A company’s business credit rating is a critical element in its ability to succeed. Companies with a good business credit rating will be able to obtain additional funding when they need it, while companies with a lesser business credit rating may not be able to find anyone willing to take the risk to work with them.
To establish a business credit rating a new company must find other companies (vendors or suppliers) willing to extend a line of credit to them and report that to the credit agencies. Once that is done, the new business can start building its business credit rating.
Once the company is established, keeping its Standard and Poor’s (S&P) credit rating in good shape is a necessity of they are to experience future success. S&P credit ratings for the long term are judged on a scale from AAA to D. There are a large number of intermediate ratings at each level between AA and CCC. In addition to the ratings, S&P can offer a "credit watch" that can serve as a boost or a burden to a borrower. If S&P changes the credit rating upward (an upgrade), it is a great positive; a downgrade means S&P is worried about the borrower's situation. It can also issue a neutral rating.
Borrowers with a rating of AAA are the highest quality borrowers and can get better rates of return on bonds they issue or better interest rates on loans. A AA rating is also highly regarded, with an A rating also more than accepted. A BBB rating is considered medium class, or satisfactory. BB to CCC ratings are considered non-investment grade (or "junk bonds"); anything lower indicates the borrower in question is in severe financial trouble.
A company’s S&P credit rating will play a major role in determining whether a company is worth investing in or lending money to. Banks and other lending institutions pay close attention to a company’s business credit rating and are normally eager to do business with companies with good credit ratings. Other companies will have to deal with high interest rates or show more collateral upfront before a company will work with them.