Being a small business owner can be incredibly rewarding. It’s exciting to have a vision and work hard to make your company grow and thrive.
Of course, small business owners also have a lot of responsibilities and long (seemingly ever-growing) to-do lists. Yet no matter how busy you may be, one responsibility you can’t afford to overlook is taking the time to check your business credit.
Wondering how to check your business credit? We’ve got you covered. Checking your business credit history, score and report is simple – as long as you know where to start.
How Can I Check My Business Credit Score?
Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX Score
Intelliscore PlusSM from Experian
FICO LiquidCredit Small Business Scoring Service (The FICO SBSS Score)
Equifax Delinquency Risk Score
Creditors use your business credit score to predict the risk of loaning money to your company. For this reason, your score is sometimes called a business credit risk score.
It’s a good idea to know what your business credit score looks like before you apply for loans, small business credit cards, net 30, 60, 90 accounts from suppliers, or any other type of financing. Knowing your business credit score gives you insights into how credit grantors view your business. There’s just one problem. You don’t have just one business credit score. You have many.
Each business credit scoring model is different. So, your scores are based on different factors from your business credit file (and possibly outside of it), depending upon which scoring model a lender is using. Common factors used by credit agencies are a business’ payment history, public record information (such as tax liens or judgments), debt, and number of credit accounts.
Following are some popular business credit scores from major commercial credit bureaus:
Dun & Bradstreet’s PAYDEX Score
Dun & Bradstreet’s PAYDEX Score has a range from 1 to 100, with 100 representing that your business has a perfect payment history (in fact, you can only earn this score if your business pays bills before the due date). A higher credit score signifies to business lenders that your company is a better credit risk.
You can check your business credit score from Dun & Bradstreet by enrolling in the CreditBuilder Plus program from Dun & Bradstreet for $149 per month. Unlimited credit score access is part of the program.
Experian Business Intelliscore Plus
Experian’s Intelliscore Plus features a scale that ranges from 1 to 100. Creditors use this score to predict how much of a risk your business may represent when you apply for small business lending, like a business credit card or business loan.
- Business Background Information – Identify ownership, parent companies, and subsidiaries
- Company Financial Information – Assess credit risk of extending terms and determine appropriate credit levels
- Credit Score and Risk Factors – Monitor existing customers’ ability to pay and adjust credit terms before problems arise
- Banking, Trade, and Collection History – Gain insight into an account’s historical payment history
- Liens, Judgments, and Bankruptcies – Quickly evaluate potential customers to avoid risky transactions
- Uniform Commercial Code Filings – Determine your credit position relative to other creditors
Experian also offers either a one-time report and scores or the option to subscribe to ongoing monitoring. For $39.95, you can pull one business credit report and see your Experian business credit scores. For ongoing access to both your reports and scores, you can pay $179 a year.
You can also sign up with Nav to check your Experian Business Credit Scores for free.
FICO SBSS Score
The FICO SBSS Score, a FICO score developed specifically for small business credit decisions, runs on a scale of 0 to 300. Again, the higher your business’ score climbs on that scale, the better. Currently, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) uses the FICO SBSS Score to pre-screen applicants who apply for an SBA 7(a) or Community Advantage loan of $350,000 or less.
FICO’s SBSS Score may evaluate both personal and business credit report data. If a business has more than one owner, the score may evaluate personal credit data from up to 5 owners. FICO isn’t a credit bureau, so the information used to calculate this score may come from any of the major consumer and/or commercial credit bureaus. It’s up to the lender to choose which bureau data is used. For example, a lender could choose the business’ Experian credit report (if available) alongside personal credit report data from TransUnion, and generate a score based on those two data sets.
Equifax Delinquency Score
Equifax offers a variety of commercial credit scores, and one of those is the Delinquency Risk Score which runs on a scale of 224-580, with a higher score representing less risk to the lender. (This is the score Nav uses to provide insights to business owners in both its free and paid accounts.)
Equifax sells a variety of business credit report and score products. At the time this story was updated, its site notes that the online product is currently unavailable.
Free Annual Business Credit Report
You probably know that you’re entitled to a free copy of your three personal credit reports once every 12 months from the consumer credit bureaus – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you the right to claim these free reports online at AnnualCreditReport.com. (And due to the coronavirus crisis you can get weekly personal credit report updates for free there.)
Unfortunately, the FCRA only applies to personal credit reports, not business credit. As a result, there’s no such thing as a federally mandated, free annual business credit report.
You don’t have as many options when it comes to a free business credit check. But that doesn’t mean a free business credit check doesn’t exist.
How Do I Get My Business Credit Report for Free?
It’s easy to get a copy of your consumer credit reports free of charge. In addition to the free annual credit reports the FCRA gives you, check out this list of more than 138 places you can access your credit scores for free.
Free business credit reports, on the other hand, aren’t as common. Above we listed three major business credit reporting bureaus. Below, we show you three ways of how to check business credit reports for free.
As mentioned, setting up a free Nav account gives you access to your business and personal credit with no credit card required. Access free business credit summary reports with score information (in the form of letter grades) from the three major business credit reporting agencies – Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax and Experian – plus your personal credit score from Experian.
A Nav account allows you to do the following:
- Alerts – keep up to date on changes in your business credit file and monitor your business credit score.
- Informed Credit Decisions – analyze the financial risk of offering vendor credit terms to companies by checking their business credit scores.
- Quick and Easy – Gain online access to business credit reports within seconds.
- Grow Your Business – Manage your business credit and work to improve your scores to improve your business financing options for your business.
- Build Your Business Credit – If you choose a paid Nav account (Business Boost or Business Loan Builder), your payment reports as a business tradeline on your business credit history with all three major bureaus.
2. Business Loan Denial or Adverse Action
Another way to get a free copy of your business credit report is if your company has applied for credit and been denied or suffered adverse action (aka you qualified for less attractive rates or terms). Note: this is not always required by law so not all lenders will provide this service.
If you’re denied financing based on your business credit, the lender may mail you an adverse action notice letting you know which credit report was reviewed along with your application. You can send this letter, along with a written request for a copy of your commercial credit report, to the appropriate business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, or Equifax).
However, this method of accessing a free business credit report has some challenges, including:
- You must request your free business report, as it isn’t automatically supplied.
- This method only allows you to access your credit report from one of the commercial credit reporting companies.
3. Dun & Bradstreet
When you create a D-U-N-S Number with Dun & Bradstreet, you can set up a free CreditSignal account with the company. A DUNS number can be looked at like an identification number for your business. CreditSignal doesn’t give you free access to your full credit report, but the service will provide you with a monthly summary of changes.
Your Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX Score isn’t part of the free CreditSignal service either. However, you can access your PAYDEX Score for free (and apply for a free D-U-N-S) number via your Nav account.
Can You Run a Credit Check on a Business?
Not only can you check your own personal company’s credit report and score, you can also run a business credit check on companies you are considering working with (or those you work with currently). Checking a business’ credit score does not require a social security number.
Business credit reports don’t have the same privacy protections as personal credit reports. In fact, you can run a credit check on any business you like (and anyone can run a credit check on your company as well), as long as you’re willing to pay for the report. Essentially your business credit score is part of public records.
Tracking the credit reports of other business can be a smart way to protect your bottom line. It may help you to avoid customers and partners who won’t pay as agreed.
If you’re interested in keeping an eye on the credit of other companies, a Nav paid account might be a good fit for you. Paid Nav accounts allow you to track the credit reports of up to five other businesses, helping ensure that you work with credible companies.
Why Your Business Credit Matters
Your business credit score matters for a number of reasons. It’s a good measure of your business’ creditworthiness for things such as a small business loan. It’s a snapshot to creditors and business lenders of your business’s financial situation—and whether your business is likely to fail—allowing them to assess the risk of lending to your business. Depending on the lender and your business credit score you could avoid having to use a personal guarantee to get a small business loan.
Good credit can also save your business money by securing better rates on business financing, better terms from vendors, and even lower insurance premiums. A higher credit limit, lower annual fee, lines of credit and attractive membership rewards on a small business card may also be perks you can enjoy once you’ve established solid business credit history and scores. Bad credit does the opposite of good credit.
Even if you’ve built your company by bootstrapping, you pay cash for all of your business expenses, and you have strong business finances, building a strong credit profile is still a smart move. Businesses can leverage good business credit to grow and expand plus, if you ever wish to sell your company, a strong business credit profile can be a big check in the plus column for potential buyers.
It’s a good idea to pencil a business credit check into your calendar every month, perhaps on the same day you review your bank account, checking account and business credit card statements. For that matter, it’s smart to review your personal credit each month as well.
Thankfully, Nav makes this process easy. In fact, Nav is the only place where you can review your business and personal credit together – side by side and free of charge – each month. Plus, our 24/7 credit monitoring gives you real-time alerts to changes in your reports.
The sooner you start keeping an eye on your business credit rating, the better.
This article was originally written on January 7, 2020 and updated on June 7, 2022.