Business Credit Scores & Reports

Strong business credit scores can be key to getting your company approved for trade credit and financing. But they can be very different than personal credit scores. Understand how they work and how to build strong business credit.

Get your free scores

women check business credit score
business credit scores

What is a Business Credit Score?

Just as personal credit scores rank the creditworthiness for individuals, business credit scores do the same for businesses. Scores generally range from 0-100. Business credit agencies such as Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, and Equifax produce business credit reports and scores. There’s even a FICO score for small business, known as “FICO SBSS.”

If you try to compare business credit to personal credit, you’re likely to get frustrated. That’s because business credit scores differ from consumer credit scores in some key ways:

  • Credit score ranges: Two popular scoring models produce scores that range from 0—100, but there are many other scoring models with much different score ranges.
  • Free scores: There are over 150 places where consumers can check and monitor their consumer credit scores for free. But free business credit scores are available from a very limited number of sources, such as Nav.
  • Access: Anyone can check a businesses’ credit scores, unlike consumer scores which are restricted to anyone with a “permissible purpose” under federal law.
  • Accuracy: A study published in the Wall Street Journal found as many as 25% of business credit reports may contain errors or are missing key information. If the credit report contains mistakes, the scores produced may not accurately reflect the risk of the business.

Factors that determine business credit scores

The following factors may be used to calculate business credit scores. Each scoring model is different, though, so some of these factors may not carry much weight, or may not be used at all.

  • Payment history
  • Age of credit history
  • Debt and debt usage
  • Industry risk
  • Company size

By far, the most important factor when it comes to business credit scores is payment history: does your business pay its bills on time? Some credit scores are almost exclusively calculated based on payment history.

Business credit reports may report bills that are just a day or two late, so paying on time is crucial to maintaining strong scores. In fact, to earn the highest D&B Paydex score, you must pay early, before your due dates!

Free Personal And Business Credit Scores

See how lenders view your business data & apply for financing you’re likely to qualify for.

Sign up

By clicking “Sign Up” below, you confirm that you accept the Terms and Conditions, acknowledge receipt of our Privacy Notice and agree to its terms.

Business credit scores

Business credit score Score range
Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX 0 – 100
Intelliscore PlusSM from Experian 0 – 100
FICO® LiquidCredit® Small Business Scoring Service℠ 0 – 300
Equifax Business Delinquency Risk Score 224 – 580

These are some popular business credit scores. Just as there are many different versions of consumer credit scores, though, there are other business credit scores besides these. Just by checking these scores and making sure they are strong, you’ll be ahead of most business owners who never check or work on theirs.

Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX Score

The Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX ranges from 1 to 100, with higher scores indicating better payment performance. This score is based entirely on payment history. To earn the highest score, you must pay your bills before their due dates.

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.

Intelliscore Plus℠ from Experian

With the Experian Intelliscore Plus℠ scores range from 1 to 100. A Higher scores indicate lower risk, so as a business owner, you want to aim for a higher score.

There are over 800 variables that can go into these scores, including tradeline and collection information, public filings, new account activity, key financial ratios and other performance indicators. But the bottom line is paying on time and managing debt well will help build a strong score.

Note: Experian offers a version of Intelliscore Plus that can evaluate data from the owner’s personal credit report as well as business credit.

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 can use both personal and business credit data 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 can come in. Higher scores indicate to creditors that your business is more likely to pay bills on time, 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 your business credit scores may be 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 insuranace providers evaluate a business owner’s credit as well as the business’s credit to determine rates on commercial insurance.

3. Get more time to pay.

Vendors and suppliers may look at a business’s credit reports or scores to decide how long to give the business before payment is due for goods and services. Net-30” terms would mean your business has 30 days to pay, while net-60 terms gives you 60 days to pay. Securing longer terms on your terms with suppliers is a great way to improve cash flow.

business credit check

4 reasons to check your business credit scores

Research by Manta and Nav found that 72% of business owners don’t know their business credit scores. If you’re one of those who don’t know their scores, here are four great reasons to check your business credit on a regular basis:

  1. Mistakes happen. Your business credit may get mixed up with that of another business, or one of your vendors or lenders may report incorrect information. If you don’t check, you won’t know.
  2. Credit scores change. Every time new information is reported by your lenders and vendors, your credit reports— and scores— may change.
  3. Fraud can occur. Business credit fraud or identity theft is a growing problem and may result in negative information on your reports. Monitoring your credit can alert you to suspicious activity.
  4. Get better financing. The Nav American Dream Gap report found that business owners who understood their business credit were 41% more likely to be approved for financing.

Your lenders, vendors and even your competitors may check your business credit without your knowledge. Others may be checking your credit— shouldn’t you?

How can I get a free business credit reports and scores?

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

Business owners can, however, access information about their Dun & Bradstreet, Experian and Equifax business credit reports with 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.)

Get your free scores

How can I improve my business credit score?

Building business credit doesn’t have to be difficult, but it can be confusing at times. Not all the bills you pay will show up on your credit reports, for example, and accounts that don’t report don’t help you build credit. Here’s the simplest way to build business credit:
Open accounts that report to business credit, such as vendor accounts and business credit cards.

Add accounts you already pay to your business credit reports.

Pay accounts that report on time or before they’re due.

Keep debt under control. If possible, avoid maxing out 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.

Do your business credit check

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

Get your free scores

Have at it! We'd love to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and protect yourself. Refrain from posting overtly promotional content, and avoid disclosing personal information such as bank account or phone numbers.

Reviews Disclosure: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the credit card, financing and service companies that appear on this site. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card, financing and service companies and it is not their responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

63 responses to “Business Credit Scores & Reports

  1. Hello,
    I would like to know when ever I log into my Nav account and see business credit card offers at 98%; will this be a hard inquiry if I apply for the offers? I’ve always wanted to try but was to concerned about a hard inquiry over a soft inquiry. Thank you to whom ever can help with this question.

    1. Yes, once you actually decide to apply, the issuer will check your credit and there will be a hard inquiry. At Nav we’ve found that customers who use MatchFactor are 4 times more likely to be approved for a business credit card. We hope you find it helpful!

  2. The information you provide has been so eye opening.
    Please continue with all of the resources.
    N – NEEDED
    A – AND
    V – VALUABLE

    THANK YOU

  3. I need to know how to find someone else’s business EIN number…not my own. They will not respond to my requests for my taxes

    1. Erin – Can you explain what you need it for? It can be hard to find an EIN on a privately held company. It may or may not be on their business credit reports. If you need it for tax purposes the IRS probably has a work around.

    1. Remus,

      You can check your own business credit for free with Nav. You’ll get your business credit information from Dun & Bradstreet, Experian and Equifax updated monthly for free. If you want to check business credit on others, or if you want more detailed reports on your own business, we offer a a premium Nav account which currently allows you to monitor business credit on up to 5 other businesses. Hope that helps!

    1. Hi
      How can I get a credit card for my business.
      I run a small scale business , African restaurant in Glasgow. But I need to a business credit card.

  4. What’s all these start up business funding ads I see , They state we will sell you a established shelf Corp no up front money , They guarantee a minimum of $100,000 corporate business loan and the business consultant takes 15% of the loan at funding for there services is this even possible or legal ?

    1. Buyer beware. I’ve spoken to consumers who have lost money with these kinds of programs. Some are outright fraud and others don’t provide the benefits the buyer thought they were getting.

  5. I need a credit history only for our company to show that a loan was paid off to a finance company that went out of business in 2001. How do I do this?

    1. Janice – I think it’s going to be difficult to get that kind of information dating back that far. Most commercial reports don’t report information from
      seven years ago. (And not all companies report to business credit.) You can certainly get your credit reports and see if it shows up. A free Nav account may help you see whether that account is reporting on Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. You can get a free Nav account here.

  6. Hello,

    Does it affect a business’ credit for it to be checked (like personal credit is)? Or does it matter where the credit is being looked up, for example here on Nav, Dun & Bradstreet, or CreditSafe?

    1. Inquiries tend not to carry the same weight in business credit as they do with personal credit. (In some cases, they don’t matter at all.)

      But keep in mind that some business scores combine the owner’s personal credit data and the credit data of the business, in which case those personal inquiries could be a factor.

      Checking your own business or personal credit through a service like Nav is a soft inquiry and does not impact your scores.

  7. Hello my business score with Experian went down 10 points and I only have two trade lines reporting. The first says 0 on credit limit and 0 on highest balance. The second account says:
    Terms: REVOLVE
    Recent High Credit: $1,500.00
    Account Balance: $1,200.00
    Truthfully, I don’t know what this account is or the balance. How do I dispute this or find out who is reporting this information. I use to have a “DBA” with the same name as my current business the only difference it’s now an L.L.C with a different D&B number with it’s own EIN number from the old “DBA.” I really think something is mixing my old DBA company information with my new LLC. How can I find out? Thank you for your help.

    1. Business credit reports can be confusing because they don’t list the names of creditors. Since it is a revolving account it is most likely a credit card. (Revolving refers to accounts with a credit limit that can be accessed as needed.) Do you have a credit card in the name of your business with a recent reported balance in that range?

      You can certainly dispute any account you don’t believe is accurate. However, you mention you only have two accounts reporting. If this one is yours and it is removed as a result of your dispute that may affect your credit scores since you’ll only have one account listed. In addition, if the business you ran formerly as a DBA is the same business that’s now an LLC, then very likely the credit reporting agencies will continue to link the two entities (since they are essentially the same business) and you may find this back on your report in the future.

      If this account is yours, what might help more is to pay down the balance so your utilization ratio is lower. Another option might be to open other accounts that report so you have a greater mix of credit. You may even be able to transfer part or all of the balance to another account. For example, we have a list of credit card issuers that help build business credit here: Nav.com/business-report You’ll find a list of vendors that report in your Nav account under Business Launcher or at Nav.com/vendors

      If you do decide to dispute this account, go to the Disputes tab in your Nav account and follow the instructions.

  8. 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.

    1. Melissa,

      Banks do tend to be the most conservative and often require strong personal credit on the part of the owners. At Nav we think both strong personal and business credit are important, which is why we provide monitoring and educational resources for both.

  9. Hello there. Do you have demo account to see what does it look like once i have signed up for this service and how could i use this?

  10. My Business tax liens were paid & cleared with the Florida dept. of revenue several years ago. Why are they still showing up on my report? How do I get them cleared?
    Thanks,
    AL Jacksonville, Florida

  11. 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

  12. 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. 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, Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX score and Equifax Delinquency Risk 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.

  13. 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 money you have in a begin with. Sorry, but you have to have money to get money.

    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.

  14. 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/

  15. 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 😉

  16. 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.