What is a Business Credit Score?
A company’s credit score can determine whether it can get financing—including bank loans, cash advances, lines of credit, and credit cards—to enable vital business activities such as payroll, equipment upgrades, and business expansion.
Business owners who check their company’s credit score details regularly are more likely to have a better understanding of their business’s finances. Tillful’s free business credit score gives you an overview of the factors affecting your company’s credit options and overall financial stability. If you’re a small business owner, you understand the need for funding options when it comes to lenders.
Our free business credit app not only allows you to check company credit score details in real-time but also matches you with credit options best suited to your business’ needs. Our wide selection of lending partners is tailored to the details of your business credit check, giving you ample opportunity to connect with potential funders who are rooting for your growth.
How is a Business Credit Score Different From a Personal Credit Score?
Your business’s credit score is based on your business’s credit profile, which is separate from your personal credit. It is tied to your employer identification number (or EIN). For Dun & Bradstreet, it’s also tied to your D-U-N-S number.
Your personal credit score, on the other hand, is tied to your social security number (SSN).
Your business credit score gives information about the creditworthiness of your business, whereas your personal credit report serves as an indicator of your personal, individual creditworthiness.
How to Establish a Business Credit File
To start building business credit, you first need to have credit history to establish your credit file. In most cases, getting a business credit card or signing up for a business account with a vendor that reports to the credit reporting agencies will result in a file being established at one or more of the bureaus.
You can easily establish a credit file with Experian when you sign up for a Tillful account and agree to share your Tillful Score.
What’s a good Business Credit Score?
Most business credit scores range from zero to 100, with most lenders requiring a minimum business credit score of 75.
The Small Business Administration (SBA), potential lenders, and your suppliers rely heavily on your business credit score when extending lines of credit and determining payment terms. Having a strong and healthy business credit score can help you in obtaining financing and on more favorable terms.
What Factors Determine a Business Credit Score?
Different credit scoring models calculate credit scores differently, based on a variety of factors.
For example, Experian Intelliscore Plus is calculated using factors such as the following:
- Business industry
- Company's size and age
- Credit utilization
- Payment history
- Derogatory items, such as liens and bankruptcies
They can also contain information about public records.
How Are Business Credit Scores Used?
Your business credit score is a key factor lenders use to determine how likely you are to pay back any money they may lend to you.
Business credit scores help:
1. Determine your borrowing power
Your business credit report and score can determine how much financing you are able to secure. Usually, better business credit means you can qualify for bigger funding amounts.
2. Determine your rates on business insurance
Some insurance providers evaluate a business owner’s credit as well as the business’s credit to determine rates on commercial insurance.
3. Get more time to pay
Vendors and suppliers may look at a business’s credit reports or scores to decide how long to give the business before payment is due for goods and services. Usually, better business credit can get you more favorable payback terms, such as the coveted Net-30 terms.
4. Determine your interest rate
Higher business credit scores can help you qualify for lower interest rates.
Different Business Credit Scores & Reporting Bureaus
Access to credit is directly affected by business credit scores, and three major business credit bureaus — Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, and Equifax — are responsible for most traditional credit reporting.
Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX Score
The Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX score is a 1-100 rating based on a company’s payment history or payment index, with higher ratings going to companies that pay bills early.
In addition to PAYDEX, D&B offers multiple other metrics to evaluate a company’s financial health as part of their business credit reports.
Equifax’s Business Credit Risk Score
Equifax uses similar data as Experian to calculate a Business Credit Risk Score that ranges from 101 to 992, with a higher score indicating lower risk. Their credit reports also include a Business Failure Score that predicts the likelihood that a company will file for bankruptcy in the next year.
Experian’s Intelliscore Plus Score
Experian’s Intelliscore Plus uses a 1-100 rating derived from the number and status of a company’s commercial accounts as well as how long they’ve had a file in Experian’s database.
A financial stability risk rating is included with the credit score in Experian’s basic credit reports.
FICO Small Business Scoring Service (SBSS)
The FICO SBSS is a unique score that pulls information from all three business credit bureaus. FICO’s SBSS scores range from 0 to 300 and a score of at least 140 is considered a good credit score. The SBA uses the SBSS scores to pre-screen applicants for its 7(a) loans and requires the following scores for loan approvals:
- An SBSS score of 140 to 160+, or;
- A personal FICO score of 620 to 640
How to Improve Your Business Credit Score
If you’re a small company owner in the US, the simple act of finding a way to keep track of your business credit score is an excellent place to start.
Here are a few key recommendations to improve your business credit score:
- Check your business (and personal) credit
- Separate business and personal finances
- Establish your business credit
- Pay your vendors and bills early
- Use your business credit to manage your cash flow
- Monitor your business credit reports
Three Key Reasons to Check Your Business Credit Score
The use of the traditional business credit scores is so commonplace that many people don’t stop to question how effectively they identify a company’s true credit risk. While traditional business credit reports contain valuable information, they suffer from several shortcomings.
Here’s how a Tillful Score can help:
Know what lenders look for: While every lender is a little different, our credit model can help you determine whether you will qualify for a credit product before you apply.
Know what is behind your number: We share the top factors that impact your score. You can focus your efforts where it counts and tape immediate steps to improve your credit profile.
Build strong business credit and financial health: With our alternative credit scoring resource, you get unfettered access to your credit score any time, along with email notifications when your score changes.
What to be Aware of with Traditional Business Credit Scores
While traditional business credit reports contain valuable information, they sometimes contain out of date or incomplete information. By regularly checking in on your credit reports, you may be able to proactively fix these errors, which may boost your business credit score. Watch out for these factors:
Incorrect or outdated information: Details of some business-to-business transactions, known as trade references, get reported to the credit agencies, but those reports can sometimes contain errors that become part of a company’s credit file. Make sure you keep on top of errors, and dispute them if you see them.
Missing tradelines: The big credit agencies often only receive trade references from a small list of companies, meaning that a lot of B2B activity never gets recorded in their database. If you notice that tradelines are missing from your report, try to get those accounts to start reporting.
Limited records if you're a young company: If your business is early-stage, you may either have no business credit record (no-file), or limited information on your business credit report (thin-file). If you notice that your file is looking sparse and dragging down your score, think about opening store accounts (like with Sam's Club) or a business credit card.
The Future of Credit Scoring
Our stance is that future credit ratings will be based more on transaction data and cash flow patterns than on historical reporting. Why? Well for one, we’ve seen a lot of industry interest in leveraging that data to allow lenders to extend credit to more businesses. In addition, many financial technology companies have already been dipping their toes in extending funding without checking business or personal credit. For example, Shopify Capital, has been lending based on the information they have about merchant transactions in their platform.
How is the Tillful Business Health Score Different?
The Tillful Business Health Score is based on real-time transaction data from credit and bank accounts. We apply our machine learning based credit model to find patterns from cash flow data in order to accurately assess business credit scores.
In addition to traditional factors, such as payment history, these cash flow patterns could include:
- Increasing or decreasing trend in your cash balance
- Irregularities in inflow and outflow
- Credit utilization trends
- Usage of overdraft facilities
- Payment delinquency
- And other factors