By Gerri Detweiler –
Many entrepreneurs find the process of building business credit frustrating. It’s not terribly difficult, but it does involve a few steps, the most important of which is to obtain accounts that report to commercial credit agencies.
By paying those bills on time (or early) and keeping your debt in check, you can help build strong business credit. But because many small business bills aren’t reported to commercial credit reporting agencies, business owners may find themselves with little credit data on their reports.
But there’s a new simple solution that can help business owners build credit using accounts they already pay, and it’s fast and easy. Here’s how it works.
You set up an account with eCredable, a service designed to help small business owners build credit using bills they already pay. You can link specific types of bills (see below) to eCredable, which then reports that information to commercial credit reporting agencies.
Those accounts, when reported and paid on time, can help build business credit. Currently eCredable works with Experian and Ansonia and expects to report to another major business credit reporting agency in the coming months.
Linked accounts don’t have to be in the name of the business, however you must attest that you use those accounts in your business. This is helpful for small and/or young businesses (including home-based businesses), that may use their name (instead of the business name) on their accounts.
The types of accounts that may be reported include:
• Mobile or landline phone
• Cable or satellite TV
How Long Does It Take?
While some vendors take 30 – 60 days to report new accounts to business credit agencies, the process with eCredable is fast. “We usually get the data in a few hours once the account is linked,” says Steve Ely, CEO of eCredable. “We put it in our file and every week we report to Experian.”
Even better, up to 24 months of payment history may be included, which can be a tremendous boost for a business that has established accounts. Let’s say you’ve had a cell phone account you use for your business for a couple of years, for example. If you link that account to your eCredable account, that past payment history (up to 24 months of the most recent payment activity available from the provider’s website) will appear on your Experian and Ansonia commercial credit reports within a week or less.
Business credit reports (check yours for free at Nav) don’t list the names of creditors, and these accounts are no different. Individual accounts will be reported under the category of “business services.” In other words, the name of the utility provider, cell phone company etc. will not appear on the report — it will be included in that category.
Is it Safe?
Although business credit reporting is new for eCredable, the company itself has been around since 2009 as a consumer reporting agency. Its mission has been “to help almost 60 million adults who would like to access affordable financial services, but are hindered by their lack of a positive credit history.” As a credit reporting agency, it is required to abide by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and maintain standards to help ensure maximum possible accuracy.
Recently it expanded its services to help entrepreneurs build small business credit. “Historically we focused on helping consumers build a credit history from their phone, internet, and utility payment histories,” explains Ely. “Many of these consumers told us they were small business owners and could we help them build better business credit scores too. The technology and user process is very similar, so we spent the last year enhancing our system to meet this critical need.”
How Much Does It Cost?
This service is much more affordable than some credit builder programs that cost hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars. It costs $49.95 to set up an account and then $9.95 a month to maintain it. You can link as many qualifying accounts as you want, as long as they fall into the service categories above and offer online access to the account information.
About the Author: Gerri serves as Education Director for Nav, which provides business owners with simple tools to build business credit and access to lending options based on their credit scores and needs. She develops educational programs and content for small business owners, and works on advocacy initiatives. A prolific writer, her articles have been featured on popular websites such as Yahoo!, MSN Money, ABCNews.com, CBSNews.com, NBCNews.com, Forbes, The Today Show website and many others.
This article originally appeared on Nav.com.