A business credit report is a document that summarizes how well your company deals with debt. It includes your business credit score and information about your payment trends and account histories.
There are three major business credit bureaus, each with their own business credit reports. You aren’t entitled to view your business credit report for free, the way you are with your personal credit report. But all information from your business credit reports is public for customers who pay for it — including both your company and others.
Here’s what you need to know about business credit reports.
What is a business credit report?
A business credit report is a summary of your company’s history of borrowing money and paying it back, plus information in the public record.
It includes details such as:
Your business registration.
Your industry classification.
How many credit lines you have, how much credit you’re using and how much you have available.
Past payment history, including any bills that have gone to collections.
Liens, judgments and UCC filings.
Business credit bureaus crunch this data to create your business credit score, which is meant to sum up your business’s creditworthiness for potential lenders, business partners and other interested parties.
How are business credit reports used?
Business credit reports are used to assess the riskiness of your business. This can impact you in a number of ways:
Small-business lenders will weigh your business credit score and credit report as part of a business loan application. It helps determine how much money they’ll lend you and what rates and terms they’ll offer.
Other companies, such as suppliers, might check your business credit report before deciding whether to extend a tradeline or another form of credit.
You can check the credit reports of other companies you’re thinking of doing business with to get a sense of any risks they might present.
In general, you can get a business credit card based on your personal credit, which makes it a good option for newer businesses to access financing. Even though business card decisions don’t depend on your business credit, using one and paying it off on time can help build your business credit.
Where do you get your business credit report?
You’ll typically have to go directly to the credit bureau to get your business credit report. The three main business credit bureaus are Experian, Equifax and Dun & Bradstreet. They each have their own credit reports, and Experian and Dun & Bradstreet offer credit monitoring services.
Here’s what you can expect from each company.
Experian business credit reports
Your Experian business credit report should include basic information about your business, like its owners, parent companies and subsidiaries. It also notes any collections, liens, judgments, bankruptcies or UCC filings that your business has faced in the past.
Experian’s CreditScore Report costs $39.95. For that price, you’ll get a one-time view of your credit report with a summary of credit and financial information. You’ll also get Experian’s Intelliscore — its business credit score — and a Financial Stability Risk Score, which indicates how risky your business may look to lenders.
For an additional $10 — a total price of $49.95 — you can get information about specific payment history or UCC filings, too.
Experian’s credit report and monitoring service, Business Credit Advantage, costs $189 per year.
Equifax business credit reports
Like Experian, your Equifax business credit report contains information that’s in the public record about your company, like your business registration, and any judgements, liens or bankruptcies. It also includes an outline of your credit accounts with suppliers and financial institutions — plus an analysis of how your business is trending in terms of on-time payments and how it compares to industry averages.
You’ll have to reach out to Equifax’s sales team to request a copy of your business credit report — although getting your own company’s report is free.
Equifax does not currently offer small-business credit monitoring.
Dun & Bradstreet business credit reports
Dun & Bradstreet differs slightly from Experian and Equifax. First, to get a credit report from Dun & Bradstreet, you’ll need to register for a DUNS number, which is a unique identifier only used by that credit bureau. Experian and Equifax generate business credit reports more or less automatically based on what lenders report to them; you don’t need to register your business with those bureaus.
Second, Dun & Bradstreet’s credit report includes a PAYDEX score — its business credit score — plus three other scores designed to rate a company’s viability and likelihood of business failure or delinquency.
And third, Dun & Bradstreet credit reports include lawsuits, which don’t always show up alongside judgements and liens.
Dun & Bradstreet offers multiple credit monitoring services:
CreditSignal, which is free. Initially, this service offers access to your Dun & Bradstreet credit scores and ratings. But you can see those scores for just 14 days. After that, you’ll only be able to see whether your ratings went up or down.
CreditMonitor, which costs $39 per month. This service lets you view your credit file as often as you want to, plus get notifications when other businesses request information about yours.
Are there free business credit reports?
You aren’t entitled to view copies of your business credit report for free the way you are with your personal credit report.
But there are a few ways to get a free peek at your business credit reports. For instance, Dun & Bradstreet’s CreditSignal service lets you view a summary of your credit report for free — but then you only get updates about whether your credit score has moved up or down. You can also access your own company’s Equifax business credit report for free.
It’s wise to check your business credit report every once in a while so you can make sure it’s accurate — especially before you apply for a business loan. But credit monitoring services likely aren’t necessary for most small businesses unless you have a specific concern.
You may also have access to some of your business credit scores through your business bank or another third party you work with. For instance, Bank of America business checking customers can view their Dun & Bradstreet Delinquency Predictor and Small Business FInancial Exchange scores for free through the Business Advantage 360 online banking platform.