A man and a woman are seated in a conference room with a bank loan officer. The couple is signing a loan document, and the loan officer is pointing to the paper to show where the woman should sign her name.
Just like a consumer credit score, it's important to regularly monitor your business's credit score. A strong score can give you more favorable interest rates on loans. — Getty Images/Drazen Zigic

A strong business credit score can give you access to lower interest rates, lower health insurance costs, and better vendor payment terms. It’s important to be proactive about managing your small business credit score. However, in a Nav American Dream Gap Survey, 72% of small business owners said they did not know where to find information on their business credit score.

If you are just getting started building business credit or haven’t yet checked your score, here’s how to get the information you need to improve your position.

[Read more: How to Establish and Build Business Credit]

How to request your business credit report

Start by requesting your business credit report to learn where you stand. Three main agencies offer business credit reports.

The first, Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), provides a comprehensive report that includes a credit summary as well as a few different scores, such as a viability rating and delinquency predictor score. The D&B credit score is known as the Paydex score and ranges from 0 to 100, with 0 to 49 scores being the highest risk.

Equifax also offers a business credit report package that includes your company profile, a credit summary, and several proprietary risk scores: one that predicts the likelihood of a business becoming 90+ days delinquent, a business failure score that predicts the likelihood that a business will fail while owing a debt to creditors within the next year, and a payment index that quantifies a business’s payment habits.

Finally, Experian’s Intelliscore Plus report comes in several forms depending on how much information you wish to review. “You can see your business credit report for as little as $39.95, but you can pay for an annual plan that lets you monitor your business credit reports and score for $189 per year,” wrote Bankrate.

It’s smart to check your FICO SBSS score if you plan on applying for a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

To check your business’s credit report, choose one of the agencies, go to their website, and follow the steps to create an account and submit the required information. The credit agency will probably ask for your business’s DUNS number or tax ID number to get the report.

According to Fundera, here’s what you can expect to pay for your business credit report:

  • Dun & Bradstreet: A one-time report will cost $121.99.
  • Equifax: A one-time report will cost $99.95.
  • Experian: A one-time report will cost $39.95.

There’s a fourth option that’s become more popular among small business lenders: Fair Isaac Corporation's (FICO) Small Business Scoring Service (SBSS). “This is a product of FICO that is designed to assess the credit risk of small businesses. SBSS scores range from 0 to 300, with a higher score indicating a lower credit risk,” wrote CRS.

It’s smart to check your FICO SBSS score if you plan on applying for a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA uses the SBSS score to prescreen businesses applying for SBA 7(a) loans above $350,000. However, since the SBSS scoring model draws on information from Experian, Dun & Bradstreet, and Equifax, it shouldn’t be radically different than checking any of the other business credit reports.

How to understand your business credit score

There’s a lot of information in your business credit report, but what you should focus on first is your business credit score. Each agency has its own rating system. “A good business credit score is considered anything higher than 76 for Equifax or Experian, 80 from Dun & Bradstreet, or 160 from FICO SBSS, which is the minimum for SBA loans,” wrote CRS.

If your initial report shows a score under those standards, don’t panic. There are many reasons why your score might be lower than you expect. A new business, for instance, won’t have enough credit history to generate a credit score. Or it could be some incorrect information in your credit report: Check it over carefully to make sure it’s all accurate.

You can turn a bad business credit score around in time. “Making on-time payments, establishing trade lines with suppliers and working with creditors that report to the main business credit bureaus are good places to start,” wrote Nerdwallet.

[Read more: 4 Essential Steps to Protecting Your Business Credit]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Applications are open for the CO—100! Now is your chance to join an exclusive group of outstanding small businesses. Share your story with us — apply today.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

Brought to you by
Simplify your startup’s finances with Mercury
Navigating the complex finances of a growing startup can be daunting. Mercury’s VP of Finance shares the seven areas to focus on, from day-to-day operations to measuring performance, and more.
Learn More
Published