Rating agency definition
Rating agencies issue credit ratings for borrowers, including individuals, businesses, institutions and local and national governments.
Ratings agencies for borrowing by individuals tend to focus on this area (eg Experian and Equifax) and issue a single credit score per individual no matter the type of debt involved.
Credit ratings for business, institutions and governments are dominated by a group of agencies. The big three agencies are Standard & Poor’s (S&P), Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings. These agencies usually assign letter-based ratings, although they are not always exactly aligned. S&P’s ratings range from a top rating of AAA down to C and D ratings. Different ratings may be applied to different type of borrowing so a single institution could have different ratings for different types of debt issue.