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Should you pay for Experian credit monitoring? Here's how the free and paid plans compare

Experian offers both free and paid credit monitoring services. Here's what each option offers, so you can decide if you should pay or not.

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Credit monitoring services can help you spot potential fraud early and take action to repair your credit. Experian offers two types of credit monitoring services, one free and the other paid, that alert you of changes to your credit report.

Experian free credit monitoring ranks as our runner-up for the best free credit monitoring service, while Experian IdentityWorks℠ is the best paid service for families.

If you’re considering credit monitoring, it may be hard to know if it's worth the cost. To help you decide, we’ve compared the similarities and differences of Experian’s free and paid services.

What Experian credit monitoring services offer

Both of Experian’s services provide daily credit monitoring alerts for things like new inquiries and accounts opened in your name, changes to your personal information and suspicious activity detected on your Experian credit report.

But beyond that, the services are quite different. The free service is fairly basic, with the main draw being alerts on changes to your Experian report at no additional cost. The paid IdentityWorks offers a wider range of features, like family plans and social security number alerts, broken up into Plus and Premium levels.

Here’s how the two compare across four key factors.

  1. Cost
  2. Identity insurance
  3. How many credit bureaus are monitored
  4. Dark web scanning

Cost

The amount you’ll have to pay each month for credit monitoring varies based on the plan you choose. Here’s an overview of your options with Experian:

  • Experian’s free credit monitoring service: Free
  • Experian IdentityWorks℠ Plus: $9.99 to $24.99 per month, depending on the plan. A plan for one adult costs $9.99 with a 30-day free trial. The cost for one adult and up to 10 children is $14.99. It’s $5 more for two adults and up to 10 children, at $19.99.
  • Experian IdentityWorks℠ Premium: $19.99 to $29.99 per month, depending on the plan. A plan for one adult costs $19.99, with a 30-day free trial. The cost for one adult and up to 10 children is $24.99. It’s $5 more for two adults and up to 10 children, at $29.99.

Winner: Experian’s free credit monitoring service allows you to sign up without providing a credit card number, making this a great no-cost alternative.

Identity insurance

Identity theft insurance may cover eligible expenses, like legal fees and lost wages, associated with resolving identity theft and restoring your identity if it’s compromised. This coverage is exclusive to paid services, but the dollar amount of insurance varies. Here’s what Experian offers:

Winner: Experian IdentityWorks℠ Premium, since it has the largest amount of coverage.

How many credit bureaus are monitored

The best credit monitoring services look at your information across all three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. This is known as triple-bureau protection and key to having a holistic view of your credit.

Only one Experian plan offers triple-bureau protection: Experian IdentityWorks℠ Premium. The free and Experian IdentityWorks℠ Plus plans only monitor your Experian credit report.

Winner: Experian IdentityWorks℠ Premium with alerts for all three credit bureaus.

Dark web scanning

As an added layer of protection, you should consider a service that will search the dark web for your name, social security number, address and other personal details that a fraudster may have posted. While the free Experian service offers dark web surveillance once, the Plus and Premium plans are the only ones that check for your personal information on over 600,000 web pages every day.

Winner: Experian IdentityWorks℠ Plus and Premium, which both offer daily dark web surveillance.

Bottom line

While credit monitoring can’t prevent fraud, it’s great at alerting you of potential red flags. The free and paid services provided by Experian are all helpful, but the best choice for you ultimately depends on whether or not you already actively monitor your credit reports and financial accounts.

If you’re someone who routinely logs on to your credit card and bank accounts, Experian’s free credit monitoring service may suffice. But if you rarely check in on your accounts, it may be a better idea to go with one of the paid Experian IdentityWorks plans.

And if you’re not sure about credit monitoring, you can sign-up for the free plan to see if you like it, then consider upgrading to a paid plan for more holistic coverage.

Beyond credit monitoring services, Experian provides a free resource for you to improve your credit score. *Experian Boost™ allows you to connect your utility and telecom accounts to your Experian credit report and potentially raise your FICO® score. (Learn more about how Experian Boost works.)

Experian Dark Web Scan + Credit Monitoring

On Experian's secure site
  • Cost

    Free

  • Credit bureaus monitored

    Experian

  • Credit scoring model used

    FICO®

  • Dark web scan

    Yes, one-time only

  • Identity insurance

    No

Terms apply.

Experian IdentityWorks℠

On Experian's secure site
  • Cost

    $9.99 to $29.99 per month

  • Credit bureaus monitored

    Experian for Plus plan or Experian, Equifax and TransUnion for Premium plan

  • Credit scoring model used

    FICO®

  • Dark web scan

    Yes

  • Identity insurance

    Yes, up to $500,000 for Plus plan and up to $1 million for Premium plan*

Terms apply.

*Identity Theft Insurance underwritten by insurance company subsidiaries or affiliates of American International Group, Inc. (AIG). The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.

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*Results may vary. Some may not see improved scores or approval odds. Not all lenders use Experian credit files, and not all lenders use scores impacted by Experian Boost.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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