Both personal and business credit scores affect your ability to get approved for loans. You can check credit scores for free online through a number of different credit card issuers. Individuals can also receive one free credit report per year from each credit reporting agency through AnnualCreditReport.com. However, this does not include credit scores.
Nav offers free personal and business credit scores through their online credit platform. You can check your score as often as you’d like because it’s a soft inquiry, which doesn’t impact your credit. Lenders will take into consideration both your personal and business credit scores for qualifying purposes, so it’s best to monitor them frequently.
How to Check Your Credit Score for Free
Consumers can check personal credit scores for free through different credit card issuers and providers. You’ll have access to your credit score instantly and able to check it as often as you’d like without hurting your score. Checking your own credit score requires a soft credit check, which will never impact your personal credit score.
Providers like Nav can give you access to your personal and business credit scores for free. They also outline financing options that match well with your credit score, whether that’s startup funds, credit cards, or a line of credit. Nav’s paid service allows you to see your full credit report and ways to improve your scores.
When preparing to check credit scores, know that you will need to provide your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. In contrast, for business credit scores you will need the name of the business, address, and Employee Identification Number (EIN). You will sometimes need to provide previous addresses and information only you would know, such as the amount of your mortgage payment.
Where to Check Credit Scores for Free
Credit Issuer or Provider
How to Understand the Results When You Check Credit Scores
Understanding your credit score results is key to improving your credit score or maintaining an already good score. It’s important to know the difference between personal and business credit scores, how they’re calculated, and what is considered to be a good score. These three points can help you uncover a full understanding of your credit scores.
When you check credit scores, there are three factors you need to know to understand them, which are what credit scores are, how credit scores are calculated, and what the credit score ranges mean.
1. What Credit Scores Are
When you’re applying for a loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC), or small business credit card, lenders will evaluate your personal and business credit scores. Your personal credit score evaluates your past debt obligations and determines your creditworthiness. A business credit score gives a summary of your payment history and company information and indicates your company’s financial standing.
The following are the differences between a personal and business credit score.
What a Personal Credit Score Is
Your personal credit score is reported by three main credit bureaus including TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Lenders check credit scores to tell how likely you are to repay a new debt obligation such as a mortgage, car loan, or student loan. Your personal credit score can range between 300 to 850, and a score of 670 or higher is considered to be good.
What a Business Credit Score Is
With a business credit score check, you will receive a summary of the information on your business credit reports, which an indicator of your company’s creditworthiness. Business credit scores often range from 0 to 100, with 100 being the best score, and are scored across four models provided by Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, Equifax, and FICO.
The four most common business credit scores are:
- PAYDEX Score: Provided by Dun & Bradstreet, who also offers the Commercial Credit Score and Financial Stress Score
- Credit Ranking Intelliscore: Provided by Experian
- Business Payment Index: Provided by Equifax, who also offers the Credit Risk Score and Business Failure Score
- LiquidCredit SBSS: Provided by FICO
2. How Credit Scores Are Calculated
Personal and business credit scores are both calculated and scored by considering different factors. They do have similarities such as outstanding balances and your payment history. You need to understand how to credit scores are calculated so you can interpret the results after you check your credit score.
The ways your personal and business credit scores are calculated are:
How Personal Credit Scores Are Calculated
There are five categories that help calculate and check your credit score. These include your payment history, how much credit you’re using, the age of your credit, the different types of credit you have, and any new inquiries. These factors generally stay the same across the main credit bureaus.
The five factors that make up your personal credit score are:
- Payment history (35%): Your payment history is the most important factor of your personal credit score. This shows lenders your ability to pay any loans or other debt obligations on time.
- Credit utilization (30%): The credit utilization ratio measures how much of your total available credit you’re currently using. It’s recommended to keep this as low as possible, as long as it’s not 0%.
- Length of credit history (15%): A good credit score takes some time to build up and maintain. Lenders typically like to see a longer credit history, which will result in a higher FICO credit score.
- Credit mix (10%): There are several types of debt such as credit cards and different installment loans. Your credit mix is an indicator that you can responsibly manage these different types of debt.
- New credit (10%): If you open a handful of new credit accounts in a short period of time, you will look like a risky borrower. It’s important to reduce the number of inquiries made during a short period of time.
How Business Credit Scores Are Calculated
Compared to personal credit scores, your business credit score is calculated differently by each credit bureau. When you check your credit score, the four most popular business credit scores you’ll receive are the D&B PAYDEX Score, Experian Credit Ranking Intelliscore, Equifax Payment Index score, and the FICO LiquidCredit SBSS.
When you check credit scores for your business, the calculations for the four main business credit scores are:
Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX Score
Dun & Bradstreet is the most commonly used business credit score. It collects public business and industry information, payment history, and financial performance information to determine your score. The D&B PAYDEX score is the simplest score you will find on your D&B credit report. It’s an evaluation of the time it took to repay your debt, relative to the agreed repayment terms.
To establish a D&B PAYDEX score, you will need a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number and provide three trade references, such as suppliers or creditors you’ve done business with. You can apply for a D-U-N-S number for free on D&B’s website or through a credit platform such as Nav.
Experian Credit Ranking Intelliscore
The Experian Credit Ranking Intelliscore is commonly used by banks and lenders. The Experian Credit Ranking Intelliscore uses more than 800 factors when determining your credit score. Some of the most important ones include your outstanding balances, credit utilization, the number of times you’ve borrowed, the size of your company, and the age of your business.
To establish credit with Experian, you don’t need to set up an account. Experian will automatically look at a secretary of state records, collections records, and other public records for new business filing. It can source your business solely from demographic information.
Equifax Payment Index Score
Similar to Experian, Equifax is typically used by lenders and banks to assess a borrower’s qualifications. The most popular Equifax business credit score is the Equifax Payment Index Score. Equifax uses information such as credit utilization, past delinquencies, length of credit history, payment history, public information, and past financial performance to calculate the others.
The Equifax Payment Index Score evaluates payment history during the past 12 months and determines your score by using data from small business lenders, public records, and trade records. Just like Experian, Equifax gathers this information without you needing to set up an account.
FICO LiquidCredit SBSS
The FICO LiquidCredit SBSS is most commonly used by traditional lenders and to approve Small Business Administration loans, which is a mix of your personal and business credit score. FICO is unique because it isn’t technically one of the three major credit bureaus. Instead, FICO provides a business credit score based on information already collected by Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, and Equifax.
The factors the FICO LiquidCredit SBSS considers for your business credit score are:
- Your personal credit score
- Your company’s payment history
- How long your business has been in operation
- The number of employees you have
- Your company’s revenue and assets
Since FICO doesn’t collect its own information, the way you can establish and build your business credit score is by focusing on the three major credit bureaus and their scores.
3. What the Credit Score Ranges Mean
Your credit personal and business credit scores are scaled on a range that shows your creditworthiness. Business credit score ranges are generally between 0 to 100. A score of 100 shows your least likely to make a late payment. Personal credit scores on the other hand range from 300 to 850. A score of 850 is the best and highest score possible.
The personal and business credit score ranges are:
Personal Credit Score Range
Your personal credit score serves as a rating of your financial standing as an individual and range between 300 to 850. A personal credit score of 670 or higher is generally considered prime, and any score 800 or higher is considered excellent. The better your score, the easier it is to get approved for both personal and small business loans.
The personal credit score ranges used by all credit bureaus are:
- 800-850: Excellent credit
- 740-799: Very good credit
- 670-739: Good credit
- 580-669: Fair credit
- 300-579: Very poor credit
On average, personal credit scores generally fall between 600 to 750. Lenders generally consider borrowers with scores of 680 or higher to be prime and 740 or higher to be super-prime, both of which increase your chances of getting approved and receiving the lowest possible interest rates.
Business Credit Score Range
In the same way that your personal score is a financial rating for you as an individual, your business credit score ranks the financial standing of your business. Unlike personal credit scores, business credit scores range differently for each business credit report. Typically, a business credit score ranges between 0 to 100 and 100 is the best score possible.
Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX Score Range
The D&B PAYDEX Score ranges between 0 to 100, with higher scores showing better payment performance. According to Dun & Bradstreet, a PAYDEX Score is used like a person’s FICO score for business. For example, it helps lenders, vendors, and other suppliers determine the type of financing terms to extend. Generally, a good D&B PAYDEX Score is 80 or higher.
The Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX score ranges are:
- 80-100: Good PAYDEX score, Payments are made on-time or 30 days early
- 50-79: Fair PAYDEX score, Payments are made 15 to 30 days late
- 0-49: Bad PAYDEX score, Payments are made 31 to 90 or more days late
Each vendor or creditor is considered a “single payment experience.” D&B will evaluate the timing of each payment experience and the terms of the sale for that experience.
Experian Credit Ranking Intelliscore Range
The Experian Credit Ranking Intelliscore ranges between 1 to 100, where lower scores indicate a higher risk business. Typically, a score of 76 or higher would be considered a good Experian Credit Ranking Intelliscore.
The Experian Credit Ranking Intelliscore ranges are:
- 76-100: Low risk of late payments
- 51-75: Low to medium risk of late payments
- 26-50: Medium risk of late payments
- 11-25: Medium to high risk of late payments
- 1-10: High risk of late payments
The Experian Credit Ranking Intelliscore gives insights into a company’s payment trends, public record filings, collections, and general business background. The result is a score that uses both the business’s and business owner’s information.
Equifax Payment Index Range
The Equifax Payment Index ranges from 0 to 100 and measures the payment history to past creditors during the past 12 months. Similar to Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax separates its business credit scores into three. The most popular is the Business Payment Index, where a score of 90 or higher is considered to be a good score.
The Equifax Payment Index ranges are:
- 90-100: Paid as agreed
- 80-89: 1 to 30 days past due
- 60-79: 31 to 60 days past due
- 40-59: 61 to 90 days past due
- 20-39: 91 to 120 days past due
- 1-19: 120 or more days past due
The other two score Equifax sometimes considers are the Business Credit Risk score and Business Failure Score. The credit risk score ranges between 101 to 992 with a score of 700 being a good business credit risk score. The business failure score ranges between 1,000 to 1,880, and a score of 1,315 is generally considered to be good.
FICO LiquidCredit SBSS Range
The FICO LiquidCredit SBSS ranks applicants by their likelihood of making payments on time and ranges between 0 to 300. Even though 140 or higher is technically considered “good,” banks typically prefer a score of 160 or higher on Small Business Administration loans.
The FICO LiquidCredit SBSS credit ranges are:
- 140-300: Good FICO SBSS score
- 100-139: Fair FICO SBSS score
- 0-99: Bad FICO SBSS score
The FICO LiquidCredit SBSS scoring is based on personal and business credit history and other financial information. You can boost your SBSS score with a strong history of business credit with timely payments to creditors and suppliers.
How to Check Credit Scores to Find Areas for Improvement
When you check credit scores, it’s important to use this as a way to find and identify different areas for improvement. Once you have made those changes, you can check your credit score again to see how they’ve impacted your score. Maximizing and improving your credit scores can increase the chances of receiving better terms from lenders and creditors.
Let’s take a look at different areas to improve after you check credit scores:
7 Tips to Improve Your Personal Credit Score
You can check your credit score to specifically identify areas for improvement to help build your personal credit. After making those changes, you can see how your score changed the next time you check your credit score. Some ways to maximize your personal credit score include lowering your credit utilization ratio, making timely payments, and leaving old accounts open.
After you check your credit score, seven ways you can improve your personal credit score are:
- Automate your credit payments: Since your payment history represents 35% of your credit score, setting automatic payments can ensure you never miss a payment.
- Adjust your due dates: Set up due dates with your bank or lender that work for when you get paid. Besides mortgages, due dates can generally change with a quick phone call.
- Aim for a credit utilization ratio below 30%: It’s commonly recommended to keep your credit utilization as low as possible as long it’s not 0%. This is a measure of how much of your available credit you’re using.
- Handle new credit carefully: Every time you open a new card and an inquiry is added to your credit report, your credit score takes a small hit. Be careful with how many new accounts you open in a short period of time.
- Keep your accounts open: Old accounts are good for your length of credit, which is a factor that goes into determining your score. By closing your oldest credit card, you may reduce the age of your credit drastically. If you don’t want to use a card anymore, you can just put the card away instead of closing the account.
- Fix credit problems: Repairing your credit by analyzing your credit score, disputing any errors and resolving old accounts can help improve your overall score. There are specific credit repair companies that can help you do this for a small fee.
- Order your free credit report every 12 months: Make sure that your credit report is accurate as it’s used to determine your financial risk. You are entitled to one free credit score report every 12 months through AnnualCreditReport.com. You can use this opportunity to see how the actions you took affected your score.
7 Tips to Improve Your Business Credit Score
As you build your business credit score, you can check your credit score to uncover different areas to improve on. Once you’ve made those changes, you can see how they impact your score the next time you check it. You can improve your business credit by separating your finances, making on-time payments, and focusing on your credit utilization.
After you check your credit score, seven ways you can improve your business credit score are:
- Separate business and personal finances: Having your business and personal bank accounts separate can help maximize your credit score. If you have an unexpected financial event in your personal life, it won’t affect your business credit score.
- Get a business credit card, line of credit, or lease: The easiest way to build your business credit score is to borrow money and repay it on time. A good first step is to use a business credit card for business expenses and paying it back in full every month.
- Choose your supplier and lenders with an eye to your business credit: Not all lenders report to business credit agencies because it’s not required. Although if you have a strong payment history, it’s worth asking your lender if they can start reporting.
- Pay your bills on time or in advance: This goes without saying, but to maximize your business credit score you must pay all your creditors and lenders on time. One of the most important factors of your credit score depends on your payment history.
- Don’t use too much credit: Pay attention to your credit utilization ratio, which compares your credit balance to your available credit limit. The less credit you use of your available credit, the better your credit score will be.
- Fix errors on your business credit report: Unlike your personal credit report, each business credit bureau has its own way to dispute errors. With the right documents, it can take up to one month to fix any errors on your business credit report.
- Check your credit score regularly: It’s important to check your credit score at least once a quarter to monitor your business’s financial risk. You can use this as an opportunity to see how the actions you’ve taken in your business have affected your score.
Online credit platforms like Nav can help you get instant access to your business and personal credit score for free. We recommend checking your credit scores often to help maintain an already good score or improve your current score.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About How to Check Credit Scores
We covered a lot of information on how to check credit scores for free, how to interpret the results, and ways to use the results to improve your credit scores. There are some questions which are asked more often than others, and we address those here. If you have any other unanswered questions, please feel free to share them with us on our Fit Small Business Forum, and we’ll provide an answer.
Some of the most frequently asked questions when learning how to check credit scores are:
What Is a Credit Score?
A credit score is a number that represents the level of creditworthiness of an individual or business. The better the score, the more likely the individual or business is to repay their obligations on time and in full. Personal credit scores range from 300 – 850, with 850 being the highest score someone can receive.
Business credit scores generally range from 0 – 100, with 100 being the highest score possible. Although, the FICO LiquidCredit SBSS score ranges from 0 – 300 and 300 is the highest score a business can earn.
What’s My Credit Score?
To check your personal credit score for free, you can request it online through several different credit card issuers and providers. By providing your name, address, and date of birth, you can receive your personal credit score right away. Checking your own score won’t impact your credit score.
If you’re searching how to check your credit score, you can use a free online service like Nav. Nav is an online credit platform and is an excellent way to get both your business and personal credit score for free.
Why Does Your Credit Score Matter?
Personal and business credit scores help lenders and creditors determine if they should approve you for loans, mortgages, or credit cards. It will also tell lenders and banks the likelihood of you paying them back on time. Your credit score matters because the better your score, the more likely you are to receive better terms.
If you’re looking to learn how to check credit scores, there are free online credit platforms that give you both your personal and business credit scores. Free services will generally provide your credit score with a summarized report. You can compare your score with the credit score ranges for each bureau to see where you stand.
When choosing between online credit platforms, Nav is a great option to check your credit scores for free. Nav gives you a free personal credit score from Experian and free business grades with credit summaries from D&B and Experian Intelliscore.