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The 8 business credit scores that business owners should really know about

Different credit scores, different reporting companies, different outcomes for your business

Businesses receive business credit scores that communicate to partners and lenders how likely a business is to pay back its bills on time. This number, much like a consumer credit score, is used to make decisions that influence lending, renting, credit, and payment terms.

There are literally dozens of different business credit scores provided by firms like Dun and Bradstreet and Experian. Credit scoring agencies calculate their credit scores all a bit differently. And unlike consumer credit scoring, where there is more or less uniformity to the quality of data and how that data is used to create a score, there is no industry-wide accepted practice for calculating business credit.

Lenders and suppliers use different reports to help them make credit decisions, so it’s important to understand all the different types of business credit scores out there.

Here are the major ones:

D&B business credit scores

Dun and Bradstreet is one of America’s oldest credit bureaus. D&B is entirely focused on providing credit scoring and reporting on businesses, unlike some of its competitors which also provide consumer credit scores. D&B scores almost 300 million businesses around the world and is, by most accounts, the most influential business credit scoring company.

D&B crunches a bunch of different credit scores, which include:

PAYDEX

  • What is it: D&B’s PAYDEX score is one of the most popular credit scores that forecasts how likely a business is to pay its bills in a timely manner.
  • How it is calculated: To calculate PAYDEX, D&B looks at a business’ rolling 12 month payment history. The score is dollar-weighted, which means larger bills impact the score more than smaller invoices.
  • How to read the scores: PAYDEX scores range from 0-100, where a score of 80 means a business has always paid its bills on time. To get a PAYDEX score over 80, a business needs to pay its bills early (before the end of the current pay cycle).

Delinquency Predictor Score

  • What is it: D&B’s Delinquency Predictor Score tries to quantify the probability that a business becomes “severely delinquent” — that it pays its bills over 90 days from when they’re due. DPS also includes the likelihood a business seeks bankruptcy and closes operations without paying creditors in full within the next 12 months.
  • How it is calculated: D&B defines a severely delinquent firm as a business with at least 10% of its dollars over 90 days late in paying. These scores are dollar-weighted.
  • How to read the scores: DPS scores range from 101-670, where the higher the number represents a lower probability of becoming delinquent.

Financial Stress Score

  • What is it: You can think of D&B’s three scores — PAYDEX, DPS and the Financial Stress Score — as scores that try to estimate the odds that a business suffers the inability to pay its bills in increasingly grim terms. The Financial Stress Score predicts the likelihood that a business fails in the next 12 months.
  • How it is calculated: The score uses financial information, comparative financial ratios, payment trends, public filings, and demographic data.
  • How to read the scores: From 1,001 to 1,875, where 1,001 represents the highest probability of catastrophic failure.

Supplier Evaluation Risk Rating

  • What is it: The Supplier Evaluation Risk Rating is a score applied to suppliers of how likely they are to cease operations within the next 12 months. Whether it’s your business being scored or you’re looking to do business with a new supplier, businesses want to do business with other businesses who will be around for the long haul.
  • How is it calculated: SER uses financial information, trade payments, commercial trading activity, firmographic attributes, and proprietary signals when it analyzes 7 years of supplier payment data.
  • How to read the scores: Scale of 1-9, with 9 being the highest risk supplier

Experian business credit score

Experian is one of the major players in consumer credit scoring and the firm is also very active on the business credit side of things. Its Intelliscore Plus score is used by many businesses and lenders to assist credit decisioning.

Intelliscore Plus

  • What is it: Experian’s premier business score, Intelliscore Plus gauges how likely a business is to go 90+ days delinquent on its payments or bankrupt in the next 12 months
  • How is it calculated: Experian uses over 800 data points in concocting Intelliscore Plus
  • How to read the scores: Intelliscore Plus is a percentile score, ranging from 1 to 100. A higher score means a lower risk of defaulting or going belly up.

FICO score

FICO is a major player in credit scoring. It’s not technically a credit bureau, which means it doesn’t have to acquire business data. Instead, it’s a data provider that uses the credit scores from the other credit reporting companies to derive its own scores and actionable insights.

Small Business Scoring Service

  • What is it: FICO’s Small Business Scoring Service is very much focused on helping lenders make lending decisions quickly.
  • How is it calculated: Using data from various credit bureaus (interestingly, both on the consume and business side), SBSS scores the creditworthiness of a business — the likelihood a business will make good on what it owes.
  • How to read the scores: SBSS is ranked 0-300 with higher scores representing higher quality companies

Equifax

Like Experian, Equifax is a major competitor in consumer credit scoring, as well as business credit scoring. Its business credit scores are used by lots of companies — big and small — to help assess the credit risk.

Business Delinquency Financial Risk Class

  • What is it: Equifax’s business credit risk score addresses the question suppliers need to know: will they get paid back and when should they expect that payment?. More specifically, the Business Delinquency Financial Score predicts the odds of a severe delinquency on financial accounts.
  • How is it calculated: Equifax claims that its scores incorporate double the number of attributes than other credit scoring providers so that they should have good predictive power. Equifax’s business risk score may also include consumer data.
  • How to read the scores: Equifax pools businesses into 5 different groups (1-5) based on their risk of delinquency. A lower score corresponds to lower risk.

Business Failure Score

  • What is it: Equifax’s Business Failure Score predicts the likelihood a business will fail due to formal or informal bankruptcy within the next 12 months.
  • How is it calculated: Equifax calculates scores based on the financial attributes of an individual business but then compares that business’ financial health to over 10,000 other businesses.
  • How to read the scores: The Business Failure Score is also grouped in 5 sets (1-5). A lower score corresponds to lower risk.

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