I like credit cards for several different reasons. Sometimes it’s sheerly for the convenience, sometimes it’s for the perks, like airport lounge access, and other times it’s for the amazing sign-up bonuses.
Breaking down that last reason, the sign-up bonus can be geared toward points, like frequent flyer miles and free hotel nights, or simply for a great cash bonus.
Let’s face it; not everyone is looking for points. Some folks just want cold, hard cash. Fortunately, many credit cards offer just that.
Capital One Spark $1,000 Sign-Up Bonus
This just in. Capital One has seriously upped the stakes by doubling their usual sign-up bonus on the card to a full $1,000.
The catch is that you need to spend $10,000 in the first three months of card opening, which not everyone is capable of doing.
However, when you consider that the card pays 2% cash back on every purchase, you might be able to do some manufactured spending and come out ahead.
For example, if you pay your mortgage, rent, or estimated taxes, the fees could potentially be fully (or mostly) offset by that 2% cash back.
Then you’re left with a whopping $1,000 in cash! Pretty hard to pass this offer up if you have a relatively cheap and easy method of spending $10k…
What makes the deal really awesome is that the cash back seems to post in just a day or two after hitting the $10k spend.
I made the purchase on a Tuesday and the cash back was available two days later on Thursday. Talk about fast!
Capital One Spark Cash Has $500+ Up for Grabs
Case in point, the Capital One Spark Cash for Business card, which comes with a handsome $500 sign-up bonus when you spend $4,500 in the first three months from account opening.
Looked at another way, that’s a cash back rate of over 11%, at least when it comes to that first $4,500 in spend.
Instead of going after a card that offers 3-6% cash back in certain categories, why not just use this card to get double or nearly quadruple that rate?
The icing on the cake is that there’s no annual fee on Capital One Spark Cash for the first year, so you won’t have any fees cutting into your sign-up bonus.
After 12 months, you can simply cancel the card if you no longer see any value in holding it.
The downside is the $95 annual fee that is charged in year two and beyond.
And there are fee-free credit cards that earn 2% cash back on every purchase, such as Fidelity Visa, though redemption is a bit more limited.
Spark Cash Allows for Easy Redemptions
Another plus to this card is the ease of redemptions. Once you hit that minimum spend and get your $500 bonus, you can apply it as a statement credit and lower your credit card bill.
If we factor in the $4,500 in spending required to get the bonus, that’s another $90 in cash back at the 2% cash back rate.
So really, this sign-up bonus will earn you $590 on $4,500 in spending, which works out to a total cash back rate of over 13%!
Where else are you going to get a cash back rate that high? Sure, it’s temporary, but it’s a nice little win that can put some cash in your pocket while you take a break from acquiring points and miles.
Any additional cash back you earn can also be redeemed, with no pesky minimums if you’re unable to get to a certain threshold like $25.
Like all other Capital One credit cards, Spark Cash does not charge foreign transaction fees, handy while traveling abroad.
It also comes with things like purchase protection, extended warranty, and an auto rental collision damage waiver (secondary).
All in all, it’s a solid business credit card with a decent 2% cash back on all purchases and an excellent $500 sign-up bonus.
Spark Cash vs. Spark Miles vs. Spark Cash Select
Lastly, let me point out that there are several versions of this card, including a $0 annual fee version called Spark Cash Select.
While there’s no fee to worry about, you only get a cash back rate of 1.5%, and the sign-up bonus is a lower $200 for $3,000 in spend.
If you do the math, it might be in your interest to go for the $500 bonus and the 2% cash back, even if you do wind up paying an annual fee or two.
There’s also Spark Miles, which as the name suggests, gives you miles instead of cash back. You can earn 50,000 miles for spending $4,500 in the first three months.
Like Spark Cash, Spark Miles has a sister card called Spark Miles Select that comes with a 20,000-mile sign-up bonus for spending $3,000, 1.5X miles per dollar spent, and no annual fee.
But they’re really just fake miles, in that they can only be used to “erase” travel purchases. They can’t be transferred to frequent flyer programs.
However, Spark Miles can offer a cardholder another option to earn $590 off travel, similar to Spark Cash. The limitation is that you can only redeem for travel purchases at the 1 cent per mile ratio. Other purchases won’t enjoy that 1:1 ratio.
And the travel redemptions need to be made within 90 days of the travel purchases in question. The good news is all types of travel purchases count, such as hotels, flights, car rentals, taxis (likely Uber and Lyft), and so on.
Or you can simply spend your miles on travel via the Capital One Rewards Center. Just check pricing to make sure it’s not cheaper elsewhere.
The other plus to Spark Miles is that it’s a different product, so you could potentially apply for both Spark Cash and Spark Miles and earn nearly $1,200 across the two cards just from the sign-up bonuses and minimum spending.
Not too bad.
Capital One notes that existing or previous cardmembers may not be eligible for the one-time bonuses on these cards, which further lends credence to the benefit of taking advantage of two different cards.
While it’s barely worth mentioning, there is a Spark Classic card as well, which offers a measly 1% cash back on every purchase with no annual fee and no sign-up bonus.
To summarize, since it’s a little confusing, there are five different version of the Capital One Spark card, all of which are business credit cards. So yes, you need to have a business of some kind, whether big or small.
Three of the cards offer cash back and two offer miles, and the two most lucrative of the bunch come with 50k sign-up bonuses. You may want to focus on those ones first.