card worth it?

The Capital One Spark Cash Plus flexes a unique edge over other business cards and charge cards by carrying one of the best flat cash back rates and sign-up bonuses on the market. Its boosted buying power and sign-up bonus are a step up from its no-annual-fee counterparts and its predecessor, the Spark Cash for Business.

However, the $150 annual fee (See Rates & Fees) and charge card structure may not be worth it for small business owners who want a low-cost, flat-rate cash back card or may need to carry a balance occasionally. Considering the Spark Cash Plus card’s benefits outside the above features are strikingly similar to its no-annual-fee cash back business cards, the fee may be hard to justify for some cardholders — unless your business spends enough to nab the annual fee refund. 

Few business cards offer such a high cash back rate on all purchases and streamlined rewards experience, so this card can be a remarkable stand-alone value for small business owners with big expenses.

*For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.

Frequently Asked Questions

Written by
Garrett Yarbrough
Writer, Credit Cards
Bankrate expert Garrett Yarbrough strives to make navigating credit cards and credit building smooth sailing for his readers. After regularly featuring his credit card, credit monitoring and identity theft analysis on NextAdvisor.com, he joined the CreditCards.com and Bankrate teams as a staff writer to develop product reviews and comprehensive credit card guides focused on cash back, credit scores and card offers.
Edited by Senior Editor, Credit Cards
Reviewed by Former Editor, Credit Cards

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.