Pros / You can sign up and get a free credit score.
Cons / Scores are only updated quarterly.
Verdict / As one of the three credit bureaus, Experian offers accurate information and gives you greater insight into your credit. It also offers identity protection tools.
Experian is one of the three credit bureaus that monitor, track and generate credit reports. You can purchase reports directly through the bureau. It also offers a service called IdentityWorks that is available in two versions: Plus and Premium. Both have free trials for the first month.
For this review we focused on Premium, which costs $19.99 a month and offers comprehensive service, including monitoring all three bureaus. The Plus plan has the same identity monitoring features, but only monitors your Experian credit report. IdentityWorks Plus costs $9.99 a month. There’s also a CreditWorks Plus plan that offers the credit monitoring features without the identity monitoring. This costs $24.99 a month.
You can sign up to get a free Experian credit report every 30 days. The Fair Credit Report Act entitles you to a free report annually, so being able to check your report every month is invaluable. Keep in mind that this is a free report and not a score. You’ll have to sign up for one of the plans to check your credit scores. Some experts do advise that reports are more important than scores, and being able to see your reports more frequently means you can watch for any potentially fraudulent information. The free plan also includes credit monitoring alerts that notify you when something on your report changes.
Experian uses the FICO model for its scores. This is the most commonly used score and is what most lenders base their decisions on. Experian has a mobile app that gives you access to all of the information on the plan you sign up for. Another useful feature Experian offers is a credit score simulator. This lets you see how a change like a new credit card or paying off a loan affects your Experian score.
With the Premium plan you can send disputes directly through the Experian dashboard. If you see an error or discrepancy on your report, you can contest it with whichever bureau’s report it’s on by clicking a link in the dashboard.
You can sign up to receive alerts about new credit inquiries through text or email. These alerts can warn you about potential identity theft so you can quickly take action. One advantage of choosing one of the bureaus for credit monitoring is that you can act quickly to freeze your credit reports. This only works for your Experian file; you’ll still need to contact TransUnion and Equifax to freeze those files.
In terms of identity monitoring, Experian Identity Works compares well with other products that primarily focus on that service. You’ll get comprehensive coverage of your personal information. If your Social Security number, address or bank accounts are compromised you’ll receive an alert. If your wallet is stolen, Experian will work with you to cancel and replace any cards. There are also fraud resolution specialists who will help you file police reports and do any other necessary work if you’re the victim of identity theft.
As one of the three primary credit bureaus, Experian gives you access to the same information that lenders use to make decisions. The Experian IdentityWorks Premium plan also includes a wide range of identity monitoring tools, making it a good choice for credit and identity monitoring.