What is a business credit score and how does it work?

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A business credit score provides credit agencies, loan issuers, and vendors or suppliers with a general idea of how trustworthy you are when it comes to borrowing money. Just like your personal credit score, a higher business credit score tells interested parties that you’re more creditworthy. If you’re a business owner and you want to establish strong business credit, keep reading to learn more.

What is a business credit score?

A business credit score is exactly what it sounds like it would be—a credit score that applies to businesses instead of individuals. Generally speaking, business credit scores are determined using information from a business credit report, which can include company details like the number of employees a business has, historical data of the business, past payment history, account information, amounts owed and more.

When it comes to business credit scores, you’ll probably notice right away that they don’t fall on the same numerical range as personal credit scores. Most business credit scores are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100, while business scores using the FICO Small Business Scoring Service (FICO SBSS) range from 0 to 300.

Benefits of a business credit score

Building a strong business credit score can help small business owners in several different ways. For starters, having a business credit score can help you access credit for your business without leaning on your own personal credit. This means you may be able to access capital to grow your business without using your own personal credit cards or a personal loan.

Not only that, but there are distinct advantages that come with keeping your personal and business credit and finances entirely separate. For starters, keeping personal and business transactions separate can be immensely helpful when it comes time to file your taxes each year. Since the U.S. tax system requires that you keep your business and personal finances separate if you plan on deducting expenses, this separation can also help ensure your personal assets aren’t leveraged against you if your business has financial issues.

Differences between personal and business credit scores

There are plenty of differences between your personal credit score and your business credit score, including the following:

Business credit scores are on a smaller scale

While personal credit scores typically fall on a scale of 300 to 850, business credit scores are often offered on a 1 to 100 scale.

Anyone can check a business credit score

While personal credit scores are private and can only be accessed in specific situations, anyone can check a business credit score to see how a business ranks.

Business credit scores are determined using different factors

Business credit scores are determined using the following factors: payment history, age of credit history, debt and debt usage, industry risk and company size. Personal credit scores are determined using different factors: payment history, amount of debt, new credit, credit mix and average length of credit history.

Business credit scores use your Employer Identification Number (EIN)

While your personal credit score is tied to your Social Security number, your business credit score is tied to an EIN. This helps you keep your personal financial information private while you build and maintain your business credit score.

How are business credit scores calculated?

Like your personal credit score, the most important factor that makes up your business credit score is your payment history—whether you make sufficient on-time payments on your debts. Business credit scores also consider the age of your company, and you may achieve a higher score the longer you’ve been around. Debt and debt usage are also considered when figuring out a business credit score, as well as the type of industry you’re in and the size of your firm.

Keep in mind that, unlike personal credit scores that can consider multiple factors, some business credit scores only consider one. With the Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX business credit score, for example, the only factor they consider is your payment history.

How to check your business credit score

While it’s easy to get a free look at your personal credit score using a variety of platforms, the same cannot be said about business credit scores. In some cases, you’ll have to pay to see a business credit score for your own business or any other.

Here are some details on how to check your business credit score with each of the credit reporting agencies that determine business credit scores.

Dun & Bradstreet

Consider signing up for Dun & Bradstreet Credit Signal, which lets you monitor your Dun & Bradstreet business credit score for changes over time. This free program lets you track when your business profile is being accessed, and you get the chance to view four Dun & Bradstreet business credit scores and ratings for a 14-day period.

Equifax

Equifax lets you order a single business credit report for $99.95. However, you can also order a package of reports for five businesses for $399.95. You can explore these options on the Equifax website.

Experian Intelliscore Plus

Experian also lets you check your business credit score and business credit report, although how much you’ll pay depends on the plan you select. 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. The Experian website offers more details on how to get started.

How to improve your business credit

Improving your business credit involves many of the same steps you would take to boost your personal credit score. If your goal is having the best business credit score possible, consider the following moves right away:

Pay your business bills and expenses early or on time

Your payment history will likely impact your business credit score more than anything else. As a result, you should pay all your business expenses and bills early or on time.

Establish types of business credit that report trades

Also keep in mind that not all business creditors report trade lines and lines of credit. If you need to start building business credit, applying for a business credit card is a good place to start.

Use credit regularly and responsibly

Utilize your business credit as much as you can, and know that you’ll slowly build business credit as you borrow money and pay it off on time and on good terms.

Monitor your business credit score

Just like you’ll want to keep an eye on your personal credit score over time, you should monitor your business credit score for changes and updates.

Don’t max out your business credit

Experian recommends keeping your credit utilization on business credit cards and other lines of credit below 30 percent for the best results.

Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer
Holly Johnson began her career working in the funeral industry, which may make you wonder why she works in personal finance now. Yet, the funeral industry taught the author everything she needs to know about the value of one's money and time. Johnson left the mortuary business a decade ago in order to explore her passion for personal finance and travel the world, and since then, she and her husband have built a debt-free lifestyle that has them on the path to retire very wealthy in their 40s. Holly's love of budgeting also led to the creation of her debt payoff book, “Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love."