The newest and largest of the three major credit bureaus, Experian has been in business since 1996. The company offers competitively priced triple-bureau credit reports in addition to single-bureau credit monitoring. Although its service only actively monitors one of the three credit reports, it offers a surprising number of features and functionality, including an awesome mobile app, which could make it an option worth considering for some.
- Daily refresh rate
- Automated monitoring
- FICO scores
- Education center
- Mobile app
We feel that it's worth noting that Experian's website has what we consider to be a fantastic and easy-to-use interface. In fact, our review team feels the level of polish and design is an order of magnitude higher than comparable offerings from either of the other two credit bureaus.
Daily Refresh Rate
Members of Experian Credit tracker enjoy unmatched access and insight into their Experian credit report. With the option of being able to refresh their Experian credit report as often as once per day, customers that are at especially high risk of identity theft will be able to catch changes to their report the moment they happen. It is worth noting that the daily updates to this credit report also include a daily update to their FICO score based on that report, which is a compelling value.
In addition to providing users with full access to their Experian credit report and score each day, Experian also provides automated monitoring and alerts to users (via email or through the mobile app) of any suspicious or major changes to their report, such as new accounts being opened, inquiries, or changes of address.
Experian is the only credit bureau to include true FICO scores as part of its standard purchase options; the other two bureaus either don't offer it or charge extra to see it. Additionally, Experian provides a fairly comprehensive list of credit factors that are influencing your score, helping you to know what to do in order to improve it.
In addition to its core credit monitoring functionality, Experian also includes a robust credit education center with their membership, which our review team found to include a wide range of up-to-date, authoritative and accurate consumer credit information. It's a great resource for newcomers and credit monitoring veterans alike who are seeking to better understand their credit health and the many factors affecting it.
Additionally, we do want to call out the credit score simulator included as part of the subscription, for those who are unfamiliar with such tools, simulators allow customers to see how different financial decisions might potentially impact their credit score, like filing for bankruptcy or paying down credit card balances, taking out a car loan, and more. Because this simulator is powered by FICO, the predictions are as accurate as can be expected from tools like this.
Experian's mobile app for iPhone and Android has earned high praise for its ease-of-use and polished design, with solid ratings on both the Apple and Android app stores. It's ease of use, stability, bug-free experience, and attractive design is noteworthy. We especially liked the integrated video tutorials included with the app that help users to understand how to use it in order to do everything from disputing an inaccurate item on their credit report to tracking their score over time.
- Trial complaints
- Additional fees
- Single-bureau monitoring
- Data breach
- Legal issues
We have seen numerous complaints about the trial offered by Experian where either the customer was unaware of the full cost of the service after the trial, they didn't get the full seven days of monitoring, or they had difficulty canceling the service. Depending on where one signs up for the service, the trial length varies. On its main website, Experian offers users a full month of access for $4.95, after which it costs $19.95 per month. Either way, we advise customers to give themselves plenty of time to call in and cancel before the bill comes due in order to allow time for any unexpected cancellation difficulties.
Subscribers to Experian may be disappointed to find that the service doesn't give them unlimited access to credit reports and scores from the other two major credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion. If a customer wants to view either of these reports, they will need to pay an additional fee to pull them. For those who are looking for a way to regularly monitor all three credit bureau reports semi-regularly, this cost will add up. Users may feel that they can find a less expensive way to receive triple-bureau tracking through other companies.
For those looking for an ongoing subscription option, Experian only provides regular access to reports and scores from Experian. Although the company has set up monitoring to alert you of key changes on the other two bureau's reports, it falls short of what we look for in a comprehensive credit monitoring solution.
In October of 2015, one of Experian's servers was hacked and the personal information of an estimated 15 million T-Mobile customers stolen (Experian handled credit checks for T-Mobile). Security failures at companies of this size, especially when they provide ID theft protection, are extremely troubling.
This breach had nothing to do with its credit monitoring customers, but it reflects poorly on Experian's ability to guard consumer information in general.
Experian has been tangled up in quite a few lawsuits recently, including:
- A class-action lawsuit in July of 2015 filed in the state of California for failing to secure customer information against ID theft
- A suit filed by the State of Mississippi in 2014 for failing to ensure credit report accuracy
- A class action lawsuit filed in 2011 for disclosing information to debt collectors, which they settled for $8 million in 2014
It is worth noting that these lawsuits were against the credit bureau in general, rather than anything specific with the credit tracking services it offers, and all three major bureaus have been hit with lawsuits within the past five years. In spite of these disclaimers, a large number of ongoing lawsuits is troubling and could be indicative of deeper issues within the company as a whole.