For newer small-business owners, you probably don’t need to check your business credit score as you work on establishing your business and its score. But if you’re applying for a loan product that’s critical to your business, you may want to check your credit score and reports.
If you run a small business, it’s crucial to stay on top of your business credit score. Knowing where you stand with your business credit score can help you make the most of your credit when you’re applying for loans and business credit cards.
But a business credit score is a little different from a personal credit score, and the process to check it differs, too. Although you can get a personal credit score for free and can usually check it for free at least once a year, there is generally a cost for viewing your business credit score. In turn, you should carefully think about why you want to check it and whether you even need to do so.
For example, knowing your business score could be helpful for those who may be seeking loans or lending products in the near future or are looking to improve their payment terms with a vendor. Otherwise, it may make more sense to check your business credit score every once in a while to stay aware of your business’s credit health. If you’re not sure whether it’s worth it to check your business credit score, let’s explore why you’d want to check it and how exactly you can check do so with each of the three business credit bureaus.
Why check your business credit score?
There are several reasons why you should check your business credit score. Here are a few of them:
- Terms on a business loan: Your business credit score, like a personal credit score, can affect your approval odds for a business loan and impact the loan terms, such as your interest rate. The higher your business score, the lower your interest rate generally is.
- Payment terms with vendors: When conducting business with a vendor, the vendor usually sets the terms of when you have to pay them back, usually between 30 to 90 days. Your business credit score can influence how much time a vendor will give you to pay them.
- Lease for a commercial property: When applying for a lease of commercial real estate, whether an office building, warehouse, retail space, or something else, the landlord will typically ask you to submit details about your business, including your business credit score. If your score is too low, it could lead to a rejection.
Before you leap at the opportunity to check your business credit score, do a cost-benefit analysis to determine how important it is to have your score right now and whether spending the money makes sense at the moment. Some small businesses that rely heavily on credit may need to check their business credit score frequently to keep track of their progress in building strong business credit to qualify for better interest rates. These businesses may need to subscribe to a service that allows them to do this frequently. Others may only need to check once a year.
Keep in mind that it takes about three years to build a business credit score. When your business is still young, it may not even have a credit score yet. Or, if you do have a score, the score you see may not be accurate.
Another important question to ask yourself is whether you need to check all three credit scores. If you want to know your score to gauge its health, checking with one bureau may give you a clear enough idea of your business’s credit profile to operate strategically. If you’re applying for a loan product that’s critical to your business, however, you may want to check all three scores and credit reports.
How to check your business credit score
Here’s a crash course on how to check your score with the three major business credit bureaus.
Dun & Bradstreet
To get a credit score from D&B, you must first apply for a D-U-N-S number. Then you can choose among D&B’s different subscription tiers. Their free option, the CreditSignal service, provides four credit scores and ratings for 14 days only on its website, and the service will notify you when your business credit score changes.
You can also pay to see your complete credit report. The CreditMonitor service, available for $39 a month, allows continuous online access to all your credit scores and your credit report, and its changes in real time. This service may be useful if you’re looking for a business loan or new line of credit, doing an expansion, embarking on a new partnership or seeking to win a major contract.
Knowing where you stand can help you take steps to lift up your score, such as asking suppliers to furnish D&B with your payment performance history so that your application doesn’t get denied.
The least expensive way to check your business credit score and credit profile from Experian is to buy its CreditScore Report, which would cost you $39.95 for one-time access. It furnishes you with your business’s credit score, banking and leasing information, bankruptcies (if there are any) and other key elements of its credit profile. Before you purchase it, use the “Search for a Business” tool on the site to see if Experian is tracking your business.
Experian also offers several more robust sets of data. They include:
- ProfilePlus Report ($49.95 one time): This provides the basics in the CreditScore Report, as well as some extras, such as tradeline details and inquiries made on your business.
- Business Credit Advantage ($189 per year): This mid-tier subscription monitors your business credit everyday for one year as well as unlimited access to your credit report and score. Other services include surveillance on the dark web, alerts when someone (for example, a vendor) inquiries about your business credit and access to a fraud specialist, if necessary.
- Business CreditScore Pro ($1,995 per year): This service lets you track the information in the ProfilePlus Report for up to 30 businesses per month. This subscription also gives you a financial stability risk rating, information on your business (such as tax liens and judgments) as well as payment summary trends.
Equifax offers its Business Credit Report for $99.95, which enables you to check your own business’s credit or that of another company it tracks. It also offers a Business Credit Report multi-pack (five reports for the price of four at $399.95).
Some interesting features are the payment trend and payment index reports, which allow you to see how you compare to others in your industry. The credit summary, which is a snapshot of your business’s credit accounts with the banks, suppliers and service providers you work with frequently, could be helpful as well.
Knowledge is power, especially in the data-driven world we live in. That’s particularly true when it comes to your business credit score. While there are numerous options for checking your business credit score, all of the options available to you can give you access to the valuable information you need when applying for a credit line or opening a new tradeline. That, in turn, can make it easier to free up cash or grow your business.