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

by Gerri Detweiler

This story was updated September 10, 2020 to reflect the new required minimum SBSS score for SBA loans.

FICO SBSS Credit Score - Nav Premium Plus Account

Did you know your business may have a FICO small business credit score that banks use to help make their lending decisions? Like your personal FICO credit score, the SBSS score can impact your ability to get business financing!

Not only that, but the SBA (Small Business Administration) also uses the score to pre-screen some of the SBA loans it insures.

What is the FICO® SBSS℠ Score?

FICO® LiquidCredit® Small Business Scoring Service℠, (or FICO® SBSS℠ score) is one of the main business credit scores. The FICO® SBSS℠ score ranges between 0 to 300, with 300 being the highest score, and represents your creditworthiness and likelihood to pay back a loan. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) requires lenders to use this score to pre-screen  SBA 7(a) loans for $350,000 or less, as well as Community Advantage loans. If your score falls below their required threshold of 155 (as of October 1, 2020), your loan application must go through a manual approval.

It’s the one credit score business owners should know, but many have never heard of it because, until now, it’s been hard to get your hands on it. Banks aren’t required to disclose that they use the FICO® SBSS℠ score and very little information exists about it online. More lenders are using it because it helps them make faster, more accurate lending decisions. This means they can make decisions in hours, not days.

Here’s how SBSS works:

  • SBSS scores can be used for term loans and lines of credit for amounts up to $1 million.
  • Like personal credit scores, FICO SBSS rank-orders small businesses by their likelihood of making payments on time. The FICO score ranges from 0 to 300. The higher the score, the better.
  • The minimum score to pass the SBA’s pre-screen process is currently 155 (as of October 1, 2020). 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.

How is the credit score calculated?

The short answer is the score is calculated by scoring the personal credit of the owner(s) including up to five owners (any with 20% or greater ownership), business credit history of the business, as well as other business financial information, like: age of the business, number of employees, financial data, such as revenue and assets. It truly is a global view of a business’s overall financial health!

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 steller 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. It’s also a very “smart” business credit scoring model because it will 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 checking the Experian (business credit) as the default, the SBSS can pull in the Experian data set. If that report doesn’t offer enough information, it will automatically check another business credit report, such as Dun & Bradstreet. It could also then move on to Equifax business credit data. 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. (You can learn more about Experian business credit reports and download a sample report here.)

Who uses the FICO SBSS score?

FICO SBSS scores can be used for term loans and lines of credit for amounts up to $1 million. The FICO SBSS score is used by over 7,500 lenders nationwide to help them make lending decisions. Large banks include: KeyBank, Huntington National Bank, PNC, RBC, USBank, Zions Bank, HSBC, Santander Bank.

As mentioned earlier, certain SBA loans require this score be used to pre-screen applications. Banks will use it to pre-screen their loan applicants but they usually set their cutoff higher, typically around 160-165. If your score falls below that, they may see your business as too much of a risk. Plus, banks don’t want to waste their time filling out lengthy SBA loan applications if they are confident you’ll get denied because of poor credit.

How can I improve my FICO SBSS score?

You can take steps now to start improving your FICO SBSS score, you need to take care of your personal credit and start building business credit. Nav will help you check and monitor both personal and business credit with a free Nav account.

Lastly, you may just need time: Time to show solid business financial history that makes your business look more like a solid bet.

This article was originally written on September 28, 2015 and updated on January 26, 2021.

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50 responses to “FICO SBSS — The Small Business Credit Score

    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.

  1. 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.

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

  3. 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.

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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

About Author

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.