FICO® SBSS℠ Score — A Key SBA Loan Credit Score Explained

By Gerri Detweiler, updated September 6, 2023

There’s a FICO credit score designed just for small business: the FICO® SBSS℠ score. Banks, business credit card issuers, and other lenders may use it to help make lending decisions. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) requires lenders to use this score to pre-screen borrowers for some of the SBA loans it insures.

Just as your personal FICO credit scores can impact your ability to secure financing, your business FICO SBSS score can impact your ability to get small business financing.

What Is a FICO SBSS Score?

FICO® LiquidCredit® Small Business Scoring Service℠ (FICO® SBSS℠ score) is a small business credit score lenders may use. Created by the Fair Isaac Corporation, it’s a credit score small business owners should know about if they are considering a small business loan through a traditional lender such as a bank, or certain SBA loans. But many entrepreneurs have never heard of it, in part because it’s traditionally been hard to access.

Banks aren’t required to disclose that they use the FICO® SBSS℠ score and FICO doesn’t sell this score to borrowers as it does with consumer scores that it sells through 

Business lenders use this score (and other business credit scores) to help evaluate credit risk. Credit scores can help them make faster, more accurate lending decisions for term loans, lines of credit, equipment loans and other types of small business loans. Lenders may use scores for loan approval, as well as to decide the size of a credit line and interest rates.  

It can help them make decisions in hours, not days.

What Is a Good FICO SBSS Score?

The FICO SBSS score ranges between 0 to 300, with 300 being the highest score. A higher score indicates lower risk.

SBA Small Loans require the lender to prescreen the application using a FICO SBSS score. The current minimum SBSS score for 7(a) Small Loans is 155.

(SBA Small Loans are loans for $500,000 or less, but not including SBA Express, Export Express, CAPLines, Export Working Capital Program (EWCP), and Community Advantage Pilot Program loans.)

If your score falls below their required threshold, it doesn’t necessarily mean your application won’t be approved. To continue, your loan application then must go through a manual approval where other factors may be taken into account.

How is the SBSS Score Calculated?

FICO doesn’t have any credit information about how consumers or businesses pay their bills; it just creates the formulas used to calculate credit scores. Instead, the information it uses to calculate this business score comes from credit reporting agencies, the lender or other data sources. SBSS models use up to four types of information. 

  • Consumer credit reports for the principals/guarantors of the business (up to five owners),
  • Business credit reports for the business, 
  • Application data supplied on the loan application, and 
  • Business financial data

Of these, FICO says the information that is most important in terms of helping predict performance are the business owner’s personal credit data followed by business bureau data, financial data, then application data.

If you have no business credit history and limited time in business, you may be able to get a passing FICO SBSS score based on stellar personal credit alone. But it helps to have strong business credit as well.

Banks and lenders can set up the SBSS model they use in different ways, putting more weight on certain information, and less on others.

For example, it can put more weight on your business credit profile or more on your personal credit history. It’s also a very “smart” business credit scoring model because it can automatically go from one business credit bureau to another, in whatever order of priority the lender prefers, until it’s able to generate a score.

So, if the lender prefers using Experian for business credit data as the default, it can get a credit report from Experian. But if that report doesn’t provide enough information, it can automatically get business credit data from Dun & Bradstreet. If there’s not enough business credit data available, it will just use the personal credit data to calculate the SBSS score, potentially along with business financials. 

Currently, a FICO SBSS score can be calculated using consumer credit data from Experian, Equifax or TransUnion as well as business credit data from Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business or Equifax SBFE

Application data can include business checking account balance , time as current owner and principal’s combined net worth.

Because the lender has a choice of credit bureaus to use when accessing data to create this score, your business does not have a single FICO SBSS score. In addition, it will change as information in your credit reports change.


Here are some important facts to understand about this business credit score:

  • FICO SBSS rank-orders small businesses by their likelihood of making payments on time. The FICO score range is 0 to 300. Higher scores are better in that they indicate lower risk but each lender will choose the minimum score it will accept.
  • The minimum score to pass the mandatory prescreen for 7(a) Small Loans is currently 155. But most SBA lenders set their minimum score at 160-165.
  • The score can be calculated 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.
  • If you have derogatory or no credit history, it can take months or even years of positive credit activity to move your SBSS score significantly higher. It’s vital to build your credit and ensure it’s healthy before you need it.
  • Because businesses are not covered by Fair Credit Reporting Act protections, you can be denied business financing due to your SBSS score, and lenders are not required to notify you the score was used or provide access to your score.

Who Uses the FICO SBSS Score?

FICO has reported that the FICO SBSS score is used by over 7,500 lenders nationwide to help them make lending decisions. The latest version of FICO SBSS 7.0  built for loan amounts up to $1 million for term  loans and lines of credit, and $250,000 for leasing transactions.

As mentioned earlier, certain SBA loans require this score be used to pre-screen applications. Banks may use it to pre-screen their loan applicants but they usually set their cutoff score higher, typically around 160-165.

How Can I Improve My SBSS Score?

Two of the best ways to improve your business’s FICO SBSS Score are:

  • Improve your personal credit scores
  • Build business credit or improve your business credit scores 

The exact steps you’ll need to take will depend on the information in your personal and/or business credit reports.

Start by reviewing your personal credit scores and make sure yours are as strong as possible. If your business has multiple owners or others who will guarantee the loan, their creditworthiness can be a factor too, so make sure you are aware of any credit problems.  Learn about the main FICO score factors for personal credit below.

Strong business credit can help, so check your business credit with Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business and Equifax. If your business doesn’t have a D-U-N-S number, you’ll want to get one and start to establish business credit. Net-30 vendor accounts and business credit cards can help build business credit. 

If you don’t have a business bank account, make sure you get one and use it consistently for business expenses. Your business bank account balance may impact this score, and many lenders require and review business bank statements when making small business lending decisions. 

Lastly, build your business. At least two year’s time in business, strong credit and solid financials are key to securing the best small business loans and financing.

What Are the 5 Categories of the FICO Score?

There are five main categories of credit information that affect consumer FICO scores:

As you can see, payment history—which includes payment history on your accounts like credit cards, car loans and mortgages, as well as negative information like collection accounts or bankruptcy—has the most impact on your credit scores. 

If your credit report lists late payments or other negative information, it may help to know that as that information gets older, it tends to have less impact on your credit scores. Eventually, it will no longer appear on your credit reports (usually after 7 years). Learn more about what you can do about payment history issues on your credit reports.

Another factor that can significantly impact credit scores is credit utilization. Here, credit score models will often compare your balances on your credit cards to your credit limits. High utilization can affect your credit scores. Fortunately this is a factor that can quickly change by paying down balances, increasing credit limits or even by transferring debt. 

This article was originally written on September 28, 2015 and updated on April 23, 2024.

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78 responses to “FICO® SBSS℠ Score — A Key SBA Loan Credit Score Explained

  1. When I logged in today to check my business credit reports I got a surprise when checking the FICO SBSS Report. It says my score is 188 which it says is good. As I am reading downward it tells me that unfortunately I do not qualify for an SBA loan which shocked me. It tells me that everything is fine until I get a little lower and then it tells me that I do not qualify for an SBA loan because I haven’t been in business long enough. It says this: Time In Business: SBA Lenders typically require at least 2 years in business. Since you’ve only been in business for years, you may not qualify for an SBA loan.

    I have been in business since 07/23/2009, which to me would seem like long enough to qualify. If you can’t fix anything directly with FICO SBSS, what can I do about this? It just tells me to go try to qualify for other loans with lower standards or underwriting.

    Another thing that I find really peculiar is that Equifax has my score at 384 which is poor. I only have 2 things reporting on that report and both of them added up are around $100 total, which isn’t going to do anything for me. One of them is NAV and I purchase the top tier for the last 3 or 4 years. I have 12 things reporting on my Experian report with over $30,000 of credit experience. DNB has quite a few things reporting on its report as well and shows a lot of experience. I wish I could do something about the Equifax report but I have no idea what to use to get that experience.

    One other thing I wanted to ask about is whether FICO SBSS uses the Vantage score models that are shown on NAV or whether they actually use the FICO scores? My FICO scores for Experian are 788 and my TransUnion is 790. However, if you go to the vantage scoring model I score much lower. My Experian is 694 and my TransUnion is 679 and says needs work. I have never missed a payment on anything so I have 100% there, the percentage of my credit used is 6% and it says my credit age is 49.5 years which is actually my oldest card and not the average age of Accounts. Lol.

    Some days it just seems like these credit bureaus try to keep you down no matter how hard you try to keep everything clean and going well. I realize that the Vantage model is not used as widely so I don’t worry about it as much but you have to wonder some days what’s going on out there in the world when they vary that widely. SMH. Thank you for any comment or guidance you might be able to give.

    1. Hi Jeffrey! Thank you for your comment.

      We estimate your eligibility for SBA loans based on a number of factors. We’re looking into the time in business issue, because you are well beyond two years time in business. Keep in mind that we are not a lender. You are still welcome to apply for SBA loans through a lender, and may have a different outcome.

      For your Equifax score, you’re right that not all creditors report to all three major bureaus. Unfortunately it’s hard to reliably tell which creditors report where. We’d encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing. Not all lenders and other providers will pull from Equifax when assessing your eligibility (and that goes for all the bureaus).

      FICO pulls information from various business and personal credit bureaus, and calculates based on that. We wouldn’t worry too much about Vantage vs. not. FICO SBSS is a unique score.

      The credit bureaus and credit scoring models do vary a lot. And, different providers will pull from different places. What can help is focusing more on the score band (good vs. excellent) rather than the numbers. Also keep in mind that scores will fluctuate, and that’s normal. We get that it can feel overwhelming and we’re working to help increase transparency. We appreciate your comments, it helps us understand how to serve you better!

    1. You can’t update your address with FICO. The address used appears on the business credit report used to calculate your score. Your best bet is to check your credit reports with the major business credit bureaus to see what they list as your address and notify them of any change.

  2. I’m trying to figure out why I keep getting denied for loans for my business, even though my score its a 89 and everything is paid up and also I paid everything on time including my quill and etc.

  3. you State that I have a low credit rating because I have been in business less than a year.. A Superior Cleanding services llc have been in business since 2016.. please update.
    thank you

    1. Mr. Crawford, Nav shows credit reports from the credit bureaus. We are not a credit bureau and we can’t change the information on them unfortunately. As the business owner you’ll need to dispute it with the credit bureau directly. If you need any information about this process feel free to reach out to Nav customer support at

  4. Please help me I’m trying to find out what my business score went down so low I don’t understand why

    1. It’s hard to say without knowing details – which credit report? What was it and what did it drop to? Have you seen your full business credit report to see what has changed?

  5. Yea I’m not sure what’s going on with these business credit scores there low because the information is wrong like it says I only been in business for a year but I’m going into my 9th year.

  6. I’m trying to update m business y account address to my new business address, can someone please tell me where to go to update my business address?

    1. It depends on where that business address is showing up. If it’s in your Nav account please contact Nav customer support for help. If it’s somewhere else you’ll need to contact the appropriate business.

  7. Try upgrading to a paid product. Nav will use the information associated with the card you pay from. So, if that is your correct business information, there shouldn’t be a difference in what’s reported and what is correct… unless….

  8. I have a duns number but when I attempt to link it to Nav, or infuse it with Nav, or access it through Nav it says my business can’t be found. Now, when I attempt to login directly through d&b, it says I don’t have an account. I sent all relevant information to d&b rech support to correct the issues. The Board members for Nav consist primarily of sales and marketing professionals, one computer guy, a fellow with a Harvard law degree that he apparently finds less valuable then working in a startup called Nav, and a few other sales pitch hype wizards, in their vertical integration machine. Hold on, I’m choking on the fumes from there persuadables seeking mico-targeting ai laser beam…

  9. I am a Nav customer and I paid in full for a year of Business loan builder. Unfortunately, that was a bad idea becase now it doesn’t report monthly payments, becase I am all paid up. This would explain why Nav continues to suggest that I try your Business Boost product, which, according to Nav is a “downgrade” from my current product. My FICO SBSS score went up the first month and down the second month. Here’s the thing, like all Credit boost products, they are new and no one, not even experian boost has any idea what they are doing. The credit score algorithm is meant to keep scores low, not high. The credit score is a means for determining ones interest rate first, not to demonstrate ones actual credit worthiness. If one could pay to boost their score or even control their score with particular behavior that returned consistent outcomes, everyone would have a high score and a low interest rate. Lenders aren’t in the business of lending money only to receive 0% interest back on their risk… a profitable return is their goal, my goal and your goal. So, it seems clear that fussing over the details ( like the fact that we all have the same complaints; incorrect business information, like it’s that hard to get right, the information is correct when they run your payment, but they can’t get it right when reporting to the Bureau? Give me a break) seems like a genius way to keep all of us chasing our tails so we never have time or money to achieve wealth. Fico SBSS – clever Some “BS” Service. FICO fiduciary intelligence consumer oblivious.

    1. I am not sure what you mean – who is listing your registered agent address? Is it a business credit agency? If that’s the case you’ll need to dispute it with the credit bureau that is reporting it that way.

  10. Who do I speak with regarding incorrect information on my fico sbss report. I have compared the information to my other credit reports and the length of time in operation, revenue etc is not matching the other reports. Been calling NAV for weeks with no luck reaching a live rep

    1. Just to clarify – FICO doesn’t have any credit information. The FICO SBSS credit score is calculated from credit report information from personal credit reports and/or business credit reports. So it’s the underlying credit report information that is essential. I’ll share your contact info with our customer support team and ask them to reach out.

    1. It depends on where you are seeing that incorrect address. If it’s on your business credit report you’ll need to contact the business credit reporting agency. If you are a Nav customer and need more information on how to contact the credit bureaus feel free to reach out to customer support.

    1. If you are referring to information on your business credit reports, you’ll want to contact the business credit reporting agency that has the incorrect information. If you have a Nav account and need further instructions please contact customer support:

    1. I am not sure what you mean in the context of this story. I don’t believe FICO has a cut off for this score. It would be up to the lender to determine whether to purchase the FICO SBSS.

    1. A FICO score is calculated using information from credit reports. In the case of a FICO SBSS score, it is based on a business and personal credit report. You can’t correct a score, but you can dispute incorrect information on your credit reports, and that in turn may result in a different score. If you believe there is inaccurate information on your credit reports, you will need to file a dispute with the credit bureau(s). If you have a Nav account, you may reach out to customer service for information on how to file disputes.

  11. Good Morning,

    Can you please direct me on how I can correct information on my Fico SBSS, the name is of my business is spelled wrong and the number of years is not reflecting correctly.

    Than you.

        1. Jeffrey – do you have a source for that? If so, please share. The SBA guidelines state “acceptable credit” and the American Rescue Plan allowed for alternative qualifications.

  12. Hi Greta,
    SBSS score says “it can’t find my business”; the other three indexes are on the dashboard

  13. Hi Greta,

    My SBSS score shows 0 revenue for 2018 and it’s stopping us dead in our tracks for an SBA loan approval. I’ve written multiple letters and signed up for a credit building program, it’s not budging.

    How can we correct this?

    P.S. I’m a premium customer with NAV

      1. Hey Gerri,

        Thank you Ryan also for the comment. I’m experiencing the same for my business Gerri. I was told tradeline would be post to my business credit after 2-6 after purchasing builder program 1/13/21

        Thank you

    1. I have the same problem with with Nav. I signed up for the premium and I don’t see how it is helping.

  14. Ok, I’m trying to find out how to find my business credit, I keep being flipped back n forth with no answers!

  15. I own an llc in which I purchased a home based franchise – Im now moving into a bricks and mortar; I opened a Business Credit card in 2017and a Staples commercial account – I have a Duns number – but neither is reporting to Duns or Equifax. How do I change this and how do I establish business credit.

    1. Debra,

      This article should help with the business credit card question: Which small Business Credit Cards Report to Business Credit

      And this one will help with regard to vendors that report: 3 Vendors That Will Help You Build Business Credit

      Nav will allow you to monitor your business credit with Experian, Equifax and Dun & Bradstreet so you can monitor when accounts start reporting. (It sometimes takes a couple of months for that to happen. You can get a free Nav account here.

      Hope this helps and let us know if you have further questions!

  16. Is knowing your SBSS score useful at all if you plan on purchasing an existing business? For example, if I had a small unrelated business with a SBSS score of XXX and wanted to buy a totally different existing business…how does the SBA take that into account? Or does it not?

    1. First, a FICO SBSS Score can take into account personal credit data so if your personal credit scores are strong that will go a long way. In the case of purchasing a business, I’d recommend you check their business credit reports (not FICO SBSS as you won’t have access to that) to see if there are any issues that could create problems for you. Does that make sense?

    2. If your small business is acquiring another business, then yes the SBA will look at your existing business score.

    1. That’s a great question Harry! The business credit file should stay with the business. Ownership information will need to be updated of course. This means building business credit can help your business now as well as when you sell it. For FICO SBSS, remember it’s based on the owner’s personal credit data and the business credit data. So the new owner’s personal credit will be used to calculate the score if it’s requested.

  17. Hello if i upgrade to premium account! How many times a month can i check my real time fico, experian ,equifax and D&B ?

    1. Your reports will update monthly but if you need a refresh sooner (to see if a new account is showing up, for example), you can contact our customer support team and they can refresh it after two weeks.

    1. Are you asking about your Nav account David? If so that is part of our premium subscription (not the free account). If you upgraded and did not get that score, feel free to contact customer support for assistance.

  18. Some sites suggest using the business EIN not personal SS# to pull business credit reports, why does NAV not recognize my business EIN?

    1. Hi Stephen, when you sign up for a free Nav account, the personal SSN is used to pull your personal credit data (NOT a hard pull). Nav provides your personal credit data alongside your business report—this is because both personal and business credit information are important to growing a business.

  19. Hi Jeff, You can access your SBSS score as part of our Premium Plus account plan. We’ll tell you if your score is high enough to pass the SBA’s pre-screen and also give you personalized tips to help you improve your score. Keep in mind, many large banks use FICO SBSS for all their business loans too. The score is calculated by looking at your personal and business credit, so it’s an easy way to track your overall credit health as a business owner.

  20. Can you help me improve my sbss score? I’d like to apply for SBA loan but don’t want to waste time applying if my score isn’t good enough.

Known as a financing and credit expert, Gerri Detweiler has been interviewed in more than 4000 news stories, and answered over 10,000 credit and lending questions online. Her articles have been widely syndicated on sites such as MSN, Forbes, and MarketWatch. She is the author or coauthor of five books, including Finance Your Own Business: Get on the Financing Fast Track. She has testified before Congress on consumer credit legislation.