Capital One Spark Cash Versus Spark Cash Select

Last Reviewed: 2/2/2012

Capital One Spark Zombifies If you are looking for a credit card that can turn you into a zombie, then Capital One’s Spark Cash and Cash Select cards may be the ones for you. “Why?” you ask. Simple. With Spark Cash’s 2% cashback rewards on purchases (and Spark Cash Select’s 1.5% effective cash back), you don’t need to think (unlike certain credit cards who’s rewards vary by time of year or by spend category). Sometimes, not thinking is nice.

It’s most folks’ inclination that since CapOne’s Spark Cash is a small business credit card, and since they don’t have a business, they aren’t eligible to apply for the card. Nothing could be further from the truth. Read this nice post from My Money Blog on how individuals can apply for business cards to learn more.

You can apply for the CapOne Spark Cash Business Card, or the Spark Cash Select Card. If you wan’t to broaden your horizons (and who doesn’t want to do that), read on, compadre.

Helpful Tip: Remember, if you use your social security number to apply for a business card, creditors are still evaluating your personal credit history, and if you default on the card, it’s your own credit score that will be tarnished. This is one benefit to applying for a business card as a business entity if you already have business credit established.

Snapshot of the CapitalOne Spark Cash and Spark Cash Select Rewards Credit Cards
Capital One Spark Cash Capital One Spark Cash Select
Credit Level Required Excellent Excellent
Base Rewards 2% cashback on all purchases. 1.0% cashback on all purchases.
End of Year Bonus None 50% bonus on all cash back earned during the year.
Spend Target Bonus $100 bonus if you spend $1,000 within first 3 months of card ownership. None
Rewards Expiration Rewards don’t expire Rewards don’t expire
Rewards Earning Limits No limits No limits
Redemption Options Cash back Cash back
Redemption Restrictions None. Rewards can be redeemed at any time and in any increment. Also, rewards are automatically paid out annually, or can be automatically paid out when you reach a specified amount (say, $25 or $50). None (same as Cap1 Spark Cash)
Annual Fee $0 first year, then $59 per year. None
Foreign Transaction Fee None None

Earning Cash Back with Capital One’s Spark Cash and Cash Select Business Cards

Well, what can I say, the Visigoths have gotten it right this time. You earn 2% cash back on just about any purchases you make with the Spark Cash card, with no earnings caps and no worries about your rewards ever expiring. Finding 2% cashback cards on the Visa and/or Mastercard network is the stuff of Mission Impossible, so Spark Cash gets major GetDebit points for that (too bad GetDebit points aren’t worth shite).

The Cap1 Spark Cash Select Card seems to come up very short, with only 1% cash back, BUT you get a 50% end-of-year bump in the value of your rewards, effectively turning your boring 1% cash back card into a not-so-boring 1.5% cash back card (bit of a Cinderalla story, eh?!). Of course, the only downsides of this approach are a) you have to wait a full year to get the bonus, and b) if for some reason you cancel the card during any given year, you’ll lose that extra cash back you were accruing during said year. But the fact that the Select version doesn’t have an annual fee makes it more attractive (more on that in a bit).

CapOne Spark Cash Sign-Up Bonus

Technically this is a spend-target bonus (as you don’t get the dough right on sign-up). The $100 bonus (earned after spending $1K within 3 months of card approval), isn’t all that great, and is a bit of a red herring. The real story of Spark Cash is the 2% rewards. Period.

Redeeming Your Cash Back Rewards with CapOne Spark Cash or Spark Cash Select

Redemptions are a breeze with either the Spark Cash or Spark Cash Select credit cards. You can redeem your rewards on demand, no matter how little or how much cash back you’ve earned. This won’t affect other automatic redemptions you’ve established. Capital One doesn’t hold your cash rewards hostage until you reach a certain amount or a certain date.

A Quick Examination of Spark’s Balance Transfer Capabilities

I was a bit surprised to read that there’s no balance transfer fee for either Capital One Spark Cash version. However, normal purchase APRs kick in immediately on transfer, meaning that you’ll pay through the roof on those transfers. Don’t do it! Sparky ain’t cut out for that sort of work.

Case Study: Why You Shouldn’t Transfer a Balance With Your Spark Cash or Spark Cash Select Credit Card

For instance, suppose you wanted to transfer $10,000 to your new Spark Cash card and pay it off within a year. At the end of 12 months, you’d have paid $768.80 in interest. On the other hand, if you found a credit card with a 0% promotional APR on balance transfers for 12 months and a 3.0% balance transfer fee (pretty typical), you’d only pay $300 due to the transfer fee. We’ve excluded sign-up bonuses, cash rewards, etc to simplify the analysis. The GetDebit Credit Card Finder can point you in the right direction for balance transfer cards, but until Spark has a 0% APR offer out there, it ain’t the one.

Head-To-Head: Spark Cash Versus Spark Cash Select

The moment you’ve all been waiting for with baited breath. As the table below illustrates, over a 5-year time horizon, the Spark Cash will outperform the Spark Cash Select when you spend $500 or more per month, on average. Part of that advantage is derived from the $100 spend range bonus you get with Spark Cash. Over longer periods (say 10 years), you’ll need to spend closer to $1,000 per month on the CapOne Spark Cash credit card to break-even versus the Spark Cash Select Card. At spend ranges much over $1,000 per month, Spark Cash will always outperform Spark Cash Select, regardless of the time range.

Comparing Rewards Earned Over 5 Year Period: Spark Cash Versus Spark Cash Select (Assumes You Earn Sign-Up Bonus)
Spend/Month $500 $1,000 $1,500
Spark Cash $464 $1,064 $1,664
Spark Cash Select $450 $900 $1,350
Performance Delta $14 $164 $314

Our Final Thoughts On The CapitalOne Spark Small Business Cards

Whether you want Spark Cash for personal or business use, or you’re tired of dealing with rotating rewards categories (I’m bad at rotation in general—I don’t even rotate my tires), Spark has definitely put an elf-like sparkle in our heavily be-spectacled eyes here at GetDebit. If you’re planning to put roughly $1,000 or more per month on this card, you should definitely go for the Spark Cash; if you’re much lower than that (say $500 or so per month) and plan to hold the card for a long time (10 years or so), then Spark Cash Select has the edge.

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