The Truth About Business Tradelines

The Truth About Business Tradelines

The Truth About Business Tradelines

This article was reviewed and updated on July 12, 2021.

If you’re trying to establish business credit, you’ve probably heard terms like “tradelines, trade credit, corporate tradelines, or vendor accounts.” You may even know they are important, but aren’t sure how to get them and how they can benefit your business. Here we’ll demystify them:

What Is a Business Tradeline?

A business tradeline is a credit account between a business and vendor. Although they are not a business loan or line of credit like business credit cards, a business line of credit, or a small business loan, they are a very underrated form of business credit and a powerful tool for establishing and strengthening your business credit profile. Like other small business credit options, they include information from vendors who report to commercial credit reporting agencies. For example, a vendor account with net-30, net-60, or net-90 terms. If that vendor reports you good credit history to a credit bureau, it creates a business tradeline.

Learn more about Vendors that will Help You Build Business Credit

Why Tradelines Matter

Tradelines are important for building business credit because they provide information about how you’ve handled credit in the past. Without that kind of information, it is difficult for a credit scoring model to predict how you will pay in the future. The Paydex score produced by D&B, for example, requires three tradelines to calculate a score.

How to Find Tradelines That Report

Establishing good business credit is often a confusing process because not all lenders and vendors report to all major business credit reporting agencies. For example, information about your equipment lease may show up in the PayNet database, while information about business credit cards is often shared with lenders via the Small Business Financial Exchange (SBFE).

Tip: Need help finding accounts that report to the appropriate business credit bureau? Use the free tools in your Nav account. Specifically, the BusinessLauncher tool will help you identify companies that report, and the Nav Marketplace identifies accounts that report with the CreditBuilder badge.

Seasoned Tradelines

You may have heard the term “seasoned tradeline.” It refers to accounts with an established credit history. Some companies offer to sell seasoned tradelines to help business owners establish credit quickly. Here’s how it works:

A company will establish a corporation, and get accounts under that corporate name, with the goal of “flipping” it. They will then sell this “shelf corporation” to another business with the promise that they will immediately have access to thousands of dollars in credit lines. But rarely does this turn out to be what it seems. The established credit lines may not be the type of funding the new business needs, and if lenders catch whiff of the new business owner trying to take advantage of this scheme they can quickly shut those accounts down. “It’s usually shady,” says Nav’s Chairman of the Board Levi King. While there may legitimate reasons for buying a shelf corporation, using one to try to get access to funding your business otherwise would not qualify for should not be one of them.

What’s Next?

Building strong business credit is a worthwhile goal. It can open up avenues to better financing for your business, help you separate personal and business credit, and give potential lenders a reason not to focus on your personal credit history. Establishing positive tradelines is a crucial step in that process. To do so, you will want to take the following steps:

    • Open a business credit card which will be reported to commercial credit agencies
    • Establish accounts with lenders and/or vendors who will report to the business credit agencies. You can find them by using the free BusinessLauncher tool available with a free Nav account.
    • Pay your accounts on time (early is even better) and you’ll be on your way to establishing a high business credit score.

Related Resources: 

D-U-N-S Number

Confession of Judgement


How to Report to the Business Credit Bureaus

Business Credit Score Insights

This article was originally written on January 19, 2016 and updated on July 14, 2021.

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20 responses to “The Truth About Business Tradelines

  1. I’m a new venture. How many vendors do I need to build business credit as fast as possible (of course I will pay all bills early)?

  2. Having issues getting a 3rd vender to report. When prospective vender calls D&B they say not enough information due to only 2 venders so they do not do Paydex score. Several venders have backed off. Please advise.

  3. Please I need help , Iam registered as King of Bling Sports Apparel&Novelties, I guys have me down for Hats off Studio , can we fix this problem

  4. There are so many conflicting reports as towards the personal credit business credit, just who does report it and when I reached out to my credit line and they said they report 2 the bureau’s and Dun & Bradstreet. 8 years later I’ve checked they’ve never been reported.

    1. Unlike consumer reports where by law the bureau has to disclose all information it has about the consumer to the consumer, there is no requirement to do so on the business side. Sometimes the bureaus will sell different reports to different customers. So it’s possible that they are reporting but that information is only accessible in certain reports. I can’t say that’s what’s happening in your case, but it is a possibility. If you can, reach out directly to the bureau to see if they can help you troubleshoot.

  5. Hello, I opened a Weex Fleet Credit Card in June 2020, and from what I researched it should report to Equifax but it hasn’t (nor to any of the other two agencies). I called Weex and they say they do report every month. The only tradeline I see in Equifax is NAV : ) but NAV seems to only be reporting to Equifax, not D&B and Experian.
    Any ideas. Thank you. Regards.

  6. Would it be good to get a tradeline for a business to help establish the credit and get credit cards for funding the company

  7. If you never had a credit card for personal or business, with never having a card and you have no lates, no open or any current cards within the last 4 years. How do you get approved for a credit card with a 526 score

    1. I have two suggestions for you Tony: a secured credit card and a credit builder loan. One will give you a revolving account reference and the other an installment account reference. If you don’t have any negative information on your credit reports, my prediction is you’ll see some results fairly quickly from having current positive references listed.

  8. Hello. I am in the process of trying to build my business credit. Please contact me in regards to steering me in the correct direction.

    1. Joaquina,

      The best place to start is with a free Nav account. Once you sign up you’ll have access to our free tool called Business Launcher. It will help walk you through the steps of building business credit. If you have specific questions as you go through that, you can reach out to our customer support team. They’d be happy to help.