Basics of Business Credit

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

Understanding Trade References and Payment Experiences

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 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 information on all of their experiences in the form of trade tape. Other Trade References are submitted manually to Dun & Bradstreet through the CreditBuilder product.

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 Trade References to Dun & Bradstreet*. Acceptable payment experiences that Dun & Bradstreet can verify may 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 Trade References may be able to demonstrate a pattern of responsible financial behavior. These manually submitted Trade References may impact a business's credit scores and ratings.

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

No, Dun & Bradstreet doesn’t accept manually submitted Trade References from:

  • Businesses legally related to your company
  • Banks
  • Credit card companies
  • Landlords
  • Foreign companies
  • Companies that have requested anonymity
  • Businesses that have been proven untrustworthy
  • Companies without a business credit file of their own

Dun & Bradstreet won’t consider additional Trade References from a company that already reports all business customers, because that information will already be in Dun & Bradstreet’s systems. Anticipated payments do not qualify as Trade References.

What Are Some Examples of Acceptable Manually Submitted Trade References?

Even businesses with a limited number of contracts usually work with vendors or providers who may be able to manually submit Trade References to Dun & Bradstreet for its verification and acceptance, including:

  • Accountants, CPAs, and payroll services
  • Vehicle and equipment leasing agents
  • Cleaning services
  • Computer repair companies
  • Construction/remodeling firms and subcontractors
  • Direct mail services
  • Freight/trucking/local delivery services
  • Furniture stores
  • Graphic design companies and printing services
  • Attorneys
  • Marketing companies and advertising firms
  • PO box rentals (not the US Postal Service)
  • Uniform suppliers 
  • Utility or gas companies
  • Warehouse rentals
  • Wholesalers

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 for approval and the service makes it easy*. Dun & Bradstreet will seek to verify your payment experience with the respective vendor. If accepted, the Trade Reference could impact your business’s credit scores and ratings.

Businesses can also enlist the help of a Concierge Manager for dedicated support. These business credit experts handle the details, leaving you free to run your business.

If you’re interested in disputing the 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 Help Impact My Business’s Credit Scores and Ratings?

  • Pay the bills for your business (including invoices for trade credit) on time or early
  • Ensure that your business’s details are accurate via D‑U‑N‑S Manager, a free tool from Dun & Bradstreet
  • Use D‑U‑N‑S Manager to dispute any late payments in your file that you believe are incorrect
  • 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. 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.


Explore Our Solutions

Manage My Business CreditBuild and monitor your company’s business credit fileLearn More
Monitor Another Company's Credit ReportEvaluate other companies' business credit filesLearn More