How We Rank Credit Monitoring Services
Credit monitoring is an essential part of improving your credit and with so many credit monitoring services on the market, your options are endless.
Although the final choice greatly depends on your personal financial situation, here are some guidelines to help you in your search:
This one can be tricky since credit monitoring services range from minimal service with no cost or credit card obligation to a flat monthly fee. What you pick largely depends on two factors:
- How often you want to check your score. Some services only provide free credit monitoring from one credit bureau, a one-time credit score with a free/$1 refundable trial, or monthly credit monitoring for a flat fee.
- FICO or no? You may want your exact FICO score or you may be content with receiving a score based on a model similar to FICO.
- How often you want your score to be updated. Some services provide frequent credit monitoring, while others simply show your scores a la carte.
Here are a few services ranging from free to a flat fees:
- Credit Sesame: This free services offers Experian credit monitoring. You do not have to enter any of your credit card details for the service, although you can purchase additional services provided by other companies through Credit Sesame.
- PrivacyGuard: PrivacyGuard offers a $1 fee for a 14 day trial and $19.99/month for three bureau credit reports, daily credit monitoring, and monthly credit score tracking.
- FreeScore360: FreeScore360 charges you a $1 refundable fee for a 14 day free trial before automatically charging $39.95 once the trial period is over. However, they only provide monthly updates and non-FICO scores.
- Smart Credit: For $19.95/month, Smart Credit offers two monthly updates on your credit scores and 3 bureau credit score and reports a la carte.
Many companies have extra perks to supplement their credit monitoring services. If you are simply looking for a one time score or monthly monitoring, these services may not interest you, but if you are searching for something a little extra, here are some credible services:
- Credit Sesame offers identity theft insurance, a mobile app, tracking for financial progress, and financial goal setting.
- Depending on the plan, myFICO provides FICO Scores, Equifax credit monitoring, lost wallet protection, 24/7 full service identity restoration, and $1 million in identity theft insurance.
Identity Guard offers lost wallet protection, $1 million identity theft insurance, $1 million reimbursement for stolen funds, social security monitoring, and child identity monitoring depending on the plan you purchase.
Time In Business
Your credit is a vital part of your life, so entrusting your finances to a tried and true service is important. Credit monitoring companies with over 10 years of time in the industry include Identity Guard (since 2001), PrivacyGuard (since 1973), and myFICO (since 2001).
Customer Service and Reviews
Checking reviews on customer service can help you determine how a credit monitoring company really treats their clients. The BBB, Yelp, Trustpilot, and Google reviews are good places to learn if a company:
- Provides solid customer service
- Updates you on any changes
- Can be contacted easily through phone, email, live chat, or an online portal 24/7
- Responds quickly to any questions or concerns you may have
Smart Credit, Identity Guard, and LifeLock all have generally positive reviews from real consumers.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is credit monitoring?
Credit monitoring tracks your credit history and notifies you of any changes (such as a new account or inquiries) to your credit report or credit scores.
Is credit monitoring important?
Absolutely. A good credit monitoring service can help prevent identity theft or notify you of any fraudulent activity before anything more serious occurs.
How much does credit monitoring cost?
This varies by company, but most credit monitoring services charge between $9.99/month to $39.95/month. Many services may also allow a 30 day free trial period to help you decide if you want to pursue credit monitoring.
What exactly can a credit monitoring service do?
Depending on the level of service, credit monitoring services can provide credit monitoring, dark web monitoring, fraud detection, identity theft assistance and insurance, near real-time alerts, online protection, risks assessment, and more.