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

By Gerri Detweiler, updated March 23, 2022

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 SBA (Small Business Administration) 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 the FICO SBSS Credit Score?

FICO® LiquidCredit® Small Business Scoring Service℠ (FICO® SBSS℠ score) is one of the main business credit scores lenders may use. 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 because it’s been hard to get your hands on it.

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 myFICO.com. 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.

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.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) requires lenders to use this score to pre-screen certain SBA 7(a) loans:

Current minimum SBSS scores:

  • 7(a) Small Loans: 155
  • Community Advantage: 140
  • Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program: 130

If your score falls below their required threshold, it doesn’t necessarily mean your application can’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 FICO SBSS Credit Score Calculated?

FICO doesn’t have any credit information, it just provides the formulas used to calculate credit scores. 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 that the credit 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 pull that data from Experian data. 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, FICO SBSS 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.

How FICO SBSS Works

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 ranges from 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 (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.

Who Uses the FICO SBSS Score?

In the past, 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 will use it to pre-screen their loan applicants but they usually set their cutoff higher, typically around 160-165.

How Can I Improve my FICO SBSS Score?

Even though this score is used for small business credit decisions, personal credit is important when it comes to earning a high FICO SBSS score, so one of the most important things you can do is to review 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 credit may be checked so you’ll want to make sure you are aware of any credit problems. 

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 building 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.

This article was originally written on September 28, 2015 and updated on March 24, 2022.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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….

  3. 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…

  4. 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.

  5. 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: support@nav.com or (855) 226-8388

    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.

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.