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How Business Credit Builder Programs Work – Are They Worth It?

Business credit building programs empower company owners. They give them the tools and resources they need to start building business credit. The result is improved credit reports at Equifax, Experian and Dun & Bradstreet. It’s the fast track to better business credit scores, which means more funding, less interest and no personal guarantees.

Without a doubt, everyone starting a business should build credit from day one. Getting a quality business credit score can take many months. For those that don’t make a direct effort, it might even be years before this happens.

What Business Credit Builders Include

Business credit building programs offer a range of features. The specific inclusions depend on which company you choose. Some offer more than others and their pricing often reflects that. You should not just jump on the most expensive builder, nor should you necessarily shop for the cheapest option. What matters the most is which particular features your business credit builders offer and what they mean for your business.

With that said, look below for a list of some common features that you might find in a business credit building program.

Setting Up Your Business

The first phase of building business credit is establishing your company as its own entity. Any credit building program worth its own weight will focus heavily here. You will receive step-by-step explanations on how to incorporate your business. Next, you will likely receive corporate compliance help which prevents your business from breaking laws and regulations. Some of these companies will treat the corporate compliance as a program of its own, even when included as a feature in their builder.

Preparing Business Credit Files

Your business needs to be set up with a Dun & Bradstreet credit file. This credit bureau is the most important one. The majority of corporate lenders use it when qualifying your business, especially when avoiding personal guarantees. Your Equifax and Experian credit reports will form naturally, but you must obtain a DUNS number to open a file with D&B. This process takes 30 business days maximum, but some credit builders make it happen quicker. You might also be guided to get a copy of your Equifax and Experian credit reports.

Helping You Get Business Credit

The most important part of building your business credit score is establishing credit. Credit builders usually push you to start building credit with vendor accounts. These trade lines work similar to personal store credit cards. You get a line of credit that can be used to purchase products from the specific store. This offer often comes without any personal guarantee needed. The store will report to at least one credit bureau. Over time, your responsible payment history will contribute toward your business’s credit score.

You might also be guided into credit builder loans, but these have many pros and cons. Always do your research first and never blindly apply for business credit just because some company says so. Many business credit offers come with high fees or require personal guarantees. This one area is where business owners are misguided the most. What one credit builder suggests or tells you to do might be golden advice. Meanwhile, the next builder could send you on a destructive path with the wrong suggestions – often due to their profit agenda.

Monitoring Your Business Credit

Lastly, business credit building programs will help you with keeping track of your business credit changes. Credit monitoring services are abundant already, some are even available for free. You should only consider this an added value when you receive actual credit reports and/or scores on at least a semi-regular basis. Otherwise, you are likely getting fed some limited proprietary tracking feature. For example, D&B lets you get alerts when your credit score changes for free – but they only tell you the direction of the rating change.

These are the four most fundamental points in every business credit builder. Many smaller features might apply for each category. Other things might also be included to add more perceived value to the company’s offering. However, only these four things are significantly important when trying to build business credit.

Are Free Business Credit Builders a Scam?

Remember that all these businesses have the same agenda. Each of them want to make money. The way they profit from bringing you on board depends on their monetization scheme. Some providers charge a standard monthly fee. In this case, you have a good idea on what you’re getting into from day one. But, there are also many free business credit builder programs and these can be more difficult to evaluate.

Free vs. Paid Business Credit Building Programs

The difference between a free and paid business credit builder is their monetization strategy. Free programs rely on something other than a subscription fee. It’s up to you to figure out what they do to make money. You should get an idea by reading business credit builder reviews.

In most cases, they bundle their free builder with a paid product or use the builder as a way to upsell their other offerings later. Sometimes the free builders also suggest you to order certain products or services, for which they get a commission.

Therefore, the fact a business credit builder is free doesn’t mean it’s a scam. The biggest ripoff comes from paying a high fee to get things done you can do yourself.

For example, the Dun and Bradstreet business credit builder (CreditBuilder Premium) costs $199 per month. This fee gives you your DUNS number quicker and lets you access your D&B scores whenever. Aside from that, most of what they provide can be achieved for free on your own. Why spend $2,400 over the course of a year when you could just use a free builder to simplify the DIY process?

How to Compare Business Credit Builders

Most business owners do not know how to choose between credit building programs. This issue is well understood. The product is such a niche offering that there’s not much content about it on the web. You basically have to trust your gut instincts when making your decision.

However, there are some things to consider. If you keep these points in mind you shouldn’t struggle to decide which program seems best. Take a look at the list below and factor these words of advice when comparing business credit builders.

  • What does it cost? Both free and paid business credit builders exist, but most of these products do cost. Take a look at the pricing schematics before making your decision. The majority bill monthly but what does that mean? It depends if their program includes little features that last as long as one of your credit building loans. If you do, you are incurring monthly fees that should’ve been avoided.
  • How comprehensive is it? Some business credit builders only give basic features. You want the program to cover all the bases. From setting up your business to work with Dun & Bradstreet to getting the right loans, it all matters. Make sure the credit building program you choose helps you every step of the way.
  • Are you being hyped with lies? Plenty business credit builders hype up their great benefits. Confusion can occur when their wording is meant to influence your decision. You should not trust any blanket claims, such as “you’ll avoid personal guarantees!” You can certainly obtain vendor trade lines with no guarantee. But, it’s impossible for a new business to get an unsecured business line of credit, or similar loan, without a personal guarantee.
  • How long will the program last? Most business credit building programs are set up with a monthly fee. The duration of your contract makes a huge difference. Make sure you’re not stuck paying a monthly bill for too long. In reality, most of the value that a business credit builder offers will come in the first 1-3 months max.

What’s the Best Free Business Credit Builder?

The best business credit builder might not be the most diverse choice. Most builders currently on the market are not free, so there are limited contenders for this title. Two top options to consider are BizFinPro and Credit Suite.

BizFinPro – Free Business Credit Building Program

At BizFinPro.com, you can use their step-by-step wizard at no cost. This website is particularly respectable because their offering is publicly visible. You don’t need an account, just go to the page for their ‘BizCredit Builder’ and get started.

The biggest problem with their wizard is the lack of a tracking function. You cannot mark off what you’ve done, it needs to be manually tracked. Their simple step-by-step instruction list fuels you with the guidance you need. Not every step with any business credit builder is essential. Simply copy over the important steps (their links) in a spreadsheet and note your progress as you go.

Credit Suite – Free Business Credit Builder System

Another quality free business credit builder is Credit Suite. This service provides an interface for users to keep track of their progress. It’s broken down into four steps – Business Credibility, Establish Business Reports, Start Building Credit and Monitor Business Reports.

Their user dashboard is very convenient. However, the claim that there are four steps is a misleading statement. In reality, there are four categories with many steps found in each. This company also cross-sells which cost either $2,997-5,997 at once or $597-897 upfront and $150-225 weekly for 24-28 weeks.

Do You Need a Business Credit Builder?

You do not need to pay for a business credit builder to work toward better business credit. These programs simply make sure you do all the right things to succeed. You can accomplish the same if you know what steps to take. That’s why a free credit building program can have so much power. It gives you the directions needed to get the end result on your own.

However, a few special features do exist in some paid credit builders. One example can be found in Dun & Bradstreet’s CreditBuilder Premium. They make sure you receive your DUNS number in as little as five business days. The normal maximum time frame is 30 business days, which is around six weeks.

The faster DUNS number is not an exclusive feature, yet it’s one of the main selling points with their credit builder. You can pay $229 to expedite your DUNS number creation. To do this, simply order DUNSFile. Your number will arrive within five business days, along with a basic credit report.

You might find their unlimited credit score monitoring to be worthy. However, this feature is available for free through their CreditSignal product. You will get alerted any time your D&B scores change. You do not get to see the actual score, but you can order your score when you feel your score has significantly changed.

Simply put, many features you receive in a premium credit builder do not justify the product’s monthly cost. You should do your due diligence and properly decide what the features are worth. Some things you will find for free elsewhere, while others can be bought as part of different products for much less. It’s hard to envision any reason why any business owner should spend as much as $200 per month on business credit building programs.

Conclusion

Business owners need to work on building their company’s credit. Without a strong business credit score, it will be hard to get funds to scale operations. As such, using a business credit builder from day one seems like a great idea. The truth is the processes involved in these credit building programs are super worthwhile. But, the value in the subscription fee is sometimes not justifiable.

Make sure you take the time to compare credit builders before settling with one. Your decision will dictate how you go about building credit, which financing options you use, etc. Some choices are better than others, but in the long term – you will be grateful for using a business credit builder to improve your corporate credit status.