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Credit Monitoring 101: How to Check Business Credit

August 29, 2018
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How to Check Business Credit Like a Boss

Just like your personal credit can make or break you financially, your business credit can either help you grow your business or stifle it. You have to keep an eye on it and make certain your business credit score stays healthy. So you will need to know how to check business credit.

Why do You Need a Healthy Credit Score?

how to check business creditIt is necessary for business growth. Growth requires funding, and funding almost always requires financing. Without a healthy credit score, it is much harder to get approved for financing. Even if you do get approval, the terms are much more favorable if your business credit score is good.

Even something as simple as taking advantage of a wholesale promotional price or adding more tables to a restaurant dining room can be difficult with poor business credit.

A business that is booming is like a fire, it has to have oxygen to continue to grow. Bad business credit is like keeping your business in a vacuum. Without funding to keep the fire burning, it will fizzle and burn out.

Discover our Get Business Credit guide, with everything you need to know about building credit for your business.

A Quick Story

Imagine having a cupcake business that sells out every day in the first 30 minutes. Everyone loves the cupcakes and if you had another oven, you could make twice as many in the same amount of time to keep up with demand.

Your poor business credit means you are having issues financing a new oven, however. Your customers are getting frustrated that they you are consistently out of product when they come to your bakery. Eventually, they stop coming. Not because they don’t still love the product, but because it is a waste of time to stop if they can’t get them anyway. You cannot keep up with demand.

Your product is excellent, but your business is fizzling.

Don’t Let Bad Credit Suffocate your Business

Since you know bad business credit can cause all kinds of financial issues for your business, you can imagine how important it is to keep an eye on it. You need to know if something is negatively affecting your score. The problem is, a lot of business owners do not know how to check business credit.

There is actually more than one way to do this. The first way is to order a report from each credit agency directly. This involves nothing more than heading over to the agency website and purchasing a report.

Each agency has various price options ranging from $39.95 to $99.99.

Credit Monitoring

Another option is to join a credit monitoring site. These are often a cheaper option, like the one from CreditSuite.com for a lot less than what it would cost with Experian, Equifax, or Dun & Bradstreet.   A monitoring site also gives continuous access so you can keeps taps on things consistently rather than having a snapshot in time report once a year.

They also often show more than one agency so you can compare and contrast as well as keep tabs on what is affecting your score. This will afford you the opportunity to correct any reporting mistakes and show you what you need to work on to increase your score.


What Does it Mean?

Of course, it doesn’t do you much good to know your score if you do not understand what it means.

While the gist of what a business credit report can tell you is the same across all three agencies, there are some key differences in terminology and calculations that you need to know so that you can fully understand what the report says about your business.

Dun & Bradstreet

Dun & Bradstreet is the most commonly used credit agency and it offers three different scores.

The PAYDEX, which is similar to the FICO used for personal credit, is meant to help creditors make decisions about credit terms. This score comes out as a number between 1 and 100 and represents how well you have made on time payments for the past year. If you have a score of 80 or higher, you are paying as agreed.  If you want to get a perfect 100, you need to be paying early..

They also issue a prediction as to whether a business will become delinquent on their bills in the future. This is the Commercial Credit Score, and it is actually reported with three different numbers.

Commercial Credit Score

Commercial Credit Score – This is a number from 101 to 670 with a 500 or higher being is considered by creditors to be a low risk credit score.

D&B Commercial Credit Percentile

Commercial Credit Percentile – This one is as a number between 0 and 100 that compares the likelihood of becoming delinquent to that of other companies in the database.  The greater the percentile the lower risk the company. If a company is in the 90th percentile, it is less likely to become delinquent that 90% of the companies in the database.

Commercial Credit Class

Commercial Credit Class – This one ranks companies within the database based on the probability of them becoming delinquent. The classes are ranked from one to five.  Companies in class 1 are the least likely to default on bills, while those in class five are the most likely to become delinquent. Companies ranked as at least a class two are considered to be a low credit risk.


Equifax puts out 3 different scores, and each one tells a different story. The first one, the payment index, reflects past payment history and reports as number between 0 to 100. The closer to 100 you are, the better off you are.

The other two scores, the credit risk score and the business failure score, are predictors of the future based on many factors other than payment history.

Discover our Get Business Credit guide, with everything you need to know about building credit for your business.

Credit Risk Score

The Credit Risk Score is a number between 101 and 992 and based on the following factors:

  • How long ago was the opening of the oldest account
  • The size of the company
  • How much credit is available on revolving accounts
  • Whether there is any evidence of transactions that are non-financial in nature, such as charge-offs or delinquent accounts for more than two business cycles

Business Failure Score

The Business Failure Score is a number between 1,000 and 1,620. It predicts the likelihood that a business will close in the next year. The lower the score, the greater the probability of failure. This score uses the following information:

  • The age of your oldest account
  • How much credit you have used recently, for the past three months
  • Delinquent accounts and late payments for the past two years


This one is a little different. Experian gives you one score ranging from 0 to 100. But in addition to payment history, it takes information from legal court filings, public records, and collection agencies. It also takes into account outstanding loan balances, the size and age of the business, and payment habits.

In general, most small businesses are medium to low risk even with stellar payment history, but more established businesses have a better chance at hitting the low-risk category.

Once You Know…

After you check your business credit score, you need to set up a system for consistent monitoring. You do not have to look at it every day, but it is important to keep tabs on your credit so you can take note of how things are going.

By doing this, you can make changes where necessary when you see items that impact your credit negatively, and you can strengthen financial practices that have a positive impact.

You can also use the information from your credit reports to help you make credit building decisions for your business.

When you are ready to expand, you can use the information from your credit report to ensure you find the best terms from the lenders.  It can also give you the confidence to walk away from those that do not offer the terms your credit warrants.

Knowing How to Check Business Credit Can Help You Plan

If you know you have a good credit score and it is time to expand, you know you can start working toward getting financing approved. If it is time to grow and your credit isn’t so great, you can begin working on strategies to strengthen your business credit in preparation for the expansion process.

It may take longer, but it is better than not knowing your score.  Then, when you try to get financing to expand, you will not be surprised by a bad score you didn’t even know you had.

Discover our Get Business Credit guide, with everything you need to know about building credit for your business.

There is Hope

If your score isn’t the best, there are steps you can take to improve it. It won’t happen overnight, but in a year or so you could see a significant increase, and it will go up even more with time and consistent hard work.

The first step, after you figure out how to check your business credit report, is to search if for mistakes. If you see anything that negatively affects your credit that should not be on there, report it. When you do, be certain you are clear about exactly what the mistake is and send copies, not originals, of all supporting documentation.

Then, look at the things that are impacting your score that you can actually do something about.

Obviously, you cannot change the ages of your oldest account. And you can’t have any delinquent accounts or non-payments removed. You can, however, work on building a stronger payment history. The longer you make consistent, on time payments, the more your credit score will improve. This will help your scores more than anything else.

You Have to Start Somewhere

Don’t get overwhelmed with all the different scores from the different agencies. Just start somewhere. Though it may be tempting to simply start with requesting reports directly from D&B, Experian, and Equifax, there really is something to working with those companies that let you keep tabs on your score throughout the year.

These can offer insight that helps in decision making throughout the year. This is rather than a snapshot of just one moment in time

Get the credit report information you need today to make certain you have the tools you need to succeed tomorrow. Discover this new way how to check business credit.

About the author 

Faith Stewart

Faith has a BBA with a major in Accounting, and a combined 20 years of experience in the fields of finance and account.

Before switching to writing, she spent 10 years working in various areas of small business and personal finance and accounting, including working as a public auditor at BKD, LLP, Financial Director at Central Arkansas Development Council, and Commercial Credit Analyst at Farmer's Bank and Trust.

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