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Capital One Spark Cash for Business: Best for Cash Back on Business Spending?

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Reliability, diligence and flexibility are qualities you’re probably looking for in new hires for your small business. But did you know that these should also be characteristics to seek in your business credit card? Though the Nerds can’t help you with staffing, we can assure you that the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business delivers on all these fronts.

With this card, you’ll score big cash back on every purchase you make for your company. Plus, the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business comes with a sign-up bonus, a reasonable annual fee, and no pesky foreign transaction fees. Take a look at the details below for everything you need to know about this hardworking hunk of plastic.

At a glance
Annual fees $0 intro for first year; $59 after that
Foreign transaction fee None
Rewards program Cash back
Sign-up bonus Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months
Verdict: If you’re looking for a simple, high-value credit card for your business spending, this one fits the bill
Good for:
  • Business owners looking for a simple, flexible rewards credit card
  • Business owners who don’t travel much
  • Business owners who make overseas purchases
Bad for:
  • Business owners looking for a long introductory 0% period
  • Business owners looking to avoid annual fees
  • Business owners who frequently travel for work

In this article:

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business: The basics
Where the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business shines
Is fee-free the way to go?
Where the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business falls short
Is the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business right for your business?

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business: The basics

Before diving deep on the features that make the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business really special, let’s take a look at the basics you’ll get with the card:

  • A sign-up bonus: Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 2% cash back on every purchase you make with the card.
  • Cash-back earnings are unlimited, and rewards don’t expire as long as your card is open and your account is in good standing.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Annual fee is $0 intro for first year; $59 after that.

Where the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business shines

You might not be able to tell from a quick glance at the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business’s nuts and bolts, but it offers first-rate value to busy entrepreneurs. For instance, you’ll get:

A high rewards rate – Consistently earning 2% cash back on all of your company spending is tough to find on the business credit card market. Many cards will allow you to score more than 1% in certain spending categories, but otherwise, 1% is usually all you’re going to get. Because the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business provides double this rewards rate, you should definitely take notice.

Simplistic earning and redeeming structure (for rewards) – Running a business means paying a lot of attention to detail, and the last thing most CEOs need is one more thing to manage. With the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business you won’t have to worry about your credit card rewards because you’ll rack up a reliable cash-back rate with every purchase, and you can redeem it any time and in any amount.

If it’s easier, you can even schedule an automatic redemption when your rewards balance reaches a certain amount. In short, managing this card’s benefits is a (well-deserved) piece of cake.

No foreign transaction fees – There’s nothing worse than getting slapped with a foreign transaction fee for buying the occasional item overseas. But you won’t have to worry about cringing at your credit card statement with the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business. Because it waives its foreign transaction fees, you won’t ever have to fret about paying an extra 3% for international purchases.

Is fee-free the way to go?

The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business offers a good deal to small business owners, but keep in mind that its value proposition comes at an annual fee of $0 intro for first year; $59 after that. Many entrepreneurs don’t know this, but there is a cheaper version of the card. The Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, charges no foreign transaction fees and comes at an annual fee of $0.

Deciding whether it’s worth it to pay an annual fee for a higher rewards rate depends on how much you think you’ll spend each year on your card. Setting aside sign-up bonus amounts and the fact that the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business waives its annual fee for the first year, you’re better off opting for the Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business if you’re planning to spend less than $11,800 annually.

That’s a pretty low limit for most small business owners, so in general you’re better off coughing up extra cash each year to earn a little extra each day. The Nerds think that most entrepreneurs will easily get enough value (and then some) out of the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business to justify its cost.

Where the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business falls short

The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business has a lot going for it, but the card has some drawbacks, and there are other cards you might consider.

Chase  Ink Cash Business Credit Card
Apply Now

on Chase 's
secure website

No 0% period – Many small business owners turn to credit cards as a way to finance large company purchases at 0% for a period of time. But the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business isn’t very impressive on this metric. The ongoing APR is 16.9% (Variable). You could do better.

For example, with the Ink Cash® Business Credit Card, you’ll pay 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% (Variable). That’s a much juicer APR deal than the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business provides, so it’s probably a better choice for earning cash-back rewards and saving on interest.

Speaking of rewards, the Ink Cash® Business Credit Card provides:

  • 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent per year on telecom services and office supply purchases (combined).
  • 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent per year on gas stations and restaurants (combined).
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases (unlimited).

The Ink Cash® Business Credit Card will also get you started with a sign-up bonus: Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

It charges No Annual Fee, so you won’t have to worry about paying an extra charge to get a 0% deal. The Nerds consider this card a superior choice if minimizing finance charges is your main goal.

American Express SimplyCash Business Credit Card
Apply Now

on American Express's
secure website

No bonus rewards categories – Earning a consistent 2% cash back with the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business is great, but you can’t earn any more.  If you’d like to earn 5% cash back in categories you spend a lot in, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

For example, the SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express allows small business owners to earn 5% cash back on office supplies and wireless telephone providers, up to $25,000 per year. Also, you’ll be able to earn 3% cash back in a category of your choice. Eligible categories include airfare, hotels, select advertising, gas stations and more. You’ll also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

This earning structure allows you to score way more in rewards on certain purchases than you would with the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business. Plus, the SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express comes with a Limited Time Offer: You can get a $250 statement credit after you spend $5,000 on qualifying purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Its annual fee is $0, so it’s a slightly more cost-effective choice than the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business.

You’ll have to look at your business’s spending to decide if the SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express is a better option than the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business overall. Just be sure to consider all of the features of each card before making your final choice.

Chase Ink Plus with Ultimate Rewards Credit Card
Apply Now

on Chase's
secure website

No travel perks – The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business charges no foreign transaction fees, but that’s pretty much the only travel benefit it offers. Think about getting a card that makes it easier to earn and redeem rewards for these trips if your business keeps you on the road.

For instance, with the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card, you’ll earn:

  • 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on office supplies and telecom services, up to $50,000 spent per year (combined).
  • 2 points per dollar spent on hotels accommodations and on gas purchases, up to $50,000 spent per year (combined).
  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for travel on Chase’s website at a value of 1.25 cents per point, or transferred to participating frequent traveler programs at a 1:1 ratio. Also, the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card charges no foreign transaction fees. This makes it a better choice than the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business if you’re often traveling abroad on business.

To kick things off, the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card offers a sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. It charges a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Is the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business right for your business?

The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business will do your business right if you’re looking for high, unlimited cash-back earnings, a sign-up bonus and user-friendly redemption structure. Other cards might be better for certain features, but if you’re looking for the simplicity and flexibility of cash back, you really can’t go wrong with this card.

Lindsay Konsko is a staff writer covering credit cards and consumer credit for NerdWallet. Follow her on Twitter @lkonsko and on Google+.


Image via iStock.


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  • SMC

    I’m good with the small limit, because I don’t have to buy equipment. I would like to get some extra points or rewards. Capital One mails me personal offers all the time, but never a business offer. Do they even make special offers for small businesses?

  • neal

    I want to add my voice to those frustrated with the spending limits from Capital One. I consolidated multiple credit cards for my business into one C1 account. I was given a $10K limit and allowed to raise it $5K after 6 months. All of our employees are on the same account, so we have 3 people with a collective limit of $5K. We occasionally have individual charges of over $10K.

    We will go through the silly process of paying off our card every week (or even every few days) to keep getting our 2% cash back, but it is ridiculous that we cannot get an appropriate limit. We have ample money in the bank to pay off our card, have a perfect CC payment history for 10 years and strong credit. You’d think a business card could provide better business service.

    Also, we set alerts to give us warning when we were getting close to our limit so we could pay it down again, but the alerts don’t seem to work.

  • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

    @z_lorenz:disqus,

    It sounds like your personal credit was checked when you applied for a business credit card – this is fairly common. It’s also common for business credit card debt to show up on your personal credit report, so we recommend keeping your debt levels low. Of course, it’s also smart to pay on time, every time. I hope this helps!

  • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

    Hi there! The way your credit limit is determined is complex. It depends on a lot of factors, including your credit score, income/revenue, and your current debt levels. If you need more capital for your small business and can’t get it from a credit card, you might want to check out some other options here: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/small-business/guide-small-business-financing/

  • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

    Hi @Kneded2,

    We’re sorry to hear you’re having so much trouble. For other small business credit card options you may be interested in, here’s a resource to check out: http://www.nerdwallet.com/business-credit-cards

  • Z. Lorenz

    This is not common at all, there was a credit card issued to corporation and credit was checked as ‘deep’ which directly affected my score.
    It is not common neither that credit card is assigned to a person which make me responsible for all company debts, even made by my associates .
    Don’t tell me that your CEO has business card which is reported to agency as his personal debt !
    I have other business cards (Amex Gold, Amex Plum, Chase – VISA, Chase- Master, Bank of America – Visa) – and NONE of them is assigned to my personal credit report.
    And THIS is common, they apparently know what LLC means.

    Otherwise my debt would be $300k more….

    Anyway, my intention is warn any potential business user of this card.
    It should be advertised as follow :
    “This is credit card only for perfect credit score bearers. When we issue it for you – say goodby your excellent score !!!

  • BNB

    It’s entirely common. The only difference would be that some issuers won’t show the debt unless you miss a payment (Chase does this). No warning necessary, most business owners understand how business cards work….