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List of Credit Rating Agencies

The 3 leading global credit rating agencies, often referred to as the Big Three credit rating agencies are:

  • Standard & Poor’s
  • Moody’s
  • Fitch Rating

These rating agencies are recognized by the Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization (NRSRO) by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.


No. 1 Standard & Poor’s

S&P LogoKey Facts

  • Company Name: Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC
  • Best known as: S&P
  • Founded: 1860
  • Founders: Henry Varnum Poor & Luther Lee Blake
  • Origin: United States


Standard & Poor’s is a credit rating agency, best known for it’s S&P 500 indices – a major US stock indices.  The company issues credit ratings on debts such as government bonds and corporate bonds.


In 1860, Henry Varnum Poor first compiled a comprehensive financial & operational state of United States railroad companies.  This led to the founding of “H.V. and H.W. Poor Co.” in 1868 with his son, Henry William Poor.  In 1906, Luther Lee Blake founded the “Standard Statistics Bureau” providing financial information on non-railroad companies.

In 1941, both companies merged to become Standard and Poor’s Corp.  In 1966, the company was acquired by The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Rating Table:

Investment GradeNon-Investment GradeShort-term Issue
AAA, AA+, AA, AA-, A+, A, BBBBB, B, CCC, CC, C, R, SD, D, NRA-1, A-2, A-3, B, C, D


No. 2 Moody’s

Moodys LogoKey Facts

  • Company Name: Moody’s Investor Service
  • Best known as: Moody’s
  • Founded: 1909
  • Founders: John Moody
  • Origin: United States


Moody’s Investor Service is a credit rating agency and commonly referred as Moody’s.  The company issues credit ratings on debts such as government bonds and corporate bonds, by measuring expected investor loss in the event of default.


In 1900, John Moody founded John Moody & Company and published Moody’s Manual of Industrial and Miscellaneous Securities.  The manual was sold out in 2 months, which provided info and stats on stocks and bonds of financial institutions, government agencies, manufacturing, mining, utilities and food companies.  In the stock market crash in 1907, the business was sold due to insufficient capital

In 1909, John Moody provided investors with analysis of security values by adopting letter rating symbols.  He became the first to rate public market securities.   In 1909, the publication Moody’s Analyses of Railroad Investments outline the analytic principles to assess railroad’s operations, management and finance.

On 1st July 1914, Moody’s Investors Service was incorporated. By 1924, Moody’s ratings covered nearly 100 percent of the US Bond market.

Investment GradeSpeculative Grade
Aaa, Aa1, Aa2, Aa3, A1, A2, A3, Baa1, Baa2, Baa3Ba1, Ba2, Ba3, B1, B2, B3, Caa1, Caa2, Caa3, Ca, C


No. 3 Fitch

Fitch LogoKey Facts

  • Company Name: Fitch Ratings
  • Best known as: Fitch
  • Founded: 1914
  • Founders: John Knowles Fitch
  • Origin: United States


Fitch Ratings is a credit rating, commentaries & research company, part of Fitch Group. The company issues credit ratings on debts such as government bonds and corporate bonds.


On 24th December 1913, John Knowles Fitch founded Fitch Publishing Company in New York City.  In 1997, it merged with London-based IBCA Limited and in 2000, it acquired Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Co. and Thomson Financial BankWatch.

Investment GradeNon-Investment GradeShort-term rating
AAA, AA, A, BBBBB, B, CCC, CC, C, D, NRF1+, F1, F2, F3, B, C, D



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