Business Credit

Business Credit Scores & Ratings

Understanding the D&B PAYDEX® Score, SER Rating, and More

A company’s business credit scores and ratings are part of its Live Business Identity in the Dun & Bradstreet Data Cloud and are designed to help other organizations gauge risk and understand the company’s financial health. The scores and ratings can help businesses in numerous ways: A company can use these analytics when deciding to extend business credit to a customer or to contract with a supplier, a bank can consult a business credit report when deciding to offer a loan, and business owners can use the information in their business credit file to help demonstrate their credibility.

Dun & Bradstreet Scores and Ratings Overview

Here’s a quick breakdown of the scores and ratings in your Dun & Bradstreet business credit file and what they can mean:

PAYDEX® Score

The PAYDEX measures a business’s past payment performance based on information in the Dun & Bradstreet Data Cloud. On a scale of 1 to 100, scores of 80 and above are considered low risk and could potentially increase a business’s credibility to creditors.

A business’s PAYDEX Score is roughly equivalent to an individual’s FICO credit rating, and many suppliers, banks, and customers will look at a company’s PAYDEX Score and business credit report from Dun & Bradstreet before engaging that company’s services.

The Basics: 1 to 100

Dun & Bradstreet assigns scores on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the best possible PAYDEX Score. Scores are divided into three Risk Categories, with 0 to 49 indicating a high risk of late payment, 50 to 79 indicating a moderate risk, and 80 to 100 indicating a low risk.

How You Can Impact Your Company’s PAYDEX Score

The PAYDEX Score reflects a business’s credit history and payment trends. Two of the most effective ways to help improve your business’s PAYDEX Score are (1) paying your bills on or ahead of time and (2) making sure your suppliers and lenders are reporting your payments to Dun & Bradstreet.

D&B® Delinquency Predictor Score (DPS)

The D&B Delinquency Predictor Score offers insight into the likelihood that a business could make a late payment, go bankrupt, or have future payment failures. On a scale of 1 to 5, a DPS of 1 suggests a low chance for delinquency and a DPS of 5 suggests a high chance of delinquency.

D&B Failure Score®

The D&B Failure Score (formerly the Financial Stress Score) also uses a 1 to 5 rating, but the FSS pertains to the business’s likelihood of financial stress – such as filing for bankruptcy – in a 12-month outlook.

D&B® Supplier Evaluation Risk (SER) Rating

The D&B Supplier Evaluation Risk Rating is crucial for suppliers and businesses interested in joining supply chains. The SER Rating helps predict the chance a supplier will become inactive or shut down in the next 12 months. Since an inactive supplier could seriously disrupt a company’s supply chain and overall business, the SER Rating can be an important part of a business credit report for companies doing research. On a scale of 1 to 9, a SER Rating of 1 indicates low risk and 9 indicates high risk. This rating can be important because larger corporations may require specific business credit scores and ratings for their suppliers and subcontractors.

D&B® Credit Limit Recommendation

A D&B® Credit Limit Recommendation is created by analyzing the size, industry, and payment history of a business. It is primarily used as a guide by companies considering extending a line of credit to a company. Also, some banks and creditors may look at this recommendation when making decisions about extending a loan to a business.

D&B® Rating

The D&B Rating combines a company’s size and its balance sheet information (the company’s assets, liabilities, and the owners’ equity) and uses this to create an overall rating for the business’s creditworthiness. This score can help viewers make sense of all the information in a business credit report by giving an overall indication of a company’s credibility.

How Are Companies Using Your Business Credit Scores and Ratings?

Whether you know what’s in your business credit file or not, it is important to understand that other businesses may be using the information to help make critical decisions that could help or possibly hinder your business. Many lenders, potential partners, current customers, and vendors inquire into and monitor the business credit scores of their clients, partners, and vendors. They can use the scores and ratings to determine whether to extend more business to you (and what terms and conditions to offer) or to work with another company instead. Here’s how companies may be using your business credit file if you’re a supplier, manufacturer, or construction business:

Supplier

As mentioned above, the SER Rating can be especially important for suppliers to keep tabs on. If you’re a supplier or a business trying to break into a supply chain, potential partners may be looking at this score specifically when they purchase your report. Some large corporations require partners to have a “low risk” SER Rating, so if you have a “medium” or “high risk” rating, you may find it more difficult to break into their supply chains.

As a supplier, the information in your file could also be used to help ascertain whether you make payments on time and to forecast if you will continue to do so in the future. If you’re part of a supply chain, any late payments your business makes could affect the other companies in your chain and those companies may be using your business credit file to anticipate any issues.

Manufacturer

Manufacturers and suppliers are similar when it comes to the way businesses can use the information in a business credit file. Just as with suppliers, businesses will want to be confident that the manufacturer they’re considering won’t have any production disruptions. Because manufacturers sell to other companies – and those other companies have delivery obligations to their own customers and may even have to meet risk criteria (such as a low SER Rating) themselves – manufacturers need ways to help demonstrate their ability to deliver products without disruption. Since one business in the chain can affect all the others, it’s important that each company has strong scores and ratings.

Construction

There are several reasons a construction company’s business credit file might be accessed by another company. A construction firm must not only pay its workers on time but also work with credible vendors and meet hard deadlines. Businesses looking to hire a construction company may use the information in its business credit file to see if there are any financial stressors within the company that may prevent it from being able to order enough materials on credit or that might even cause it to fall through on a contract. Having strong scores and ratings as a construction company may mean winning more bids and getting more business.

How to Check Your Business Credit Scores and Ratings

You can use CreditBuilder to monitor, manage, and impact your Dun & Bradstreet business credit scores and ratings. However, if you only want to check your business credit file once, you can order a stand-alone business credit report. This can be helpful to let you know where your company stands at a given point in time, but it won’t indicate if your any of your scores and ratings change in the future.

CreditSignal® is a free tool that will alert you if your scores and ratings go up or down or if another company makes an inquiry into your business credit file (but it doesn’t show exact scores and ratings).

Ways to Improve Your Business Credit Scores and Ratings

One of the best ways to improve your business credit scores and ratings is to pay your bills on time. That might seem very basic, but logically it makes sense: Potential and current customers, lenders, and partners want to know that you’re reliable and credible. Most of the business credit scores that these businesses consider reflect whether or not a company pays its bills in full and on time. The PAYDEX Score is a good example.

Another way to help impact your scores and ratings is to make sure that your company information is up-to-date. This includes:

  • company name
  • industry
  • company’s phone number
  • company’s physical address or point of commerce
  • company principals (names and titles)
  • employee count
  • annual or projected sales
  • mailing address

At least one Dun & Bradstreet score takes into account the completeness of your company information when it is calculated. You can update your company information with Dun & Bradstreet for free using Company Update. You can also use Company Update to dispute any late payments in your file that you believe may be incorrect.

A third way to impact your scores and ratings is to upload your firm’s financial reports to your business credit file. This can help demonstrate your company’s financial health and will be taken into consideration when your scores and ratings are calculated. In addition to impacting some of your scores and ratings, your financial statement will be available to companies pulling your business credit report.

Finally, you can ask your suppliers to submit your paid invoices to Dun & Bradstreet as a Trade Reference. And with a CreditBuilder subscription, you can even submit Trade References to your own file.* Either way, you’ll probably want submitted Trade References to be from companies with whom you have a good working relationship and who can report positive payment experiences with your company. To learn more about Trade References and how they can impact your scores and ratings, please visit our Trade References page.

Get the complete list of steps to help you impact your business credit scores and ratings with our How to Build Business Credit guide.

*Trade References will be added subject to Dun & Bradstreet verification and acceptance. Trade References are counted as fulfilled when a qualified reference is successfully added to your report. Please see the Trade References glossary page for eligibility, process and other information regarding Trade References.