There are 3 main business credit reporting agencies in the United States, Dun &
Bradstreet, Experian and Equifax Commercial. These are the reporting agencies
your EIN credit is reported to.
Dun & Bradstreet, often called D&B, is the biggest business credit reporting agency,
as it is 10X larger than Experian or Equifax. They provide information on
businesses and corporations for use in credit decisions worldwide and publicly
traded company (DNB) on NYSE, headquarters in Short Hills New Jersey.
D&B roots track all the way back to 1841, with the formation of the Mercantile
Agency in New York. This was 50 years before the first consumer agency Equifax
was born. In 1933, the Mercantile Agency joined with R.G. Dun & Company and
became known as Dun and Bradstreet.
Four US Presidents were former employees of Mercantile Agency, which later
became D&B. They are Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland and
William McKinley. All of which worked as credit reporters in the company.
There are a couple of steps you’ll need to take to setup your business first, before
you get setup with D&B. The very first step is to setup your business entity! You can
build credit with any entity. But you’ll want to consider either a corporation or LLC
to help reduce your liability in the business itself.
With Sole Proprietors and Partnerships, you ARE the business, your one and the
same. In those cases, you’ll always be liable for what happens in your business.
With Corporations and LLCs, you and the business are separate from each other,
making it easier to also separate your liability.
You can setup your entity by visiting your Secretary of State website. Search for the
name you want to ensure it’s not already taken then follow the steps to setup a new
for-profit or non-profit business. Fees vary by state, but the setup process usually
only takes 15 minutes or less to complete.
Next, visit the IRS website to get your Employer ID Number or EIN. Do NOT pay for
your EIN… it’s completely free. There are companies who try to look official and
help you get your EIN, but at the end of the process they charge you a fee. Don’t be
fooled, you don’t need to pay.
Business credit reporting agencies like D&B get data from many different places.
These may include: utility companies, landlord, companies that help setup new
businesses, insurance and benefit providers and many others. If the reporting
agencies know you exist, you can have a low credit score even if you have no credit.
Check with D&B to see if they have a record setup for you now. It’s FREE and easy
to do this! You can go directly to D&B’s website to check iUpdate for your business
to see if you’re setup with D&B, Experian, or Equifax… all for FREE.
If you pull up a record for your business with the reporting agencies, before you
take another step you should consider pulling your actual reports. To do this, you’ll
need to enroll for credit monitoring. In doing so, you’ll see if you have any credit
reporting. You’ll also see if you have scores. And if you have negative items on your
report, you can dispute those through iUpdate or through monitoring.
If your search with D&B doesn’t show you have your D-U-N-S number, you’ll want to
get it setup.
The D-U-N-S number is a nine-digit number issued by Dun & Bradstreet and
assigned to each business location in the D&B database, each having a unique,
separate, and distinct operation for the purpose. Every business must first have a D-
U-N-S number before Dun & Bradstreet will assign a Paydex business credit score.
The DUNS number is the preferred method worldwide of identifying businesses.
Unlike national Employment Identification Number (EIN), a D-U-N-S number may
be issued to any business worldwide.
It is used by many foreign governments including the US and Australia, European
Commission, and even the United Nations. More than 50 global, industry, and trade
associations recognize, recommend, or require DUNS.
When you actually start applying for credit you should consider using some type of
business address or virtual address but setting up your entity and your D-U-N-S will
require a physical address of some kind, you can’t use a virtual address. And even
though you can obtain real business credit without supplying your SSN. Most
business bank accounts may require one to be opened.
You can search for your DUNS through the link at www.dandb.com/free-duns-
number. During the DUNS setup process you’ll be asked for A LOT of information.
If you select that you’re a government contractor, you’ll get your DUNS in about 1-2
weeks. If you don’t pay D&B anything and aren’t a contractor, it can take up to 30
days to get your number.
The entire process will take about 10-15 minutes. Once you’re done, D&B will
email you, and reps will also start to call and email you to upsell you to the D&B
Credit Builder program.
With Dun & Bradstreet there are 3 ways to start building your business credit. The
first way is by using their Credit Builder program https://www.dandb.com/credit-
builder/. This runs $159 monthly (April 2017), or they’ll also often offer you a one-
time fee you can also pay. They will offer to setup your D-U-N-S for you if you
purchase, without you needing to wait 30 days to get it by mail.
With Credit Builder you also get…Access to your D&B scores and ratings, can add
positive payment experiences to your report, get alerts when others inquire into
your business and see how your company compares to others in your industry.
With Credit Builder D&B allows you to add trade accounts you already have that
aren’t currently reporting to your D&B reports. These accounts then show as trade
lines helping you build your profile and score. This might be something to consider
if you have a lot of accounts you pay now that can qualify and aren’t currently
Keep in mind, this service is only to add accounts to your D&B reports, not
Equifax or Experian which many credit issuers and lenders use. Also, D&B isn’t
helping you access new credit, only helping you add existing credit to your reports.
Also keep in mind, many types of accounts cannot be added to your D&B using this
Credit Builder Service, https://www.dandb.com/glossary/trade-references/. From
https://www.dandb.com/glossary/trade-references/, “D&B works together with
thousands of nationwide vendors that report payment experiences on a regular
basis. These data providers have requested to remain anonymous and cannot be
added by a customer for trade reference.
Some types of companies do not respond to D&B’s requests for information within a
reasonable time frame. D&B will make 6 attempts to contact a company that has
been selected to provide trade reference, and will accept inbound references at any
time. However, a customer may resubmit references at any time, after which D&B
will make 6 more attempts.
Certain companies have proven, over time, to be less trustworthy. Accordingly, D&B
has identified certain characteristics associated with companies and maintains
policies related to the eligibility of that company to provide a reference.”
From https://www.dandb.com/glossary/trade-references/, “The following kinds of
trade references are amongst those that are not accepted by D&B. Payments that
have not yet been made but are anticipated, payments to businesses that have
shared principals or some other type of legal ownership relationship, financial
services: banks, credit unions, and insurance, bank references, utilities and gas
companies, credit card companies, landlords, virtual offices credit counseling or
registered agents, international companies, and businesses with an unknown SIC“.
So, before you buy, think about the accounts you may have who might report… Such
as your CRM or other types of software or other accounts that aren’t restricted. Also
keep in mind, getting D&B on the phone with your service provider isn’t always
easy… and very well can take time.
If you DO have good personal credit now, or a personal guarantor, you can
shortcut your business credit building process with all 3 reporting agencies. With
UBF, you work with a funding source that specializes in securing business credit
cards. This is a VERY rare, very little known about program that few lending
They can usually get you 3-5 times the approvals that you can get on your own.
Individual approvals usually range from $2,000-50,000. Approvals can go up to
$150,000 per entity such as a corporation.
With UBF they actually get you 3-5 business credit cards that report only to the
business credit reporting agencies. This is HUGE, something most banks and card
issuers don’t offer or advertise. The lender can also get you low intro rates, typically
0% for 6-18 months and they’ll also get you the best cards for points, meaning you
get the best rewards.
You must have excellent personal credit now, preferably 685 + scores… the same as
with all business credit cards. You shouldn’t have ANY derogatory credit reported to
get approved. You must also have open revolving credit on your consumer reports
now. You’ll need to have 5 inquiries or less in the last 6 months reported and you
can also use a guarantor.
All lenders in this space charge a 9-15% success based fee. You only pay the fee off
of what you secure. Remember, you get a ton of extra benefits and about 3-5 times
more money with this program than you’d get on your own… which is why there’s a
fee… the same as all other lending programs. You can get approved using a
guarantor. You can even use multiple guarantors to get even more money.
You can also build business credit using NEW accounts, instead of adding existing
accounts to your D&B profile. There are many benefits of building business credit
this way you don’t need to buy Credit Builder, you don’t need good credit, cash
flow, or collateral, you’re building your business credit AND getting real useable
credit at the same time and you’re building credit with all 3 reporting agencies.
Vendors are companies who will offer you credit, even if you have none now, and
report to the business reporting agencies. They will offer you Net 30 terms
usually… meaning you have 30 days to pay off what you borrow in full. Some will
offer Net 10, 15, 20, 30, or 45 days and you can get approved even as a startup.
Before you apply for vendor accounts, you should setup your business credibly first.
Credit issuers and lenders have a “secret” set of requirements you must meet to get
approved. These requirements are to determine if your business is legit and
“credible”. You must insure you meet these requirements BEFORE applying for any
type of credit.
You must have a website and professional email address… Not a Gmail or AOL type
email. You must have a BUSINESS phone #… Not a mobile or home phone. You
should have a toll-free # and fax #. Your phone needs to be listed with 411 and you
should be listed online, and all of your listings the same. You need a real business
address or virtual address… or a home address, not a P.O. box, or UPS address.
Make sure you obtain all necessary licensing needed for your industry and state.
You should be listed online, and all of your listings should be the same.
Some vendors to start with who report to D&B and will approve you with no
existing credit include Seton, Quill, Gemplers, and Uline. For REAL business credit
linked to your EIN not your SSN… don’t put your SSN on the application.
D&B will want you to have 2-3 of these types of accounts to activate your profile and
score. You do NOT need to pay D&B to have your profile activated. You just need to
find items you want to buy, apply for credit, use that credit, pay the bill timely.
You should have 5 payment experiences to start applying for store credit. Most
major retail stores offer EIN only business credit including, Staples and Office Depot,
Lowes and Home Depot, BP and Chevron, Best Buy, Apple, and Dell, Walmart,
Costco, and Sam’s Club and most others.
With 10 total payment experiences you can start to secure fleet and cash credit
cards based on your EIN only. And you’ll have a much better chance of getting loans
and credit lines. In some cases you can even obtain lending such as auto leasing
without a personal guarantee.
Just like with consumer credit, building your business credit is a never-ending
process. The more credit you apply for the more you get… and the more you use
that credit the higher your limits become. Also keep in mind, ALL lenders review
business credit when applying for business loans… even high-risk lenders.
The main credit score used in the business world is known as a Paydex score,
provided by Dun and Bradstreet. From D&B… “The D&B PAYDEX® Score is D&B’s
unique dollar-weighted numerical indicator of how a firm paid its bills over the past
year, based on trade experiences reported to D&B by various vendors.”
The Paydex score ranges from 0-100, with 100 being the best score a business can
obtain. A score of 80 or higher is considered “good” or healthy credit. A business can
obtain a good business Paydex credit score by ensuring payments are made
promptly to suppliers and vendors.
Business credit scores are based only on whether the business pays its bills on
Expect payment may come early 100
Payments comes within early discount period 90
Payment is prompt 80
Payment comes 14 days beyond terms 70
Payment comes 21 days beyond terms 60
Payment comes 30 days beyond terms 50
Payment comes 60 days beyond terms 40
Payment comes 90 days beyond terms 30
Payment comes 120 days beyond terms 20