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

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Snapshot

4.7

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Bottom line

The Capital One Spark Cash Plus Card is a strong option for business owners with strong credit. The Spark Plus $150 annual fee is high when compared to similar cards, but business owners who find that they spend heavily on travel can earn lucrative rewards.

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Apply now

on Capital One's secure site

BEST FLAT-RATE BUSINESS CARD

Capital One Spark Cash Plus

Rewards rate

2%–5%

Annual fee

$150

Intro offer

Up to $1,000 cash bonus

Regular APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent  (740 - 850)

Capital One Spark Cash Plus Overview

In many ways, the Capital One Spark Cash Plus card, the newest business credit card from Capital One, is a clear upgrade over the original Capital One Spark Cash for Business credit card, offering boosted buying power with no preset spending limit, an enormous welcome bonus and an annual $200 cash bonus after spending $200,000 or more each year. Its flat 2 percent cash back rate on all eligible purchases also makes earning rewards simple and could add up to substantial savings over time.

That said, the card comes with a higher annual fee of $150 and, as a charge card, requires you to settle your balance each month, making it a poor choice for modest spenders or small-business owners who need to finance purchases or carry a balance to free up cash flow. And while a flat 2 percent cash back rate is generous, it may hold you back if you spend heavily in specific business categories, as several competing cards offer 3 percent to 5 percent back on purchases like online advertising, office supplies, gas or travel.

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

  • Streamlined cash back structure earns unlimited 2 percent cash back on all purchases, even with free employee cards.
  • The Spark Cash Plus gives cardholders ample control over how much they’re able to spend. It’s a charge card, so there is no APR or defined credit limit.
  • Spark Cash Plus rewards never expire as long as your account is active, giving you the flexibility to use your rewards when you’re ready.
  • No foreign transaction fees make this card an excellent traveling companion.

Cons

  • $150 annual fee might be costly for some people.
  • The annual cash back bonus may be hard to reach for some small business owners. You’ll have to spend at least $200,000 to earn a $200 annual cash bonus.
  • Since it’s a charge card, you must pay your balance in full each billing period — which other previous charge cards have evolved away from.
  • Other cards offer more rewards in select categories.
  • No opportunity to transfer rewards to other loyalty programs, so your redemption options are limited.
  • Startups looking to strengthen their credit score will have a harder time with a charge card.

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: Unlimited 2 percent cash back on all purchases and unlimited 5 percent cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • Welcome offer: 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
  • Annual fee: $150
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: N/A

Current welcome offer

New cardholders can reel in a very large sign-up bonus with the Spark Cash Plus: up to a $1,000 cash bonus, with $500 earned after you spend $5,000 in the first three months and another $500 earned after you spend $50,000 in the first six months. While this is a steep drop from the card’s previous bonus of up to $3,000 in two installments ($500 after a $5,000 spend in the first three months, plus $2,500 after a total spend of $50,000 in your first six months), it’s still one of the largest cash back sign-up bonuses among business cards, especially given the card’s relatively low annual fee.

That said, the card’s bonus spending requirement is still quite difficult to reach, requiring you to spend over $8,000 per month for your first six months to earn the full bonus. This is the same spending requirement as the card’s previous offer, despite the bonus being only a third of the size. While a large sign-up bonus may make the card attractive right now, a card with a more modest bonus and more attainable spending requirement may be a better fit based on your spending habits.

Rewards rate

The Spark Cash Plus lives up to Capital One cards’ guiding principle: providing one of the easiest rewards programs imaginable. You’ll earn unlimited flat-rate cash back on all qualifying purchases with no spending caps or bonus categories to juggle, and your rewards won’t expire for the life of your account. You can also earn 5 percent cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Plus, the option to automate the redemption process means you won’t have to micromanage your cash back balance.

How you earn

You and your employees’ cards will earn unlimited 2 percent cash back on almost all your business purchases. You’ll also get 5 percent cash back when you book a hotel or rental 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. These include interest and fees from actions like cash advances, balance transfers and checks for accessing your account.

How to redeem

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 certain selected yearly date. Although the most direct form of cash back — direct bank account deposits — is missing from the list of redemption choices, you can receive your rewards as:

  • A statement credit
  • A check
  • A credit on prior purchases
  • A gift card
  • Checkout payments through Amazon.com and PayPal

How much are the rewards worth?

The Spark Cash Plus may operate differently from a credit card, but its cash rewards program works identically: you’ll pocket the percentage of your cash back rate from each dollar you spend. That means you’ll earn 2 cents per dollar and 5 cents per dollar when you book hotels and rental cars through Capital One Travel with this business card.

Other cardholder perks

Capital One credit cards aren’t known for carrying a buffet of top-tier benefits, and the issuer’s premium business cards are no exception. Like similar cards, you’ll get business perks such as free employee cards, account management tools and standard purchase and travel protections.

In fact, the only benefits the Spark Cash Plus adds upon the original Spark Cash for Business besides the annual spending bonus are complimentary concierge service and lost luggage replacement, which makes the increased annual fee a bit more worrisome considering cheaper competitors — like the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card — may offer more protections.

$200 annual cash bonus

One of the major new features that appears to account for the inflated annual fee is the annual $200 cash bonus you can earn after spending at least $200,000 each year. This is a fantastic addition for businesses that can meet the spending requirement since it more than covers the annual fee, but you’d have to spend close to a sizable $16,700 each month to qualify.

If you’re considering a flat-rate rewards card as a one-size-fits-all card for your smaller business or side hustle, you should assess your budget before applying. Shouldering the Spark Cash Plus card’s higher annual fee without the yearly bonus’ saving grace could make no-annual-fee business cards a better source for rewards.

Travel benefits and purchase protections

The par-for-the-course travel and purchase protection benefits the Spark Cash Plus provides are solid for an everyday cash back card, but they don’t make a strong case for the card’s higher price point.

Your eligible purchases are protected against theft, loss, damage or fire for up to 90 days with purchase security, and their qualifying warranties are padded out with extended protection. Meanwhile, your lost luggage and eligible rental vehicle protection may be covered with a reimbursement policy if you pay with your card. The 24/7 travel and emergency assistance, roadside assistance and complimentary concierge services can also swoop in whether your emergency is your vehicle or a last-minute dinner reservation. Note, however, that terms, conditions and exclusions apply. Refer to your Guide to Benefits for more details.

These perks are certainly helpful but are typical of lower-cost cards, which sometimes carry even better benefits. For example, the $95 Ink Business Preferred card provides many of the same perks but swaps out the Spark Cash Plus card’s weaker lost luggage reimbursement for sought-after trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance and cellphone protection. In fact, the Spark Cash Plus card’s two no-annual-fee versions, the Capital One Spark Cash Select – $500 Cash Bonus and the Capital One Spark Cash Select – 0% Intro APR for 12 Months, carry the same roster of purchase and travel protections.

Virtual credit card numbers

Capital One cards can conceal your card details while online shopping thanks to the Eno account assistant’s virtual credit card number function. The browser extension prevents digital merchants from receiving your real card number by generating and tracking its own unique numbers for each merchant, stacking on an extra layer of security you don’t see offered by issuers very often anymore. Digital wallets achieve the same effect while you shop at physical stores, but virtual card numbers are still handy if your business relies on online transactions and services.

Rates and fees

One of the advantages that come with the Spark Cash Plus as a charge card is that you’ll dodge many of the rates and fees credit cards may incur since you don’t get a revolving credit line. Truth be told, the only cost you should ever face is the $150 annual fee. Even if you don’t spend enough to qualify for the annual cash bonus, it only takes putting $625 per month on your card to earn enough cash back to recoup the annual fee. That’s $229 more per month than it previously took to break even on the Spark Cash for Business’ $95 annual fee, which shouldn’t be a problem for some businesses, but could be a deal-breaker for those who need a low-cost card for small side jobs.

Other than the annual fee, there are no intro or ongoing APRs, balance transfer fees, foreign transaction fees or penalty rates to worry about. The only other fees are a cash advance fee (3 percent of each cash advance, $3 minimum) and a 2.99 percent late payment fee for the unpaid portion of your minimum payment — which you hopefully shouldn’t see because missing a charge card payment puts your account in jeopardy of closing.

First-year value vs. ongoing value

Although the Spark Cash Plus card comes with a $150 annual fee that could be intimidating at first glance, its generous flat rewards rate and annual cash bonus should offer tremendous value — as long as you spend heavily. To realize the card’s full rewards potential, you’ll not only need to spend a minimum of $50,000 in your first six months to earn the full sign-up bonus but also a total of $200,000 per year to secure the $200 annual cash bonus. If you’re able to meet that threshold, you could enjoy over $5,000 in cash back in your first year and over $4,000 in year two and beyond.

That said, even with a more modest $48,000 annual spend, you should still come out on top. If you spent $5,000 in your first three months and a total of $48,000 per year, you could miss out on the second tier of the sign-up bonus and the annual bonus and still wind up with $1,310 in cash back in year one when you subtract for the annual fee. In year two, you’d still enjoy plenty of breathing room to cover the card’s annual fee based on this spend, earning $960 via card spending.

Benefits and costs First-year value Ongoing value (no welcome offers)
Yearly rewards* +$4,000 +$4,000
Welcome offers +up to $1,000 value ($500 by spending $5,000 within the first three months, and another $500 bonus after spending a total of $50,000 in the first six months)
Perks (of monetary value) +$200 (cash bonus after spending at least $200,000 each year) +$200 (cash bonus after spending at least $200,000 each year)
Annual fee -$150 -$150
Total value $5,050 $4,050

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

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

Few business cards offer 2 percent cash back on all 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.

Capital One Image

Capital One Spark Cash Plus

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4.7
Apply now

on Capital One's secure site

Annual fee

$150

Intro offer

Up to $1,000 cash bonus

Rewards rate

2%–5%

Recommended credit

Excellent(740 - 850)
Chase Image

New Business Card! Ink Business Premier℠ Credit Card

Annual fee

$195

Intro offer

$1,000 Cash Back

Rewards rate

2%–5%

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)
American Express Image

American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

Annual fee

No annual fee

Intro offer

$250

Rewards rate

1%–2%

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)

Capital One Spark Cash Plus vs. Chase Ink Business Premier℠ Credit Card

The new Chase Ink Business Premier Credit Card is remarkably similar to the Spark Cash Plus. It also doesn’t have a preset credit limit and earns unlimited 2 percent cash back on all purchases, plus 5 percent on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

However, the Ink Business Premier is a fierce rival since it cranks up your cash back to 2.5 percent on purchases of $5,000 or more and allows you to pay off purchases of $500 or more over time (with a 17.99 percent to 25.99 percent variable Flex for Business APR). These features make the Business Premier worth it if you won’t qualify for the Spark Cash Plus card’s $200 annual cash bonus or if you’ll need to carry a balance in a pinch. The Business Premier is also better for business trips. Its 5 percent category rewards all sorts of travel — not just hotels and rental cars — and the Ink Business Premier card’s benefits include cellphone protection, trip cancellation and interruption insurance and other excellent travel protections.

On the other hand, the Ink Business Premier charges a higher $195 annual fee and doesn’t offer yearly bonus cash or credits. These factors make the Spark Cash Plus a more lucrative option if you don’t have a ton of business expenses or make purchases of at least $5,000 very often.

Big spenders may also see more value from the the Spark Cash Plus. In fact, it would take 10 purchases of $5,000 or more each year for the Ink Business Premier to earn the $250 cash back necessary to match the savings you’d get with the Spark Cash Plus card’s lower annual fee and $200 annual cash bonus.

Capital One Spark Cash Plus vs. American Express Blue Business Cash℠ Card

Another card option for someone looking to charge purchases without a preset spending limit might be the American Express Blue Business Cash Card. Cardholders will get 2 percent cash back on up to $50,000 in eligible purchases yearly (then 1 percent cash back). Cardholders can spend beyond their card’s credit limit with no over-the-limit fee (approved on a case-by-case basis), so business owners can have peace of mind knowing they’ll be covered if unexpected expenses arise.

Spending enough ($200,000) to reach the $200 annual cash bonus may be a tall task for many small business owners, so a credit card with a lower annual fee or no-annual-fee — like the American Express Blue Business Cash Card — may be the more valuable option since you won’t have to forfeit a chunk of your rewards to the membership cost.

Best cards to pair with the Spark Cash Plus

Pairing the Spark Cash Plus with another card that dials up the rewards rate on your biggest expenses is the best way to maximize your flat-rate cash back card.

Capital One doesn’t offer any business cash back cards with bonus categories, so you can broaden your choices to options like travel credit cards or a card like the Ink Business Preferred (which also includes travel as one of its categories) that rewards specific operational costs like shipping, advertising or internet and phone services.

Bankrate’s Take: Is the Capital One Spark Cash Plus 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 — not to mention the $200 annual cash bonus after spending $200,000 each year — are a step up from its predecessor, the Spark Cash for Business.

However, the increased $150 annual fee 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 occasionally carry a balance. 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.

Granted, the higher price tag only requires you to spend $229 more per month to offset compared to the previous $95 annual fee, but unless your business spends more than $16,667 each month for the annual bonus, the new Spark Cash card isn’t as great of a deal compared to the annual fee.

Frequently Asked Questions