Your business credit score is an essential factor in securing loans and credit cards. A strong business credit score can help you get the most favorable terms possible, while a low score can make it challenging to get approved for financing.
In this post, we'll go over what business credit is, the various kinds of business credit reports, how they differ from personal credit and personal credit scores, what it takes to build business credit, how to boost an existing business credit score, and how you can monitor your business credit report quickly.
By understanding your business credit report, you can identify which products you qualify for and take steps to boost your score. Business credit monitoring can help track your progress and ensure you get the most favorable terms possible. Nav can help you track and improve your business credit score, and we'll cover exactly how to do that later in this post.
What is a Business Credit Report?
A business credit report is a record of a company's credit history. It includes information on the company's ability to repay debt and its credit history with creditors. The report also includes public records, such as bankruptcies and tax liens.
A business credit report is used by creditors to determine whether to extend credit to a company. Businesses also use it to track their progress in building a solid credit history.
There are three central credit report agencies for businesses: Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, and Equifax.
What is a Business Credit Score?
A business credit score is a numeric representation of a company's creditworthiness. The score is based on information in the business credit report, and it is used by lenders to help them assess the risk of lending money to a particular company.
Like people, business credit reports are also given a score. The score looks a little different, though than what you may be used to with your personal credit report.
The Four Major Types of Credit Scores
You'll most often run these four scoring models when applying for credit for your business.
1. Dun & Bradstreet Paydex
Dun & Bradstreet's scoring system is called Paydex and ranges from 0-100, with 100 being the best possible score.
A score of 80-100 represents a payment history that is at least as good as the agreed terms or better. 80 means all accounts are paid on the date set in your payment terms. An 81 or above represents a payment history that is sooner than the due date.
A 50-79 indicates your business is making its payments a bit late. A 50 represents payment history containing payments that are 30 days late overall. A 79 represents a payment history that is 15 days late overall.
A score of 49 or below represents a payment history with payments 60 days late or more. You want to avoid this scenario.
2. Experian Intelliscore Plus
Like the Paydex score, Experian's Intelliscore Plus system is a range that tops out at 100. The scoring system is broken up into five major risk categories:
- 76-100: Low risk (Risk Class 1)
- 51-75: Low-Medium Risk (Risk Class 2)
- 26-50: Medium Risk (Risk Class 3)
- 11-25: Medium-High Risk (Risk Class 4)
- 1-10: High Risk (Risk Class 5)
3. Equifax Small Business Credit Risk Score for Financial Services
A mouthful, Equifax's scoring methodology is akin to traditional black-box-style algorithmic credit scoring for those familiar with personal credit scores. Their scoring range is 100-992.
4. FICO SBSS
For small businesses, the SBSS score is paramount when getting a Small Business Administration (SBA) 7(a) loan. The SBSS score ranges from 0 to 300. Generally, a score of 140 or higher is enough to pre-qualify for an SBA 7(a) loan, though higher is highly recommended.
The Differences Between a Business Credit Report and a Personal Credit Report
Your business credit profile is much the same as your personal credit profile, with a few key differences.
Association & Transfers
The most significant difference between a business credit report and a personal credit report is that a credit report for a business is only ever associated with that business. Your personal credit report will follow you, an individual, for life, regardless of where you move to, what jobs you have, and so on.
A business credit report only ever contains credit-related information about the business and its operations, so if you sell the business, its credit reports and credit scores transfer.
Corrections and Legal Protections
It's no secret that credit reports can sometimes have incorrect information. For individuals, there are extra protections in place thanks to laws and regulations like the Fair Credit Reporting Act in the United States and the Consumer Credit Directive in Europe. These protections generally don't extend to businesses, especially the FCRA, which has zero bearing on business credit operations.
Because the FCRA does not apply to businesses, business owners are not entitled to free annual credit reports, either, making tracking down potentially incorrect credit reports much harder.
Credit Line Sizes and Quantities
Sometimes we think of having a credit card with a $10,000 limit as a truly large amount of credit. For some, it is, especially on the personal scale. However, it's not uncommon for businesses to have credit lines in the millions of dollars.
A large business that purchases high-dollar amounts from other companies is not paying for any of that upfront. Instead, they're operating on NET terms, often NET 30, meaning they agree to pay the outstanding balance within 30 days. This hypothetical large business could have these same agreements with dozens, if not hundreds, of vendors. Each of these agreements has the potential to appear on the business's credit report.
Some Scores are Linear and Easy to Manipulate
While personal credit scores range from the 300s to 800s and come in several algorithmic flavors, some business credit scores differ, like the Dun and Bradstreet Paydex report, which is 100% linear and directly correlates to how quickly you pay your company invoices. Pay for everything on time and get a good score. Pay late and get a bad score.
Why Should I Care About Having Good Business Credit?
A business credit report is used by lenders to help them assess the risk of lending money to a particular company. The report includes information on the company's ability to repay debt and its credit history with creditors. The report also includes public records, such as bankruptcies and tax liens.
A strong business credit score can help you get the most favorable terms possible on loans and credit cards. Inversely, a low score can make it challenging to get approved for financing. With better credit scores and a credit report with good payment history, the likelihood is that you, as a small business owner, will have to personally guarantee any new credit.
A personal guarantee means that if the business ever misses a payment, the lender can go after you, an individual, for that money. In the case of credit cards, derogatory marks can appear on your personal credit report and negatively affect your personal credit scores.
If selling the business is ever in your future, being able to demonstrate that the business maintained good credit and standing with its vendors shows extra value to potential purchasers.
How to Track Your Business Credit Report and Score with Nav
Nav Business Credit Monitoring is a service that helps businesses track their credit score and improve their chances of approval for loans and credit cards. The service includes a business credit report, business credit score, and tools to help you understand your report and take steps to improve your score.
With Nav Business Credit Monitoring, you can:
- Get a business credit report and score
- Monitor your business credit score for changes
- Get alerts if there are changes to your business credit report
- Track your progress with monthly updates
- Improve your chances of approval for loans and credit cards
When we think of credit monitoring services, options like Credit Karma come to mind. For businesses, Nav is applicable in much the same way.
Why You Should Be Monitoring Your Business Credit Reports
As your business grows, you'll find yourself looking to borrow money or utilize revolving credit to make inventory purchases, expand your operations with additional space, or perhaps just be able to make NET 30 payments on things you're already buying.
The last thing you need in this equation is to be unaware of your business credit scores and what your business credit reports look like.
Nav makes this easier. Sign up for resources from industry experts and free credit reports. We’re the only platform that provides free credit data from the three major commercial bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Dun & Bradstreet.
- Improve your business credit scores with guidance from industry experts.
- Free business credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and Dun & Bradstreet. Nav is the only platform that provides this information for free.
- Improving your business credit scores leads to better financing opportunities. Nav shows you your best financing options from your dashboard, updated in real-time, so you can compare with confidence.
How To Boost Your Business Credit Report and Score Quickly
After starting a new business, it should be no surprise that the business won't have a credit score or credit report. Establishing both of these components critical to the business's financial health takes a bit of work, but we can get the process started pretty quickly with a few tricks.
Before doing anything else, it's essential to have already established the business. This means getting an EIN, forming the business in your state and getting a business license, and more. Business credit reports don't exist for sole proprietors or single-member LLCs that use your social security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).
Additionally, it's essential to get a DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet. DUNS stands for Data Universal Numbering System and is a nine-digit number assigned to your business by Dun & Bradstreet. Think of it like a social security number, but it's specific to your business and even more specific to Dun & Bradstreet.
Getting a DUNS number doesn't cost anything, though Dun & Bradstreet will attempt to sell you various other products and services they offer. None of these are required.
Once you have a DUNS number, you can start applying for credit with various businesses that offer NET 30 terms for little or no fee.
Best Trade Lines to Start Building Business Credit
When you legally create your business, blank reports don't magically appear at the reporting agencies. Reports start to exist when information about your business is reported to them.
To make that happen, you must start opening trade lines with vendors. Here is our list of the best companies to open accounts with to grow your business credit file:
1. Use Nav's Business Boost
If you find yourself looking for a guided experience, Nav Business Boost is precisely what you're looking for. This paid Nav plan provides additional resources and tools that the free plan does not. Nav will also report that payment as a trade line on your business credit report, potentially giving you your first trade line without applying for anything! This is hands down the easiest way to get your first trade line.
Additionally, Nav will:
- help you build business credit with 1-on-1 guidance from specialists,
- provide access to full business credit reports from the major credit bureaus,
- help you get a new positive trade line; your subscription payments are reported to all three bureaus,
- monitor your profile with 24/7 cash flow alerts and insights,
- insure your business with $1 million in identity theft protection and full-service identity restoration, and
- provide better loan options as your credit profile improves. You'll be able to compare your best loan opportunities from your dashboard, updated in real-time.
Everyone needs a shipping account, and FedEx offers them up pretty quickly. Plus, you'll get somewhere in the ballpark of 40% off retail rates. There are no minimums and no fees for terms. You'll even get a nifty little card to take with you to local FedEx Office locations for discounts on in-person services.
Even if your business operates exclusively on the Internet, having office supplies never hurts. Quill's process is pretty simple, and their site even talks about how they're a great business credit-boosting option. All you have to do is purchase $100 worth of product and use the "Invoice my Account" option at checkout.
If your business has physical space, Grainger has all sorts of great tools. Grainger also has a relatively straightforward process for opening an account and getting NET 30. At last check, you'll need to open an account, then get in touch with them to add NET 30/invoicing as a payment option.
Most folks think of U-Line as the box company; frankly, I think of them as the box company, too. Create a U-Line account and use NET 30 as the payment option. They'll send you an invoice to pay shortly after your order ships. There is no minimum order to report and no fee to maintain NET 30 terms.
6. Office Depot
One of the stalwarts in the office supply space, Office Depot is a familiar retailer with a relatively easy path to opening a trade line and getting NET 30 terms. We recommend opening the "Business Account."
Another one is in the office supply and tech category. Their process is super quick. The minimum purchase to have the transaction report to the bureaus is $45, and they charge a $69 one-time fee to set up NET 30.
All businesses need branded apparel, either for their staff or merch, at some point. Business T-Shirt Club has an easy NET 30 process. The minimum order is $250 or 12 custom items. A $69.99 per year membership is required to maintain NET 30 terms.
Shirtsy is another excellent option in the print-on-demand space. They have a $97 minimum for orders to be reported to your business credit file and a $99 annual fee to maintain NET 30 terms.
Known for extending lines of credit into the five figures, this company specializes in digital marketing, website design, and tech services. A $100 minimum for orders exists to report to the bureaus, and $79 is required to apply for NET 30 terms and keep them active.
11. HD Supply
If your business leans anywhere near the industrial side or needs industrial/commercial supplies, HD Supply is one of the best companies to sign up with when building business credit. There is no fee for NET 30. Your account must have a balance at month's end to be reported to the bureaus.
This company is a digital marketing firm that offers NET 30 payment options to businesses. No minimum order is required, and no fee is required for setting up NET 30 terms. This company offers up to a $10,000 credit line.
As your business grows, you may need to make changes to the business, issue shares, or transfer ownership. This company offers various business planning services and has a $97 minimum order to report to the bureaus. They require a $99 annual membership fee to maintain NET 30 terms.
A strong business credit score is essential for securing loans and credit cards. Business credit monitoring can help you track your score and take steps to improve your chances of approval. Opening trade lines and maintaining good standing with business providers can help build a thick, healthy business credit file that will propel your business into more considerable credit opportunities, including revolving credit lines and credit cards without personal guarantees. Nav is the best platform for monitoring your business credit and provides helpful resources for where to open new trade lines, can open your first trade line for you, and help you find the best credit cards for your business.