Why Signing Up for Experian Alerts Didn't Work for Me

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Sorry to say, but it ended up being a hassle.

Key points

  • Experian lets you sign up for alerts on changes to your credit history.
  • I thought those alerts would be helpful, but so far, they've only been a pain.

Keeping tabs on your credit is an important thing to do, and you can do so in several ways. First, you can check your credit report every few months to see what your debts look like, and to make sure you don't spot any fraudulent activity, like a new loan or credit card you don't recognize.

But there's another way to keep track of your credit, and it's to sign up for alerts through a credit bureau. Last year, I decided to sign up for alerts through Experian, one of the three major reporting bureaus. My logic was that doing so would be a good thing for my finances. But in the end, I actually regret that decision.

When credit alerts aren't helpful

Experian's credit alerts are free, so I figured hey, why not get notified when changes post to my credit report? But the nature of those alerts often make them not helpful.

Basically, I now get an alert every single time activity is recorded. But due to the cryptic nature of those alerts, they end up causing me unnecessary stress.

Recently, I got an alert that my credit score had decreased. Since I hadn't applied for any new loans or credit cards, and I hadn't been late with any bills, I wasn't sure why that would've happened. I immediately rushed to check my credit score to see what the damage looked like -- only to find that my score had gone down by a whopping three points.

Since my credit score was above 800 to begin with, that three-point hit was no big deal. Also, to this day, I have no idea why my score went down by three points, but it's not worth my time to dig into it.

Another time, I got an alert that my credit utilization ratio had increased. Your credit utilization ratio measures the amount of revolving credit you're using at once, and once that ratio exceeds 30%, it can cause credit score damage. Naturally, I rushed to check my credit report to see how high my utilization had gotten -- only to learn that it rose from 7% to 9%.

Or, to put it another way, I was still only using a small percentage of my total credit limit. Also, the reason my utilization had risen was because my most recent credit card payment hadn't yet been posted.

Stay vigilant, but protect your sanity

At this point, I think I'm going to cancel my Experian alerts and just make a point to check my credit report every few months instead. If those messages were sent in a less cryptic fashion, they'd be more helpful and less stress-inducing. But because of how they're worded, I find them overwhelmingly unhelpful.

In the instances above, had the alerts said my credit score decreased three points and my utilization climbed to 9%, I wouldn't have been stressed, and I wouldn't have been compelled to stop what I was doing and go investigate. But since I can't change the system, the best I can do is opt out.

If you're going to sign up for Experian alerts, be aware that they may not tell the whole story. And while they can definitely be helpful, it's not unreasonable to forgo those alerts as long as you're vigilant about checking your credit report regularly.

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