How would you like to get one-on-one, personalized credit education information directly from a credit bureau? Actually, it’s now possible.
In October 2011, Experian, one of the big three credit reporting agencies, announced the rollout of a new program that they’re calling Experian Credit Educator.
It’s a dedicated consumer education service that’s available to consumers all across the country via personalized live telephone based assistance. Experian is billing this as the first of its kind, and indeed it is the first of the credit reporting agencies to offer this kind of live telephone-based credit education.
Here’s how Experian Credit Educator works.
First of all, you should know that this service is not free. It costs $29.95 and it’s basically for consumers who want to have their questions answered about various things in their credit reports and about what they can do to improve their credit score.
Experian representatives will answer questions like, “I paid my credit card bill in full, so why is it still showing up on my credit report?” Or, “What are the factors that impact my credit score? How do I know if my score is good or not?” Or “What steps should I take in order to improve or optimize my score?”
During one of these telephone based sessions, you’ll get a copy of your Experian credit report and a copy of your VantageScore. I’ve written a lot about the VantageScore in the past, and about how it differs from the FICO credit score. (Essentially, the Vantage score is built on a scale of 501 to 990 points, and you also get a letter grade that corresponds with it. A, B, C, D, or F).
So after you get a copy of your credit report and a copy of your VantageScore, the telephone counselor from Experian is going to do a detailed review of each section of your credit report with you, explain what items are impacting your credit score, give you a detailed explanation about the VantageScore and the factors that go into that, and also tell you how your credit score stacks up nationally and regionally against other consumers. All this is to help you learn about the world of credit and discover how to better maintain a healthy credit profile.
It’s also, of course, a new revenue stream for Experian – in addition to other products and services they offer, such as credit reports, credit scores, credit monitoring, identity theft services, and so on.
But let’s forget for a moment about any business or financial motivation that might be driving this latest offering from Experian. I have to say “hats off” to the company and give them kudos for this new service. I think it’s a fabulous that Experian is willing to offer live telephone based credit education because giving one-on-one advice and help is such a high touch, demanding, and time consuming undertaking.
No word yet on whether Experian will cap the telephone time or tell consumers they have, say, 30 minutes or a set amount of time for each call. But the very fact that Experian is doing this at all is, in my mind, a huge step in the right direction toward the credit industry providing consumers greater education about credit and credit scores. And that’s a good thing all around.
From a pricing standpoint, could the Experian Credit Educator be a little cheaper? Yes, perhaps. But if other competitors enter this space, prices will likely get more competitive. Still, in my opinion, getting a great credit education – and, ultimately, the great credit rating to go along with it – is definitely worth $29.95.