Spark Pay: Should Your Business Use It?

Good credit card processor for offline payments

Editor's Rating

4.5

Good for

  • Offline credit card processing for small to mid-sized businesses

Bad for

  • eCommerce online transactions

Spark Pay: Should Your Business Use It?

Good credit card processor for offline payments

Good for

  • Offline credit card processing for small to mid-sized businesses

Bad for

  • eCommerce online transactions

Editor's Rating

4.5

Spark Pay: Should Your Business Use It?

Editor's Rating

4.5

Good for

  • Offline credit card processing for small to mid-sized businesses

Bad for

  • eCommerce online transactions

Spark Pay is an excellent and affordable credit card processor for offline transactions. Limited integration options and high prices make it a poor choice for businesses looking to accept payments online. Out of the credit card processing options coming directly from banks, Capital One’s Spark Pay is one of the most transparent and user-friendly, which we consider a big plus.

Review: Should You Get Spark Pay for Credit Card Processing?

Spark Pay is a good credit card processor for in-person retail credit card processing. When it comes to online transactions, limited options and high prices make it a bad option for those seeking eCommerce solutions.

Good For…Bad For…
Offline credit card processing for small to mid-sized businesseseCommerce online transactions

Even though Spark Pay offers two plans, most businesses will get a better deal going for the Pro Plan, despite it’s $19 monthly fee. The reason for this is that the lower per-transaction cost will save you more than $19 in fees if you make over $2,879 in sales each month. The Capital One Spark Pay website says companies transacting as little as $1,400 per month should go with the Pro Plan, though we don’t agree with this conclusion. From a cost perspective, it doesn’t make sense to pay the monthly fee until you meet our $2,879 threshold.

For online transactions, most of Spark Pay’s competitors offer significantly more options at better prices. Square, Stripe and PayPal all charge a standard 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction. This is significantly lower than Spark Pay’s 3.7% charge. Furthermore, Spark Pay forces you to sign up for their eCommerce solutions that come with monthly fees that range from $24.95 to $299. Conversely, Stripe Square and PayPal all offer solutions with no monthly fee that also allow you to connect to an API that allows you to build out a custom eCommerce experience for your customers.

Bottom Line: Spark Pay is one of the better credit card processors for offline swiped transactions. If you’re looking for eCommerce processing, on the other hand, you will be better off going with some of Spark Pay’s competitors instead.

Spark Pay Fees, Features & Benefits

Spark Pay Credit Card ProcessingDetails
Transaction Cost
  • Swiped Visa/MasterCard/Discover: 2.65% (Go Plan), 1.99% (Pro Plan)
  • Keyed-in: 3.7% (Go Plan), 2.8% (Pro Plan)
  • Online: 3.7% + $0.05
Monthly FeeNone (Go Plan), $19 (Pro Plan)
Monthly MinimumNone
Card Reader Options
  • Mobile Reader: Free
  • Digital Register: $499, $599, $1,099
  • Wired Payment Terminal: $99
  • Wireless Payment Terminal: $619

Spark Pay offers two plans that charge different amounts per transaction, and different monthly fees. The no-fee Go Plan charges users 2.65% + $0.05 per swiped transaction, while the Pro Plan charges 1.99% + $0.05. The major caveat of the Pro Plan is that it charges a $19 annual fee. If your company transacts more than $2,879 each month, it makes sense to pay the monthly fee and go with the Pro Plan.

Spark Pay charges the same amount for keyed transactions as it does for those who accept American Express – 3.70% + $0.05 with the Go Plan and 2.80% _ $0.05 on the Pro Plan.

You can also have a breadth of card reader options available. When you first sign up, you will receive a free mobile reader. However, for most businesses, this will not be enough – especially if you process high volumes. The next step up is a wired payment terminal, which needs to be hooked up to a POS system. These cost $99. From there, your options significantly jump up in price, with terminals varying between $499 and $1,099.

Spark Pay eCommerce Solutions

Spark Pay Merchant Services is currently only integrated with their own shopping cart software. These come with an additional monthly cost, in addition to the per-transaction cost of 3.7% + $0.05.

The monthly plan cost will depend on your website traffic, and storage needs. The plans differ from $24.95 for entry level, all the way up through $299 per month.

How Much Can Spark Pay Credit Card Processing Cost Your Business

We estimated the cost associated with picking Spark Pay as your credit card processor. While this may not exactly reflect the total cost you’d pay, it still can provide you directionally with an idea of how expensive the various plans and services can get. For the purposes of our simulation, we assumed an average transaction of $50, and assumed only Visa and Mastercard payments were accepted. For the eCommerce estimate, we picked the Silver plan, which Capital One says is their most popular.

Transaction Volume (Monthly)Go PlanPro PlaneCommerce
$2,000$54$60$174
$10,000$272$225$476
$25,000$679$553$1,041

How Does Spark Pay Compare to Other Credit Card Processors?

To get the best value out of your credit card processing, it's best to compare a couple of options. Below we've contrasted the major differences between Spark Pay and close competitors like Square, PayPal and Shopify to help you determine the optimal processor for your business.

Spark Pay vs Square

Square is more affordable than Spark Pay for online credit card processing, and provides more affordable POS solutions. However, when it comes to swiped retail transactions, Spark Pay offers more competitive pricing, especially with the Pro Plan. With Square, you pay a fixed 2.75% on all swiped transactions. That is significantly higher than the 1.99% + $0.05 charge you get with Spark Pay Pro, and even higher than the no-fee Go Plan that charges just 2.65%.

When you decide to start selling online, things look a little different. First and foremost, Square allows you to work with an API and have your own custom online interface. That means you can skip paying expensive monthly fees for some eShop. Secondly, you also pay less per online transaction. Square charges just 2.9% + $0.30, compared to Spark Pay’s 3.7% + $0.05.

Square Highlights

  • 2.75% per swiped transaction (includes Visa, Mastercard, Discover and Amex)
  • 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction
  • No monthly fees or minimums
  • Square Review

Spark Pay vs PayPal

The chief differences between Spark Pay and PayPal are extremely similar to the Square comparison above. PayPal is more expensive than Spark Pay when it comes to handling in-person transactions, even though it doesn’t come with any monthly fee. Each swipe will cost you 2.7% with PayPal. However, when it comes online payment processing, PayPal is generally more affordable.

One thing to note about PayPal’s offline payment processing is the fact that it has a rather limited selection of card reader options. On their website, they advertise two entry-level options – a mobile card reader that can’t handle processing chips and a chip card reader. Neither option is fantastic for handling large sale volumes. If you want something more sophisticated, the prices jump up to $800-$1,000.

PayPal Highlights

  • 2.7% per US card swipe
  • 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction
  • Limited card reader options
  • PayPal Review

Spark Pay vs Shopify

Shopify is an excellent online payment processor for businesses processing over $79,000 each month. For smaller shops, Square or PayPal will be the better solution. As is the case with all-online processing, Spark Pay just can’t compete price-wise.

For in-person credit card processing, we recommend using Spark Pay. It comes with significantly better pricing and less overhead costs. The main issue with Shopify is its monthly fee. You must pay between $29 and $299 depending on the plan you pick. However, at none of the plans give you a per-transaction cost that makes it worthwhile. You can always get lower swipe fees with Spark Pay.

Shopify Highlights

  • Monthly fees between $29 and $299
  • Per-transaction fees range between 2.4% and 2.7% for in-person transactions
  • More expensive than Square for online credit card processing

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