Recently, I applied for a new business credit card and was denied based on data in my Experian business credit report. After calling to ask for reconsideration, I was first told that there was a negative mark on my business report and there was no way to get approved! This was rather concerning because I had never missed a payment on any of my credit cards (business or personal), always paid off each statement in full, and couldn’t think of anything that could possibly trigger a “negative mark” on my business credit report.
Now fortunately, I’ve never had any errors show up on my personal report, but I’ve heard they aren’t that uncommon. Luckily, there is a 100% free way to get a copy of your personal credit reports from all 3 credit bureaus (AnnualCreditReport.com), and there are numerous banks and websites that offer free score estimates and information from your reports (Credit Karma being my favorite).
Unfortunately, I didn’t know of any way to see my business credit report or get an estimate of my score so I started researching. The customer service rep I talked to was nice enough to inform me what bureau they pulled my business report from (Experian), so I at least had a starting point. The official Experian website doesn’t offer anything for free and wanted to charge $39.95 just to see my report one time!
That was when I stumbled upon Nav.com which promises a completely free letter grade view of my business credit report from two different business credit bureaus, no credit card required. I hadn’t heard of this website before, so I decided to give it a shot and see what it could tell me about my business report. Let’s see what they offer and what I learned by looking up my business credit.
Nav’s Free Offering
After signing up and entering your personal and business information, Nav will pull your credit score (a soft pull that won’t impact your credit in any way) from a few different locations for free:
- Experian Personal Score and Report Overview
- Experian Business Letter Grade and Report Overview
- Dun & Bradstreet Business Letter Grade and Report Overview
Nav’s Free Experian Personal Score and Report Overview
The personal score from Experian uses the VantgaeScore 3.0 Credit Score which is the same score that a lot of different banks and free credit reporting websites use to show you our “FICO” score. Creditors can pull any number of different FICO or Vantage scores in order to determine whether or not to extend you credit, so there is no guarantee this score will match the one used by lenders. Despite this shortcoming, it does go a great job of estimating your credit score and giving visibility into the different factors that influence it and what you can do to improve it.
While Nav doesn’t offer much detail if you drill into the different credit factor categories other than a broad explanation, just seeing the high level numbers can be very valuable in making sure your credit report doesn’t have any glaring mistakes. Being able to quickly check utilization (“Debt Usage” in the above pic) and number of inquiries can be valuable when deciding whether or not to apply for a new credit card.
While I consider Credit Karma the king of the free personal credit score/report world with their detailed view into both Equifax and TransUnion scores and reports for free, Nav offers the perfect compliment by having both a score and high level overview for the third main credit bureau, Experian. By having a completely free account open with both websites, you can keep tabs on all 3 of your personal credit reports and even set up alerts if you want to be notified when your report changes.
Nav appears to pull a fresh credit report monthly with your latest information. As always, this soft pull does not impact your credit score in any way.
Nav’s Free Experian Business Letter Grade
The second major free offering from Nav is access to your Experian Business Letter Grade which is a high level summary of your business score. Instead of a score between 300 and 850 that you get for your personal credit, this is simply a range from A-F indicating your business credit health.
While the letter grade itself is pretty broad, Nav does offer some other useful information for free. First is the number of tradelines (credit cards) that have been reported to the bureau which I highlighted in the picture above. Considering I have several business credit cards open, it was interesting to see that only one is showing up on my Experian business report. The second useful thing is a check for any derogatory marks (liens, bankruptcies, etc.) against the business that would certainly have a large negative impact on your score.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to drill into specific accounts or check credit utilization with the free business report. Even without this information it is still possible to get some value out of this free business credit overview, so I can’t see a strong reason not to sign up if you currently have or plan to get one or more business credit cards. It’s usually good to have as much information as possible that the bank may consider when deciding whether or not to approve you.
Nav’s Free Dun & Bradstreet Letter Grade and Overview
In addition to the personal and business information from Experian, Nav also offers a business grade from Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), one of the major business credit bureaus. Like the Experian business information, Nav offers a letter grade summary of your credit health with D&B and an overview of potential negative records associated with your business. In addition, Nav also offers a “Financial Details” overview for D&B with a few key pieces of information.
Unfortunately, my own business’s D&B report doesn’t have any information which means the business credit cards I have don’t report to D&B. A little research shows that a major factor of D&B reports seem to focus on vendor payments and on time performance, so it makes some sense that my credit lines wouldn’t show up there. Despite that, an advertisement I saw on Nav’s webpage indicates that certain business cards should report to D&B (Amex Blue for Business and Amex Business Gold are the specific cards shown), so you may be able to see more information on this page once you register.
Being able to see the utilization of your current business cards as it appears on your report would be really useful when deciding whether or not to apply for another business credit card. If you’re able to see one or more business cards in your free D&B report on Nav, be sure to let me know in the comments below.
Nav’s Paid Offering
While Nav has a great 100% free product that lets you look at your personal Experian score and high level report as well as your Experian and D&B business credit letter grades, they also offer more detail if you sign up for their paid premium service. For most people, the free offering is worth signing up for and probably offers enough information that they wouldn’t need to go any further or pay anything at all. On the other hand, if you are denied credit for your business because of what appears on your report or you plan on applying for a significant business loan or line of credit, having additional information may be useful.
As I recently fell into the first bucket of being denied credit and the phone rep citing my Experian report as the issue, I thought I’d give the paid service a shot in the name of writing up a proper review and hopefully getting to the bottom of my own situation. I chose the $29.99 monthly option and was able to immediately access all of the full credit reports below:
- Experian Business Credit Score and Report
- Dun & Bradstreet Credit Score and Report
- Experian Personal Credit Score and Report
- TransUnion Personal Credit Score and Report
Nav’s Paid Experian Business Intelliscore and Report
After joining Nav’s premium service, the Experian business report gets expanded from a letter grade into an “Intelliscore” that falls on a scale of 0-100. My yellow “B” letter grade turned into a green “90” score which seems rather odd. Might be a marketing trick to get more people to sign up for premium…
Despite the odd score color change, the improved report also offers all of the credit factors that go into the score which is exactly what I was looking for.
The business credit factors offered include the following along with how much weight each factor has on your overall business credit score:
- Payment Status (late payments) – 50%
- Derogatory marks – 15%
- Utilization – 15%
- Payment Trends (speed of payments) – 10%
- Company Stats – Age and # of Employees – 10%
In addition to detailed credit factors, you can view the full report which lists out individual trade lines. In the case of the credit card that shows up on my report, it’s extremely unspecific.
Nav’s Paid Personal Credit Offering – Full Experian + TransUnion Reports
As with the free offering, you still get access to your Experian VantageScore 3.0, but now you can also drill down into the different credit factors that make up your score. This includes being able to see specific credit accounts and well as where each credit inquiry came from. In addition, you can also access the full credit report itself and all of the individual details for your own personal information and each account and inquiry that is linked to the report.
In addition to the expanded Experian personal report, the paid service also provides the full TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 and report. This includes all of the credit factors, details, and full report, but unfortunately doesn’t really offer anything that Credit Karma doesn’t give for free. I wouldn’t recommend paying for Nav’s premium service for any of the personal credit offerings alone.
Nav’s Paid Business Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) PAYDEX Score and Report
Like the additional information provided for the paid Experian business report, the D&B also expands the letter grade into a 0-100 “PAYDEX” score as well as provides the detailed credit factors that go into that score. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to review this part of the offering because my business does not show up in the D&B system. I imagine this would be very useful information if you both had active tradelines reported to D&B and were seeking additional lines of credit for your business.
Wrapping Up My Own Credit Dilemma
I started out this credit seeking adventure with an application for a business credit card which was denied. According to the first phone rep I talked to about the application, there was a “problem” on my business credit report and they would be unable to reconsider the application. After a little research on business credit reports and finding Nav.com which allowed me to get an overview of my business score for free, I had a better idea of what my business score looked like and could see that there were no outstanding derogatory marks on my score.
After performing the tried and true method of HUCA (hang up, call again), I was able to speak to another representative who did look into reconsideration but decided to deny me based on the age of my business and the utilization of my existing business cards. At least they didn’t scare me this time by calling it a negative mark on my business report! The rep did say that while they wouldn’t be able to approve the existing application, applying again may be successful (although they didn’t specify why applying again would be different…). My personal credit report had a lot of inquiries and the deal I was attempting to apply for had passed by this time, so I didn’t push the issue.
I was able to successfully apply for a different business card a few weeks after being denied for the first, so it doesn’t appear to be any problem with my overall business credit, it just didn’t match up with what the first bank wanted at that time. For those curious, the first card which I was denied for was the Citi AA business card (I’ve never had a Citi Biz card before), and the second, in which I was successful with, was a BoA Alaska Biz card (my second BoA business card).
Overall, I was glad to stumble upon Nav even though it didn’t really solve my initial problem. I plan to cancel the paid service because it doesn’t seem to add much value for a business like mine (one that only seeks out business credit cards and not bank loans). I do plan to continue using the free service because it offers the free overview of the Experian credit report which I haven’t been able to find anywhere else. There are other services that offer an Experian score, but this is the only one I’ve found that lets you see the number of inquires, utilization, and other high level factors for free.
Credit Karma provides those same details for Equifax and TransUnion, so now I have all 3 major personal credit bureaus covered when I want to check my credit score and see the number of inquiries and utilization reported to each bureau thanks to Nav.
In addition, Nav is also the only place I’ve found to get ANY information on your business credit report for free, so it will probably prove useful in the future if I want to make sure there aren’t any negative marks before applying for more business credit cards.
Overall, Nav offers a pretty solid free product for people like me, but I think their paid offering is more suitable for larger small businesses that are working with vendors and non-credit card loans on a larger scale than my own. I’d recommend just about anyone that either had business credit cards or plans to get them sign up for Nav, and anyone who wants to keep close tabs on their personal credit from Experian can benefit greatly as well.