The Capital One 2% Cash Back Business Credit Card: Worth It? [2018]

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Capital One offers one of the most popular 2% cash back business credit cards known as the Capital One® Spark® Business Credit Card. There are actually several different versions of the Capital One Spark but I’ll be focusing on the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business, since it’s the true 2% cash back business credit card. I’ll take a look at some of the card’s strengths but also highlight some of the weaker points and offer some solid alternative options you might want to consider.

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Capital One Spark highlights

  • $500 cash early spend bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Unlimited 2% cash back on very purchase
  • Add employee cards at no additional cost
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro for the first year, $95 after that

Early spend bonus

The early spend bonus is pretty high at $500 cash back after spending $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

While there have been higher offers in the past, you never know when those higher offers will return and netting $500 cash back is not a bad deal at all.

However, there are other small business credit cards offering more lucrative bonuses.

For example, the Chase Ink Preferred comes with the same annual fee as the Spark but it offers a whopping 80,000 point sign-up bonus after meeting minimum spend requirements. That bonus is worth at a minimum $800 when redeemed for cash back.

If you’re able to spend a lot to meet the minimum spend requirement, then you might want to consider other cards that offer much more lucrative incentives.

The Amex Business Platinum often offers high welcome offers as high as 100,000 Membership Rewards or more. At a valuation of 1.8 cents per point, that’s $1,800 worth of points compared to the $500 offered by the Capital One Spark.

You’ll usually have to spend much more to receive the higher Amex welcome offer and the annual fee is much higher for the Amex Business Platinum but it’s worth noting that such lucrative offers exist.

So if you’re looking for short-term value from a business credit card, there are better options than the Spark. But at the end of the day, $500 back in your wallet for $4,500 spend isn’t bad.


Bonus categories

The main feature of the Capital One Spark is that it offers a 2% return on every single purchase.

This makes it great for everyday spend and it’s perfect for those people who don’t want to worry about keeping track of bonus categories.

But with the Capital One Spark, you miss out on bonus categories that could be higher than 2%.

This is very important to consider because there are many small business credit cards that offer 3% or higher returns in categories that are usually very important to businesses.

If the bulk of your business expenses fall into a category like advertising and shipping, then you need to seriously consider the amount of points you’ll be losing by not picking up a card with better bonus categories.

Here are three small business credit cards that all offer exceptional bonus categories.

The Chase Ink Business Preferred

Best Credit Card for Entrepreneurs

Once again the Chase Ink Preferred is a solid contender because it earns 3X on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on:

  • Travel
  • Shipping purchases
  • Internet, cable and phone services
  • Advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines

For businesses who drop a ton on advertising, it’s really difficult to beat the Chase Ink Preferred since you’d be earning at least 3% cash back. But if you had a card like the Sapphire Reserve, that’s 3X would be worth at least 1.5 cents per point in the Chase Travel Portal and you’d be earning 4.5% back towards travel!

Be sure to check out my article on Chase’s credit card rules before you apply for a Chase card.

The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN is one of my favorite Amex business credit cards. What’s great about this card is that it allows you to choose one category to earn 3X the points on.

You can choose from any of the following categories to earn 3X on:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • U.S. purchases at gas stations
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud purchases from select providers

For all four of the remaining categories, you’ll earn 2X on them. And finally, 3X and 2X apply to the first $100,000 in purchases in each of the 5 categories per year, 1X point per dollar thereafter.

Once again, if you spend a lot on these categories, then you need to run some calculations to see if you’d be better off with a card like the Business Gold Rewards Card. Those points can add up quickly from the bonus categories and you could be out-earning the Spark really fast with 3X and 2X on those categories.

SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

Like the Business Gold Rewards Card, this card earns fantastic earnings on bonus categories.

You’ll earn 5% cash back at U.S. office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers.

Both of these categories can be lumped into inventory related expenses especially office supply stores. But you can also choose to earn 3% cash back on the category of your choice from a list of eight categories:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • Hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels
  • Car rentals purchased from select car rental companies
  • U.S. gas stations
  • U.S. restaurants
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers

Note that the 5% and 3% apply to the first $50,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1% applies thereafter.

The difference between this card and the Business Gold Rewards card is that the latter earns Membership Rewards while the former earns true cash back.

The Simply Cash is a valuable business credit card but that $50,000 cap in bonus rewards means that if you’e putting a significant amount of spend each year on your card, the Spark could turn out to be the better option since the 2% cash back in not capped at all.

Earn bonus points on gas purchases with certain business credit cards.

No transferrable points

The Capital One Spark does not earn points that you can transfer out to airlines and hotels like some other cards. For example, the Chase Ink Preferred earns Chase Ultimate Rewards and the Business Gold Rewards card earns American Express Membership Rewards.

With both of those cards, you can transfer out your points to some fantastic airline partners and fly around the world in first class if that’s what you want to do.

That means that the value potential for cards like the Chase Ink Preferred is much higher than the Spark since the Spark will always earn a steady 2% back. Of course, if you have no desire to transfer points out to travel partners, then this really isn’t an issue for you at all.


Annual fee

The Capital One Spark’s annual fee is $95 but it is waived the first year.

As stated this is on par with the Chase Ink Preferred, but it’s good to remember that there are plenty of small business credit cards with no annual fees that still offer fantastic rewards.

Below are two of my favorite.

The Chase Ink Unlimited

The Chase Ink Business Unlimited is the newest Chase card that just came out. It’s a hot credit card given all of the perks it comes with, which include the following:

  • $500 sign-up bonus after you spend $3,000 in the first three months
  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.
  • No annual fee!
  • Subject to 5/24
  • Primary rental car coverage

You’ll notice that the Ink Business Unlimited has the same $500 early spend bonus but with a lower minimum spend requirement of only $3,000. It also has no annual fee and comes with primary rental car coverage.

While you’ll be earning 1.5% back on all purchases, if you have a premium Chase card that 1.5% back can increase to something much higher, so the Ink Unlimited can definitely be a more valuable option.

Amex Blue Business Plus

The Amex Blue Business Plus  earns 2X Membership Rewards back on all purchases up to $50,000 per year and comes with no annual fee. It also comes with a 0% intro APR period of 15 months. 

While this card currently does not come with a welcome offer, 2X Membership Rewards could amount to 3.6% back if you value Membership Rewards at 1.8 cents per point.

So even though this card loses out to the Spark when just looking at the early spend bonus of $500, in the long-run, this no annual fee card can be much more lucrative for your spend up to $50,000 per year.


Credit limits

The Capital One Spark is a true credit card which means that you’ll be given a traditional credit limit.

I once was contacted by a business owner who did a lot of spending and all he had was the Capital One Spark. But his credit limit didn’t allow him to earn points on all of his purchases because his credit limit wasn’t high enough.

He tried cycling his credit limit (paying it off multiple times a month), but that was a hassle and it still didn’t allow him to put all of his expenses on the credit card.

So he was forced to use cash instead.

Eventually, I told him that I thought a charge card was better and he went with the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express.

This was a much better fit for him since he was able to put all of his monthly charges on the charge card (with no pre-set credit limit).  He ended up earning a ridiculous amount of points each month with that card and there was no question that it was a better fit than the Capital One Spark.

This is why I always recommend that business owners focus on how much they are spending each month before going with the Capital One Spark. If it’s a lot of monthly spend, then you may want to consider a different route because you might not receive a credit limit suitable to your needs.


Final word

The Capital One Spark is a good 2% cash back business credit card for someone who is not interested in special bonus categories and more interested in keeping their credit card rewards simple in the form of straight cash back.

I think everyone should consider some of the alternative options discussed above to make sure that they aren’t leaving a lot of value on the table when going with the Spark.

But in the end, if the Spark appeals to your needs and interests, it’s not a bad business card to go with.

UponArriving has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. UponArriving and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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