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Protect Your Information: Experian CreditWorks Review

Overall rating

3.5/ 5

Experian offers a broad range of services at its premium subscription levels, including identity theft protection and access to your credit reports from all three credit bureaus.

Customer service & reputation

Price

Coverage

Account access

Experian offers a broad range of services at its premium subscription levels, including identity theft protection and access to your credit reports from all three credit bureaus.

Pros

  • Free Experian credit report and access to three-bureau reports
  • CreditLock to lock Experian report
  • Dark web surveillance for personal information protection
  • Free app for iOS and Android
  • Family plan for identity protection
  • Clean, uncluttered website

Cons

  • Long wait times for customer service
  • No identity protection in mobile app
  • No customization options for alerts and notifications
  • Minimal services included in free subscription

As one of three major credit bureaus in the United States, Experian is automatically associated with credit reports and scores. What you may not know is Experian also offers credit monitoring and identity theft protection services.

Credit monitoring: CreditWorks review

Experian’s credit monitoring service, CreditWorks, has two levels:

  • CreditWorks Basic is free (no credit card required) and gives you a monthly Experian credit report as well as credit monitoring with alerts for that report. It doesn’t send you a credit score or include CreditLock, though it does give you access via phone to the Experian fraud resolution team and a one-time dark web scan.
  • CreditWorks Premium improves on CreditWorks Basic by giving you a daily Experian credit report and score. It also adds a monthly credit report and score from all three credit bureaus, as well as credit monitoring of all three reports. CreditLock is included, as are credit score tracking and analysis. You also get identity theft insurance and the full range of identity protection that Experian offers, including ongoing dark web surveillance. You can try it for $4.99 for one month; after that, it’s $24.99 per month.

While both levels of credit monitoring have something to offer, CreditWorks Premium is by far the better choice for credit monitoring from Experian. For a cost that is comparable to that of our top three credit monitoring picks, you get detailed credit monitoring services and protection, including full identity theft protection. You have access to CreditLock, all of your credit reports and scores, and a full analysis of your credit score and the factors influencing it.

The monthly credit reports from all three credit bureaus are very helpful if you’re trying to actively monitor your credit, and they come included without the extra fees the other companies may charge.

Protect your ID: IdentityWorksSM review

In addition to credit monitoring, Experian also offers identity theft protection, called IdentityWorks, at two different tiers of service. Both tiers offer a 30-day free trial so you can try them out first, and both give you a daily Experian credit report and score with access to CreditLock.

  • IdentityWorks Plus monitors your Social Security number and address and provides dark web surveillance. This package gets you an Experian credit report and a daily Experian credit score. You also have access to CreditLock, credit monitoring and alerts (Experian only), and up to $500,000 in identity theft insurance. IdentityWorks Plus starts at $9.99 per month.
  • IdentityWorks Premium gives you the full range of identity theft protection in addition to everything that comes in IdentityWorks Plus, including monitoring bank accounts, social networks, payday loans, court records, and the sex offender registry for your area. You can receive up to $1 million in identity theft insurance and still have access to CreditLock. In addition to the daily Experian credit report and score, you receive a quarterly three-bureau credit report and score with monitoring. IdentityWorks Premium starts at $19.99 per month.

Between the two services, IdentityWorks Premium is the better choice despite the higher price. You get many more valuable features and services with a Premium subscription, including monitoring of all three credit reports and scores.

One thing I really like about IdentityWorks is that you can add other people to your subscription (with the price adjusted accordingly) and get identity protection for your children or another adult. Whether you’re single, a single parent, or in a relationship, you’ll be able to find a plan size that fits your situation. Many other services don’t have that kind of customization, or options to include family members at all, so this was a feature that stood out to me.

IdentityWorks PlusIdentityWorks Premium
One adult$9.99/month$19.99/month
One adult + up to 10 children$14.99/month$24.99/month
Two adults + up to 10 children$19.99/month$29.99/month
One adult
One adult + up to 10 children
Two adults + up to 10 children
IdentityWorks Plus IdentityWorks Premium
$9.99/month $19.99/month
$14.99/month $24.99/month
$19.99/month $29.99/month

The identity protection for children does not include all the features offered to adults, but it does include a few basic elements:

  • Social Security number tracking
  • Social network monitoring
  • Dark web surveillance
  • Identity theft insurance ($500,000 for IdentityWorks Plus; $1 million for IdentityWorks Premium)

These services are helpful in preventing identity theft, though they are most worth the additional cost if you are protecting more than one child.

Subscription comparison: CreditWorks vs. IdentityWorks

Whether you’re interested more in monitoring your credit or in protecting your identity, you’ll get almost exactly the same services and features from the Premium version of both CreditWorks and IdentityWorks.

Other than the cost, the only differences are that IdentityWorks Premium doesn’t include any credit score analysis, and the CreditWorks Premium updates your credit report and score from all three credit bureaus on a monthly basis rather than quarterly. For this reason, CreditWorks Premium is a slightly better option and the one I would suggest.

CreditWorks BasicCreditWorks PremiumIdentityWorks PlusIdentityWorks Premium
PriceFreeFree $24.99/month$9.99/month$19.99/month
TrialN/A$4.99 for 30 daysFree for 30 daysFree for 30 days
Experian credit scoreDailyDailyDaily
Experian credit scoreDailyDailyDaily
3-bureau credit report & scoreMonthlyQuarterly
CreditLock
Credit monitoring w/alertsExperian onlyAll 3 bureausExperian onlyAll 3 bureaus
FICO® Score tracking
Credit score analysis
Identity theft insurance$1 million$500,000$1 million
Lost wallet insurance
Fraud resolution help
Dark web internet surveillance alertsOne-time, limited information
Social Security Number tracking
Court records
Financial accounts/loan alerts
Personal information alerts
Sex offender registry
Price
Trial
Experian credit score
Experian credit score
3-bureau credit report & score
CreditLock
Credit monitoring w/alerts
FICO® Score tracking
Credit score analysis
Identity theft insurance
Lost wallet insurance
Fraud resolution help
Dark web internet surveillance alerts
Social Security Number tracking
Court records
Financial accounts/loan alerts
Personal information alerts
Sex offender registry
CreditWorks Basic CreditWorks Premium IdentityWorks Plus IdentityWorks Premium
Free Free $24.99/month $9.99/month $19.99/month
N/A $4.99 for 30 days Free for 30 days Free for 30 days
Daily Daily Daily
Daily Daily Daily
Monthly Quarterly
Experian only All 3 bureaus Experian only All 3 bureaus
$1 million $500,000 $1 million
One-time, limited information

Experian standout features: CreditLock

One of the unique features Experian offers is Experian CreditLock, which allows you to easily lock your Experian credit report. Once it’s locked, no one can access your credit report without your knowledge and consent, so you have control over who sees it and when. With your report locked, you receive real-time alerts if someone applies for credit in your name so you can catch the fraud more quickly.

While Experian is not the only company to offer this type of service, it is the only company that allows you to lock your Experian credit report. Keep in mind, though, that it applies only to your Experian credit report, so your credit reports from the other bureaus will not be protected.

Another feature in Experian’s favor is dark web surveillance. Experian searches thousands of internet pages daily for your personal information to see if any of it has been stolen. You can run a free dark web scan for just your email address, but with a paid subscription to one of Experian’s services, you can search for much more:

  • Email addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Social Security number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Medical IDs
  • Bank accounts
  • Credit and debit cards
  • Passport information

The free CreditWorks Basic includes a dark web scan for only your email address, phone number, and Social Security number.

Experian also has a free app for iOS and Android that gives users access to the CreditWorks Basic features. More features are made available when you pay to upgrade through the app or through an online subscription. With the smartphone app, you can receive alerts directly on your device when Experian detects a change in your credit report. The apps have positive online reviews and are intuitive and similar to the website.

Hands-on testing: My experience with CreditWorks and IdentityWorks

Experian Creditworks ReviewI tried both CreditWorks Premium and IdentityWorks Premium and I had similarly good experiences with both. The biggest difference I noticed was in the information I was presented. On my CreditWorks account, I could readily see lots of information about my credit and the factors affecting it. That information was missing from the IdentityWorks account.

However, everything else was virtually identical. I could easily lock my credit report, see and compare my reports from all three credit bureaus, and view identity alerts and dark web scan results without having to hunt all over the site.

Website: Clean, not cluttered

One thing I liked about Experian’s website is that while credit card offers and loan suggestions are present, they are not overwhelming or even prominent on most pages. The focus is on your credit and information that will help you improve it. This is a departure from many other credit monitoring websites where you have to sift through credit card offers to find your information.

Mobile app: Missing the features of the website

The mobile app was similarly laid out and easy to use, though it focused solely on credit information and not on identity protection, even for my IdentityWorks account. The identity protection is big part of what makes CreditWorks and IdentityWorks good services, and to have it missing was a strike against using the app rather than the website. I also had trouble with it crashing on my Android smartphone the first several times I tried to use it.

Credit monitoring: More options needed

One area where Experian could improve is in the options for receiving monitoring alerts. I was automatically enrolled in credit monitoring, which is helpful, but it would be better as an option instead of an automatic enrollment. Also, I didn’t find any way to customize which alerts to receive or how to receive them (for example, email vs. text). This held true for both the online website and the app, and while that’s not a dealbreaker, I always appreciate opportunities to customize my experience.

Customer service: Slow and minimal

Because so many users complained about the cancellation process and lack of customer service, I tried canceling my account to see if my experience matched theirs. I found that I could change my membership from the premium level to the free, basic level online pretty easily. However, I couldn’t outright cancel my account, and there are no online chat options.

I found that contacting a customer service representative by email was slow, and contacting customer service by phone to ask questions or cancel was as difficult as the reviews say. I had to try two different phone numbers and stay on hold for over an hour before reaching a real person. Once I talked to a representative, my account was canceled within a few minutes without any problems, but getting there took much longer than I expected.

What the customers have to say

While I like the range of services and features of CreditWorks and IdentityWorks, Experian does not have a great reputation for customer service. It was difficult to find positive reviews of its services, but there are dozens of negative reviews from customers who didn’t realize they were signing up for an ongoing service and found it extremely difficult to cancel or get a refund.

The disappointing customer service is one of the main reasons Experian didn’t earn a spot on our list of top credit monitoring companies.

Positive reviews

“I have had NO problems in dealing with Experian. Their credit reports have been accurate and their fraud alerts have been very prompt.” — Barry, September 2017, Better Business Bureau

“Experian handled themselves just as I had hoped, the perfect company! I needed my score so I signed up on the advice of a friend and I paid my $1.00 and cancelled on the 6th day of the trial by calling in and letting them know that I wanted to cancel my trial membership as it said in the fine print and they were friendly, upbeat, courteous and efficient. Here it is 10 months later and I have not received any other charges, as expected. I would highly recommend this trial to anyone and everyone because I followed all directions that I was given and it worked out as promised.” —Kenneth, February 2015, Consumer Affairs

Negative reviews

“I’ve been trying to cancel this account for months. I’ve called and been told I was calling off hours. Tried cancelling online with no help, go around in circles. Now I’ve been on hold with them for 1 hour and 12 minutes.” —Charlotte, January 2018, Yelp

“I have repeatedly tried to discontinue the credit monitoring service. There is no option to discontinue the service without calling. The wait time to cancel is consistently over an hour and available during the time most people, including me, are working. I have wanted to cancel the service for months, but Experian makes it so difficult to cancel, that I keep having the fee drafted month after month. It’s easy to sign up, and should be as easy to cancel.” —D.D., December 2017, Better Business Bureau

Do we recommend Experian?

For anyone who needs to keep an eye on their Experian credit report, CreditWorks or IdentityWorks is the right way to go. If you want to just monitor your credit on an ongoing basis, the free CreditWorks Basic will probably be enough.

If you’re concerned with protecting your identity or the members of your family, IdentityWorks has what you need. If you are actively working to improve your credit or want to rigorously monitor your credit from all three credit bureaus, a premium subscription to CreditWorks is the best option from Experian.

Have you used Experian? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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