A business credit score, or commercial credit score, is a number ranging from 0 to 100 that is used to rank the creditworthiness of a business. It uses the business's financial history to determine how likely the business is to pay the loan back in a timely fashion.
A business credit score is tied to your EIN and can help you get better terms for business loans and insurance.
Differences Between Personal and Business Credit Scores:
Personal Credit Score
Business Credit Score
Ranges from 300 to 850.
Ranges from 0 to 100.
Free credit score reports are available from a wide range of sources.
Free credit reports are only available from a limited number of sources. Paid reports are available from major business credit bureaus.
Access to credit information is restricted to individuals with "permissable purpose" under federal law only.
Is not governed by federal law and anyone can access business credit information if they pay for it.
Generally use FICO's algorithms to calculate credit scores.
There is no industry standard for credit score algorithms, which varies from bureau to bureau.
Scores are linked to social security numbers.
Scores are linked to Employer Identification Numbers (EIN).
Includes general credit data.
Includes general credit data as well as company information, payment index, and financial data.
Business Credit Score Range:
There are four major business credit score bureaus that provide reports for businesses on credit scores. Each bureau uses its own algorithm to determine credit scores, but most of them range from 0 to 100.
- Dun & Bradstreet use their PAYDEX Score, which is based on payment history and ranges from 0 to 100.
- Experian uses their Intelliscore Plus, which ranges from 1 to 100 and uses over 800 variables to determine credit scores.
- FICO's Small Business Scoring Service (SBSS) ranges from 0 to 300 and uses both personal and business credit data to determine credit scores.
- Equifax offers a payment index (ranging from 0 to 100 and based on payment history), a credit risk score (ranging from 101 to 992 and based on company size, credit limit, and financial history), and a business failure score (ranging from 1,000 to 1,610 and based on financial history and any late payments and any delinquent accounts).
How to Check Your Business Credit Score
You can get both a paid and a free credit score report, depending on the bureau you use.
Paying for Credit Score Reports:
1. Dun & Bradstreet:
- Sign up for at least the CreditBuilder Plus plan at $149.00 per month.
- You will receive a D-U-N-S number which will be used to track your credit history.
- You can view and add to your full credit file and PAYDEX score on Dun & Bradstreet's website.
- Go to the Equifax website.
- Search for your business.
- Order a single credit report for $99.95.
- Go to Experian's website and search for your business.
- Buy a single credit report for $39.95.
- Go to FICO's website.
- Purchase one of their plans, ranging in price from $19.95 to $39.95 per month.
Getting Free Credit Score Reports:
There are a very limited number of trusted bureaus that offer free credit score reports and simply searching on Google may lead you to scam sites that promise free credit scores simply to get your business details. You can use the table below and log onto one of the sites to request a free credit report.
5 Free Business Credit Report Bureaus:
Free plan offered by Dun & Bradstreet that allows users to monitor changes to their credit score and view the profiles of other businesses that have requested to view your credit score. Detailed credit reports still require a purchase.
Offers free credit report summaries from Dun & Bradstreet and Experian. Detailed credit reports require a purchase.
Offers a free 7-day trial of their reporting services with 7 free business credit reports. You do not need a credit card to sign up.
Offers a free business credit report demo and then requires a subscription. Scorely is a very user-friendly credit reporting bureau.
Offers a business credit monitoring system as well as a single free business credit report, after which a risk consultant will contact you to discuss the best plan for your business needs.
How Business Credit Scores are Determined:
Each major credit bureau has its own algorithms for determining credit scores as there is no industry standard. However, each bureau independently collects payment information from vendors, banks, trade associations, and business credit card providers, to name a few. They then generally verify the information through third parties.
While the major credit bureaus say that they carefully vet their information, errors do still occur on credit reports. You can correct these errors by contacting the relevant credit bureau and providing proof of the error.
Factors Affecting Business Credit Scores:
- Payment history.
- Age of credit history.
- Debt and debt usage.
- Industry risk.
- Company size.
- Credit utilization.
- Missing payments.
- Frequent changes of ownership.
- Late filings of tax returns.
How to Improve Your Business Credit Score.
1. Legally register your business.
Since most bureaus track your credit history through your EIN, you should ensure that you have legally incorporated or registered your business as an LLC. This is the first step in starting to build business credit.
Applying for a D-U-N-S number through Dun & Bradstreet will also help you to establish your credit history with Dun & Bradstreet and other credit bureaus. It is free on Dun & Bradstreet's website to apply for this number, and you will need it if you are planning to apply for an SBA loan.
2. Open a business bank account and apply for a business credit card.
It is a good idea to keep your business and personal finances separate. Not only will this help you with your taxes, but it will also prevent any bad personal credit from impacting your business credit. Business credit cards report your payment information to business credit bureaus, so paying your credit card on time will improve your business credit score.
3. Open accounts that report to business credit.
Not all accounts report to business credit and these will not add to your business credit score or help you build credit. Ask vendors if they report your payment history to credit reporting bureaus to ensure that your timely payments will impact and improve your credit score.
4. Pay your accounts on time or before they are due.
A single late payment can have a negative impact on your credit scores. The best way to keep your credit score up is to pay your accounts on time, but it will be even better for your credit score to pay your accounts early. Dun & Bradstreet's PAYDEX only awards high scores if you pay your vendors early.
Set up an accounts payable system which will help you to keep track of your payments and avoid late payments.
5. Avoid maxing out credit lines.
This will help you to keep your debt under control so that you don't miss payments which will impact your credit score. Use your business credit card for day-to-day operational costs and pay off your bill in full each month. To help you to avoid maxing out your credit card, treat it as cash payments and don't spend what you don't have.
6. Mix your credit.
You can improve your credit score by opening different lines of credit, for example, credit cards, loans, and trade lines. By having multiple lines of credit that you only use about 25% of and pay back regularly and on time, you will develop a positive track record to show to rating agencies.
Borrowing from lenders who report to credit agencies and paying them back in a timely fashion will also help to improve your credit score.
7. Check your business credit score regularly.
You can sign up for a business credit monitoring system that will alert you to any changes to your credit score. This will help you catch any mistakes that are made on your credit reports and can also allow you to catch instances of identity theft before they impact your business.
8. Maintain your personal credit score.
Some lenders do look at your personal credit score to see if you have a stable personal financial history, so monitor your personal credit score and ensure that you are making payments on time and not maxing out your personal credit lines.
Why Business Credit Scores are Important:
Your business credit score shows your financial history and how well you repay your debts. Lenders and creditors will check and evaluate your credit score before approving your business for any loans or lines of credit. The higher your business credit score, the more likely your business will be approved for funding.
Credit scores also serve as a guide for determining financing, insurance rates, and repayment terms. A high credit score will mean larger financing amounts and lower insurance rates.
It is also a good idea to have a business credit score as you will then be able to apply for loans without having to sign a personal liability guarantee for if your business cannot repay the loan.
What to do if you have bad credit:
While maintaining a good credit score is beneficial to your business, there are lenders who will consider financing businesses with bad credit. If you need a loan immediately but have a bad credit score, look for bad credit business loans. Otherwise, follow our guide to improving your business credit score.
How do I build credit for my LLC?
- Legally register your business.
- Open a business bank account and apply for a business credit card.
- Open accounts that report to business credit.
- Pay your accounts on time or before they are due.
- Avoid maxing out credit lines.
- Mix your credit.
- Check your business credit score regularly.
- Maintain your personal credit score.
Is a PAYDEX score of 80 good?
PAYDEX scores are broken down as follows:
- 80-100 = Low risk of late payment (averages prompt to 30 days within terms).
- 50-79 = Medium risk of late payment (averages 30 days or less beyond terms).
- 0-49 = High risk of late payment (averages 30 to 120 days beyond terms).
How can I check my credit score for free?
There are a very limited number of trusted bureaus that offer free credit score reports. You can use the table above to find a reputable credit bureau to request a free credit report.
Is business credit based on personal credit?
No. Business credit is based on your business's financial history and is tracked using your Employer Identification Number. Some lenders and creditors may also take your personal credit score into account when evaluating financing applications, but your personal credit score does not otherwise impact your business credit score.
Why do I need a DUNS number?
Applying for a D-U-N-S number through Dun & Bradstreet will help you to establish your credit history with Dun & Bradstreet and other credit bureaus, as they use your D-U-N-S number to monitor your credit file. It is free on Dun & Bradstreet's website to apply for this number, and you will need it if you are planning to apply for an SBA loan.
How long does it take to build credit?
Building business credit can be a process, as your credit history is an important factor in determining your credit score. However, if you mix your credit and take out multiple lines of credit and loans, you can quickly build up your business credit as long as you make your repayments on time and only utilize about 25% of your maximum available credit.
What can you do with business credit?
Business credit helps you to secure better terms for business loans and insurance policies. It allows lenders and creditors to assess your risk level in terms of repaying a loan and evaluate your eligibility for financing.
Using your business credit score to apply for financing also means that you will not need to sign a personal liability agreement. This means that you do not have to agree to personally repay your business loan if your business is unable to make the repayments.
How often should you check your business credit score?
You should check your business credit score at least once a year, but it is better to check your score once every six months so that you can check for any errors that may affect your report's accuracy. However, if you are planning to apply for a loan to expand your business in the near future, you may want to sign up for a credit monitoring service to keep track of any changes to your credit score.