Businesses have diverse needs, so it should be no surprise that there’s a lot of variety in business cards’ features and rewards. Before you choose a card, it’s always a good idea to see what’s unique about it and how it stacks up against competitors in the field.
Here we’ll compare two cards business owners may want to consider, the Capital One Spark Cash Plus and the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card from Chase. The Spark Cash Plus is a charge card without a preset spending limit that boasts a generous welcome offer and unlimited 2 percent cash back. The Ink Business Cash is a credit card offering 5 percent cash back on several standard business spending categories and an introductory APR offer for purchases for 12 months.
|Capital One Spark Cash Plus||Ink Business Cash Credit Card|
|Welcome bonus||Earn up to a $1,000 cash bonus: $500 after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months of account opening, and $500 more after spending $50,000 in the first 6 months||Earn $750 after spending $7,500 in the first 3 months|
|Intro APR||N/A||0% purchase APR for the first 12 months after account opening, then 13.49% to 19.49% variable APR|
Spark Cash Plus vs. Ink Business Cash highlights
Welcome bonus winner: Spark Cash Plus
The Spark Cash Plus offers a two-tiered welcome bonus that can be quite lucrative if you’re able to reach the second tier. It pays $500 if you spend $5,000 in the first three months after opening the account and an additional $500 if you spend $50,000 in the first six months. So if you clear those thresholds, your welcome bonus could total $1,000.
On the other hand, the Ink Business Cash provides a bonus of $750 if you spend $7,500 on purchases within the first three months. That’s not bad in comparison to other small business cards, but it falls short of the chance to earn a bonus worth $1,000.
Rewards rate winner: Ink Business Cash
If you spend a significant amount each year at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services, you can earn a higher rewards rate with the Ink Business Cash. This card offers 5 percent back in those categories, on up to $25,000 in combined purchases per year. After meeting that limit, you’ll earn 1 percent back on those purchases.
If you spend the full $25,000 on purchases in those 5 percent bonus categories, you’ll earn $1,250 in rewards. In comparison, the Spark Cash Plus offers 2 percent cash back on all purchases, so you would earn $500 in rewards on $25,000 worth of purchases.
The Ink Business Cash also offers 2 percent back on the first $25,000 in combined spending at gas stations and restaurants each year, putting it on par with the Spark Cash Plus in those categories.
That said, the Ink Business Cash’s 1 percent back on all other purchases is below the 2 percent back that the Spark Cash Plus offers on everything. So if a lot of your spending falls outside of the Ink Business Cash’s bonus categories, you might earn more rewards with the Spark Cash Plus.
Annual fee winner: Ink Business Cash
The Ink Business Cash doesn’t charge an annual fee, while the Spark Cash Plus charges $150 per year for card membership. If you’re not sure whether your rewards earnings will be sufficient to recoup the annual fee, you might prefer the Ink Business Cash.
Foreign transaction fee winner: Spark Cash Plus
International travelers may want to choose the Spark Cash Plus, which doesn’t impose a fee on purchases made outside of the U.S. The Ink Business Cash charges a 3 percent fee on foreign transactions, so it’s not an ideal option for trips outside of the country.
Which card earns the most?
Both of these cards can deliver plenty of rewards, but the one that earns more is going to depend on how much you use the card and what you’re buying. If you’re a solopreneur running a small online company who devotes a large chunk of your budget to office supplies and telecommunications, the Ink Business Cash might come out ahead. But if you’re running a large enterprise with lots of expenses in other categories, you might benefit more from the Spark Cash Plus’ welcome bonus and unlimited 2 percent cash back rate on all purchases.
Spark Cash Plus vs. Ink Business Cash spending example
Let’s say you spend $4,000 a month ($48,000 per year) with your business card. Suppose the spending breakdown is like this:
- $500 a month on office supplies
- $1,000 a month on internet, cable and phone services
- $400 a month at gas stations
- $400 a month at restaurants
- $1,700 a month on other spending
For the Spark Cash Plus, your spending in the first three months would total $12,000 and you would earn $500, which is the first part of the welcome bonus. Your spending in the first six months would total $24,000, which isn’t high enough to earn the second part of the card’s welcome bonus (you must spend $50,000 within the first six months to earn the other $500).
Additionally, the Spark Cash Plus provides an unlimited 2 percent cash back on all spending, so your $48,000 in annual purchases earns $960 in rewards. Add that to the welcome bonus, and you’ll earn $1,460 during the first year. After taking the $150 membership fee into account, you’ll net $1,310 in earnings.
Now, let’s run the numbers for the Ink Business Cash. Your spending in the first three months is over $7,500, so you’ll earn the $750 welcome bonus. Then, you’re spending $18,000 for the year on office supplies and internet, cable and phone bills. That’s below the $25,000 in combined spending limit, so you’ll earn 5 percent back, which comes to $900. Your gas station and restaurant spending adds up to $9,600 for the year, which is also below the $25,000 limit, so you’ll get $192 in rewards. For all other annual spending, you spend $20,400, which earns cash back at a 1 percent rate and provides $204 in rewards. Add it all together and you’ll earn a total of $1,296 in rewards.
Since the Ink Business Cash doesn’t charge an annual fee, you don’t need to subtract the fee from your earnings. Add the $1,296 in rewards and the $750 welcome bonus, and you’ll earn $2,046 during the first year. That’s $736 more in rewards than the Spark Cash Plus, so the Ink Business Cash takes the lead in this example.
Why should you get the Spark Cash Plus?
The Spark Cash Plus could be a great choice for business owners who have a lot of overhead or regularly need to purchase new equipment or supplies since its welcome bonus is geared toward higher spenders. Plus, it provides a $200 cash bonus to cardholders who spend at least $200,000 each year, erasing the membership fee for business owners who spend at that level. This card also doesn’t impose a preset spend limit, which could appeal to entrepreneurs who want a personalized approach that adjusts to their spending patterns.
The Spark Cash Plus offers features like the option to appoint an account manager, free employee cards, and the ability to set spending limits and purchase reviews for employees. The card also offers bookkeeping tools such as itemized year-end summaries, lists of recurring transactions and integration with accounting software. Plus, you can get virtual card numbers for greater security when buying things online, and you can lock your card or an employee’s card if it’s lost or stolen.
The Spark Cash Plus also includes purchase protection (for up to 90 days), extended warranty protection for eligible items, roadside assistance, emergency travel assistance and complimentary concierge services.
You can redeem rewards for a statement credit or check when you want to cash out your rewards, or you can set up automatic redemption so you get your earnings on a specific date each year or when your balance reaches a certain amount.
You also have the option to redeem rewards for gift cards, credits for past purchases or for Amazon and PayPal purchases. However, redemption rates may be different from what you’d get if you’d redeem for cash.
Recommended credit score
You’ll need good to excellent credit to qualify for this card, which is a FICO score of 670 to 850.
Why should you get the Ink Business Cash?
Unlike the Spark Cash Plus, the Ink Business Cash allows you to carry a balance from one month to the next. That might make this card a better choice for business owners whose income rises and falls unpredictably. The lack of annual fee might also be attractive for those who don’t know what their spending will look like over the year and whether they’ll earn enough rewards to offset the price of card membership.
Plus, the introductory APR for purchases for 12 months could be helpful for anyone who wants to upgrade their office or invest in new software, for example, since the intro APR offers the chance to pay off those costs over time, interest-free.
The Ink Business Cash offers many benefits, including free employee cards and the ability to transfer records to accounting software, which could make tax prep easier. Cardholders will also get standard benefits like purchase protection against damage or theft for 120 days (up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account), extended warranties for eligible items, travel and emergency services, a roadside dispatch service and rental car coverage.
With this card, you can redeem rewards for cash, gift cards and travel rewards; pay with points at select retailers; or transfer your points to another Chase credit card.
It should be noted that if you pay for purchases at participating retailers, you may not get a 1:1 redemption rate. For travel, you can visit the Chase Travel Center to book airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, cruises or travel experiences. Finally, moving points to another card in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program can allow you to transfer points to partners, providing more value for your rewards earnings.
Recommended credit score
You should have good to excellent credit, or a FICO score between 670 and 850, for the best chance of qualifying for this card.
The bottom line
Whether the Spark Cash Plus or the Ink Business Cash is better for you comes down to how much you plan to spend and whether you’re prepared to pay it off in full each month. If you can spend $50,000 within six months, and if you want a charge card without a preset spend limit, the Spark Cash Plus can offer a lot of value for you. On the other hand, if your company has more modest spending levels and you want to enjoy an introductory APR offer, you’ll likely be better off with the Ink Business Cash.