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Although differing in rewards structures, the Capital One Spark Cash Plus and The Plum Card® from American Express are both business charge cards that can bring value to small businesses in a variety of ways.
The Spark Cash Plus not only features an unlimited, flat cash back rate, but it also offers a generous sign-up bonus and annual bonus. On the other hand, the Amex Plum Card has a unique rewards structure in which you won’t earn traditional cash back, but instead a discount on your balance (if paid within a set period of time). Unfortunately, both cards come with relatively high annual fees, but business owners can add additional employee cards for free.
Keep reading to learn more about these business credit cards and decide which one is a better fit for your business’ needs.
|Capital One Spark Cash Plus||The Plum Card from American Express|
|Welcome bonus||Up to a $1,000 cash bonus: $500 once you spend $5,000 in the first three months, and $500 once you spend $50,000 in the first six months of account opening||None|
|Annual bonus||$200 cash bonus after spending at least $200,000 each year||None|
|Variable APR||None (charge card)||None (charge card)|
Capital One Spark Cash Plus vs. The Plum Card from American Express highlights
Welcome bonus winner: Capital One Spark Cash Plus
The Capital One Spark Cash Plus offers a generous sign-up bonus, especially given its annual fee. However, the spending requirements to earn this bonus are pretty steep. New Spark Cash Plus cardholders can earn $500 after spending $5,000 in the first three months and an additional $500 after spending $50,000 in the first six months — effectively a $1,000 sign-up bonus.
This means to earn the full Spark Cash Plus welcome bonus, you’ll need to spend over $8,000 per month for your first six months, which can prove quite expensive for more modest business spenders. On the other hand, this bonus can definitely add a lot of value for higher-spending businesses that won’t have a problem meeting that sort of requirement.
Unfortunately for those interested in the Plum Card from American Express, the card doesn’t offer any kind of sign-up bonus — while most of the best American Express business credit cards on the market do.
Rewards rate winner: Capital One Spark Cash Plus
The Capital One Spark Cash Plus offers a simple, flat-rate rewards program that makes it an easy-to-use card for businesses. You won’t have to worry about enrolling or activating eligible categories — simply swipe and earn cash back rewards.
All purchases made with the Spark Cash Plus earn an unlimited 2 percent cash back. Further, business travelers will be pleased to know that you can also earn an unlimited 5 percent cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Making things even easier, you can automatically redeem your rewards when they reach an amount of your choosing. Once your cash bank balance reaches that amount — whether it’s $50, $100 or $500, for example — it’ll be automatically redeemed for you.
The Plum Card from American Express, on the other hand, has a unique rewards structure. Instead of cash back, you’ll receive a 1.5 percent discount on your credit card bill if your credit card statement is paid in full within 10 days of your statement closing date. While you won’t earn rewards to use at a future date like you would with the Spark Cash Plus, you’ll still save money on your statement balances you’d otherwise have to pay. However, if you don’t make your payments early, you won’t earn the discount — which could make the card less valuable for some.
Annual fee winner: Capital One Spark Cash Plus
The Capital One Spark Cash Plus charges an annual fee of $150, which can be expensive for businesses who don’t plan on spending much with the card (though most businesses likely won’t have a problem). You’ll have to spend $625 a month to offset the annual fee through cash back.
On the same note, the Plum card’s annual fee of $250 may prove to be too high for lower-spending businesses — especially considering its lack of a welcome bonus and traditional ongoing rewards. For perspective, you’ll have to spend $16,675 annually (or close to $1,400 a month) to offset the $250 fee through earned discounts.
Overall, the Capital One Spark Cash Plus’s annual fee is more manageable than that of the Plum. It’s less expensive, meaning you’ll have to spend less each month to offset its cost. Plus, you’ll also have the opportunity to earn a welcome bonus and pay the annual fee that way, instead.
Foreign transaction winner: Both
Although both the Capital One Spark Cash Plus and Amex Plum Card have significant annual fees, cardholders will be pleased to know that neither card charges foreign transaction fees. This is a great benefit for businesses frequently traveling or making payments abroad, and, in the long run, this can save your business a good sum of cash.
Which card earns the most?
When it comes down to it, the Capital One Spark Cash Plus Card technically earns the most. With this card, you’ll earn 2 cents per dollar on all eligible purchases (and 5 cents per dollar on Capital One Travel hotel and rental car purchases). In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to earn up to $1,000 in welcome bonuses and a $200 annual bonus (after spending at least $200,000 each year).
With the Plum Card from American Express, you won’t necessarily “earn” any money, but it’ll help you save money. The 1.5 percent monthly discount you’ll receive could be considered automatically-redeemed cash back, but that’s still not as high a rate as what’s offered by the Spark Cash Plus. Plus, there’s no additional bonuses associated with the Plum Card that’ll boost your earning potential.
Why should you get the Capital One Spark Cash Plus?
Another great benefit associated with the Capital One Spark Cash Plus card is its annual bonus. As noted above, if you spend at least $200,000 per year with the card, you’ll be rewarded with a $200 cash bonus. Again, this is a bonus geared toward higher-spending businesses. Other Capital One Spark Cash Plus benefits include $0 fraud liability, extended warranty and protection, virtual card numbers, various basic travel perks (think: lost luggage and vehicle rentals, roadside assistance and travel assistance) and more.
With the Capital One Spark Cash Plus, you can choose to have your rewards automatically redeemed once your cash back balance reaches the amount of your choice. Rewards earned with the Capital One Spark Cash Plus can be redeemed for the following:
- Statement credit
- Mailed check
- Credit on prior purchases
- Gift cards
- Checkout payments through Amazon.com and PayPal
Recommended credit score
To be approved for the Capital One Spark Cash Plus, you’ll need a FICO credit score in the good to excellent range — which is a score from 670 to 850. Note, since this is a charge card, it’s not a great choice for a business needing a card to boost its business credit score.
Why should you get the Plum Card from American Express?
Even though the Plum Card from American Express is a charge card (meaning you won’t be able to carry a long-term balance on it), you’ll still have 60 days to pay your balance while avoiding interest. If you need a little bit of breathing room to pay off more expensive purchases with this card, this benefit can definitely help.
Further, with the Amex Plum Card, you’ll receive purchase protection and extended warranties, return protection, car rental loss and damage insurance, access to Amex’s Global Assist Hotline and more. For a full list, you can view American Express’s Plum Card benefits page.
The Plum Card doesn’t earn rewards that can be redeemed at a later date.
Recommended credit score
Similar to the Spark Cash Plus, you’ll need a good to excellent FICO score to be approved for the Plum Card. If your score is not already between 670 and 850, you should try to boost it for better chances of approval.
The bottom line
For the Capital One Spark Cash Plus, the spending requirements to earn its sign-up bonus and annual bonus are steep — meaning businesses on a tighter budget may not be able to fully maximize the card’s value. However, for businesses with no problem reaching these spending requirements or offsetting an annual fee, this business credit card can easily be a valuable addition to your wallet.
If you’re interested in an American Express business card and would prefer a percentage discount on your balance rather than traditional rewards, the Plum card might be right for you.