Business Credit Reports vs. Consumer Credit Reports: What's the difference?

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • A business credit report is solely for a business and lists all pertinent information, such as company finances, liens, subsidiaries, and vendor payment data.

  • Consumer credit reports focus only on an individual's personal credit and information, such as loans, credit cards, delinquent accounts, and any liens. Consumer credit reports can only be accessed by the individual and only those with a "permissible purpose."


Business Credit Reports vs. Consumer Credit Reports: An Overview

Business and consumer credit reports have similar purposes: to inform prospective lenders about your creditworthiness and allow them to assess what risk they are taking, should they give you a loan or credit card or extend “buy now, pay later” terms to you or your business. They differ in the information they contain and how they are used.


Business credit reports contain specific information regarding the business, such as ownership information, subsidiaries, company finances, risk scores, and any liens or bankruptcies. A business's credit report begins once it is incorporated and receives a federal tax identification number. Unlike consumer credit reports, business credit reports are public information and accessible for anyone.


Consumer credit reports reflect only the information regarding an individual, such as their credit accounts (loans and credit cards), closed accounts, delinquent accounts, and any liens or bankruptcies.


A business credit report includes the following information:

  • Business background information, including ownership and subsidiaries

  • Company financial information

  • Banking, trade, and collection history

  • Liens, judgments, and bankruptcies


Consumer Credit Reports

When you first apply for credit, the credit bureaus compile a credit profile based on your credit activities. Only people with a “permissible purpose” may request your credit report.


 When they do, the bureaus generate a report that includes:

  • A list of your credit accounts, including loans and credit cards

  • The balance owed and the current monthly payment on each account

  • An indication that the accounts are current and properly paid, or delinquent with the number of days past due

  • A list of closed accounts

  • Public records of liens, judgments, and bankruptcies

  • Information on past and current employers

  • History of residential addresses

  • The credit bureaus analyze the information to generate a credit score, which lenders use as a measure of your creditworthiness.


Special Considerations

When a business establishes a business credit profile, the owner will be personally liable for any loan obligations, even if the business is a separate legal entity. It's rare for a new business to get a loan without a signed personal guarantee by the business owner.


Business owners need to take deliberate steps to establish and build their business credit profiles as early in their development as possible.

  • Create a separate legal entity for the business, such as an S Corp, partnership, or LLC.

  • A separate business, personal bank accounts and record keeping.

  • Establish trade credit accounts with vendors and suppliers.

  • Obtain a business credit card.

  • Make all payments on time.

Business credit reports can also be very useful management tools. Each of the business credit bureaus offers premium reporting services that can provide in-depth analysis for managing credit risk and business forecasting. A good business credit score means your business will have access to the financing it needs to grow at lower interest rates, more favorable payment terms from vendors, and lower rates on some commercial insurance.


Source: investopedia.com