Learning & Insights
Five steps to establishing business credit
Establishing business credit is just as important as establishing personal credit. Here are five steps you can take to build a positive credit reputation for your business.
1. Separate your business accounts from your personal accounts
If you haven't already done so, you should obtain a federal Employee Identification Number (EIN), which is like a Social Security number for your business. Once you've established your business as a separate entity, you can open a savings, checking or other account in your legal business name. Be sure to pay all your bills from your business using only your business accounts.
2. Request business credit in your company's name
One of the fastest ways to build credit is to get a business credit card. Since credit utilization is a key factor in business credit scores, you should use your card (or cards) regularly, but don't max them out. Instead, limit your spending to about 20% to 30% of your credit limit.
If you're just starting out, you may need to begin with a secured credit card. A secured credit card is funded by the deposits in your checking account, similar to a debit card. But unlike a debit card, banks report your secured card's payment history to the credit bureaus, so your business will begin to build a credit record. With established business credit, you're more likely to be approved for a business credit card or a business line of credit in the future.
3. Establish trade lines with your vendors
Many vendors or suppliers extend “trade credit” to businesses for various purposes. This simply means they allow you to pay several days or weeks after you receive the supplies or materials you've purchased. If you have this type of relationship with a vendor or supplier, ask them to report your payments to a business credit bureau. That way, your business credit score will improve as you successfully meet the terms of your agreement(s). You should try to establish at least three trade lines to make a difference with your business credit score. If the vendors or suppliers you use don't report to a credit bureau, you can still list them as a trade reference.
4. Pay your bills on time
Just like personal credit, a late payment on any reported accounts will negatively impact your business credit. Set up automatic payments and email (or text) alerts to make sure you don't forget any due dates. You have enough to think about managing your day-to-day business operations—make paying bills as automated as possible.
5. Keep your records clean
Your business credit report will detail any public records filed in your company's name—bankruptcies, judgments and liens. Be aware of what's on your business credit report and review it at least once a year (just as you would your personal credit report). Immediately fix anything that's inaccurate by calling the credit bureau and/or your lender.
Why build business credit?
A strong business credit reputation may help you get lower interest loan rates and give you a leg up on negotiating better terms with your vendors and suppliers. Plus, you may even recruit better customers or clients because of your positive credit reputation.