While there are a number of other business credit reporting agencies out there, D&B, Experian, and Equifax are known as the big three. Not surprisingly, they are the largest and most commonly used. As such, their reports have an influence on lenders when it comes to making lending decisions. This means that it is vital to your business to monitor your credit score with these companies. How do you do that? What does your score even mean? What else are the reports telling lenders?
Monitor Your Credit Score and Understand What It is Telling Lenders
Your business needs funding to survive. Of course, your business credit score plays a huge role in the fundability of your business. If you do not understand your score and the rest of the report however, you can’t do anything about it. You have to know what reports the CRAs are showing lenders, what is on them, and how they are used. To do this, you have to monitor your credit score.
Monitor Your Credit Score: Dun & Bradstreet
Dun & Bradstreet offers a number of business credit reports. In fact, there are six in all. Each contains varying information that is meant to alert lenders to your creditworthiness, or lack thereof.
The PAYDEX is the report lenders use most often. Likely, this is because it is most similar to the consumer FICO. It measures payment history on a scale of 1 to 100. A 70 or higher is acceptable. For context, a score of 100 shows payments are made in advance. A score of 1 indicates that they are 120 day, or more, past due.
The other Dun & Bradstreet Credit Reports include:
Dun and Bradstreet Delinquency Predictor Score
The delinquency predictor score measures how likely it is that the company will not pay,
will be late paying, or will fall into bankruptcy. On a scale of 1 to 5, a 2 is good.
Financial Stress Score
As you might imagine, the financial stress score measures pressure on the balance sheet. As a result, it shows how likely the company is to shut down within 12 months. These scores range from 5 to 1, and a score of 2 is good.
Supplier Evaluation Risk Rating
This one ranks the odds of a company surviving for a year. The minimum score is a 9 and the
maximum is 1. A good score is 5.
Credit Limit Recommendation
As its name indicates, this is a recommendation that reflects a business’s borrowing capacity. Even more, it is a guide for how much debt a company can handle. Typically, creditors use this to
determine how much credit to extend.
D&B Credit Rating
This is a rating that ranks business risk on a scale of one to four. A score of 2 is good. The rating is
given in conjunction with letters, the combination of which indicate a company’s net worth.
Monitor Your Business Credit: Experian Commercial
Experian uses what it calls Intelliscore for its ranking. This involves more than 800 unique factors combined to predict a company’s credit risk. With Intelliscore, a score of 76 or higher indicates a low risk of default. If a score falls between 51 to 75, it shows a low to medium risk. Scores from 26 to 50 are medium risk. Lastly, from 25 down to 1 is medium high to high risk.
Experian offers a number of other scores including:
The Intelliscore Plus is a predictive percentile score that indicates the likelihood that a business will be seriously delinquent, or have a major financial issue, in the next year.
It uses more even more factors to calculate a score than the original Intelliscore. Payment history still accounts for 5 to 10%. However, current payment status, trade balances, and percent of accounts delinquent make up 50 to 60% of the score. Credit utilization, company profile, age of the business, industry risk, and public records account for the rest. Public records include:
- other derogatory items
Data comes from suppliers, lenders, legal filings, collection agencies, credit card companies, and of course public records.
- The Experian Financial Stability Risk Score (FSR)
This predicts the potential of a business defaulting on its obligations or going bankrupt. The score identifies high risk businesses using public records. These records include high use of credit lines, severely delinquent payments, tax liens, judgments, collection accounts, risk industries, length of time in business, etc.
- Experian’s Blended Score
This is a one pager that provides a quick look at the business and its owner. A combined business-owner credit scoring model is more comprehensive than a business only or consumer only model. Blended scores have been found to outperform consumer or business alone by 10 – 20%.
Monitor Your Credit Score: Equifax Business
Equifax business combines financial data with industry trade data, and then adds in utility and telephone payment data. They also use public records information.
Credit scores from Equifax Business include:
The Small Business Credit Risk Score for Suppliers
This ranks on a scale 1 to 100, with 90+ indicating that a business has paid its obligations as agreed. An 80 to 89 means they are 1 to 30 days past due, 60 to 79 indicates they are 31-60 days overdue, and a score of 40 to 59 is 61 to 90 days past the date the payment was due. In the same way, score simply decrease further from this point.
Business Failure Risk Score
This score indicates the chance of a company paying its bills late on the following scale:
- 497 – 816: 25% or less chance of payment being late
- 452 – 496: 26 – 50% chance of late payment
- 415 – 451: 51 – 74% chance of late payments
- 101 – 414: 75 – 100% chance of late payments
Public Records Report
The purpose of this report is to list bankruptcies, judgments, and liens along with the amount, date of the most recent filing, and how they were satisfied.
Credit Usage Report
This is a pie chart that gives a visual of your company’s credit usage. It is a way to see in picture form what percent of your available credit you are using. That is known as your credit utilization ratio, and it has a pretty big impact on your overall credit score.
Credit Report Summary
The summary report shows the number of your business’s credit accounts, as well as the date each one became active. It also lists any amounts past due, along with your most severe status of the past 24 months.
The highest amount of credit extended, the median balance, and the average open balance are also included.
Additionally, the report lists recent activity such as number of new accounts opened recently, delinquent accounts, number of updated accounts, and inquiries.
Financial Account Highlights
This report shows details for the past 36 months, including credit accounts and leases. It lists the status, open and close dates, and original and current credit limits. It also shows any past due amount for each. In addition, the payment amount and frequency for each account, as well as its security status can be seen.
Monitor Your Credit Score: How Can You See Your Reports?
Now that you know what reports each of the big three offers, you need to know how to see what yours are telling lenders about your business. That’s the whole reason you monitor your business credit. It can help you get an idea of the fundability of your business. Unfortunately, you cannot get a free copy of your business credit reports like you can with your personal credit reports.
It costs money to monitor your business credit as a general rule.
For example, the big three charge close to $50 or more for each report, sometimes more.
However, you can monitor your credit with D&B, Equifax and Experian at a fraction of these costs with Credit Suite.
Knowing this, there are some one-time options for seeing at least some of the information on some of your credit reports for free. These typically come in the form of a free trial.
Monitor Your Credit: See Your Credit Report for Free
The only real way to get a free copy of your credit report is if you are denied a loan based on your business credit. Of course, this is not a fun way to see your business credit reports for free. After denial, you will receive a letter in the mail from the agency that provided the lender with your report. You will have the opportunity to request a free copy of the report that the lender saw, so that you can see why the result was a denial. You have 90 days to submit your request.
In addition to business loan denial, there are a few other options.
Nav is a service that will let you see a summary of your credit reports from all three of the major credit reporting agencies. However, these are only summaries, not full reports. Generally, that means you can see your score, and maybe the accounts you have listed.
While this will help you see where you stand, it will not suffice for the purpose of correcting mistakes or even to show you what you need to do to improve your score. You do have the option to pay for more information though.
While Credit.net does not offer ongoing free business credit reports, you can access a free trial. There is no credit card required, and after you pull the report, you have 30 days to check it out. This means at least once you can get a totally free look at your report, because there is no fear of missing a cancellation deadline and having to pay anyway.
This is a lesser known credit reporting agency that will let you see your credit report for free before you pay for an ongoing subscription. Unlike Nav or Credit.net, they actually calculate their own score similar to the big 3 (Experian, Equifax, and Dun & Bradstreet.) They strive to be totally transparent and to make their reports easy to understand.
Monitor Your Credit Score: What Can You Do About It?
First, if your business score contains mistakes, you can dispute them. Then, you can have the mistakes taken off. It needs to be in writing directly to the credit reporting agency. In addition, you will need to include backup documentation that supports your argument. Do not send originals however. Instead, send copies.
In contrast, if there are no mistakes but your credit is still lacking, start now making payments on time. Furthermore, ask telephone and utility accounts to report your on time payments to the CRAs. They are not required to, but some will if you ask. Additionally, ask your landlord to report your rent payments.
Also, work with starter vendors that will offer net 30 invoices without a credit check and that will report your payments. Go here to find a few to start with.
Most importantly, pay your bills on time. This is the number one way to increase your business credit score.
Monitor Your Credit Score: The More You Know the More You Grow
You can’t know how to fix a problem until you know the problem exists. This is why it is important to monitor your credit score. Once you know your score and whatever else your reports say about your business, you can figure out what to do about it. Knowing is half the battle.
Once you know what information lenders are seeing about your business, you can take action that will help you become more fundable. Maybe you need to get more diligent about making payments on time. Perhaps you need to dispute mistakes or add accounts.
Regardless, you will have no clue what you need to do if you do not monitor your credit. By keeping an eye on things, you can be sure your business has access to the funding it needs to grow and thrive.