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A credit score is more than just an indication of your ability to pay bills on time—it is also an important benchmark of financial health.

Just like your ability to pay your credit card bills and mortgage payments on time factors into your personal credit score, your ability to handle your business’s debt and accounts payable, among other factors, all go into your business credit score.

Your business credit score can impact your company and future opportunities in a major way, so we’re outlining everything you need to know about building business credit and maintaining a healthy credit score.

What is a business credit score?

Establishing business credit refers to your ability to secure financing at agreeable terms. Your financial health and trustworthiness is measured by various factors that are summarized by a number called your credit score. 

Beyond just this number, however, is a credit report that details your financial history and behaviors. Lenders, insurance companies, and other interested parties may consult your credit report to see any outstanding debts, collections, and history of late or on-time payments.

Credit reports are generated by business credit bureaus, notably Experian, Equifax, and Dun & Bradstreet.

Why do I need a business credit score?

A business credit score is used to determine how likely you are to pay your bills on time, and to indicate to lenders how big of a risk you might be. Your credit score is used to determine interest rates, what types of loans you can receive, how much you’ll qualify for, and how to construct repayment terms.

Additionally, other businesses may use your business credit score to decide if they want to do business with you, or to negotiate a beneficial business contract.

Having poor credit can hurt your opportunities for partnerships, growth, and beneficial terms on deals and loans. Your business credit score signals to economic partners whether it is safe and lucrative to do business with you.

A good business credit score can help you:

  • Secure financing
  • Get better interest rates & loan terms
  • Decrease prepayments
  • Establish better trade deals within your industry

These factors help businesses save money, improve cash flow, seize opportunities as they come, and grow at a healthy rate. Additionally, building business credit using a business credit card can shift the financial focus from the business owner’s personal credit, which is often used to get a business up and running.

A business credit score helps create greater stability and take the pressure from a business owner’s personal score.

Establishing business credit for the first time

If you’re a small business owner who started your operation using your personal credit score–you’re not alone. It’s a common and useful beginning for small businesses, but it’s time to begin building business credit in the name of your company.

  1. Make your business official: It’s time for a business name, dedicated phone number, business bank account, and credit profile. This means getting a phone number that is not an owner’s personal phone and registering it with the directory in your city, county, or state. Open a business bank account in your company’s name and begin using it to pay bills and vendors. 
  2. Get a business credit card: Your credit file is initiated once you open a line of credit. For most businesses, the quickest and most useful way to achieve this step is to get a business credit card. Start with one, and consider adding one or two more as your need grows. You should always keep a manageable balance on the card and never miss a payment. 
  3. Work with reporting suppliers: Not all suppliers and vendors are required to report payment histories to a credit bureau. Choosing to work with a supplier or vendor who does report these payment histories can help to establish business credit. 
  4. Get incorporated: Transitioning your business to an LLC helps to separate personal credit from your business credit. This can simultaneously improve both scores and protect you and your business. 

As part of our mission to make money smarter, Divvy reports customer credit performance to the Small Business Financial Exchange (SBFE®). That means you can use Divvy to build your business credit history and credit score for your business simply by paying on time. Learn how Divvy can help build your credit.

The benefits of a good business credit score

A healthy business credit score opens many doors for your business, no matter how long you’ve been in business. Smart business owners understand that it’s well worth the time to establish business credit now as part of their total capital to continue strengthening their company.

The most important opportunity you’ll enjoy with a good business credit score is the ability to secure financing, especially at short notice. A good credit score can help you get loans, lines of credit, favorable terms on financing for large purchases, and much more trust from any seller. 

Another opportunity you get as you begin building business credit is the ability to negotiate deals and trades. With your clean business credit report, you will be able to demonstrate your value to potential partners.

Many businesses find that building business credit allows them to negotiate favorable terms and establish important relationships with vendors and investors. That’s right–investors are going to be interested in your credit score, so you want to ensure you’re establishing healthy credit.

How is a business credit score calculated?

Just like personal credit scores, business credit scores come from multiple reporting bureaus. These reporting bureaus are Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, and Equifax, and they can help you get better financing. And similar to personal credit scores, business credit scores are not all created equally. When you have established business credit, that’s when your personal credit score comes into play.

Credit score range Acceptable minimum for funding Excellent score
Personal 350-850 600 800
D&B PAYDEX 1-100 50 80+
FICO SBSS 0-300 140 180
Experian 1-100 51 76

Personal credit score

You may wonder, does business credit affect personal credit or vice versa? Many small and beginning businesses are created using the owner’s personal credit score. The personal credit score can impact the business and is linked until the business is officially separated and established as an LLC.

Many small businesses start out using the owner’s personal credit score to secure early financing, which is a necessary step. It’s recommended that you separate your business from personal credit as soon as you can to keep both pristine. 

If you’re years into your business and your business credit score is less-than-stellar, some services may take your personal credit score into account. Taking care of your personal credit score can bail you out if you let your business credit fall apart. By keeping things up on the personal credit side of things, you can have a great plan B for your business and stay on track for your personal goals.

Your personal credit score is reported on a scale of 350-850, and you’re entitled to one free credit report a year for you to know what you can work on or fix to have a healthy profile.

D&B PAYDEX Score

The D&B PAYDEX Score is reported by Dun & Bradstreet, a business credit bureau. With a scale of 1-100, 100 being a perfect payment history, it’s slightly simpler than personal credit to gauge where you’re at off the bat.

While your social security number is associated with your personal credit and your EIN number with your business credit, you also need a D-U-N-S number to access your D&B PAYDEX Score.

With the special calculations that Dun & Bradstreet use, paying your bills on time, and especially early, is key and can work in your favor. If you only pay your bills on their due date, the highest rating you can get is 80, 100-rated payments are those that are made 30 days early. If you want a credit score that takes into account your early payments, the PAYDEX Score is one to keep an eye on.

FICO® LiquidCredit® Small Business Scoring Service℠

Your FICO® LiquidCredit® Small Business Scoring Service℠ (SBSS score) can help you get some more favorable financing, since it takes into account many business factors.

While having any of your credit ratings high is always excellent, the SBA (Small Business Administration) requires a SBSS score to consider your business for an SBA loan. SBA loans can, depending on the amount, come without much required collateral and with more desirable rates and terms.

PAYDEX scores come on a scale of 1-100, the SBSS score ranges from 0-300. Most lenders set their minimum score at 160, but the SBA reportedly sets their minimum at 140. By working to get your score above the minimum, you can open up your ability to get solid financing and grow your business.

Experian Intelliscore

Experian’s Intelliscore attempts to determine the likelihood of serious delinquency by your business for the next twelve months, all based on the business data available. Just like the PAYDEX score, the Intelliscore is measured on a 1-100 scale, a credit score rating of 1 being the highest risk, 100 being the lowest.

The Intelliscore is determined by over commercial and owner variables including tradeline and collection information, recent credit inquiries, public filings, new account activity, key financial ratios and other performance indicators.

If you can come to your lender with a solid Intelliscore, you can potentially put their minds at ease and secure more favorable rates and terms than you would otherwise.

How to build business credit

You’ve worked hard for your business credit score—how can you make sure it stays strong? Once you’ve begun establishing business credit, you can take the following precautions to make sure your credit score stays healthy. 

  • Monitor your credit: If you notice an unexplained dip or new item on your credit report, address it directly. You’ll be able to catch identity theft, fraud, and other concerns much more rapidly before they affect your future.
  • Dispute issues: Sometimes collections and missed payments are mistakenly recorded and show up on your credit report. If you believe they are in error, don’t hesitate to reach out and file a dispute. It could help you improve your score and identify fraud. 
  • Separate business & personal: Converting your small business to an LLC can help you separate your personal credit from the business, which can protect your business from any changes in personal credit that might negatively impact your ability to secure business financing. 
  • Pay early: Set up all of your accounts to auto-pay early, so you have time to catch any complications that could lead to a late payment. Not only does paying early help you avoid the late payment punishments, it also shows you are a reliable business owner. Paying early prevents hits to your score and actually improves your business credit score. 
  • Manage business credit card use: Carefully monitor who has access to business credit within your company, and set enforceable budgets that keep you well within your comfortable limits. 

Your business credit score is well worth the time and effort it takes for establishing, monitoring, and improving. As you build business credit you will be able to seize the opportunities that come you way.

How to check my business credit score?

In order to see your business credit scores you’ll need to check with the business credit reporting bureaus. For the D&B Paydex score you’ll need a D-U-N-S number in addition to your Employer Identification Number.

Your lender will calculate your FICO SBSS score based on a variety of factors such as age and size of business, and the scores available from other credit bureaus. You can find this score by working with an SBA-approved lender. 

You can request a business credit report from Experian and Equifax. The report will show your score as well as the contributing factors that inform that score. You can usually request a report once a year, or you can ask to see the report when it’s pulled for financing by a vendor or lender.

As part of our mission to make money smarter, Divvy reports customer credit performance to the Small Business Financial Exchange (SBFE®). That means you can use Divvy to build your business credit history and credit score for your business simply by paying on time. Learn how Divvy can help build your credit or see for yourself and request a demo of Divvy.

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