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A Complete Guide to Business Credit Scores

June 24, 2022

Like individuals, businesses also receive a credit score.

If you intend on getting financing for your business, you must prioritize understanding how to access, read, and improve your business credit scores and reports.

What is a business credit score?

A business credit score is a numerical measure that indicates how responsible and creditworthy a company is.

With a higher score, you will pay less interest on financing and have a greater chance of being approved.

Three major credit bureaus are responsible for calculating these scores: Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax, and Experian.

Each bureau collects the company's financial history to assign a credit score based on its unique criteria. Since the FICO algorithm calculates personal credit scores, it is one of the main differences between business and personal credit scores.

Main factors of business credit scores

Personal credit scores are primarily calculated based on credit history, but the business credit scores are determined by:

  1. Industry risk: your company’s industry can reduce your score even if it is financially sound with a strong business plan.
  2. Company size: gets assessed in terms of revenues and assists in calculating the business credit score. Company revenue helps calculate the debt-to-income ratio and cash flow to ensure a business pays its bills on time and meets financial obligations.
  3. Payment history: paying your bills on time keeps your business credit score high, so avoid collection referrals or liens, as these can affect your score for up to seven years.
  4. Credit history age: a business that has been operational for several years is more reliable than a brand-new business. Having a positive track record over time will boost your business credit score.
  5. Credit utilization: the credit bureaus will analyze how many lines of credit or loans your company has. Overusing them will likely affect your business credit score. Fund&Grow advises keeping business credit card debt below 40% utilization before applying for any additional financing.

How to acquire business credit scores

Unlike personal credit scores, you must request your business credit scores directly from the three major credit bureaus.

Each bureau will have its own system and pricing to collect your scores and reports.

Dun&Bradstreet

Dun&Bradstreet charges $61.99 to collect a company’s credit report. Their system generates three scores: a Paydex score, commercial credit score, and financial stress score.

The Paydex score ranges 0-100, the commercial credit score ranges 100-670, and the financial stress score ranges 1,001-1,610.

In the case of all these scores, the higher the score is, the better.

Equifax

Equifax charges a wide range of report packages, starting at $99.95. They also provide three scores, including a payment index score, credit risk score, and business failure score.

The payment index score ranges from 0-100 and reflects how many payments have been timely.

Secondly, the business credit risk score ranges from 101-992 and analyzes the likelihood of your business becoming severely delinquent on payments. It measures many aspects to determine this, such as company size, available credit, length of time since the oldest financial account opened, and so on.

The business failure score ranges from 1,000-1,610 and assesses the likelihood of the business failing within the next 12 months.

A rating of 0 in any of these areas would suggest the company has gone bankrupt.

Experian

Experian offers business credit reports that collect data on payment trends, account histories, and public records of a company to determine a score.

This score ranges from 0-100 to determine the likelihood of a company becoming delinquent on its payments.

The scoring system ranges suggest the following:

  • 100-76 - a company is at low risk of delinquency
  • 75-51 - a low to medium risk of delinquency
  • 50-26 - a medium risk of delinquency
  • 25-11 - a medium to high risk of delinquency
  • 10-1 - a high delinquency risk

While a higher score is preferred, there are ways to improve a lower score.

How to improve your business credit scores

Improving your scores starts with regularly monitoring them.

Many do not know they exist or how to access them, but you cannot afford to ignore them when managing your business.

Once you have collected your reports, use these tips to increase your scores:

  • Keep business and personal finances separate
  • Make payments on time or early
  • Reduce the overall debt-to-income ratio
  • Work to remove any derogatory remarks

All in all, your business credit scores are necessary to secure business financing, and neglecting them will not get you very far.

Instead, monitor them closely to gather a clear understanding of how your business is portrayed in the eyes of a lender to get you the best financing options at the cheapest rates, saving your company thousands.

 

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