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If you’re a business owner, it’s critical that you monitor your business credit, much as you do with your personal credit.
Why? Because any company can access your business credit reports, which can affect whether investors and potential partners will want to do business with you. Also, if you plan to grow your business, you’ll want to be sure you have access to the lowest interest rates, insurance premiums and the best small business credit cards.
We’ll show you how to check your business credit reports and scores from the three major business credit bureaus.
How to check business credit report and scores
There are three companies that issue business credit reports and scores:
- Dun & Bradstreet
- Equifax Business
- Experian Business
It’s important to track your business credit report for the same reasons you should periodically check your personal report — to ensure there aren’t any errors that could be affecting your scores. It’s also important because your business credit report is public.
Free business credit reports
Dun & Bradstreet
Dun & Bradstreet allows you to access its free service called CreditSignal. It won’t give you access to full credit reports, but it will alert you when scores or reports change. If you want the full report, you’ll have to pay for a CreditBuilder Plus account for $149 a month.
There’s also Nav, a service that’s set up to match small businesses to financing options. Nav offers free access to a summary of your Experian Business report and Dun & Bradstreet report when you sign up for a free account, but you won’t get a detailed report unless you pay for it.
Equifax, the same credit bureau that offers personal credit reports and scores, can provide business credit reports, too. Reports and scores from the bureau can be used in business financing decisions, so it’s important to know where your business stands.
An Equifax Business Credit Report costs $99.99, and you’ll also get access to your Equifax Business Credit Risk Score and Equifax Business Failure Score. You can purchase a bundle of five reports for $399.95, which brings the price per report down to $79.99 each.
You can sign up with Nav and get a summary of your Experian Business Credit Scores for free. But if you’d like access to a detailed report and scores, you’ll have to pay $39.95. You also have the option of signing up for ongoing access to your reports and scores for $179 a year.
What’s the difference between my personal credit score and my business credit score?
Your personal and business credit reports and scores are based on separate credit files and different sources of information.
Your personal credit scores and reports are based on personal identifying information tied to your social security number (name, date of birth, address, etc.), along with personal financial information like your account history from credit cards, loans, and mortgages, plus public records like bankruptcies and tax liens.
In comparison, your business credit score is linked to you by your Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Tax ID number, which is how the government recognizes your business for tax purposes. It’s based on information like your business’ background and financial information, banking history, inventory, sales and more
Business credit card application tips
Keeping an eye on your personal credit score is just as (if not more) important as monitoring your business credit score. That’s because when you apply for a business credit card, the bank will check your personal credit report to help make a decision on your creditworthiness. For this reason, we don’t recommend applying for travel credit cards unless your credit score is above 700. For the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, for example, it’s ideal to have a credit score of at least 740. The information for the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Consistently paying your bills on time and in full is a great way to improve your credit score. You’ll also want to maintain a low credit utilization ratio (amount of credit you have access to and how much of it you’re using), which has the second biggest impact on your score. It’s possible to boost your credit score in the long term by opening a rewards credit card, even though opening a card will put a temporary hit on your score.
If you’re not instantly approved, consider calling the bank’s reconsideration line. A few tips to remember when doing so:
- Be friendly. Customer service representatives appreciate kindness.
- Explain why you are applying for this card, other than to snag the intro bonus. Know the key features of the card that you’ll use.
- If you have another card with the same bank, ask if you can move some credit from another card to whichever card you’re applying for.
If you’re applying for a Chase card, don’t forget about Chase’s strict application rules: if you’ve opened five or more credit cards within the past 24 months from any bank (excluding certain business cards), it’s likely you will not be approved for any of Chase’s cards. If you aren’t sure, checking your Chase “5/24” status is easy.
Monitoring your business credit is an important step for any business. It isn’t as easy as tracking your personal credit, but much like a good personal credit score, a good business credit score will help ensure you have access to the best interest rates — which, if you’re looking to grow and fund your business, is vitally important.