How to check your business credit score
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Whether you’re interested in getting a business loan or a credit card, your business credit score will play a meaningful role. That's why it's important to check your business credit score regularly to assess your creditworthiness. If you don't establish business credit, lenders will use your personal FICO score by default.
Read on to learn how to check your business credit score, why it’s important to keep track of it, and how to improve your score.
How to check your business credit score
A credit check from the major business credit bureaus costs between $20 and $30 on average.
Here are some of the places where you can check your business credit score:
Dun & Bradstreet credit reports
Dun & Bradstreet differs from the other major business credit bureaus—to get a D&B report, you'll have to register for a DUNS number. Dun & Bradstreet reports include a PAYDEX score, which is their business credit score. Additionally, they include three other scores to assess your business's creditworthiness.
You can set alerts, get a monthly summary of your credit file, and see how often your file is being accessed with Dun & Bradstreet for free. If you want your full business credit score and report, however, you’ll have to pay $149 per month.
Experian credit reports
An Experian business credit report includes public information about your business, like its owners, your registration, and any liens, judgments, or bankruptcies your business has faced in the past. It also includes an Intelliscore, which is Experian's business credit score, and a Financial Stability Risk Score, which communicates risk to lenders.
Experian doesn’t offer free credit inquiries. For $39.95, you can get a one-time look at your credit report. Or, you can pay $49.95 for a more comprehensive report, which includes detailed trade line data, inquiries, and UCC details.
Equifax credit reports
Like Experian, an Equifax report includes publicly available information about your company. It also lists your credit accounts, like trade lines with suppliers, and where you have a business bank account. Finally, it compares your business's payment history against an industry average.
You can get an Equifax business credit report through their website for $99.95. Or, you can purchase five check checks for $399.95. Equifax also has credit monitoring services available for $16.95 per month.
Credit monitoring services
To easily keep an eye on your business credit report, you can also sign up for credit monitoring services, like Dun & Bradstreet's CreditMonitor™. You can use credit monitoring to get a limited number of free credit report checks, or upgrade to get unlimited checks along with industry comparisons.
How to check your business credit score for free
If you don't want to pay for your business credit report, there are some ways to get a free peek at your data.
Here are a couple of companies that offer free business credit reports:
Nav credit reports
Nav offers free and low-cost business credit information. Through Nav, you can get a free summary of your Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, and Equifax credit reports. Or, you can upgrade to the paid version for $29.99 to receive your full reports and scores from each business credit bureau, as well as the ability to dispute any errors on your reports.
CreditSignal offers free credit reporting services through Dun & Bradstreet. With their service, you can be alerted to any changes that show up on your business credit report. However, this will only let you know when something has changed or when someone has requested to view your D&B score—to see your actual credit score, you'd have to purchase an account.
How to interpret your business credit score
Consumer FICO scores and business credit scores differ wildly when it comes to interpreting what your score means. You’re used to seeing a three-digit number for your personal credit score, but only the strongest businesses ever earn a 100-point business credit score.
That’s because business credit scores are on a scale from 1 to 100, with 100 being the best possible score. Moreover, the interpretation of your score depends on which credit agency you're looking at.
Here’s how it works:
Dun & Bradstreet scores
1. PAYDEX Score
- Excellent: 80 to 100
- Good: 50 to 79
- Poor: 0 to 49
2. Commercial Credit Score
- Low Risk: 1 to 3
- Medium Risk: 4 to 6
- High Risk: 7 to 9
3. Financial Stress Score
- Low Risk: 1,001 to 1,875
- Moderate Risk: 875 to 1,000
- High Risk: 1 to 874
For securing credit cards and loans, having a high PAYDEX score (80-100), a low-risk Commercial Credit Score (1-3), and a low-risk Financial Stress Score (1,001-1,875) are ideal.
1. Intelliscore Plus℠
- Low Risk: 76 to 100
- Medium-Low Risk: 51 to 75
- Medium Risk: 26 to 50
- Medium-High Risk: 11 to 25
- High Risk: 1 to 10
2. Financial Stability Risk Rating
- Lowest Risk: 1
- Low Risk: 2
- Moderate Risk: 3
- High Risk: 4
- Highest Risk: 5
3. Risk Class
- Risk Class 1 (Low): 76 to 100
- Risk Class 2 (Low-Medium): 51 to 75
- Risk Class 3 (Medium): 26 to 50
- Risk Class 4 (High-Medium): 11 to 25
- Risk Class 5 (High): 1 to 10
For Experian, ideal scores for obtaining credit cards and loans include a high Intelliscore Plus℠ (76-100), a low Financial Stability Risk Rating (1-2), and a classification in the lower Risk Classes, such as Risk Class 1 (76-100) or Risk Class 2 (51-75), indicating lower credit risk.
1. Payment Index (PI)
- Excellent: 90 to 100
- Good: 80 to 89
- Fair: 70 to 79
- Poor: Below 70
2. Credit Risk Score
- Low Risk: 892 to 992
- Moderate Risk: 792 to 891
- High Risk: 692 to 791
- Very High Risk: 101 to 691
3. Business Failure Score
- Low Risk of Failure: 1400 to 1610
- Moderate Risk of Failure: 1200 to 1399
- High Risk of Failure: 1000 to 1199
With Equifax, favorable scores for acquiring credit cards and loans are a high Payment Index (90-100) for reliable payment history, a Credit Risk Score in the range of 892-992 denoting low credit risk, and a Business Failure Score between 1400 and 1610, indicating a minimal risk of business failure.
Why it’s important to check your business credit score
Your business credit score serves two important purposes:
- A gauge of your company’s financial health: Your business credit score takes several factors into account, all of which play a significant role in your company’s financial wellness. For example, if your company is financially healthy, it’s likely to pay bills on time, maintain a low credit utilization ratio, and quickly pay down any outstanding balances. All of these financial behaviors lead to better business credit scores.
- Access to loans and trade credit: From time to time, you’ll need access to additional working capital to grow your business. A strong business credit score can help with that. As is the case with personal credit scores, your business credit score will be a major determining factor in any small business loan you're able to obtain and its associated lending terms.
If you regularly check your credit score, you’ll be able to make improvements as opportunities arise. This won’t just help the financial stability of your company; it'll help you qualify for loans when you need them.
How business credit scores are calculated
Business credit reporting agencies take factors like your payment history, outstanding balances, and years in business into account when calculating your credit score.
Here's a full list of factors that go into calculating your business credit score:
- Payment history: Your business credit score will rise as you make on-time payments to creditors. Higher-than-minimum payments can help your score rise faster.
- Outstanding balances: The lower your outstanding balances, the better. How aggressively you pay your outstanding balances also plays a role.
- Credit utilization ratio: Keep the amount of credit you use under 30% of your available credit for the best outcome.
- Trade experiences: Experiences that strengthen your business's brand in your community have a positive impact on your credit score.
- Years in business: The longer your business is around, the more likely it is to pay its bills on time.
- Business size: Larger businesses pose less risk to lenders.
Does my personal credit score affect my business credit score?
If you're a small business or LLC owner, your business credit score will be separate from your personal credit score. However, if your business is newly established, you probably won't have enough credit history to open credit cards or take out loans from business lenders using your business credit score.
In that case, you'll have to provide your social security number (SSN) to access business credit cards and loans. So, it's a good idea to keep an eye on your personal credit score as well to make sure that you're in good standing. You can check your personal credit score for free through either Equifax, TransUnion, or your online banking.
How to improve your business credit score
If your business credit score isn’t great, don’t worry. There are plenty of things you can do to improve it. Consider taking one or more of the actions below to build business credit over time.
Open a business credit card
You’ll need to build a solid payment history if you want a good business credit score. One of the best ways to do this is to get a small business credit card. Consider an option like Ramp that offers sales-based underwriting for easy approvals.
Streamline your bill payment process
Don’t let human error lead to missed or late payments. Use a platform that lets you set up automated bill payments so you never have to worry about late or missed payments affecting your credit score.
Update your information with credit reporting agencies
As is the case with your personal credit score, inaccuracies on your business credit file can harm your business credit score. Review your business credit report at least once yearly and dispute any inaccuracies to help keep your credit in good standing.
Keep your credit utilization ratio low
When you use too much of your available credit, it signals to lenders that your business finances are unstable. Try to keep your credit utilization ratio below 30% to improve your credit score. For example, if you have $100,000 of available credit, you should only use up to $30,000 at any given time.
Consider debt management options
If you have multiple business credit cards and other business loans with high interest, consider a consolidation loan. These loans typically come with lower interest rates and allow you to make one monthly payment, so debt is easier to manage. Paying off revolving credit lines with a consolidation loan can also reduce your credit utilization ratio, resulting in a better credit score.
Performing a credit search on another company
Sometimes, your business may have occasion to check another company's credit score. Researching other companies' credit histories can help you decide whether you'd like to do business with them by giving you an objective look at their financial standing.
Unlike with personal credit, business credit reports are public records. Like with your own business credit report, you'll just have to pay one of the business credit bureaus to access another company's data. Dun & Bradstreet has three options specifically for checking a different company's business credit score, each with different levels of information based on what you need to know before doing business with them.
If you want to evaluate another company's standing without running a credit check, there are a few other things you can do:
- Verify the legal name, address, registration documents, and licensing documents of the company using the Secretary of State online portal for the state in which the business was registered
- Check their business tax information in the Secretrary of State portal and validate it against what the IRS has on file
- Ask questions about any erroneous information the company has submitted to you
Ultimately, follow your intuition when deciding who to do business with, in order to protect your business finances and prevent fraud.
Build your business credit score with Ramp's corporate card
Ramp is a modern expense management platform that comes with a spending account. Unlike traditional credit cards, we don't run a credit check to determine your eligibility. Instead, you'll just have to provide your employer identification number (EIN) and have at least $75,000 in a business bank account.
With our sales-based underwriting, you may even be eligible for a higher credit limit than with other cards.
Ramp comes with modern expense management features, accounting integrations, and unlimited physical and virtual employee cards. Our platform also offers accounts payable software that can help you build your credit score by eliminating the risk of late payments.
Learn more about how Ramp can help grow your business and improve your credit score.
It’s wise to check your business credit score and report at least once per year, or more often if you are working toward financial goals related to your credit.
The factors that impact your business credit score include:
- Payment history
- Outstanding balances
- Credit utilization ratio
- Trade experiences
- Years in business
- Business size
Depending on your approach, it may take three or more years to build a good business credit score. You can achieve a higher score by paying down balances, keeping credit utilization low, and always making on-time payments.