Spark Pay Review

9 Replies

Credit Card Processors
spark pay logo
Category Breakdown
Sales & Marketing rated A
Costs & Contract rated B
Complaints & Service rated A minus
BBB Rating score pending

Overall Rating


spark pay logo

Spark Pay Logo

Spark Pay ( is a mobile payment processing app offered by Capital One. Launched in April 2013, Spark Pay operates in a similar fashion to Square or GoPayment, with a free app and card reader compatible with iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. Spark Pay is packaged with its own merchant account, so businesses may not use the service with their existing accounts. Spark Pay is offered under Capital One’s “Spark Business” brand, which is a suite of services designed for business owners. The CEO of Capital One is Richard Fairbank.

Spark Pay Products and Services

  • Debit and credit card processing
  • Free card reader
  • Bar code scanning
  • Tip tracking
  • Inventory management
  • Digital receipts

Industries served:

  • Retail
  • Mobile

Sales & Marketing | A

Key Points – Sales & Marketing
Uses independent resellers? No
Promotes deceptive rate quotes? No
Discloses all important terms? Yes

Capital One primarily markets Spark Pay as part of its Spark Business merchant services brand. The company does not appear to employ a sales team for the specific purpose of marketing Spark Pay. The Spark Pay website quotes rates and fees with regard to its two pricing plans, and there is currently no evidence that these quotes are misleading. Spark Pay also lists the fees associated with its service on a “Fees and Disclosures” page and provides its terms of use on its website. Given the company’s total fee disclosure and lack of an outbound sales staff, we are awarding it an “A” in this category at this time.

Costs & Contract | B

Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms
Swiped rate: 2.7% or 1.95%
Keyed-in rate: 3.7% or 2.95%
Termination fee: None
PCI compliance fee: None
Equipment lease: None

Spark Pay offers two pricing plans that are similar in structure to those offered by its mobile payments competitors. The first plan, the “Go Plan,” includes a 2.7% rate on swiped (card present) transactions and a 3.7% rate on keyed-in (card-not-present) transactions with no monthly fees, early termination fees, or PCI Compliance fees. The second plan, the “Pro Plan,” includes a 1.95% swiped rate, a 2.95% keyed rate, and a monthly fee of $9.95. Both services include a 2.95% American Express discount rate and a $15 chargeback fee and are subject to the company’s cash reserve policies.

Although these contract terms mirror the low-commitment, fixed-cost models that have become popular in the industry, we have located handful of complaints about Spark Pay’s fraud prevention policies. It appears that Spark Pay waits about a month after a merchant’s first transaction to actually approve the merchant’s account and assess a processing limit for the merchant. Once the company’s underwriting staff makes a determination about the merchant’s spending characteristics, it appears that it sometimes institutes large holds or even drops merchants outright who have processed excessive or suspicious payments. This practice is becoming more common with processing services that emphasize easy signup, and Spark Pay appears to be having some trouble with it. Merchants who have irregular sales patterns or who operate in higher-risk industries will want to contact someone at Spark Pay to verify that their business type will be supported.

Complaints & Service | A-

Key Points – Complaints & Service
Total complaints: 30+
Live customer support? Yes
Most common complaint: Fund holds

We are currently able to locate over 30 Spark Pay negative reviews on consumer forums and in the Android and iTunes app stores, but very few of these complaints describe the service as a scam. The overwhelming theme among complainants is sudden cancellation of service or withholding of funds, although hardware malfunctions and limited software capabilities are also cited. Spark Pay does not appear to screen out ineligible merchants before allowing them to sign up and receive a card reader, resulting in a great deal of frustration when these merchants are suddenly dropped. The Spark Pay website does provide a dedicated phone number and email address, and there are no complaints specifically mentioning trouble reaching Spark Pay. This may emerge as a strength of the service, as other mobile payment apps currently on the market suffer from a lack of live customer support.

BBB Report | N/A

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) does not currently maintain a profile for Spark Pay, but it does have an active page for Capital One Financial Corporation. Capital One is showing over 6,700 complaints in the last three years and was the subject of government prosecution in 2012, resulting in a BBB grade of “B” as of this update. We have no way of knowing how many of the company’s total complaints are a product of its Spark Pay app, so we will not factor a BBB score into its overall rating at this time.

Bottom Line

Spark Pay Review

Rated 4 out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by Phillip Parker
Reviewed on 2015-03-18

Spark Pay is a very new service that currently rates as an “A-” according to our standards. The mobile processing app has a low number of complaints considering the size of its provider, but there appears to be a troubling trend regarding Spark Pay’s cash reserve policies. Spark Pay’s overall rating is very likely to change as it continues to establish a profile within the industry. The app may also be listed as “SparkPay” (one word).

This review was originally published on 10/23/13 and was last updated on 3/18/15.

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  1. Matt

    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.

  2. Shannen

    I had square a year and a half before I was literally forced into using this device. I have a compatible phone which is currently updated and location turned on all my device but despite all of this I have to power cycle my phone 2-3 times, plug and unplug the actual device 2-3 times, force stop the app and restarted at 2-3 times while my clients look at me like I’m in idiot for using this and offer me their *Square. I just have to apologize profusely it takes about 10 to 15 minutes to get this stupid app just to work so I can process the payment. Then it takes 4-5 business days before see any money in your account. I am being held hostage.

  3. Charlotte C

    Transactions made October 29 and money still not deposited into my acct. They owe me 1950$ of money they have taken from my customers but not paid to me. Ask for new information 3 times and I have given it to them. Terrible greedy bull**** that I don’t have time for.
    Avoid these morons.

  4. Steve Townsend

    Do not even waaste your time. They said I was approved and good to go, went and spent 400.00 on a new ipad so I could download their app. First card I ran they closed my account. lol
    Said my business wasnt approved by them.
    Been nice to tell me that from the start.


  5. Todd Elario

    Has taken me a week of faxing verification, communicating with support. Now they say my bank account wont work…..huh? I got the micro deposit and verified my account. They insist I am trying to use a prepaid card…..huh? Wtf are they talking about? I have now given my account# and routing info to this incompetent scam company. I told them I would write this report. They couldn’t care less. So I went with square reader. 5 minutes n done…no hassle. …this spark pay company will eat your time….which is tragic. F for spark pay. This A- rating is an obviously influenced rating. Please trust me……avoid avoid avoid avoid avoid.

    1. Karen Henson

      Be careful with Square also, it was easy set up but after using for about a year they suddenly had 3 deposits and asked for additional information which I provided and they terminated my account. I had done nothing different!

  6. David

    Not very pleased.
    I have used it for a few months, now I have a problem. I tried to run a card. After the swipe, it said “authorizing” with the little spinning wheel. After 5 minutes with no change, I closed the app and tried again. I never received an email telling me I had made a sale. On the second try, it went through. I received my email and my customer received his receipt. I checked the sales history and only one charge was showing. The next day, I checked again and it is showing the customers card was charged twice. I try to refund and it states that it can’t refund the transaction because it exceeds my refund limit. This is the first refund I have ever tried. So, I log on and try to call their live support number only to be told that no one is there to call back during normal business hours. I can get this type of service from paypal or square. I think I am going back to them. I have only issued 3 refunds in 5 years and neither of them gave me a problem.

    And before anyone asks, yes it was a full 5 minutes. The transactions even show being run 5 minutes apart.

  7. John Cowan

    Avoid Sparkpay like the plague-it doesn’t work and their support is anything but. Signed up and got card reader 2 weeks later. The website says it was compatible with my IPhone but they could never get it to work. Bought a Galaxy 5 and it doesn’t work with that phoneeither. Latest problem is i tried to process a sale of an item I did not have listed with them and they reject the charge almost a week later, and 5 hours after i was told it would post in the next 24-48 hours. They are CLUELESS! avoid the Sparkpay hassle! Show less
    By JohnC36 (New User) – on Jun 02, 2014 – 22:21 | edit | delete | report

  8. MJ

    SparkPay is sketchy.

    Whilst applying for an account, you are asked to provide your SSN, but are told that a credit check is not performed.

    Upon reading the Terms of Service, you will read that by applying you are authorizing CapitalOne to pull your credit report…

    WTF CapOne? You want a credit check so you can forward me someone else’s money?

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