A business credit report is a tool used by lenders, creditors, and potential business partners to determine your company’s financial strength. Each credit bureau gathers important business information to provide in a report, including financial history, trade payments, industry codes, and business credit scores. You’ll typically need to visit Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), Experian, or Equifax to view your credit report. Reports start at $49.95 for a one-time report.
Creditors, like business credit card issuers, use your credit report and score to determine your creditworthiness, so it’s in your best interest to pull your report often. If you don’t want to go through each credit bureau to receive your report and credit score, you can use an online credit provider like NAV. You can get your business credit scores and a credit report summary for free.
What Is a Business Credit Report?
A business credit report is a collection of public and private data that highlights a company’s financial history, overall financial health, and the ability to manage debt responsibly. While credit reports contain similar company information, each credit bureau has its own method to calculate its respective business credit scores. Your business credit report typically will include the following information:
- General company information
- History of the business
- Business registration information
- Government activity summary
- Company operational data
- Industry data
- Public filings like liens, judgments, and Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filings
- Past payment history
A company that has a credit report with a solid payment history and no delinquencies is more likely to negotiate favorable terms with lenders and suppliers. In contrast, a company that has a report filled with negative items may receive less favorable terms or may not be approved for loans and vendor lines at all. Because of this, it’s important to build business credit.
Business Credit Report Providers
Business reports are generated by the three major credit bureaus: D&B, Experian, and Equifax. The FICO Small Business Scoring Service (SBSS) also offers business credit scores that pull information directly from these three credit bureaus, but it doesn’t offer credit reports. Report fees vary depending on the credit reporting agency and the type of report requested. Reports typically start at $49.95 for a one-time report and $149 for a monthly subscription package.
Credit Reporting Agency
Monthly fee from $149 to $199 or more
PAYDEX Score, D&B Rating, Delinquency Score, Failure Score, and Viability Rating
$49.95 per report
Credit Ranking and Intelliscore
$99.95 per report
Business Credit Risk Score and Business Failure Score
$49.99 per report
LiquidCredit and SBSS Score
Because business information is collected from both private and public sources, information on each report may vary. However, lenders often have a preferred credit bureau they use when considering a loan request. For example, suppliers extending trade credit will typically review your D&B report before granting credit.
1. Dun & Bradstreet Business Credit Report
The D&B credit report is the most commonly used credit report. This report tracks company payments, historical financial performance, and industry information to assess the overall risk and likelihood of company failure or bankruptcy. D&B has several ways to rate business status, but the five main D&B business credit scores are:
- PAYDEX Score: The most widely used D&B rating; this score measures a company’s ability to pay its past debts over a two-year period; scores range from 1 to 100, with 100 being the best score available
- Delinquency Score: Predicts the chances a company will default on its payments within a year; scores range from 101 to 670, with 670 being the least likely a business will default on its payments
- Failure Score: Predicts the likelihood a company will go out of business within a year; scores range from 1000 to 1610, with 1610 being the least likely a business will fail
- D&B Rating: Averages a company’s financial strength based on balance statements, company size, and business age; it consists of two components:
- Financial strength rating, which is a combination of letters and numbers that represents the company size
- Risk indicator score, ranging from 1 to 4, with 4 being the highest risk
- Viability rating: Based on a company’s probability of bankruptcy or going out of business; scores include four indicators:
- The viability score, ranging from 1 to 9, with 1 representing the lowest risk
- Portfolio comparison, ranging from 1 to 9, with 1 the best rating
- Data depth code, ranging from A through M, based on the amount of predictive data available for a company
- Company profile code, ranging from A through Z, representing the level of company establishment
If you don’t already have a D&B credit report, you will need to apply for your own nine-digit Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number first. It’s free to request a DUNS number with normal delivery, but it can take up to 30 days to process. Otherwise, you can pay $229 for expedited delivery and receive one within five business days. You’ll also get a free credit snapshot when you log in, but you’ll need a subscription package for full credit report access.
Tip: Before you sign up for a subscription service, contact D&B directly. In some cases, a D&B representative will send your first full credit report for free.
2. Experian Business Credit Report
Experian uses public data, including government records to collect business background information, collection history, and financial information to generate a business credit report. It also provides its Credit Ranking Intelliscore as a measure of a company’s current financial standing. Scores range from 1 to 100, with 100 representing the lowest risk. Full credit reports start at $49.95.
3. Equifax Business Credit Report
Equifax uses industry data, public records, tradeline information, and financial payment history to assess the overall viability and strength of a company. It also calculates its business credit scores by reviewing many factors, including available credit, late payments, age of financial accounts, and negative payment transactions.
Equifax uses the following business credit scores in addition to its credit report:
- Business Credit Risk Score: The likelihood that a business will be more than 90 days overdue on financial obligations; scores range from 101 to 992, with 992 being the least likely
- Business Failure Score: Evaluates the likelihood that a business will go bankrupt in the next 12 months; scores range from 1000 to 1610, with 1610 being the least likely.
Unlike D&B, Equifax doesn’t require a special ID number to build your credit profile. Instead, Experian uses all available public data, such as new business filings with the state, to generate a credit report. This means it will generate a credit report automatically. You can access your Equifax business report for as little as $99.95.
4. FICO SBSS Business Credit Score
The FICO SBSS score measures the likelihood a company will fall delinquent on credit payments. FICO gathers its information from the three existing credit bureaus, so it offers a credit score but not a credit report. However, it’s the most commonly used business credit score for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans and lines of credit. This score ranges from 1 to 300, with 300 being the least likely to become delinquent. You can purchase your FICO SBSS score for $49.99.
How to Read Your Business Credit Report
Once you get your business credit report, it’s important to review the information in detail, including the business profile, industry codes, trade payment history, commercial financial history, UCC filings, and business credit scores. This information usually is summarized on the first page of the report with more detailed information further in the report. To illustrate this, we’ve provided screenshots from a sample Experian report.
1. Business Profile
Your business profile is usually the first thing that shows up on your business credit report. In this section, you’ll find your business’s legal name, trade name, and the address of your headquarters. This page usually includes the following information:
- Incorporation details
- Business type
- Parent and subsidiary details
- The number of employees
- Years in operation
Financial data like sales and revenue will also be included in most business profile sections. This information is pulled from your company’s financial statements from the previous three years. Inaccurate data in this section can harm your company’s credit, so it’s important to verify this information is accurate. You should also report any incorrect profile information to the credit bureau immediately.
2. SIC & NAICS Industry Codes
The business profile section will also have your company’s Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) and North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. Because each business has its own credit risks associated with its industry, each industry is classified differently. Companies in lower risk classifications may have an easier time obtaining insurance than businesses in higher-risk classifications. The highest-risk SIC classifications include:
- Real estate investing and other types of investing
- Car sales
- Travel/transportation industry
- Money lending/collecting
Industry codes are collected from public records, including Census surveys and administrative records, so it’s also important to verify this information is valid. If your company has been misclassified, you can update your business by filing a dispute on the credit bureau’s website or by contacting the credit reporting agency directly.
3. Trade Payment History
The payment history section of your business credit report displays your payment history from the previous two to three years. Generally, this section includes payments made to vendors. You’ll also see payment details like the date of sale, amount, terms, and reported date. If you make payments to vendors regularly that are not reflected in this section, you should contact the vendor and request that payments be reported to the business credit bureau.
4. Commercial Financial History
The commercial financial history section of your business credit report showcases your payment history with creditors, lenders, and insurers. This portion of the report includes financing activity, type of credit, loan and policy term, and balance information. Payments made to business loans, insurance policy, line of credits, or equipment leases will show up here. Lenders are most likely to review this section when processing an application for credit.
5. Legal Filings, Bankruptcies & Collections
The legal filings, bankruptcies, and collections sections of your business credit report are used to assess your business’s liquidity and financial health. This section will contain any liens and UCC cases that were filed against your business in the previous five years.
The business report will also show other legal filings, such as business bankruptcy judgments, tax liens, and accounts, that have been placed into collections, typically after 90 days delinquent. Having legal judgments against you or overdue accounts can indicate financial distress and make creditors hesitant to work with you.
6. Business Credit Score
Credit reporting agencies issue their own business credit scores based on company risk behavior. Your current and past financial behavior often is the best indicator of whether your business warrants a “good” credit score. Business credit scores typically range from 1 to 100, with a higher score representing a lower risk. However, each credit bureau has its own credit scores and ranges vary between bureaus.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
We covered a lot of information regarding business credit reports. Some questions are asked more often than others, and we address those here. If you have any comments, please feel free to post them below.
How do I get my business credit report?
You can access your business credit report through one of the three business credit bureaus—D&B, Experian, and Equifax. Experian and Equifax one-time access business credit reports range from $49.95 to $99.95 per report. Monthly subscription packages for D&B credit reports typically range from $149 to $199.
Can you run a credit check on a business?
You can run a credit check on any company that has a business credit report with at least one of three major business credit bureaus—D&B, Experian, and Equifax. Unlike personal credit reports, anyone can access a company’s business credit report.
What information is provided about businesses or individuals on a credit report?
Business credit reports contain detailed information about a company’s financial history and information, including loans, vendors, number of employees, trade payments, revenue, and delinquent accounts. Consumer credit reports contain detailed personal financial information, including addresses, credit accounts, credit utilization, and payment history.
Business credit reports serve to highlight your company’s financial standing and overall creditworthiness. Because these reports contain so much information, you shouldn’t be embarrassed if you’re unsure of how to read your report. However, it’s crucial to understand your entire report and how it affects you so you won’t be blindsided later.