Find out what a business credit score is, why it’s important and how to improve credit score for your business.
If you’re a sole trader, it’s your personal credit score that will matter when you’re looking for credit. Whereas if your business is set up as a limited company, lenders may also check your business credit score when you apply for a financial product.
Like personal credit scores, business credit scores are based on financial history. They’re a measure used by lenders to decide whether businesses will be able to manage repayments.
The score usually ranges from 0 to 100. You want to have a score closer to 100, as a high score indicates creditworthiness and therefore a low risk to lenders. Whereas if you have a score closer to zero, you’d struggle to get credit.
If you’re opening a business bank account, applying for a business loan, or even just arranging a mobile phone contract, your business credit score may affect whether your application will be accepted. It can also impact the rates you’re offered.
If you have a poor business credit score – for example if your business has missed loan repayments in the past or you’ve made several failed credit applications – you may struggle to access finance for your business. Or if you do manage to find finance, you may be offered very high interest rates.
If you have a good business credit score, you’re likely to find it easier to get credit and you may be offered more competitive interest rates.
It’s important to understand that your business doesn’t have a single business credit score. There are several credit reporting companies and each company uses its own methods and scoring system. Different lenders will use different credit reporting companies when they’re checking your credit score.
To find out your business credit score, you need to contact one of the business credit reporting companies. They may send your report in the post, or they may give you access to your credit score via an online account.
There are three main credit referencing agencies (CRAs) in the UK: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
For example, you can access your Experian business credit score online. They have a subscription model for viewing your business credit report, and you can sign up for monthly access for £24.99 (+VAT).
To check a business credit score, CRAs collect information from your application form, as well as public records and companies you have relationships with. This can include:
These are some things you can do that may help to improve your credit score.
Check your credit rating – incorrect information on your credit report can give lenders the wrong impression and might affect your credit score. Look into your score before you need to apply for credit to see if there’s anything that you might need to dispute or have corrected.
Open a business bank account - if you haven’t already, open a business bank account in your business’s name. You might also want to consider taking out business credit, like an overdraft and a business credit card, to establish your business credit score – but it’s important to always make sure you’ll be able to keep up with repayments.
File on time – make sure you submit your accounts to Companies House and file returns before the deadline. Filing late can give the impression to lenders that you’re struggling financially. You might also consider having your accounts audited to give you peace of mind that there aren’t any mistakes in your reports.
Pay your bills on time – pay your bills and invoices on time and keep up with any credit repayments to avoid negatively affecting your credit rating.
Close accounts you no longer need – if it looks like you have lots of credit available in multiple accounts, this may weaken your business credit score.
Limit credit applications – try to avoid making lots of credit applications in a short period. If you’re rejected for business credit, don’t immediately apply to another lender. Lots of credit applications on your record can make you look desperate for credit, which can negatively impact your rating.
Keep information up to date – always inform your contacts, suppliers, customers, and Companies House of any changes to your business status, contact details or location. If your records and correspondence show conflicting information, it can be a red flag to lenders, no matter how small the error is.
Check your personal credit score too Finally, if you’re a startup or a small business with less than three directors, then lenders may look at your personal credit score as well as your business credit score. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re doing everything you can to improve both your scores, and to check them regularly.
You should conduct your own thorough research, including speaking to experts, before applying for credit.
Do you have any other questions about your business credit score? Ask them in the comments.
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