D&B Rating: What it is and where to find it

Business owner/barista confident in her business's D&B RatingImage: Business owner/barista confident in her business's D&B Rating

In a Nutshell

A D&B Rating measures your company’s size and creditworthiness. Lenders and suppliers may use this rating to decide whether to do business with your company.
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If you’ve ever applied for a business loan or contract, there’s a chance your potential business lenders or partners have looked at your business’s D&B Rating.

This rating provides a high-level view of your company’s financial strength and creditworthiness. It’s generated by Dun & Bradstreet (sometimes abbreviated as DnB), a commercial credit-reporting bureau. It’s one of several types of scores and ratings for your business that Dun & Bradstreet creates. Your business’s D&B Rating allows potential business partners to size you up so that they know if you’re reliable and capable of following through with your potential business dealings.

It can be a good idea to keep tabs on your business’s D&B Rating so that you can know where you stand. That way, you won’t be stymied by a surprise rating that could impact you the next time you need to apply for credit.

Read on to find out more about the D&B Rating and how it can affect your business dealings.

What is a D&B Rating?

There are several business-specific credit-reporting bureaus, and among these contenders, Dun & Bradstreet is one of the oldest and most recognized. It’s often the business credit bureau that some of the bigger lenders turn to when they’re assessing the risk of lending to or working with a business.

When someone wants to check your business credit report, they may turn to D&B and pay a fee to see the report that the bureau generates. A D&B business credit report can include several factors, such as …

  • Your business’s payment history
  • A comparison of how your business stands within your industry
  • An evaluation of your company’s financial stability

One of the most important details, however, is the D&B Rating.

The D&B Rating is made up of two parts. 

Financial strength: Listed as a code or a rating classification, this is a measure of your company’s financial strength as judged by your business’s net worth, equity or size. This can range from HH ($4,999 or less) all the way up to 5A ($50 million or more), or 1R to 2R when the rating is based on company size.

Composite credit appraisal: The composite credit appraisal measures your business’s creditworthiness on a 1–4 scale. The lower the number, the better. Dun & Bradstreet assigns your business the number based on its analysis of factors like your payment history, financial statements, number of employees and any relevant public records available.

Together, these two measurements give an at-a-glance assessment of your business’s creditworthiness based on financial resources and company size.

How does Dun & Bradstreet generate your D&B Rating?

Dun & Bradstreet generates the various D&B credit ratings and scores for your business based on information the company itself provides, public records and other relevant information about the company.

If you’ve never submitted a financial statement to Dun & Bradstreet, there won’t be a full D&B Rating available for your business. But Dun & Bradstreet may still be able to generate a limited rating.

In this case, your business receives a rating classification based on company size of 1R (if your business has 10 employees or more) or 2R (if your business has fewer than 10 employees).

Your business may also receive a composite credit appraisal even if you haven’t submitted a financial statement, but you won’t be eligible to receive a 1 rating. The highest composite credit appraisal you’d be eligible for would be a 2.

Where else does the data come from to generate your business’s D&B Rating?

Some lenders and suppliers report your payment information to Dun & Bradstreet. Businesses that do this help boost the positive payment data listed on your own business’s D&B credit report (assuming you do, of course, pay on time).

How to find your D&B Rating

If you’re willing to shell out some cash, you can look up another company’s D&B Rating by purchasing a business credit report from Dun & Bradstreet. It offers several types of credit reports based on how comprehensively you’re looking to scope out a business.

You can also monitor your own business credit profile for free with Dun & Bradstreet’s CreditSignal program. This won’t allow you to view your D&B business credit report for free, but it will notify you when there are changes to your D&B business credit report and when someone else pulls your report.

To view your own business’s D&B Rating, you can sign up for a more comprehensive credit-monitoring plan for a cost.

Bottom line

A lot can ride on your business’s D&B Rating, especially if you plan to borrow money or go after high-value contracts.

If you’ve got big plans like these, it may be a good idea to focus on your rating and other business credit scores so that when someone wants to make sure your business is up to the task, you can prove that it is.

About the author: Lindsay VanSomeren is a freelance writer living in Kirkland, Washington. She has been a professional dogsled racer, a wildlife researcher, and a participant in the National Spelling Bee. She writes for websites such a… Read more.