Commercial Credit Scores and Reports 

Find out why your commercial scores & reports can help grow your business faster.

Updated October 20, 2020

Nowadays, businesses are more reliant on credit financing to grow their business.However, many business owners keep forgetting that banks and other non-traditional lenders are using commercial credit scores and reports to help them determine the interest and amount of loans to offer. 

Say you’re a small-business owner and you need a little help from vendors in the form of a trade credit. If you have a good commercial credit score, you could work out a deal in which you don’t pay a penny up-front for goods, and when the goods land on your doorstep, you get a trade credit for, say, 60 days. That means you don’t have to pay up for two months.

What is a commercial credit score?

A commercial credit score is a numerical snapshot of your business’ creditworthiness. In other words, the score is a barometer of a risk of skipping out on paying bills and other monetary obligations in the short-term. For financing, commercial credit lines and bank loans, and trade credit from vendors, your business’s commercial credit score is key.

Commercial credit agencies devise the credit scores and base them on factors like your business’ credit obligations, repayment track record with lenders and vendors, number of business tradelines, tax liens, judgments, bankruptcies; how long the company has been in business, how big and what type of business it is. A high score shows your business has paid its bills on time over time, a bad score puts your business in the deadbeat category.



Why do I need a commercial credit score?

Reeling in financing

Banks will use such scores, as one of many factors, to give either a thumbs up or thumbs down on making you a loan. They, of course, could also look at what goes into the score itself, including the content of the commercial credit reports such as extreme payment delinquencies, collections, tax liens, bankruptcies and judgments.

Getting trade credit

With a high commercial credit score, you can get good terms from your suppliers and vendors to buy on credit. A good score could snare your business a big, fat line of credit, with payment due weeks after you make the purchase. A lousy score may doom your business to paying your vendor cash on delivery, or it could force you to personally guarantee the purchases your business makes. A Dun & Bradstreet score, for example, shows if your business pays suppliers and vendors on time.

Working in the big time

If you have your heart set on dealing with Big Business or the government,  you can bet on the fact that they may look up your commercial credit score and require you to have a minimum score.  Look at it this way: Say you want to sell to Walmart. It will probably require a good credit score, at minimum, before it does business with you. And, what’s more, if you don’t keep that score healthy, you may be asked to clean up your act or be dropped.



Dun & Bradstreet commercial credit scores (PAYDEX)

Dun & Bradstreet is responsible for the PAYDEX score, which shows how a business paid its bills over the past year, based on feedback from a business’ vendors. The scores are zero to 100, with 80 and higher being seen as a sign of good credit and 100 indicating a flawless payment track record to that extent that a business has consistently paid suppliers 30 days in advance. 

To put together a score your business, Dun & Bradstreet gets information from your business’ suppliers and vendors over 12 months. The bureau checks on how timely your payments are to each vendor and supplier. What’s more, the score is weighted based on dollars, e.g., how many transactions per vendor and the value of each one. 

Vendors and suppliers look at this score to figure out what terms to extend on trade credit (e.g., it’s better to get 60 days with no cash upfront than 30 days). Lenders and creditors also check your PAYDEX score before extending lines of credit or making loans to your business. (A score of 75 should make getting this kind of financing almost a shoo-in.)

Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX
Commercial Credit Score Rating Range 

Experian Intelliscore Plus℠
Commercial Credit Score Rating Range 

Experian commercial credit scores (Intelliscore Plus℠)

Experian is one of the largest U.S. credit bureaus and the creator of Intelliscore Plus℠. The bureau uses credit data of you and your business to assess the risk of your business defaulting over the next 12 months, and then it assigns a score. Scores range from 1 to 100:  lower scores, 1 to 10, for example, signal a higher risk of default,  and high scores, 76 to 100, a low risk of late or non-payments.

A lot goes into figuring out Intelliscore Plus score —  Experian uses statistical modeling of more than 800 commercial and owner variables, such as trade line and collection information, recent credit inquiries, public filings, new-account activity, key financial ratios and other financial performance indicators.

 

Experian pays a lot of attention to:

  • Payment history:  How many times has your account been late and what percentage of accounts are currently delinquent
  • Frequency: How often your accounts have ended up in collection, how many liens and judgments you have, any business or personal bankruptcies, payment pattern information  
  • Monetary: How you use your credit — have you maxed it out? have you used it?

Equifax commercial credit scores

Equifax is another major credit reporting bureau that offers consumer and small business credit reports and scores. Equifax has a trio of credit scores for businesses: the payment index, the credit risk score and the business failure score.

Payment index (zero to 100): This is a distillation of vendor and creditor data that shows if your business has been paying its bills on time. This score, however, does not predict future payment behavior.

Commercial credit risk (101 to 992): This measures of risk of your business becoming extremely delinquent. It takes into account your business’s size, available credit on revolving credit lines, how long it’s been since you opened your oldest financial account, delinquencies on vendor invoices or those charged off for more than two billing cycles.

Business failure (1,000 to 1,610): This measures the risk of your business shuttering in the next 12 months. A lower score would mean that your business has a strong likelihood of going bust.

Equifax Business Credit Scores Ranges 

FICO SBSS℠
Commercial Credit Score Rating Range 

FICO commercial credit scores (SBSS)

FICO is not for consumer credit alone. Fair Isaac Co. (FICO for short) creates the small business credit score, the Small Business Scoring Service (SBSS) score. Getting a good score can ease the way for your business to get financing. 

The SBSS score may be a bit mysterious to the general public. Banks don’t have to reveal that they are using it, for example. However, lenders rely on this score because it helps them make fast (in hours) decisions on lending to businesses. That government lender, the Small Business Administration (SBA), uses this SBSS score to screen for loans.

SBSS scores range from zero to 300, and are typically in play for term loans and lines of credit for up to $1 million. A score ranks small businesses on how likely they are to make payments on time. Like personal credit scores, FICO SBSS rank-orders small businesses by their likelihood of making payments on time. The closer to 300 you get, the better. The SBA loan requires minimum score is 140. Banks, however, typically have 160 minimum score.

The SBSS score reflects personal and commercial credit history, including a track record of on-time  payments to vendors and suppliers. Factors include how long your business has been around, how many employees it has, its revenues, assets and other financial information.

Factors impacting commercial credit scores

Factors that affect your company credit score positively

Say your commercial credit track record is not the best and your score is in the proverbial basement. What can you do to boost that credit score and make it good to excellent?

   

  

Start making your payments on time.

Your business’s payment habits and history are major factors in the health of your credit. Over time, paying bills on time will show that your business pays its debts. On-time payment will improve your score and tells lenders, vendors and suppliers that your business is a good bet. 

   

  

Keep your debt-to-income ratio in check.

The more your business is knee-deep in debt, the less disposable income your business has. If that debt inches close to or surpasses your businesses income, then your business will be seen as high risk. So, watch out for your business’s debts, don’t let them get out of hand, and then faithfully pay them down so your income-debt ratio won’t get out of whack.

   

  

Use your credit.

Opening and using commercial credit accounts can help you extend available credit and up that credit score.

   

 

Keep a healthy personal credit profile.

Credit bureaus may look at your personal credit score, even if you keep your personal and business finances separate (remember the Intelliscore Plus score? It gets personal). So, stay current with your personal bills, avoid unnecessary credit inquiries and don’t use your personal credit for business needs.

   

 

Review your credit reports. 

Keep on top of  your personal and commercial credit reports. That way, you can catch possible trouble spots and stay knowledgeable about what’s in that credit profile. 

 

Factors that affect your company credit score negatively

Commercial credit, however, doesn’t take care of itself. You as an owner must be extra-careful to avoid doing things that will hurt it.

   

    

Do not ignore red flags in your commercial credit report.

Check you credit reports monthly to see that they do not have errors. Errors can sink a good credit rating.

   

  

Do not miss payments or pay late.

A key component of your commercial credit score is your payment history. If you pay late or skip payments, this information will lower your credit score.

   

     

Do not max out your credit cards.

Doing this will up your credit-use ratio and this is not a good thing for your credit rating. Why? Credit agencies expect a business should use only 30 percent of its credit card limits. Use more and banks may think your business is in a financial mess.

   

 

Do not let your credit cards gather dust.

Use your credit cards because this will establish a credit history that, in turn, will build your credit score. And see that at least one transaction is reported to credit reporting agencies, showing that you pay on time.

    

    

Do not close old credit accounts.

Canceling old credit cards could lower your commercial credit score. Eliminating them would also eliminate the history of good credit that had  helped build your business’s good credit score.

    

 

Do not open new credit accounts too often. Don’t be too eager.

Opening too many accounts in no time flat will ding your credit rating because it will lower the average account age (not good) and many inquiries will be made about these newbie accounts (also not good).

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Commercial credit report vs. commercial credit score: What’s the difference?

Commercial credit reports 

A commercial credit report is created when commercial credit bureaus track trade credit, such as buy now/pay later deals with your suppliers, and other financial activities. These reports have data such as financial information, banking, trade and collection history, liens, judgment and bankruptcies. There are limits to the information in these reports, however. Only debt associated with your business’s federal tax identification number appears. Personal lines of credit do not show up. And it’s up to your commercial creditors to send information about business loans or lines of credit (aka trade credit) to the reporting bureaus. Yes, it’s all voluntary reporting here. 

Commercial credit scores

A credit score ranks your business’s creditworthiness​. A good score is crucial to getting the green light for financing and trade credit, as well as qualifying for lower rates on insurance and loans. Strong commercial credit scores are also the key to getting your business OK’d for trade credit and financing. Commercial credit reporting bureaus have different ways of scoring your business: some scores range from zero to 100 (with 100 as tops, zero as a nadir), other scores range from zero (still excruciatingly bad) to 300 (yay! excellent).

The culprits. Dun & Bradstreet, Experian and Equifax are among credit reporting bureaus that generate commercial credit scores and reports.

How are commercial credit scores calculated at different reporting agencies?

Each credit reporting bureaus has its own way of coming up with a commercial credit score. Here are the differences.

Dun & Bradstreet commercial credit score rating ranges

This bureau uses information on how your business has paid its bills, aka past payment performance, to devise your business’s score. Called the PAYDEX score, it starts at zero (bad, bad) and ends at 100 (excellent).

Experian commercial credit score rating ranges

This bureau doesn’t stop at one credit score. Instead, it has three: payment index, the credit risk score and the business failure score.

The payment index, from zero to 100, indicates your business’s payment history, and is derived from assessing your payment record with vendors and creditors.

The commercial credit score, from 101 to 992, measures your business’s risk of delinquency and is derived from the bureau looking at the size your business, available credit, age of financial accounts and payment history to vendors.

The business failure score, from 1,000 to 1,610, indicates the risk of your business shutting its doors in the next year. The lower the score, the greater the risk (e.g., zero means you are bankrupt). The bureau looks at how old your oldest financial account is.

Equifax commercial credit score rating ranges

This bureau assigns a business a commercial credit score and, like PAYDEX, it goes from zero (bad) to 100 (excellent). Equifax, however, looks at way more than your business’s payment track record; it sifts through data on your business’s credit history with vendors and lenders, court filings, how big your business is and how long it’s been around, and information found in public records and collection agencies (liens, judgments, bankruptcies and the like).

FICO Small Business Scoring Service (SBSS) credit score rating ranges

This service produces the Small Business Scoring Service, or SBSS, score. Scores are from zero to 300, and most lenders require a minimum score of 160 for a business to be in the running for financing. It weighs a variety of factors, such as personal and commercial credit history, how long your business has exists, how many employees it has, its revenues and assets.

Banks and other lenders can use different approaches in coming up with an SBSS model, like emphasizing some factors and minimizing others.

How often do credit scores change?

Does a commercial credit score change hourly, daily, monthly, too often?

The answer is simple. Your credit score changes when new information appears on your commercial credit report.

Here’s how it works:

Data, data, data. Commercial credit reports have data reported by creditors, including  credit card companies, vendors, banks, to name a few. Most creditors voluntarily update credit reporting agencies every month. Remember, though: vendors, creditors and the like are not required to supply information for such agencies for  commercial credit reports.

A changing story. The commercial credit score changes depending the story the data tell, data that includes  things like payment history, outstanding debt, company size, company age, and industry type (and mostly, industry risk). Let’s say your business has had a sterling on-time payment history; then, one year, your business starts to tank and you have a string of late payments. If reported to the credit bureau, your credit score could change (probably downward) in a matter of weeks.

Why should I monitor my commercial credit score?

Credit reports and scores are key to the health of your business. They will affect the kind of  loans or commercial credit cards you can get and their interest rates, insurance premiums and what you pay for your business supplies. Creditors will also be looking at your credit reports, and as a result, can drop you like a hot potato if your commercial credit score gets too low.

Monitoring your commercial credit score keeps you in the know about how your business is doing, and can be the key to avoiding disaster.  By monitoring your credit score consistently, you can catch and address changes to your rating before they affect future dealings. Also, regular checking is a good way to spot identity theft early before it escalates. Also, you can catch any errors. 

You can pay to see your credit score several times a year or you can pay companies like Dun & Bradstreet, Experian or Equifax for credit monitoring services.

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