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How to Avoid "Cookie Cutter" Credit

You probably already know the best way to build up your business credit is to add payment history. If you don't have any vendors or suppliers, you may try to use some of the more familiar trade lines offered up online.

Unfortunately, this can lead to "cookie-cutter" credit where you end up with the same generic payment history as everyone else and nothing of substance that proves your creditworthiness. Believe it or not, using generic suppliers can sometimes do more harm than good.

Trade lines, by definition, are companies who report all business transactions to at least one of the major business credit bureaus, such as Dun & Bradstreet, BusinessExperian, PayNet, Cortera, or Equifax for Business.

In many cases, these "auto-reporting" creditors will provide Net 30 accounts based solely off the fact that you have an existing business credit profile. That's why its important to keep the data in your profile as accurate as possible — so it provides a well-rounded, positive picture of your company's creditworthiness.

In reality, though, you may never have needed to use these companies because your business probably shops more at a local level, and buys more from smaller Mom & Pop suppliers than with the larger companies who would be auto-reporting to the bureaus — and that usually means your regular day-to-day payments to suppliers are never going to magically flow into your credit report to help improve credibility.


Before you rush out to open accounts with some of the more "popular" companies (shown below) who report to the bureaus, you need to know that there is an inherent risk that goes along with their usage, including that cookie cutter look and feel when using the same creditors as everyone else.

D&B and the other business credit bureaus study patterns of behavior. They are constantly on the lookout for anything that resembles fraud that can hurt their corporate clients. They are very familiar with the practices of so-called "credit enhancement" companies. And they also know there are companies out there who will charge you hundreds of dollars to "establish" trade lines that are, in actuality, free to any qualifying business.