Business Credit Scores & Reports

Strong business credit scores are the key to getting your company approved for trade credit and financing. Your scores tell lenders, vendors, suppliers, and business partners how likely you are to repay them on time.

business credit score

In the same manner that your personal scores serve as financial ratings for you as an individual, your business credit scores rank the creditworthiness​ of your business.

These scores a key to getting approved for financing and trade credit, as well as qualifying for lower rates on things like business insurance and certain loan options. Anyone can check your business credit rating, so it’s in your best interest to know what’s contained in your business credit report.

Several factors go into calculating your scores. Two commonly used scores range from 0 to 100, with scores of about 80 or more indicating that your company makes on-time or early payments.

Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, and Equifax are three agencies that produce business credit scores and reports.

In this article:

Factors that determine business credit scores

Your business’s credit scores are calculated from various traits about your company and its financial history. Variables include:

  • Credit utilization ratio
  • Payment history
  • Length of credit history
  • Outstanding debts
  • Public records, such as bankruptcies, liens and judgments
  • Company size
  • Industry risk

Notice that while most of the factors are similar to those used to calculate your personal credit scores, others are unique to business credit scores.

The different business credit scores & reporting bureaus

Each business credit reporting agency can have different information on file for the same person or business, and wind up producing a different score. That’s why you’ve probably noticed your score vary between reports. Let’s take a look at 3 of the most common business credit scores & reporting agencies:

Business credit score Score range Score overview Typically used by
Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX 0-100 Signifies how promptly you’ve paid bills in the past. Vendors and suppliers to evaluate what trade terms to extend to your business.
Intelliscore PlusSM from Experian 0-100 Predicts the likelihood of serious delinquency in the next 12 months. Lenders to evaluate your business for loans and lines of credit.
FICO® LiquidCredit® Small Business Scoring Service℠ 0-300 Rank-orders small businesses by their likelihood of making payments on time. Personal and business credit factors may both be used. Banks and other lenders to evaluate your business for loans and lines of credit. Required for certain SBA loans.

The Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX

According to D&B, the PAYDEX is a unique, dollar weighted indicator of a business’s payment performance based on the total number of payment experiences in Dun & Bradstreet’s file. The Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX ranges from 1 to 100, with higher scores indicating better payment performance. PAYDEX is primarily used by vendors and suppliers to judge your business when determining what terms to extend on trade credit (e.g., net 30, net 60, etc.) Typically, the better the score, the more generous the terms extended. This is important because having more time to pay your bills can help you better manage cash flow.

Paydex Range: Paydex Risk Interpretation:
80 – 100 LOW risk of late payment
(averages prompt to 30 days within terms)
50 – 79 MEDIUM risk of late payment
(averages 30 or less beyond terms)
0 – 49 HIGH risk of late payment
(averages 30 to 120 days beyond terms)

 

Paydex Score: Explanation:
100 Payment comes 30 days sooner than terms
90 Payment comes 20 days sooner than terms
80 Payment comes on terms
70 Payment comes 15 days beyond terms
60 Payment comes 22 days beyond terms
50 Payment comes 30 days beyond terms
40 Payment comes 60 days beyond terms
30 Payment comes 90 days beyond terms
20 Payment comes 120 days beyond terms
1 – 19 Payment comes over 120 days beyond terms

 

Intelliscore PlusSM from Experian

According to Experian, Intelliscore Plus℠ is a statistically based credit-risk score that can combine business and proprietor credit data to predict the likelihood of serious delinquency in the next 12 months. Scores range from 1 to 100, where lower scores (score range below) indicate higher risk. Risk is very low in the first two risk classes, risk class 3 is average, and classes 4 and 5 present above-average risk levels. The Intelliscore PlusSM is regarded in the credit industry as quite predictive and economical. It incorporates statistical modeling using over 800 commercial and owner variables – including tradeline and collection information, recent credit inquiries, public filings, new account activity, key financial ratios and other performance indicators.

Score Range Risk Class Risk Description
76 – 100 1 Low
51 – 75 2 Low – Medium
26 – 50 3 Medium
11 – 25 4 High – Medium
1 – 10 5 High

 

FICO® LiquidCredit® Small Business Scoring Service℠

FICO’s Small Business Scoring Service (SBSS) rank-orders applicants by their likelihood of making payments on time. The score ranges from 0 to 300. The higher the score, the better. The scoring is based upon personal and business credit history and other financial information. A strong history of business credit with timely payments to vendors and suppliers may help boost your SBSS score. The FICO SBSS score will be used for term loans, lines of credit, and commercial loans up to $350,000 from the Small Business Administration (SBA). The minimum score to pass the SBA’s pre-screen process is currently 140.

How business credit scores are used

Lenders and other creditors need a means of determining how well your business repays debts before they will approve you for financing. This is where business credit scores come in. Higher scores indicate to creditors that your business is more trustworthy, thereby improving the odds that you can obtain financing. Lenders can check your company’s business credit reports to get more detailed information about your business’s financial history, and business credit scores serves as shorthand evaluations. Here are three other ways you business credit scores are used:

  1. Determine your borrowing power. Your business credit report and score can determine how much financing you are able to secure.
  2. Determine your rates on business insurance. Some insurance providers evaluate a business owner’s credit as well as the business’s credit to determine rates on commercial insurance.
  3. Determine terms you can secure with vendors and suppliers. Vendors and suppliers sometimes look at a business’s credit scores to decide how long of a grace period to give the business before demanding payment for goods and services. These terms are express in “net” terms—”Net-30” would mean your business has 30 days to post payment. Securing longer terms on your terms with suppliers is a great way to help even out cash flow.

The importance of checking your business credit score

As a business owner, you should review your company’s financial information on a regular basis, including your business credit scores & business credit reports. Your scores are fluid and can change over time. That’s why creditors tend to assess your creditworthiness on a continual basis. If you notice your trade credit scores are low, there could be an error in the business credit reports that caused an inaccurate calculation. It is also possible that your business does not have sufficient credit history to warrant higher scores. If you do find an error, contacting the credit agency that generated the score is key to getting a correction. If there aren’t any errors, you can still improve your business’s credit scores by making on-time payments and lowering the company’s credit utilization ratio, among other options, but it will take some time.

Whether you’ve just started a business or been in the game for years, building a strong credit profile is essential to stay competitive.

How can I get a free business credit report and score?

As a consumer, you are probably have a few different sources for your free credit report (we found 150+ places you can get your scores for free). But free business credit reports are harder another story. Many business credit reporting agencies require you to pay for the information they have on your business.

Business owners can, however, access information about their Experian Intelliscore report and Dun & Bradstreet Paydex with a free Nav account. A free Nav account provides business credit grades for each score as well as summary reports, your personal credit score from Experian, and free tools to help you build strong business credit. (No credit card required.)

How can I improve my business credit score?

No doubt, understanding how and when business credit scores are used can be confusing. Luckily, keeping your scores strong is actually simple. It’s a lot like taking care of your personal credit:

  • Pay your business bills on-time or before they’re due.
  • Open multiple credit accounts (business credit cards, trade lines, loans).
  • Keep your credit utilization around 25% (don’t max out your credit lines).

Business credit reports

Just as you’d view your personal credit report to check your financial history, the same information can be reviewed for your business. That’s because the minute you start a business, credit bureaus begin to develop a business credit report on your company. They do this by scouring public records and other financial data.

Then, when you receive a business loan or line of credit — sometimes called trade credit — information about your payment history is compiled by one or more business credit reporting agencies, including Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, Equifax and FICO and turned into a business credit score.

The basics of business credit reports

Your business credit report only includes debts that are under your company’s federal tax identification number – also known as an employer identification number. Any personal lines of credit that you have are not listed on the report. This is true even for business credit cards that are still listed in your name.

Information that is present on your trade credit report is voluntarily sent to the reporting bureaus from the businesses that own the debt. This means some lines of credit may not be listed on the report.

How business credit is used

When you apply for future business credit, potential creditors and lenders will view the report to determine your company’s creditworthiness. They will use the information to evaluate how well your business repays its debts, and negative marks can cause you not to get approved, or lower the amount of credit they will extend, or limit the terms under which that credit will be given.

Besides lenders and creditors, several other parties may be interested in reviewing a business credit report. Business insurance companies, for example, assess a business’s report as part of the underwriting process. Customers and other businesses that are being considered for a joint venture or partnership may also review your company’s credit history before working with your business.

Why separating personal and business credit matters

Trade credit reporting is beneficial for helping you separate your business and personal finances, which is particularly advantageous in regard to credit. A business credit report offers a clear view into the financial standing of your business, providing you with a clean report of the company’s credit inquiries, lines of credit and delinquencies. This streamlined information makes it easier for fraud monitoring and for lenders to accurately assess creditworthiness (see the importance of business credit monitoring).

Furthermore, separately listing business credit information protects your personal credit standing. Your company will typically have more annual inquiries and for larger lines of credit. With combined information, these inquiries could hurt your credit score, but a trade credit report gives your business its own history to list your business’ credit activity.


Doing the right things to build your business credit profile is one of the most important items you can take as small business owner. Doing so opens up financing opportunities and business relationships that make it hell of a lot easier for you to run and grow a business.

Ready to see your credit data and start building better business credit? Check Your Personal and Business Credit For Free (No Credit Card Required).

This article was written in September 2015 and updated on April 2, 2018.

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31 responses to “Business Credit Scores & Reports

  1. Banks will not secure loans for businesses without either guaranteed collateral working off of your SSN, not your EIN. They will forgo the collateral only when you’ve proven yourself in making money for a legit business. Basically they will want to see 6 digit incomes with years behind you and an impressive personal credit score. I have tried every avenue with an A score from DNB to be turned down 100 percent. I established my business in 2016 and finally qualified for fundbox’s invoice program. Business credit matters in terms of trade lines, SBA loans and merchant accounts. The rest is commercial and they want your SSN.

  2. Hi there,
    We have US entity(in Ohio) established last year and in process filing first taxes. We are residents of Canada. Do have EIN-s.
    Would we be able to apply for the credit score in US to see if there’s any. I understand that I can use EIN instead of SSN. Have US based bank account established for Amazon store.
    Thank you

    1. I would love to help you with your question and in fact, I think it would make a good article for others who are trying to start a business in the US. Do you mind e-mailing me so I can learn a little bit more about what you’re trying to accomplish and provide you with more specific advice? Email is Gerri (at sign) nav.com

  3. Hi Harry! Want to help understand why your business line of credit and credit card may not be getting reported to the business credit reporting agencies.

    One possibility — some business credit cards report to all of the business credit bureaus, but others do not. Here’s a quick story we wrote recently on that:
    https://www.nav.com/blog/which-credit-cards-can-help-me-build-business-credit-25633/

    Have you asked your line of credit and credit card issuer if they report business account activity to Dun & Bradstreet or Experian? Those are the two major commercial credit bureaus where Nav pulls its business credit information. Want to help pinpoint the problem — let me know if this helps!

    1. Hey Acme, you can check your business credit scores for free by signing up for a Nav account. You’ll get your personal score from Experian and business credit grades for the Experian Intelliscore and Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX score.

    1. Hi John, at this time we do not provide our service for businesses outside the U.S. Anyone can sign up for Nav, however, as long as they have a valid U.S. Social Security Number.

  4. I’m a business startup. I opened a business savings and checking account at a credit union, who also required a linked personal account, which is fine. I bought a cargo van that I needed for my business and, even though I could have paid cash for it, I decided to have the CU finance it, just to build business credit. I have a personal credit score in the mid 800s, and I deposited enough in the business savings account to cover the van’s entire cost. But because I have no income (yet) nor prior years’ business tax returns, they would not approve it through their commercial loan dept and instead sent it through their consumer loan dept, where it was immediately approved. So instead of building business credit, I’m adding to my already sterling personal credit score. I was so upset that I closed my business account there, opened one at a different credit union, and moved my money from the old one to the new one. (I deposit just enough in the old CU’s personal account to cover the monthly auto-withdrawal for the van loan.) So even with a $30K loan for “business equipment” that I’m paying religiously each month, I still have zero business credit, because the credit union wrote the loan in my name instead of the business name.

    1. Hi Randy,
      Banks and credit unions have very strict requirements (that go beyond just personal credit scores) when it comes to business loans, as illustrated by your experience getting that cargo van financed, so it’s not surprising that a bank or credit union would have you take a personal loan instead.

      What you might consider as a quick way to get started building business credit would be to get a business credit card (you can find out which cards also report to personal credit reporting agencies here: https://www.nav.com/resource/do-business-credit-cards-report-to-personal-credit/#Table). Business credit card providers usually consider your personal credit score and combined income (personal and business) to approve you for a card and determine your limit. Hope that helps!

      1. Thanks for the reply, Lydia. That makes a lot of sense. You have a table of which CC issuers report to the business owner’s personal credit reports, but I don’t see a table where you show which issuers DO report to D&B, Experian, and FICO and which DON’T. From what I’ve read elsewhere, AmEx doesn’t report to ANY of those. Capital One reports ONLY to the business owner’s personal credit reports, as your table shows, but does NOT report to business credit bureaus. It’s difficult to build “business credit” when the business credit card you use doesn’t report your purchase and payment patterns to business reporting agencies. I get that some people are more interested in low annual fees, 0% APR teasers, and “rewards,” but for those of us looking long-term, building credit can be more important than today’s goodies.

    2. I had the same experience with credit union. They are all the same. What nobody talks and educates BOwners that you must build credit history for your bz before you apply for loans. There is no other way. Baby steps. And it will take 6-12 months depending how much momey you have in a begin with. Sorry, but you have to have money to get money. The more money you have, the faster you can build your biz credit and be approved. This secret is not being told in any banks. All bankers will not educate you about that, because most of them are lazy and don’t even know that. They know their own routine and sometimes less. Sad. You must educate yourself. There are no free ways. Information cost money, because its takes time to obtain this information. Contact me if you still need help growing your credit history. Cheers

    3. I would recommend that any one applying for a loan works with a commercial loan broker. Bankers and Loan Officers at Credit Unions represent the bank and the credit union not the applicant where as a commercial loan broker just like a mortgage broker represents you. And it is there job to find a loan that works best for you most times at whole sale rates. Most commercial loan brokers will also spend the time educating you and preparing you as a consultant on how to achieve your business financing goals. PM me if you have any questions.

  5. hi
    Business Credit Reporting appears to be on the fringe of some sort of
    criminal activity. I’m convinced the more you pay in fees and credit
    monitoring services to D&B the better your credit picture looks
    appears to others. More information regarding these practices need to be
    exposed and investigated until some fair practices are establishe.

    1. Chris – the FICO SBSS score relies on data from personal and/or commercial credit agencies, which can include Experian commercial data. In addition, Experian produces the Experian Intelliscore which lenders or vendors may purchase for credit decision. Bottom line for the business owner is that you don’t usually know which bureau the lender or vendor will use, so you’ll want to check and make sure all are up to date and as strong as posssible.

      1. Hi

        I have an established 12 year old business with high revenues, but I am new to building my business credit. Wells Fargo reports to the business credit agencies not personal which I prefer and BBVA does not I am told. Any other secured credit that report to business agencies and perhaps not the personal?

        1. Amanda, we have a list of how major credit card issuers report to personal in this article: https://www.nav.com/resource/do-business-credit-cards-report-to-personal-credit/ Also, you can work with vendors and suppliers that report to the business credit agencies. We list a number of them that don’t check or report to personal credit in our Business Launcher tool. It’s free and included with a free Nav account. Those relationships can help build your business credit as well.

    1. Hi Jeff, many banks use the FICO SBSS score as part of the qualification process for loans. FICO SBSS is currently being used by over 7,500 lenders across the U.S., including KeyBank, Huntington National Bank, PNC, RBC, USBank, Zions Bank, HSBC, and Santander Bank. Most banks will require a score of 160 or above. You’ll find more details about that particular score here: https://www.nav.com/business-credit-scores/fico-sbss/

  6. I think that D&B is the Worlds biggest financial racket. Our company pays their bills on time and according to terms. However, because of certain adjustments that are made on a monthly basis our suppliers understand that a payment may be made a few days late. It doesn’t make sense to made adjustments after the monthly invoices have been paid.
    D&B sends these reports but never provides information as who, what or where inquires are made. IT’S LIKE A BIG SECRET … Why not tell us where information is coming from. Answer … they want more of your money to sell more useless services. Simply a Rip Off and many small businesses agree with me!

    1. Ray, the real issue is the lack of regulation around business credit. Personal credit is highly regulated and one of the main laws is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA dictates what information is reported on personal credit and how it is reported. Unfortunately, there is no FCRA for business credit. As you state, because the actual creditor/vendor name isn’t reported, it is hard to determine who is reporting the late payments. If you knew who it was, you could go after the creditor. Also, with so many payment terms used, reporting to the bureaus is difficult. I’ve gone through the process of getting set up to report information to D&B, and it is super confusing. I believe that most companies reporting to D&B or other business bureaus aren’t sure what they are doing. Remember, it isn’t regulated and hasn’t become standardized like the personal side has. Each bureaus has their own reporting system. At Creditera, we are trying to solve this problem and provide more information to small business owners like yourself. In our minds, it is one of the biggest issues business owners face related to credit.

      1. Thanks, Caton for your comment. Business Credit Reporting appears to be on the fringe of some sort of criminal activity. I’m convinced the more you pay in fees and credit monitoring services to D&B the better your credit picture looks appears to others. More information regarding these practices need to be exposed and investigated until some fair practices are establishe.

      2. “…the real issue is the lack of regulation around business credit. Personal credit is highly regulated and one of the main laws is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA dictates what information is reported on personal credit and how it is reported. Unfortunately, there is no FCRA for business credit.”
        You are spot on.
        I rec’d a letter (as we do from time-to-time) from D & B stating our score has lowered (good) and that a “customer has purchased our business credit file.”

        For several years I have felt uneasy about the entire process – mainly because of what C. Hanson shared in the above. D & B told us point blankly that we need to pay them to help reveal our “company’s financial health in the best possible light, negotiate better payment terms with suppliers and qualify for better insurance premium and mortgage rates.” I was also told D & B was the ONLY source for logging business credit. yes – they really told me that. (I didn’t research it then like I should have yet didn’t pay any fees either. I learned how “check my credit scores” on their site, always with this niggling feeling that I was being told it was raining all the while someone was “spending a penny” on my leg.)

        Really? And so I can as an individual obtain a free FICO score since it IS my score therefore MY personal business/reputation at stake….but I can’t do the same for my business? We know its more than a gut feeling something is awry – its just another big, fat way “A” can wring as much $$ out of “B” until “B” figures it out that is…..but I digress.

        Someone pointed out that D & B is confusing. I agree and now I know why. If someone can’t make their point clear they either don’t want you to understand or they are wack teachers. Shady salesmen come in all shades on this spectrum.

        So, for now I plan to read this site inside and out, get educated on what’s- what pertaining to business credit and come out better armed. I appreciate all the comments here – very helpful and at the very least comforting in knowing I’m not the only one with a soggy brogue 😉

  7. So let me get this straight, if I pay my bills on-time then my credit score will go down? How does that make any sense?

    1. Good question, David. It can be confusing. Business credit scores work differently than personal credit. When you establish trade credit with vendors or suppliers, they’ll typically grant Net-30 or Net-60 day terms. In order to get a perfect “100” PAYDEX business credit score, you have to pay 30 days before payment is due. Paying on time will only give you a score of “80”–still a good score–but not the best. So, technically, you could pay bills on time and still see your business credit score drop. Don’t stress about getting a perfect score though–as long as you pay on-time or early, you’ll be fine.