About Spark Pay

Spark Pay by Capital One is a mobile card reader that claims to provide you with a secure, convenient way to accept credit card payments online, or from anywhere you have your phone, and to help you run your business more efficiently. In order to accomplish this, the Spark Pay mobile payment system will allow you to accept payments from Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, and Discover cards, which are claimed to be processed in seconds.

But when is Spark Pay a good option to use for your business? And when it comes down to it, can Spark Pay really provide you with the ability to “accept credit cards wherever business takes you?”

How Does Spark Pay Claim to Work?

According to the Spark Pay website, getting your business up and running involves 3 steps:

  1. Choose a plan and sign up for your internet merchant account.
  2. Download the free Spark Pay mobile payments app, which is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices (a full list of supported devices can be found here).
  3. Receive a free mobile credit card reader via mail, which will attach directly to your device. Before receiving your reader, you’ll be able to enter payments manually through the Spark Pay app.

Once your Spark Pay account is set up, the company claims you’ll be able to create custom receipts (include social media links, company logo, etc.), analyze sales via the analytics dashboard (track sales by user, download reports, etc.), and synchronize devices across multiple users and access levels. Also, since Spark Pay is a sub-company of Capital One, a top 10 U.S. bank, all transactions are claimed to feature data encryption for safety.

In addition, the Spark Pay website claims that you’ll be able to integrate your data with Stitch Labs in order to help you manage your inventory, while also being able to scan barcodes, add tips, and send QR code deals to customers that are redeemable via phone. You’ll even be able to manually process cash transactions, although you won’t be able to void these transactions or process refunds.

Spark Pay Pricing & Refund Policy

Spark Pay accounts come in 2 different plans:

Pro Plan:

  • $9.95 monthly fee
  • 1.95% per swipe for Visa, MasterCard, and Discover cards
  • 2.95% per swipe for American Express cards
  • 2.95% for keyed-in transactions

Go Plan:

  • $0.00 monthly fee
  • 2.70% per swipe for Visa, MasterCard, and Discover cards
  • 2.95% per swipe for American Express cards
  • 3.70% for keyed-in transactions

Note: According to the Spark Pay FAQ, the company recommends the Pro Plan if you transact more than $1,300 per month, and the Go Plan if you transact less than this amount, or if your sales are seasonal.

Keep in mind that although you’ll be able to receive up to 3 card readers for free, anything beyond this is priced at $13 per reader. Also, you’ll be assessed a $15 chargeback fee for all disputed charges.

Spark Pay is claimed to provide live support 7 days per week, which can be reached at 877-231-7547.

What Do Other Consumers Have to Say About Spark Pay?

According to reviews found on sites such as MerchantMaverick.com, CardPaymentOptions.com, iTunes, and Google Play, Spark Pay appears to have a mostly positive online customer reputation, with some of the most common compliments referencing competitive rates, unique features, the lack of contracts or early termination fees, and quality customer service.

On the other hand, the number one complaint related to Spark Pay appears to be software/device incompatibility (e.g. does not work with a specific type of device (mostly Android), card reader not connecting to device, etc.). Other common complaints cited that the company will suddenly cancel a user’s service and/or withhold funds from becoming available, and will often allow users to open accounts, send them the card reader, and even allow them to accept payments, only to end up not approving the account (we’ll talk more about this next). In addition, several customers complained that Spark Pay will lock accounts and require copies of business receipts to unlock (usually related to disputed payments).

We also read more than one complaint during our research claiming that Spark Pay requires WiFi in order to process payments, although this could not be confirmed on the product’s website or elsewhere online.

Bottom Line: Is Spark Pay a Solid Choice for Mobile Payment Processing?

When it comes down to it, your business needs to accept credit cards. But regardless of the mobile system you choose to process credit card payments, each one will come with its own unique pros and cons. In addition, just like with any other product, some individuals will prefer one system over another based on their specific needs and preferences.

Backed by a Large Bank

With this said, Spark Pay, while not necessarily offering anything really unique or groundbreaking, appears to have a reputation for providing no-nonsense mobile payment processing that most customers are pleased with. In addition, Spark Pay is a sub-company of Capital One, who acts as the credit card processing merchant, so you know they’re legitimate and have financial strength behind them.

Strict Approval Guidelines

However, because they’re supported by a top 10 U.S. bank, keep in mind that some of Spark Pay’s acceptance guidelines are very stringent, and you may be asked for supporting business documentation soon after opening your account. And while the majority of businesses are approved, some are not; even after accepting payments.

Supported Devices & Functionality

Finally, many users have claimed that they experienced problems accessing their accounts and/or processing payments, even on devices claimed to be supported by Spark Pay. Also, if your device is rooted (aka jail-broken), Spark Pay will not work.

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6 Customer Reviews for Spark Pay

Average Customer Rating: 1.2
Rating Snapshot:
5 stars: 0 4 stars: 0 3 stars: 0 2 stars: 1 1 stars: 5
Bottom Line: 0% would recommend it to a friend
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  • Functional, but very slow payments

    We set up Spark Pay as an alternative to Square Up. The fees are marginally cheaper at 2.65% rather than 2.7%. These tiny savings are quickly swallowed up, however, once you discover that Spark Pay uses a sluggish remittance procedure.

    We have run Square Up and Spark Pay transactions on the same morning. The Square Up funds usually arrive in our account the next business day. Spark Pay never takes less than three business days, and sometimes up to five.

    Spark Pay's customer service people are trained to blamed the delay on the customer's bank, but what is really happening is called arbitrage, the delays earn Spark Pay a lot more than 0.05%.

    All that said, the mobile interface is pretty good, and the Spark Pay card reader is a lot more reliable than the small white plastic thing Square Up sent us. In fact the only time we use Spark Pay now is when the Square Up reader fails to read the card, which is unfortunately pretty frequent.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 0 out 1 people found this review helpful

    The worst experience ever. SCAM!

    • Northern, VA,
    • Oct 7, 2015

    If I could leave a zero star review I would. Spark Pay is a total scam. After 6 months and over $80k in charges, they all of a sudden, without any sort of warning, apply a 40% hold to all funds for 120 days. I had no charge-backs, no issues what so ever, but they want to hold 40% of my money now. The only way to avoid this would be to refund all of my recent transactions, which the customer already received their goods for, and use a different service. This company would rather scam a legitimate customer than do the right thing. Capital One is the worst and this has caused me to close all of my Capital One accounts and credit cards. Beware of this service.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Spark Pay Doesn't Pay

    • Las Vegas, NV,
    • Aug 8, 2015

    Recently I thought I would try spark pay to have a back up to square. I run about $12,000 of charges a month. The Spark Pay team "verified me" and then made a micro deposit, sent me my reader, I thought I was all set. I received a phone call and the conversation was my account was ready to go.

    The first day I ran charges totaling $650.00. Even though I asked in notifications successful charge and so forth and my daily summary, I received nothing. I switched back to Square while I was looking into it.

    Allegedly, Spark Pay sent me an email (which I never received and no, it wasn't in my spam) they needed to further verify my account. I was informed later on the phone when I called, that their team is allowed to take up to 60 days to further verify through underwriting your account.

    That's right, they can hold your money for 60 days.

    The verification process was a series of emails requiring certain documents. When I sent what was required, they would then send another email saying they needed more and different. This went on for a week and a long chain of emails.

    If you believe using a bank that holds funds in this manner, then Spark Pay may be an option.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 50% Reserve for 120 days!

    • Lehighton, PA,
    • Aug 5, 2015

    WOW Spark Pay! This is the shocking e-mail I received about the same time I received notification my account was activated. 50% rolling reserve for 4 Months and then they make it sound like their doing me a favor. This is as bad as realtors using a thing called Seller's Assist. See e-mail below:

    "We want to follow up with you in regards to your Spark Pay account. Your business may run across a payment issue called a “chargeback” which is when a customer disputes a transaction through their credit card company or bank.

    Spark Pay protects you in case a chargeback happens by creating a “rolling reserve” of funds that come from your merchant account. A rolling reserve is just a fancy way of saying that we’re going to hold 50% of your money to cover chargebacks if they occur.

    Starting today, when you make a deposit to your merchant account, we’ll take 50% from it to hold as your 120 day rolling reserve. If a chargeback happens, we’ll use this money to cover it. Otherwise, this money will go right back into your Spark Pay account 120 days after the reserve was taken out.

    Thanks for using Spark Pay from Capital One Bank. If you have any questions about this or need additional help, please reach out to us at (877) 231-7547."

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Worst Vendor On The Planet

    • Denver, CO,
    • Jun 8, 2015

    Our experience with Spark Pay has been possibly one of the most frustrating things we've ever dealt with over the course of our lifetime as a business.

    We recently had two larger transactions that we ran through them (each was about $550 total). Shortly after they were processed we were emailed by Spark Pay in order to provide documentation about the transactions. We provided the invoice, the USPS shipping receipt, as well as the full email correspondence between us and the customer (a retail store in Florida).

    Fast forward a week, and after calling them both yesterday and the day before and being told that "they're just waiting for management's approval to transfer the funds to our bank account" and that "the approvals were received and we'd receive the full amount owed to us in 1-2 business days.” Problem solved right? Not so much. At the end of the business day yesterday we received an email from them stating that they’re going to hold 50% of these funds, and 50% of any transaction we do in the future, no matter how large or how small, for 180 days so that they “can better understand our business.”

    If you’re looking for a merchant account, PLEASE do yourself a favor and look elsewhere. If you enjoy being lied to, being told you’ll receive a phone call by the end of the business day and not hearing from anyone, or simply having your money held by a large bank interest free for 6 months, these guys are for you.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Held my funds, after they charged my customer!

    • New Orleans, La,
    • Feb 5, 2015

    I had a customer pay her deposit. A few days later I called customer service and was told that my funds would batch that night and be available the next day. The next day came and still no money. My customer, myself, and her credit card broker sat on a conference call only to be told it would batch on Sunday, and be available Monday. Still no funds! After a phone call to customer service (which by the way, are rude and you can literally hang up on, get a new rep and be told something totally different), I was told I would only get half of the 1,000 I was owed and the other half when the job was done. Excuse me? You already charged my customer and you decide when you release my funds? I would never recommend this company! Even a teller at Capital One couldn't believe what they are doing!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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