|Sales & Marketing|
|Costs & Contract|
|Complaints & Service|
Spark Pay (sparkpay.com) 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||Industries Served|
|Key Points – Sales & Marketing|
|Uses independent resellers?||No|
|Promotes deceptive rate quotes?||No|
|Discloses all important terms?||Yes|
|Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms|
|Swiped rate:||2.7% or 1.95%|
|Keyed-in rate:||3.7% or 2.95%|
|PCI compliance fee:||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.
|Key Points – Complaints & Service|
|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.
The Better Business Bureau 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.
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This review was originally published on 10/23/13 and was last updated on 3/18/15.
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