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A Paydex score is a credit score for businesses. It operates like the FICO individual credit scores you get recorded for your consumer habits, but with some key differences. The score determines your business’s creditworthiness—in other words, how promptly you pay your creditors and suppliers, or your payment history performance.
Establishing credit is an essential part of growing any business. When you begin to manage your business’s finances, you will probably come across something called the Dun & Bradstreet Paydex score. You might ask yourself, “What’s a Paydex score?” or “Who the heck are Dun & Bradstreet?” These are valid questions—and more important than you might initially think.
A Paydex score is a credit score for businesses. In fact, it operates much like the FICO individual credit scores you get through shopping with credit cards, taking out personal loans, etc., but with some key differences. The score determines your business’s creditworthiness—in other words, how promptly you pay your creditors and suppliers, or your payment history performance.
Not only is it good business practice to pay your creditors and suppliers on time, but lenders look at these scores to determine financing opportunities for your business.
The Paydex score is often referenced by lenders and potential business partners to help predict the reliability or financial stability of working with you. According to ValuePenguin, the Paydex score “can affect the premiums and interest rates your company pays when it comes to financing such as bank loans or credit cards for small businesses. Better scores may help to lower any interest rates offered to your company when applying for these financial products.”
The score might also be referenced by landlords with whom you want to rent space, insurance companies needed to ensure your business assets, and various types of customers.
The Paydex score ranges from 0-100, with 0 being the worst and 100 being the best. The higher the number, the more likely the business is to pay their bills on time or early. Though your entire payment history is on your Dun & Bradstreet file, only your payment history for the last two years is calculated to make up the Paydex score.
Unlike the individual FICO credit score, which takes many factors into consideration, the Paydex score only calculates one factor: timely payment based on terms agreed upon between a business and a vendor. The scores are based on trade experiences reported to the Dun & Bradstreet company by vendors on a rolling 12-month basis.
The Paydex score is “dollar-weighted,” says Nav, which means that each vendor is weighted in terms of the number of transactions and the overall dollar value of those transactions. In other words, vendors with whom you spend the most money and work with most frequently will be weighted higher in your score than less expensive vendors or suppliers you use less frequently. For example, paying a $10,000 bill late has a larger negative impact than paying a $500 bill early, according to ValuePenguin.
Most sources say you should try to keep a Paydex score of at least 75 in order to be considered in good standing. A score of 80—a really great score—means that a business has paid their bills exactly on time. Anything higher than that means the business consistently pays their bills early. Businesses with scores between 80-100 are considered at very low risk of late payment. And 50-79 is considered a medium risk, and anything lower than 50 is considered a high risk of late payment. If you can keep your business in the 80-100 range, you’re in very good shape.
See the breakdown below:
You need to apply for a Dun & Bradstreet D-U-N-S number through their website to establish a business credit profile. Note that Dun & Bradstreet needs at least four separate trade references—that is, suppliers or vendors that you’ve worked with— to report into a company’s file for a Paydex score to be calculated.
You can then access your score by purchasing a business credit report. Sites like Nav.com can also help you retrieve your business credit score.
In a word, no. And this is why it’s important to keep your business expenses separate from your personal expenses—a personal credit card used to make business purchases that is paid on time will not help increase your Paydex score. However, personal purchases made through a business account (that is reported to Dun & Bradstreet) that aren’t paid on time will affect your score.
The simplest explanation would be to pay your bills, especially your most expensive bills, on time or ahead of their due date—20-30 days early, if possible. This is a surefire way to crank up a Paydex score.
But remember: Your Paydex score has to do with the payment terms you set out with your vendors, so make sure you’re being realistic when agreeing to them. If you’re struggling to make a net-21 payment schedule, work with the vendor to increase the agreement to net-30 or even net-45. This increases the probability that you will pay your bills on time or early— and inevitably increases your score.
Barring that, however, the Small Business Chronicle has outlined a few ways to build a good score:
Open up tradeline business accounts. Tradeline accounts are basically credit accounts you can open up with suppliers or vendors. They are typically net-30 accounts that require full payment within 30 days. Many office supply stores offer tradeline accounts, and stores like OfficeMax, Quill, and Viking report back to Dun & Bradstreet on the status of accounts. This is a super-easy way to build your credit—that is, if you keep your accounts current and pay them every month.
Because you need four separate trade references to report data about your payment history, it can be tough for new and small businesses to establish their Paydex score in the first place.
“For these businesses, finding trade experiences is about knowing where to look,” says ValuePenguin, “owners of these companies can look to using accountants, lawyers, and landlords as trade references as long as these relationships are billed through invoices with payment terms.”
Tradeline business accounts, mentioned above, are also good ways to build up the minimum trade references.
You should always encourage any suppliers and vendors you do work with to report positive payment experiences to Dun & Bradstreet—only trade references that are reported will be calculated into the Paydex score. You can always add missing transactions to your file through D&B customer service if your vendor doesn’t report directly.
They’re a business services company that provides commercial data to businesses on credit history, among other things. As of 2013, the company’s database contains information on more than 265 million companies across 200 countries worldwide. They are considered the gold standard in determining business credit standing.
What should all this information about Paydex scores tell you? It’s always a good idea to pay your debts on time. Better yet, pay them early!