Tracking your personal credit scores has never been easier. More and more credit card issuers have recently announced that they are easing access to FICO credit scores — Barclaycard announced that they would provide FICO scores to their cardholders in late 2013, followed by Citi in 2014 and Chase in 2015, among others.
The most recent wave of credit card issuers making major announcements about personal credit score access are offering free scores to everyone, not just cardholders. Capital One launched Creditwise (which makes personal credit scores free for anyone) in March 2016, followed most recently by Discover, who announced just this week that they are offering free FICO scores to everyone.
Discover’s announcement is notable because, for consumers, FICO scores are the end-all-be-all of many important financial decisions. And you need to know yours. A great FICO score can land you a mortgage with prime rates, low rates on an auto loan, a nice apartment, and even higher credit card limits and better rewards.
But is tracking your FICO score enough if you are a small business owner? Aside from personal credit scores, small business owners have another set of scores that they should keep a watchful eye on: business credit scores.
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Similar to the way a good personal credit score comes with many benefits, strong business credit scores can help business owners secure better interest rates on loans, decrease instances in which they need to prepay for a specific product or service, and increase instances in which they are offered the opportunity to defer payment to suppliers and vendors. In the long run, strong business credit scores help you save money, smooth out cash flow, and access the funds or assets you need to help your business grow.
Another noteworthy perk of monitoring and building your business credit is the ability to protect your personal credit. Once you’ve opened your first business credit account(s), payments you make through your business account will not typically show up on your personal credit reports unless you are late on payments. Meaning, for example, if you make business purchases using a business credit card on which you utilize most of your available credit, it usually won’t affect your personal credit scores as long as you pay on time. You can continue seeing that FICO score climb as your business grows, too.
Lastly, tracking your credit is one thing, but getting guidance on how to make it better is essential. Just “knowing” your score isn’t enough. How do you dispute errors? What steps can you take to improve? What’s also crucial is the ability to look at your credit report for a deeper dive to see what’s affecting your score and identify any misinformation — a feature that is not yet available through the credit card providers mentioned above.
Here at Nav, we believe that your credit data should be free (it is your data, after all), so it’s great to see more and more sources making FICO scores available for free. But business credit scores are also important for small business owners, so merely tracking your FICO score for free isn’t enough. We’re fighting hard to bring you as much credit information and education as possible at no cost to you — in fact, Nav is the only source offering business (and personal) credit scores and monitoring for free. Sign up today to keep a watchful eye on all the scores that matter to your financial life.