Experian offers some of the best online tools you’ll find in a credit reporting company, along with an excellent array of educational resources. When you sign up for their monthly credit monitoring, you’ll get reports and scores every month from each of the Big Three Bureaus, along with comprehensive tools and resources to help you improve your credit score. They also have plans designed specifically for businesses, with the same monthly reports and scores.
Since 2013, Reviews.com has been helping millions of people find the best of the best when it comes to all kinds of products and services, including credit reporting. We spent hours of research looking into Experian and its offerings including how it compares with top rivals to bring you the most current information, including standout features, available plans, and more. The author of this review does not own any stock in the services or companies mentioned in this review or any other credit reporting service.
|Price||$24.99/month ($4.99 for the first month)|
|Monthly Credit Reports||Equifax, Experian, TransUnion|
|Monthly Credit Scores||Equifax, Experian, TransUnion|
|Identity Theft Insurance||$1 million|
Experian’s primary claim, while a little dense, is refreshingly straight to the point and free of marketing fluff. “Experian CreditWorks Premium checks your Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax Credit Reports each day and notifies you when key changes are detected,” it declares. “See your bigger credit picture with Credit Reports, FICO Scores, and monitoring from all 3 credit bureaus.”
Is it True?
Unequivocally, Experian sticks to its word in these two statements. It monitors your credit reports on a daily basis, keeping an eye out for any changes that could be considered suspicious. When we spoke with Becky Beach, a money-saving expert and owner of MomBeach.com, she shared her experiences regarding Experian’s diligence:
“When I signed up for a Macy’s card to get a 20% off in store bonus offer, I received a call from Experian. They wanted to verify that it was really me who was signing up for the credit card. […] I even got an alert that my credit score went up a few digits, which made my day.”
Becky Beach – Owner of MomBeach.com
You can even see a new credit score every day, although this is only based on Experian’s formula, and does not include Equifax and TransUnion. You’ll be able to view scores from all three once a month, which was in line with the other credit report companies we looked at. As for the claim that Experian will help you see “your bigger picture,” we found this to hold up, too. Its dashboard is very clear about what factors are impacting your score, along with the long term trends of your credit history.
✓ 3-bureau reports and scores
✓ One-time option
✓ Services for business
✓ Educational resources
✓ Superior online tools
✗ Misleading price
Reports and scores from all three bureaus
This is the most essential attribute for any company that provides credit reports. Because the Big Three Bureaus all prioritize different information to determine your credit reports and scores, the only way to get a complete picture of your credit health is to look at all three. In our testing, scores varied by as much as 32 points between bureaus, the difference between a “Very Good” from Equifax and just a “Good” from Experian. Fortunately, Experian uses all three in its CreditWorks Premium plan.
If you’re simply looking to get a one-time snapshot of your credit health, Experian’s 3-Bureau Credit Report and Scores is a great way to go. The $39.99 price tag might sound like a lot, but it’s actually a pretty great deal when compared to the competition. Two of our other top picks, Identity Guard and Identity Force, don’t even offer this feature, while myFICO charges $19.99 per bureau and $59.85 for all three. With Experian, you’ll get both reports and scores from all of the Big Three Bureaus.
Along with Equifax and TransUnion, Experian is one of the very few companies in the industry that offers business-specific credit reports and credit monitoring. This is completely separate from personal credit history. It uses the same type of information — public debt and payment records — but it’s completely specific to the business. Just as with the credit monitoring for personal use, you can dispute errors in your Experian credit report quickly and easily. They also offer marketing tools to assist you in finding more qualified leads and tools to help you manage your customer portfolio.
While a lot of companies simply tell you your score and call it a day, Experian has a number of resources that help you actually improve your credit score. While it doesn’t quite go to the lengths of a company like myFICO, its Credit Education knowledge base is a great place to start if you’re interested in learning more about your credit scores and reports. You’ll find articles about the different factors affecting your credit score and overall creditworthiness, as well as information about preventing identity fraud. Experian also has a blog dedicated to credit-related topics, which you can subscribe to for ongoing content. Video tutorials are another option to get you up to speed on how the credit reporting process works, with topics including how to file a dispute and establish good credit.
Superior online tools
Experian offers several valuable tools that make viewing and monitoring your credit information simple and easy. There is also an online dispute tool available so you can quickly fix any errors you notice in your credit report. Another useful feature is the score estimator tool, which enables you to see how certain financial decisions will affect your Experian credit score. If you believe you’ve been the victim of identity fraud, you can place a security freeze on your credit reports, preventing creditors from giving out your information without your consent. We also loved Experian’s easy-to-use app, which makes it incredibly simple to check in on your credit from anywhere.
Potentially misleading pricing
While $4.99 sounds like a fantastic price for the CreditWorks Premium plan, it comes with a big asterisk: the price jumps to $24.99 per month. There’s nothing dishonest about this but it can be something overlooked if you aren’t paying attention to the fine print.
|Experian||myFICO||Identity Force||Identity Guard|
|Monthly Credit Reports||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Monthly Credit Scores||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|App Store Rating||4.8/5||4.8/5||3.2/5||2.3/5|
|Promotions||$4.99 for first month||None||$239.50 for annual payment||None|
Experian vs. myFICO
If you’re looking for a credit reporting service that goes beyond merely monitoring your credit, check out myFICO. Along with monthly scores and reports from the Big Three, myFICO has the most extensive suite of tools and resources on the market that will help you actually raise your score. While all of our top picks have a credit score simulator tool, we thought myFICO’s was by far the best. You can even put in a score that you’d like to reach, and it will recommend specific actions you can take to help get you there. Along with its wealth of helpful videos, articles, and forums, we thought the extra resources were worth the pricier $39.95/month price tag.
Experian vs. IdentityForce
While it’s lacking in some of the extra resources that make myFICO special, IdentityForce is a great choice for anyone who just wants to keep an eye on their credit. It’s first and foremost an identity theft protection company, so you’ll get some extra features that most credit report services don’t offer, like social media monitoring and a risk assessment questionnaire. Unfortunately, it only updates your credit reports once a quarter, so we’d recommend most people go with Experian.
Experian vs. Identity Guard
More than any other company we saw, Identity Guard patiently walks you through every possible scenario that might come up regarding your credit. Does filing a dispute with a credit bureau sound terrifying to you? Identity Guard provides clear, step-by-step instructions for the entire process, complete with sample letters and templates. While some might find this hand-holding a little excessive, it’s a great service for those new to the credit world (or just a little intimidated by it). Like IdentityForce, it’s primarily geared towards identity theft protection, but that doesn’t mean its credit reporting services are anything less than stellar.
No, Experian does not display or work in FICO scores. Instead, Experian utilizes the VantageScore which was established by the three major credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. For the most part, VantageScores share a lot in common with the more widely-known FICO scores.
Both examine your payment history, length and types of credit, credit usage, and any recent inquiries in order to put together your score. However, they differ in some crucial ways.
With FICO, you need to have one or more accounts open for at least six months to get a score. VantageScore, on the other hand, can use data from an account only a month old. FICO also tends to treat all late payments the same while VantageScores have been known to be particularly harsh with late mortgage payments than with other types of credit.
There are 5 factors that determine your credit score:
- Payment history (35%) is your account payment information, which monitors activity like: paying your debts late, paying off your debts completely, and paying the minimum amount owed per month, etc.
- Amounts owed (30%) is the amount your overall debt compares to your income? How much of your monthly earnings are going towards paying off your debt? What percentage of your credit card limit are you using each month?
- Length of credit history (15%) is how long have you had your accounts open, how long has it been since you last used your credit card?
- New credit (10%) is your pursuit of new credit, including recently opened accounts, and even credit inquiries.
- Types of credit used (10%) is the mix of credit accounts you have (secured, unsecured, revolving, installment).
Credit monitoring is a service that provides your credit reports and credit scores from at least one national CRA (credit reporting agencies) for you to access.
These credit monitoring and identity theft services will help you measure your progress while trying to repair bad credit or while attempting to maintain good credit. These services help catch mistakes, identity theft prevention, and dealing with fraudulent activity.
Negative information last 7 years on your credit reports, however, over time, the infraction will carry less weight when calculating your credit score, assuming you’re practicing better credit managing methods. For contrast, good information stays on your credit report indefinitely, but usually “age-off” after ten years.
Credit scores operate on a scale from 300-850. The higher your score, the less risky you are in the eyes of lenders. Generally speaking, anything above 700 is considered a good score, while anything above 800 is excellent. This means you have an established history of paying your bills on time, with a larger amount of available credit. According to Experian’s own data, most Americans’ credit scores fall between 600 and 750.
There’s no shortcut to a good credit score, and companies promising to “repair” your credit or give you a new “credit identity” should probably be avoided. At best, they’ll do things that you could do yourself, like filing a dispute for errors on your report. At worst, they could be downright illegal. According to the FTC, many of these companies have been known to sell your Social Security number. Short answer: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
This can be a scary situation to deal with for anyone looking into their credit health. If you do find a mistake, you’ll need to contact both the credit reporting company (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) and the company through which you obtained the information. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a step-by-step guide for this process. If you’re subscribing to a credit report service, they’ll also be able to walk you through it in more detail.
The Bottom Line
Overall, we think Experian is a great choice for anyone who wants to monitor their credit, without paying more for extra resources that will help you improve it or walk you through what to do in every conceivable scenario. We liked how you also don’t have to commit to a monthly plan: Experian offers several options for anyone who just wants to do a one-off check on their credit health.