Spark Pay (sparkpay.com) is an online store builder and mobile payment processing service offered by Capital One. Launched in April 2013, Spark Pay began as a simple mobile phone processing app and has since added its e-commerce service. This review will primarily focus on the Spark Pay mobile app.

Spark Pay’s mobile app 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. As of this update, Spark Pay does not appear to offer a mobile phone card reader that is EMV-compatible, but it does sell wireless EMV terminals.

Spark Pay’s online store builder enables merchants to set up e-commerce storefronts using free templates. These simple online stores provide merchants with the ability to sell their products online, market via email, track inventory, highlight customer reviews, set up recurring billing, sync with QuickBooks, promote on social media, and access sales reports. Spark Pay online stores are billed separately from the company’s payment processing on a monthly basis.

Capital One is headquartered at 1680 Capital One Tower Dr, McLean, Virginia 22102. 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


  • Retail
  • Mobile

Sales & Marketing

Key Points - Sales & Marketing

Employs Independent Resellers No
Advertises Deceptive Rates No
Discloses All Important Terms Yes

Capital One primarily markets Spark Pay through referral partnerships and 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 apparent lack of an outbound sales staff, we are awarding it an “A” in this category at this time.

Spark Pay Marketing Example


Costs & Contract

Key Points - Costs & Contract

Swiped Rate 2.65% + $0.05 Or 1.99% + $0.05
Keyed-in Rate 3.70% + $0.05 Or 2.80% + $0.05
Early Termination Fee None
PCI Compliance Fee None
Equipment Lease Terms 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 2.65% plus $0.05 rate on swiped (card present) transactions and a 3.7% plus $0.05 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 1.99% plus $0.05 swiped rate, a 2.8% plus $0.05 keyed rate, and a monthly fee of $19. Both services charge their keyed-in rates for all American Express transactions plus a $15 chargeback fee per incident and are subject to the company’s cash reserve policies. Since Capital One’s mobile card reader is not EMV-compliant at this time, merchants who are concerned about fraud liability will need to obtain a credit card terminal through Capital One for $99. Capital One claims that it will offer EMV-compatible mobile readers in the first quarter of 2017.

Although Spark Pay’s contract terms mirror the low-commitment, fixed-cost models that have become popular in the industry, we have located a decent number 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 fund 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

Key Points - Complaints & Service

Total Online Complaints 100+
Live Customer Support Yes
Most Common Complaint Fund Holds

We are currently able to locate over 100 Spark Pay negative reviews on consumer forums, in the comment space below, 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. For a service that is open to anyone who wants to open an account, this complaint total is actually relatively low. A good rule of thumb for avoiding the issues cited by complainants is to process small amounts in the early going and make sure that your company is commonly understood to be a standard-risk business type within the industry.

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 3,976 complaints in the last three years and was the subject of government prosecution in 2012. However, it maintains an BBB grade of “A+” 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.

spark pay logo

Spark Pay Bottom Line

Spark Pay is a fairly 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 fraud prevention policies. Spark Pay’s overall rating is likely to change as it continues to establish a profile within the industry. The app may also be listed as “SparkPay” (one word). For information, visit SparkPay’s website.

Hi, I’m Phillip and I’m disgusted by the state of credit card processing in the U.S. and abroad. I believe that the industry has been overrun by people who engage in fraud and deception in order to steal money from hard working business owners. I’ve made it my mission to expose the companies and individuals who engage in predatory marketing, pricing, and contracts, or just provide terrible service. Along with uncovering the bad guys, I’ve also discovered the good guys who do stand out from the status quo. CPO is a website where you will find ratings and reviews of these companies along with advice on how to save money and which service providers consider. Together we can move the industry in a positive direction. If you would like to help support my work, please checkout “Fee Sweep” my eGuide to getting the lowest possible fees when accepting card payments. If you haven’t heard of “interchange” this advice will save you hundreds, even thousands, in processing fees.

Schedule a Consultation with Phillip

16 Reviews Leave Your Review Below

  1. Don’t use Capital One! They’re designed to be an online bank, so I wasn’t surprised when I was told by their customer service that they don’t accept ATM deposits. However I was surprised when I was told that they don’t support Intuit Quickbooks! If you do any sort of advanced record keeping or business, Capital One and Spark will not help.

  2. Don’t do it! I was enticed by the competitive rates and what appeared to be a very user-friendly app. It’s all b.s. Set up from the admin side on desktop is beyond inept. You basically can’t do anything yourself and will be constantly having to call customer service to get them to make basic administrative changes for you. (I will say this, their customer service reps are very good and there’s no wait time, no phone tree nightmare run-around). Worst of all, they won’t do monthly billing–instead you have to look at each individual transaction and manually enter the fee in your bookkeeping software. This is insane–every other service out there will give you one lump sum at the end of the month. We do over $30,000 a month in transactions–I can’t be adding in the service fee manually from each transaction. Utter idiocy. There are other problems but that’s the main deal-breaker for me. Don’t do it!

  3. 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 chargebacks, 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 Cap 1 account and credit cards. Beware of this service.

    1. I was moved to this cart server from Americart that has worked for us perfectly for many years. It was a buy out and in two weeks with Spark Pay our cart server has been down both weekends with nobody to contact. They only collect our customer’s information and we process the sale through another company. When we were first moved to Spark Pay we were considering changing our system to have them process credit cards but after reading all the reviews such as your there is now way. Thank you for the review.

      Are you with Spark Pay? Learn how to resolve this complaint.

  4. This is the worst credit card company to work with. I had a dispute and they took the money out. They then asked for back up info which I sent them. I get an email back saying it will take 50 days. then 46 days later I get another email saying they want to do pre arbitration and If I wanted to do that they would take another $500.00 out of my account. To me this is just stealing so they can get interest on the monies.
    Lastly when they did the refund to the customer they kept the charge fee so I lost the payment and the fee.
    I went back to square.
    What a blessing compared to sparkpay

  5. thanks everyone. After all this reading , I will be staying with HarborTouch. They’re not mobile, but I don’t have to be, I’m a brick and mortar. I was just looking (hoping ) to find a less expensive alternative, and I see mobile is not the way to go for me. HarborTouch can drive me nuts, but have never held my money, questioned my charge limits, or denied refunds. They do have a four year contract, no monthly equipment lease fees and ‘free’ supplies, but want full contract pay for early cancellation. Which by the way – don’t switch to HarborTouch if you are under a contract with anyone else. They say they will pay the contract out, but they never will. Stay away from HarborTouch for this reason , and stay away from DataLink as they charge too much per transaction, and raise their rates without informing you. BTW – another processing co to avoid is LFG, been there, done that.

  6. Worst ever service, it has been a week now and still waiting for my batch to clear one card over $2500.00. So disappointed.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Thieves
    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.

  10. 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.


  11. 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. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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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