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A business credit score is a way for lenders to predict how likely you are to repay debt. The business credit score ranges from zero to 100 and, as with personal credit scores, the higher your number, the more likely you’ll be to qualify for affordable financing. The three business credit reporting agencies are Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax, and Experian.
As the financially savvy consumer you are, you know why your personal credit score is a big deal, and where you can go to get your free personal credit report. (Hint: it’s annualcreditreport.com—the place to find your federally regulated, annual free credit report.)
But as the financially savvy business owner, do you know why your business credit score matters, or where you can find your free business credit report to monitor your score?
Unfortunately, lots of business owners remain in the dark about their business credit score. But as a major factor in whether your company can secure a small business loan, a business credit card, or other major financial partnership, your business credit score is worth monitoring closely.
Just how can you go about monitoring your credit report? Here are five places where you can find a free business credit report.
Before we dive into where you can find a free business credit report, let’s run through why you’d want one in the first place.
Well, for one, if you’re interested in getting a business loan from a bank or another lender for your company—or securing business financing down the line—then you should care about your credit history and your current business credit score.
Just as your personal credit score measures your reliability with your personal finances, your business credit score measures your business’s trustworthiness with business finances.
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If your business credit score shows that your business has a good payment history and is creditworthy (a high Paydex score or FICO score), business lenders will feel more comfortable approving small business loans to you.
Your business credit score isn’t the only factor that determines your loan eligibility, but it’s a major part of your business loan application—especially if you’re applying to banks or more traditional lenders.
On top of securing a business loan, a strong business credit score can help you get favorable payment terms from any of your business’s suppliers.
When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. A business credit score essentially shows how reliably a business pays its bills and if you pay off your business credit card. So having a strong score might convince suppliers to give you more comfortable terms.
As a consumer, you know that your personal credit score will come in somewhere between 300 and 850.
So, if you pull your free business credit report and get a score of 80….
You might be shocked.
Before you pull your free business credit report and panic at your low score, know this: Business credit scores are calculated on a different scale, so what makes for a good business credit score will differ from what is a good credit score for an individual.
The business credit reporting agencies—Dun & Bradstreet (responsible for the Paydex score), Experian, and Equifax—calculate business credit scores on a scale from 0 to 100. So if you pulled your business credit report and landed a score of 80, your business credit score would actually be in great standing.
Each of the big three credit reporting agencies will calculate your business credit score a little differently.
Dun & Bradstreet use a Paydex score that ranges from 1 to 100 and the higher the number the better shape your business is in. To calculate your business credit score D&B looks at how timely you are when it comes to paying vendors, or Trade References. This is why paying your debts early, or encouraging your vendors to report a good history of payment can be so helpful in raising your score.
Experian calculates your business credit score a bit differently than D&B does. They collect information on your credit obligation from lenders and suppliers, any legal filings for your business, and background information about your business. Then an algorithm determines your business risk based on credit, public records and demographic information.
Equifax uses its own method for calculating the business credit score as well, though Experian and Equifax use similar methods. It collects information about your business, like payment history, credit data, and more, and then evaluates it. In evaluating it Equifax looks at the payment trends, the business credit history, the public record, and the demographics. Equifax will give you three scores though, one is the payment index score, another is the credit risk score, and the third is the failure risk score.
Now that you know the basics of deciphering a business credit report and how it’s calculated, let’s cover the five places you can go to get a free business credit report.
CreditSignal is a free business credit reporting service offered by Dun & Bradstreet—and for a while, it was the only place to get a free business credit report. If you’ve had bad credit in the past, this is a great tool to try out.
CreditSignal is a great tool that lets business owners stay on top of their business credit and be alerted when anything changes with their score. Once you sign up, you’ll have an online dashboard or can use a mobile app to monitor what’s going on with your business credit report. Or, you can choose to receive email alerts whenever anything changes with your score.
CreditSignal is not only one of the best (and easiest) places to find a free business credit report, it’s a great place to look for more business credit resources. They offer a business credit education online center to learn about credit information specific to your industry or receive advice on how to improve your business credit score based on your profile.
One thing to note, however, is that CreditSignal gives you an indication only when your D&B business credit score and rating has changed, or when someone else has requested to see your business credit score. To view your actual score and rating—and learn who’s looking into your credit score profile—you’d need to purchase a subscription with Dun & Bradstreet to get a full business credit reporting service.
Get Started With CreditSignal
Nav is a credit monitoring service that gives both consumers and business owners access to their personal and business credit history.
Nav is another great place to look for a free business credit report—you don’t need a credit card to sign up. Nav will give you free access to a summary of your business credit reports from both Experian and Dun & Bradstreet.
Nav will also give you self-serve tools to help build your business credit—like easy error disputing and setting goals to help improve your business credit score (like paying down your business credit card).
One benefit of using Nav is the fact that they provide you with summaries of both your Dun & Bradstreet and Experian reports. CreditSignal, on the other hand, just works with your Dun & Bradstreet score. Both the business and personal credit reporting bureaus have slightly different ways of measuring your business credit rating and giving you a score, so you might get a more comprehensive picture of where you stand if you choose to work with Nav.
However, Nav provides free summaries of your business credit report. You’ll have to pay to get more out of your Nav account. But if you aren’t tracking your business credit history at all or have had bad credit in the past, receiving free business credit report summaries is a great place to start.
Credit.net isn’t technically a place to get ongoing, free business credit reports—their service will eventually cost you money.
But if you sign up—without a credit card—you’ll get a free seven-day trial of their reporting services during which you can pull your report and then you’ll have 30 days to view it. Although you’ll eventually have to pay, having access to seven free business credit reports could be valuable. And with no credit card required to start the trial, you won’t have to worry about missing your cancellation deadline and accidentally subscribing to a service you’re not interested in.
Credit.net offers a few different packages, all of which let you monitor your business credit report online and get access to a dedicated Credit.net expert.
CreditSafe.com is a similar business credit reporting service that costs money if you opt-in for the subscription, but offers a free business credit report to get you started.
If you do choose to subscribe to CreditSafe.com’s service after you test out their free business credit report, you’ll have a lot of credit monitoring tools at your disposal. Your account will show your risk rating, days beyond terms, synced financial data, payment trends, and so on.
CreditSafe.com offers three different packages—Standard, Plus, and Premier. The prices after your free business credit report will fully depend on your business’s needs, so you’ll need to consult one of their risk consultants to get a quote beyond the free report.
Scorely is another place to look for a free business credit report demo, and then a paid subscription service if you’re ready to commit. Scorely is actually considered a business credit reporting bureau—they pride themselves on being a transparent credit bureau that aggregates data and boils it down to understandable reports.
Scorely is all about empowering business owners and helping them take control of their business credit rating. You’ll have access to easy-to-understand data (like your FICO score) and actionable tips to boost your business credit score.
In the specific case that you’ve applied for a small business loan and have been denied, here’s one sliver of good news—you can request a business credit report for free after you’ve been turned away.
Once you’ve been denied for a business loan, you’ll get a letter in the mail from the business credit bureau that the lender contacted when taking a look into your business credit score. You can receive a copy of your business credit report from the bureau if you send the letter back within 90 days—with a written request to access your free business credit report.
You’ll get a look into your business credit score for free, but it won’t have the full information on your score. You’ll only get information from the bureau your lender worked with, so you’ll just see one score. But if you’re curious as to where your business credit score stands and your business’ payment history—and why it didn’t qualify you for a business loan—it’s an easy way to access a free business credit report.
Focusing on building your business credit score can help you protect your personal credit score and qualify for business financing. But having two different scores can be confusing. Here are some common questions you may have about your business credit score.
First, it’s essential to register your business and get a federal employer identification number. Make sure you keep your business and personal finances separate and set up a business checking account. Then, apply for a business credit card that reports to business credit bureaus. By making on-time (or even early!) payments regularly to vendors that report to business credit bureaus, you can start to build and maintain a good score.
You’ll also want to make sure your business has an address, phone number, and a checking account. Register your business and finalize any paperwork necessary to legally establish your business entity.
If you’re applying for a business loan, a good business credit score will help you get approved and can protect your personal credit. Though you can get business financing without a business credit score, it’s a good idea to build your score if you are ever in the market for funding.
The answer depends on your credit provider’s policies. Some business credit cards report only to business credit bureaus while others will affect your consumer credit, as well. If you want to build your business credit score, be sure to check that your business credit card doesn’t report to consumer credit bureaus.
Don’t close out a business credit account, even if you aren’t using it. Closing an account will lower your available credit and it also leaves you with one less way to spread out spending if necessary.
If you see something in your credit report and think it’s incorrect, you can dispute it to try and improve your score. You can report the error to the company that provided the report and add a short explanation in your request for a change. Experian even has an email address solely for report disputes.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows consumers free access to personal credit reports every 12 months. But as you can tell from the relatively short list of where you can go to get a free business credit report, the same laws don’t apply to a small business owner.
Sure, you can find a free business credit report from these five services—or something really close to it. But to get the full, totally accurate picture of your business credit rating, you’ll probably need to pay a fee. Many of these services also let you purchase single credit reports from just one bureau.
So if it’s more cost-effective for you to do so, consider just buying a single business credit report about every six months. That should be sufficient for keeping up to date with your business credit.
If you’re planning to grow your business with a business loan from a bank or other lenders or business credit card at any point in the future, it’s crucial to stay on top of your business credit score. It’s pretty likely that at some point in the near future, business owners will have the same right to a free business credit score every 12 months.
But until then, it’s best to use one of these five services, or stomach the fee to stay on top of your company’s financial future!