Capital One Spark Cash Card

February 28th, 2020

With the $115,000 she earned in cash back rewards in one year with the Spark Cash Card from Capital One, which offers unlimited 2 percent cash back, Farmgirl Flowers founder and CEO Christina Stembel was able to double her marketing budget. But how much did she have to spend?

The commercial, above, doesn’t say. Luckily for us, the National Advertising Division (NAD) did the math: $5.75 million.

That’s a lot of begonias.

It’s also a lot more than what even the top 10 percent of small business spenders charged, on average, in 2018, which according to VISA was around $225,000. In other words, Farmgirl Flowers isn’t your typical small business and you should not expect to rack up these types of cash back rewards as a Spark Card user. For reference, 2 percent of $225,000 is $4,500.

Following an inquiry, NAD recommended that Capital One modify its advertising to make clear that Farmgirl Flowers is an exceptional case. It found that a written disclosure stating “The actual amount of cash back you earn will depend on your credit limit, payment history and purchase activity” was “unlikely to be noticed, read and understood.”

While Capital One argued that small business owners can do the math themselves, the banking giant agreed to comply with the decision.

JPMorgan Chase brought the challenge to NAD.

Find more of our coverage on credit cards here.

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The National Advertising Division, or NAD, is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. NAD asks advertisers to substantiate or change their claims in advertisements. As part of a voluntary system of self-regulation, however, its recommendations can be ignored by the offending advertisers. In those instances, NAD refers the offender to federal consumer protection agencies.

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