Basics of Business Credit

What Is a Trade Reference & Its Impact on Business Credit Scores & Ratings?

Understanding Trade References

Banks, vendors, customers, and insurance companies are just a sampling of partners who may review a business’s credit scores and ratings. The data found in a business’s credit file may be used to help set interest rates, credit limits, and premiums. Trade References are one source of information that can be used to help calculate a business’s credit scores and ratings, so it’s important that decision-makers understand what they are and how to use them when potentially building business credit. We’ve put together an infographic (that you can click to enlarge) to serve as a resource for business owners interested in learning more about Trade References.

What Is a Trade Reference?

A Trade Reference is a source that supplies past payment experience(s) between a business and a vendor. Some Trade References automatically provide payment experiences to Dun & Bradstreet on behalf of their customers in the form of trade tape. Other Trade References can be submitted manually through the CreditBuilder™ product, so that Dun & Bradstreet knows to try and collect your payment experience information from them.

Business Trade References are composed of seven base variables:

  1. Reporting Date or As-of-Date
  2. Manner of Payment
  3. Rolling 12-month High Credit (Highest Amount of Credit Used)
  4. Current Total Amount Owing
  5. Current Total Past Due
  6. Selling Terms
  7. Date of Last Sale

Suppliers can submit positive or negative payment experiences to Dun & Bradstreet*, which may potentially impact a business’s credit scores and ratings, including the D&B PAYDEX® Score.

Why Should a Business Send a Trade Reference Request to Its Partners?

Businesses that encourage their partners to submit payment experiences may be able to demonstrate a pattern of responsible financial behavior. These manually submitted Trade References may provide payment experiences that can potentially impact a business's credit scores and ratings.

Can Any Company Be Manually Submitted to Dun & Bradstreet as a Trade Reference?

No, Dun & Bradstreet doesn’t accept payment experiences from:

  • Businesses legally related to your company
  • Foreign companies
  • Businesses that have been proven untrustworthy
  • Companies without a business credit file of their own
  • Companies whose policies prohibit them from providing payment experience data to Dun & Bradstreet
  • Companies that automatically report to Dun & Bradstreet

Anticipated payments do not qualify as Trade References.

How Can My Business Manually Submit Trade References to Dun & Bradstreet?

Dun & Bradstreet’s CreditBuilder product is the only way to manually submit Trade References and the service makes it easy*. Dun & Bradstreet will seek to obtain your payment experience from the respective vendor. If accepted, the payment experience could potentially impact your business’s credit scores and ratings.

Businesses can also enlist the help of a Concierge Manager for dedicated support. These business credit specialists can help handle the details of building your business credit, so you can focus on running your business.

If you’re interested in disputing payment experiences that appear in your business credit file, you can do so for free with D‑U‑N‑S® Manager.

What Else Can I Do to Potentially Impact My Business Credit Scores & Ratings?

  • Pay the bills for your business (including invoices for trade credit) on time or early
  • Ensure that your business's details are complete via D‑U‑N‑S Manager, a free tool from Dun & Bradstreet
  • Use D-U-N-S Manager to dispute late payments or legal events in your file that you believe are not yours
  • Submit your financial reports to Dun & Bradstreet to help demonstrate your business’s health


*Trade References will be added subject to Dun & Bradstreet verification and acceptance. Dun & Bradstreet cannot guarantee that trade references will be accepted or that accepted trade references will impact your business credit file. Please see for eligibility, process and other information regarding Trade References.

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