Business credit is vital if you ever need a business loan, and keeping your personal credit separate from your business should be a priority. Mixing the two could put your personal credit at risk if you encounter any financial problems in your business. Make sure you have an employer identification number (EIN) before beginning this process. Building your business credit with an EIN is the key to taking out a loan in the future.
With personal credit reports, the credit bureaus are legally required to give you free access to your credit reports yearly. The credit bureaus are not required to provide free access to business credit reports. For a fee, you can access your full business credit report and score, and you can gain free access to your reports through a company called Nav, which helps business owners manage and build their credit.
A Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) is used to identify companies in the United States. Creditors will pull a Dun and Bradstreet credit check on your business if you apply for a loan or line of credit. If you want to apply for any type of business credit, you will need to be listed in the Dun and Bradstreet database. Once you apply for a DUNS number, you will receive a unique nine-digit number.
If you're not sure if you ever registered for a DUNS number, you can access the Dun and Bradstreet website and enter your legal business name, along with your city and state and click the search button. Doing this will show if your company has been issued a DUNS number.
Business credit takes time to build, which is why it's important to start building your business credit with an EIN as soon as you can.
The first step is applying for a business credit card. Just like personal credit, you can only build your business credit score if you have a credit account which allows vendors to report your on-time payments to the credit bureaus. Before you sign up for any type of business credit card, make sure they report payments.
Once you get a business credit card, purchase something for your company, even if it's just something small. Make your payments early. Business credit scores are a bit different than personal credit scores. For example, business credit scores are 1-to-100. Paying on time means you can receive a score up to 80. Paying early can get you the highest score, which is 100.
If you're applying for a credit card and the application asks for your Social Security number, you can input your EIN instead, usually without any problems. However, it's important to keep in mind that the creditor can still check your personal account, especially if you're in the early stages of building your business credit score.