How to Establish a Credit File for Your Business

6 min read

Executive Summary

The first step in building business credit is to make sure that you have a business credit file. You'll have to establish one with the three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and Dun & Bradstreet. Here's how, and what to do once you have a credit file.

Disclaimer: Our first priority is giving you the best financial advice for your business. Tillful may receive compensation from our partners, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions or recommendations in the content on our website. Editorial note

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Have you been wondering how to build credit for your business? It can seem confusing at first. You may wonder which bureaus monitor business credit, what they look for, and how to get started. Well, not to worry — we’re here to help. One of the most important steps is to establish business credit files with the three major business credit bureaus. You can’t build business credit without a credit file!

Read on to learn:


Which business credit bureaus should I register with?

The three major business credit bureaus you should register with are Experian, Equifax, and Dun and Bradstreet (D&B). Experian and Equifax probably sound familiar because they provide personal credit scores as well.

All three of these credit bureaus collect information on your payment activity from business credit card issuers, lenders, bank account issuers, utility service providers, suppliers, and vendors — just to name a few. They also consider data from court filings, collection agencies, and public records. Your business credit scores and reports will depend largely on your payment history with the reporting parties.

Pro tip: Lenders and other parties may or may not report to one or more of the business credit bureaus. It’s a good idea to check first when you’re trying to build credit.

While these three are the most prominent business credit bureaus in the U.S., they aren’t the only ones providing business credit scores. Tillful, for example, monitors your business’s credit and provides you with a free credit score daily. Further, the FICO Small Business Scoring Service℠ (FICO® SBSS℠ score) is commonly checked by traditional and Small Business Association (SBA) lenders. It’s a score that ranges from 0 to 300 and is based on a combination of your personal credit history, business credit history (from the above-mentioned bureaus), and business financials. There is no action required on your part to establish a separate credit file with FICO SBSS.

Do You Have a Business Credit File?

Not sure if you have business credit files on record yet? You can check with each of the three major business credit bureaus. However, the process will be different with each one. Here’s what to expect:

  • Experian has a search tool that lets you type in any business’s name, city, state, and country to view the available credit report options. If your business doesn’t exist in the system, no business results will come up.
  • Equifax only allows business owners to check their own business’s credit report. To check yours, you’ll need to contact customer service over the phone or through the online form.
  • Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) offers a search tool on its website where you can check if any business is registered in its system.

If you find that you have business credit files with the three main business credit bureaus, you can move ahead with checking your credit reports. However, if you don’t, you’ll need to take a few steps to establish them.

How to Establish a Business Credit File

Similar to how each business credit bureau has its own way of checking credit files, they also have their own procedures for establishing them. Here’s what you need to know.


Experian: Traditional Method

If you don’t yet have an Experian business credit file, you’ll need to complete the following steps first.

  • Legally register your business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Open a business bank account
  • Set up a business phone line that’s listed

If you’re not automatically listed after taking these steps, you can contact Experian to request that the company creates a listing for you. From there, tradelines that report to Experian can help you build a robust report that builds your credit history and score.

Experian: Establish a Credit File With Tillful

Another option is to download the Tillful iOS app. Tillful has partnered with Experian so you can see the latest Experian Intelliscore Plus V3 module right under your Tillful score. For those that don‘t have an Experian credit file yet, you‘ll see a tab pop-up that lets you apply.

Pro Tip: Experian business credit reports start at $39.95 but the Tillful app covers part of that expense for you — providing you with your Experian business credit score at no cost to you! You’ll still need to pay to see your detailed credit report (and you can do that in-app as well).


Equifax will only have a credit report for your business if you have established tradelines that report to the company. Being so, you won’t be able to register directly with Equifax. However, if you want to establish an Equifax credit report, you can ask lenders, vendors, suppliers, etc. if they report to Equifax and open accounts with those that do.

Dun and Bradstreet (D&B)

If your company doesn‘t show up in D&B’s directory, the next step is to get a D-U-N-S number on the company‘s website. Before you can, D&B will perform a check to make sure you don‘t have one already. If you don’t, you’ll be taken through an online process to set one up and establish your credit file. What does that involve?

  1. You’ll need to choose one of D&B‘s credit reporting packages (which range from free to $399 per year).
  2. You’ll create an account and provide both personal and business information.
  3. You’ll also need to attach at least two legal documents where your business’s name and address are clearly stated (e.g. utility bill, EIN registration, articles of incorporation document, business insurance policy, etc.).

That’s it! From there, you submit your request and wait for your D-U-N-S number.

Keep Building Business Credit With Secured Credit Cards

Once you have business credit files with the three major credit bureaus, it’s time to start using credit responsibly. A good place to start is with a secured credit card in your business’s name that reports the three credit bureaus.

Pro tip: To get the biggest benefit from a secured card, ensure you only use up to 30% of your credit limit and avoid late payments.

You can also look into business loans, financing from suppliers or vendors, or another type of credit that suits your business’s needs. However, remember to choose credit providers that report to one or more of the major credit bureaus. Further, be sure to make your payments on time as tradelines can only help to build your business’s creditworthiness if you manage them responsibly.

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About the author

Jessica Walrack

Written by Jessica Walrack

Jessica Walrack is a personal and business finance writer who has written hundreds of articles over the past eight years about loans, insurance, banking, mortgages, credit cards, budgeting, and all things credit. Her work has appeared on Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, The Balance, MSN Money, and Supermoney, among other publications. Her love of a good number breakdown and passion for making complex concepts easy to understand makes writing about finance a natural fit.

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