How to check your business credit

Young business owners in their coffee shopImage: Young business owners in their coffee shop

In a Nutshell

It’s important to stay on top of your business credit. But with multiple reports and scores out there, it can be difficult to know exactly how to do that. To check your business credit, you first need to know that there are several business credit bureaus.
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The sooner you start monitoring your business credit, the sooner you can work on building a healthy credit history that can help your business secure partnerships, financing and more.

Did you know that any company can access your business credit reports? This means that when your potential partners and investors are deciding whether to do business with you, they can pay to see your business credit reports to check if your business uses credit responsibly and meets its financial obligations.

And your business credit history affects more than just your relationships with vendors and partners. It can also play a big part in the interest rates you get on financing, or drive your monthly insurance premiums up or down.

So it’s important to stay on top of your business credit. But with multiple reports and scores out there, it can be difficult to know how exactly to do that. Here’s how to check your business credit reports and scores from three of the major business credit bureaus.

Dun & Bradstreet

Dun & Bradstreet, or D&B, generates both reports and scores for businesses that have credit files with them. But you’ll need to put in a bit of work to create this file, or it could appear incomplete.

Check your D-U-N-S Number

To build a complete credit file through D&B, you first need a D-U-N-S Number, a nine-digit identifying number for your business. D&B may have already created one for your company, but if not, you can get this for free in up to 30 business days through D&B’s site. You can also expedite this and get it in five business days when you set up a CreditBuilder Plus account for $149 a month.

Free options

If you don’t want to pay the monthly fee, you can get a free CreditSignal account. With CreditSignal, you won’t get unlimited access to your report, but you will get a monthly summary of changes to your business credit file along with other alerts and services.

D&B also generates a number of business credit scores and ratings including Paydex scores. With CreditBuilder Plus, you get unlimited access to them. Or you can opt for CreditSignal again. While a CreditSignal subscription doesn’t include access to scores, it does give you notice when your scores change.

You can also get your Paydex score for free if you sign up for an account with Nav, a credit monitoring company that focuses on business credit.

What is a good business credit score?

Business credit score calculators use a variety of scoring ranges, so the definition of a “good” score can be subjective.

D&B offers multiple business credit scores. Its Paydex score, which measures payment history, ranges from 1 to 100, with higher scores reflecting better credit. A score of 80 to 100 means your business represents the best credit risk.

Equifax also has multiple business credit scores, each one using different ranges and representing a different element of risk. In at least one of these calculators, a lower score actually means your business has had stronger payment performance.

Equifax Business

Equifax Business Credit Reports may also be used in business financing decisions.

For $99.99, you can pull one Equifax report and get access to your Equifax Business Credit Risk Score and Equifax Business Failure Score. You can also buy your information in a bundle of five reports for $399.95, which breaks down to $79.99 each.

Experian Business 

Like Equifax, Experian also offers either a one-time report and scores or the option to subscribe to ongoing monitoring. For $39.95, you can pull one business credit report and see your Experian business credit scores. For ongoing access to both your reports and scores, you can pay $179 a year.

You can also sign up with Nav to check your Experian Business Credit Scores for free.

Bottom line

As a busy entrepreneur, monitoring business credit or even personal credit may be low on your list of priorities. But at the drop of a hat, you could find your business in need of financing, and both your business credit and your personal credit history could open doors — or present roadblocks.

Monitoring your personal credit reports for information about your business credit (which can sometimes appear on both types of reports) is a great way to start building up a strong profile. The earlier you get started, the better your position when your business is in need.

About the author: Sarah C. Brady is a San Francisco–based financial consultant, workshop facilitator and writer. In addition to writing for Credit Karma, Sarah writes for Experian, LendingTree, Magnify Money, MSN News and more. In her … Read more.