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Trade References and Business Credit

positive-trade-referenceA good business credit rating is a very valuable business asset. Having solid credit secures access to financing at reasonable rates, opens up new business opportunities, and helps businesses endure fluctuations in revenue.

Trade references* can have a big impact on a business’s credit rating. These reports from suppliers are a key criteria used by potential creditors, lenders, and suppliers to evaluate the true state of a business’s financial health.

So, how do trade references work? How can business owners use them to improve their business’s credibility?

What Is a Trade Reference?

Trade references are the payment history information provided to business credit bureaus by a business’s suppliers. Several variables are accounted for in a trade reference, including the highest amount of credit utilized in the previous twelve months, the total current balance, the date of the last sale, and whether payments have been made on time.

How Trade References Affect Credibility

Potential suppliers, landlords, lenders, and other business entities needing to evaluate a business’s credibility will check trade references to gain a true sense of an applicant business’s financial well-being.

If trade references report that payments are typically made late and balances are high, many business entities will conclude that the applicant is in poor fiscal health, and that doing business with them may pose an undue level of risk. Thus, it is crucial that business owners manage their credit accounts with suppliers prudently, by keeping them in use, not overusing them, and making payments ahead of schedule.

Maximize Your Trade References

If your company already has a D&B D-U-N-STM number, then you have the potential to maximize the positive impact of your trade references. If your business is lacking business credit history, then you can open starter accounts with vendors that have liberal credit policies, and ones that furnish data to D&B. You’ll need to have at least four vendors giving trade references in order to establish a PAYDEX® score.

The PAYDEX® score works on a scale of 0-100. Anything over 80 is considered to be a good score, and if your four trade references are positive, your score should be in the higher range. Of course, the higher your PAYDEX® score, the better, and you can maximize it by making payments ahead of schedule.

Another way that business owners can make the most of their trade references is to sign up for CreditBuilderTM from Dun & Bradstreet This service allows businesses to add up to four favorable trade references of their own, which comes in handy if they already have solid payment history on unreported vendor accounts.

*Trade References will be added subject to D&B® verification and acceptance. Please see http://www. for eligibility, process and other information regarding Trade References.


John R. Klaras is a serial entrepreneur and small business professional, a writer, and an educator by trade. With nearly a decade of experience in the telecommunications industry, he is currently in the process of building a burgeoning new microbusiness. He has written for leading companies in a wide variety of verticals, including travel, finance, motorsports, and real estate.