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Akin: Tips for fleet owners on building business credit

June 6, 2024
A strong credit score can provide access to better terms and rates from lenders and suppliers, crucial for expanding operations or managing through tough times. Fleet owners can build and improve their business credit by following these seven tips.

Building a solid business credit score is vital for fleet owners who aim to secure financing, manage cash flow effectively, and potentially lower insurance premiums. A strong credit score can provide access to better terms and rates from lenders and suppliers, crucial for expanding operations or managing through tough times.

The following seven tips will assist fleet owners in building and improving their business credit:

1. Establish your business entity and bank account

Creating a legal business entity, such as an LLC or corporation, and opening a business bank account are fundamental steps in separating personal and business finances. This separation is crucial for building business credit, as it enables businesses to establish credit under the company name. It also adds a layer of protection to personal assets and enhances the business's credibility with lenders and suppliers.

2. Obtain a federal employer identification number

An EIN is essentially a social security number for your business. It's required for most businesses and is used to open a business bank account, apply for business licenses, and file tax returns. Having an EIN is also necessary for building business credit profiles with the major credit bureaus.

3. Register with business credit bureaus

To start building credit, a fleet owner must ensure their business is registered with the leading business credit bureaus, such as Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business. Obtaining a D-U-N-S Number from Dun & Bradstreet is a common first step. Regularly update your business information with these bureaus to keep your credit file accurate and active.

See also: How to reduce credit risks

4. Secure vendor accounts that report to credit bureaus

Trade credit, also known as vendor credit, allows businesses to buy now and pay later. Establishing accounts with suppliers that report payments to business credit bureaus is a powerful way to build a business credit history. Ensure that you consistently pay these bills on time, or even early, to positively impact your credit score.

5. Use a business credit card or fuel card wisely

A business credit card can be a useful tool for managing cash flow and building credit, provided it's used responsibly. Choose a card that reports to the business credit bureaus and strive to keep your credit utilization low. Always make payments on time; if possible, pay off the balance in full each month to avoid high-interest charges.

RoadFlex reports monthly to Experian, the major business credit bureau, and has helped thousands of fleets build business credit scores over time.

6. Pay bills on time or early

Payment history is a critical component of your business credit score. Late payments can significantly damage your credit rating, so it’s essential to pay all business obligations on time or, if possible, early. Setting up automatic payments or calendar reminders can help manage due dates effectively.

7. Monitor your business credit report

Regularly monitoring your business credit report allows you to check your progress, correct any inaccuracies, and identify areas for improvement. It also helps in detecting potential fraud or unauthorized activity on your account. You can obtain reports from major business credit bureaus, often for a fee, but some services offer free basic reports or monitoring.

Building a solid business credit score is a strategic move that can open up a number of financial opportunities for fleet owners and contribute to their long-term success. Fleet owners can establish and improve their business credit by following these seven tips, securing a financial foundation to support growth, efficiency, and resilience. It's a process that requires attention to detail, consistent financial management, and strategic planning, but the rewards in terms of access to capital, better financing terms, and enhanced business reputation are well worth the effort.

About the Author

Rush Akin

Rush is an experienced veteran in the fleet industry, with over 22+ years of experience in fleet management. Before joining RoadFlex, Rush served as the SVP of sales for Solera, where he was in charge of overseeing fleet sales and business development in North America. Prior to Solera, Rush worked with well-known brands in the industry, such as Rand McNally, Lytx, FourKytes, and Syntech Systems Fuel Master. Rush has a strong background in fleet and fuel management, as well as customer success. 

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