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- The Capital One Spark Cash Plus and The Plum Card® from American Express are two business cards that allow small-business owners flexibility when it comes to their spending limit.
- While the Spark Cash Plus offers cash back rewards, the Plum Card features a discount on your balance (if paid within a certain period)
- The right card for you will come down to your preferred rewards strategy and the additional card benefits you want
The Capital One Spark Cash Plus and The Plum Card® from American Express are both business 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 introductory bonus as well as an opportunity to receive an annual bonus when you meet the spending threshold. On the other hand, the Amex Plum Card has a unique “rewards” structure in which you won’t earn traditional cash back, but instead can receive 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 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 $1,200 cash bonus once you spend $30,000 in the first three months of account opening||None|
|Annual bonus||$150 cash bonus after spending at least $150,000 each year||None|
|Variable APR||None (expected to pay in full every month)||None (expected to pay in full every month)|
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 early spend bonus, especially given its annual fee. However, the spending requirements to earn this bonus are steep. New Spark Cash Plus cardholders can earn $1,200 after spending $30,000 in the first three months.
Earning the bonus could prove difficult for smaller businesses with minimal overhead. 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 welcome 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.
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 an unlimited 1.5 percent discount on eligible charges when you pay within 10 days of your statement closing date; the discount will be applied to your next statement when you pay at least the minimum payment due by the Please Pay By 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 on everyday purchases 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, if you spend $150,000 a year on your card, you’ll receive a $150 statement credit, which would completely offset the fee.
Foreign transaction fee winner: Tie
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.
Keep in mind, though, that American Express is less widely accepted internationally.
Which card earns the most?
Only Spark Cash Plus officially earns rewards, so it’s the winner when it comes to rewards earning. Certainly the Plum Card encourages responsible card management by offering a discount when you pay for your purchases early, but there are rewards in the traditional sense.
With the Spark Cash Plus, you’ll earn 2 percent cash back on all eligible purchases (and 5 percent cash back 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 unlimited 1.5 percent monthly discount you’ll receive on eligible charges you pay for within 10 days of your statement due date 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 already noted, if you spend at least $150,000 per year with the card, you’ll be rewarded with a $150 cash bonus after your cardholder anniversary. 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
- Gift cards
- Checkout payments through Amazon.com and PayPal
- Travel booked through Capital One Travel
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 you can’t carry a balance month-to-month, 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 expects you to pay the balance in full each cycle, you can actually take 60 days to pay your balance in full without paying interest as long as you pay the minimum amount due by the due date. 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 the 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 credit 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 welcome 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.