Basics of Business Credit

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

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Understanding Trade References

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 business owners understand what they are and how to use them when potentially building their business credit file. 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 commercial payment information to Dun & Bradstreet. A “Payment Experience,” or “Trade Experience,” is a record of such payment information that Dun & Bradstreet receives from a Trade Reference on its business customer. Payment Experiences may positively or negatively impact a company's Dun & Bradstreet business credit scores, or may not impact them at all. Some Trade Providers automatically provide commercial payment information to Dun & Bradstreet. Customers can also proactively submit Trade References to Dun & Bradstreet for its review, verification and possible acceptance through the CreditBuilder™ product. Manually adding Trade References, such as partners, lenders, and suppliers, with which you have trade experiences (payment history), may potentially impact your Dun & Bradstreet scores and ratings. 

Dun & Bradstreet cannot guarantee that Trade References will be added or that accepted Trade References will change or affect scores and ratings.

Business Trade References are composed of seven base variables which represent the creditworthiness of a business:

  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 payment experiences to Dun & Bradstreet*, which may potentially 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 request that their partners submit payment experiences may be able to demonstrate a pattern of responsible financial behavior. These manually submitted Trade References may provide payment experiences that can potentially impact a business's credit scores and ratings.

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

Some Trade References proactively submitted through the CreditBuilder product may not be accepted for a variety of reasons, which may include the following:

  • Some companies do not respond to Dun & Bradstreet’s requests for information within a reasonable time frame or at all. If Dun & Bradstreet cannot reach a Trade Reference, the submission will not be accepted. However, a customer may proactively resubmit references at any time for verification, after which Dun & Bradstreet will make additional attempts to contact your Trade Reference to collect the Payment Experience information for possible acceptance.
  • The company already automatically reports payment information to Dun & Bradstreet.
  • The company appears to be untrustworthy
  • Dun & Bradstreet does not have enough information about the company in its database to verify its legitimacy or other factors
  • The company’s policies prevent it from providing Payment Experience data to Dun & Bradstreet
  • The company is not located in the United States
Anticipated payments do not qualify as Trade References.

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*. Dun & Bradstreet will seek to obtain your payment experience from the respective vendor. If accepted, the payment experience could potentially impact your business’s credit scores and ratings.

Businesses can also enlist the help of a Concierge Manager for dedicated support. These business credit specialists can help handle the details of potentially building your business credit file, so you can focus on running your business.

If you’re interested in disputing 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 Potentially Impact My Business Credit Scores & Ratings?

  • Pay the bills for your business (including invoices for trade credit) on time or early
  • Ensure that your business's details are up-to-date via D-U-N-S Manager, a free tool from Dun & Bradstreet
  • Use D-U-N-S Manager to dispute late payments or legal events in your file that you believe are inaccurate
  • Submit your financial reports to Dun & Bradstreet to help demonstrate your business’s health


*Trade References will be added subject to Dun & Bradstreet review, verification, and acceptance. Dun & Bradstreet cannot guarantee that trade references will be accepted or that accepted trade references will impact your business credit file. Please see for eligibility, process and other information regarding Trade References.

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