7 Best Credit Monitoring Services

Andrew Reyes
A person holds a tablet, whos screen reads "credit report."
Reading Time: 7 minutes

It can appear difficult or overwhelming to understand your credit report or credit score for many, but it doesn’t need to be. There are credit monitoring services that can help with this. Below is a list of the best credit monitoring companies and specific insight behind each.

1. PrivacyGuard

PrivacyGuard is a credit monitoring service provided by Trilegiant Corporation. They offer three different tiers of credit monitoring services and you can try out any of the three options for two weeks for only $1.

After 14 days, you will be charged the full amount of the plan you chose. Each option varies in price and the services offered — their plans include:

  1. Identity Protection 
    This plan monitors a range of personal details like your Social Security number, debit/credit cards, and public records. It includes public/dark web scanning, driver’s license/passport monitoring, and bank account monitoring.

    The total cost is $9.99 per month and this includes personal information monitoring as well as $1 million in ID theft insurance. Note that this plan does not monitor your credit report.
  2. Credit Protection 
    This plan offers 24/7 triple-bureau daily credit monitoring and a credit score simulator. The total cost is $19.99 per month. Note that there is no identity protection or insurance offered in this plan.
  3. Total Protection
    This plan is largely a combination of the two protection plans above. It monitors both personal information and your credit.

    The total cost is $24.99 per month and you will receive the services in both plans above, plus additional services like children’s Social Security monitoring, emergency travel assistance, and lost/stolen wallet protection.

Cost: $9.99 to $24.99 per month;
Credit scoring model: VantageScore;
Credit bureaus monitored: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion.

2. Credit Karma

Credit Karma is an entirely free credit monitoring service. They work with two out of three major credit bureaus to give consumers insight into their credit scores and credit history without any charge.

Credit Karma provides insight into any changes to your credit file, and they will notify you of any suspicious activity within either credit report. Credit Karma will also make tips/suggestions for improving your financial health based on your profile.

Cost: Free;
Credit scoring model: VantageScore;
Credit bureaus monitored: Equifax, TransUnion.

3. IdentityForce

IdentityForce is a credit monitoring service offered by Sontiq. They offer identity, privacy, and credit-related services on their site. You can take advantage of a free 14-day trial on their site for either one of the two plans that they offer — their plans are:

  1. UltraSecure 
    This plan provides personal information monitoring for payday loans, suspected fraud, any change of address, court records, mobile attacks, social media, bank accounts, Social Security numbers, investments, and the dark web.

    It also offers $1 million in theft insurance. The total cost is $17.95 per month or $179.50 annually. Note that this plan does not offer credit monitoring, just personal information monitoring.
  2. UltraSecure+Credit: This plan provides the same features as the plan above plus credit monitoring, reporting, and scores for all three major credit reporting bureaus. The total cost is $23.95 per month or $239.50 annually.

Cost: $17.95 per month or $23.95 per month (you can receive two months free if you choose annual billing);
Credit scoring model: VantageScore;
Credit bureaus monitored:  Equifax, Experian, TransUnion.

4. Identity Guard

Identity Guard is a credit monitoring service offered by Aura. They offer three different levels of monitoring plans for both individuals and families. Each type has different features and costs — the plans include:

  1. Value 
    This plan is meant to provide basic identity monitoring so it should be noted that this tier does not include any credit monitoring services.

    You will gain access to risk management tools, $1 million in identity theft insurance, and personal detail monitoring (dark-web monitoring, high-risk transaction monitoring, and data breach monitoring).

    This plan costs $7.50 per month for individuals or $12.50 per month for families.
  2. Total 
    This plan is meant to provide both identity and credit monitoring. Users will receive the “Value” plan features above, plus bank account monitoring, credit monitoring, and credit scores from two out of three major credit bureaus.

    This plan is $16.67 per month for individuals or $25 per month for families.
  3. Ultra 
    This plan is meant to provide comprehensive identity and credit monitoring services. Users will receive the “total” plan features above, plus social media, credit/debit card, investment, change of address, and home title monitoring services.

    This plan is $25 per month for individuals or $33.30 per month for families.

Cost: $7.50 to $33.30 per month (you can save 17% if you choose annual billing);
Credit scoring model: VantageScore;
Credit bureaus monitored: Experian, TransUnion.

5. IdentityWorks

IdentityWorks is a credit monitoring service offered by Experian. It is a good option for families. They offer two different plans and they each have different features and prices attached. Each plan offers a 30-day trial — the plans include:

  1. IndentityWorks Plus 
    This plan offers both Social Security number and address change identity theft monitoring services. Users also receive $500,000 in identity theft protection.

    The “plus” plan offers credit monitoring, but only surrounding your Experian credit report.

    This plan costs $9.99 per month for individuals, $14.99 for one adult with up to 10 children, or $19.99 for two adults and up to 10 children.
  2. IdentityWorks Premium 
    This plan offers the “Plus” plan features as well as bank account, payday loan, court records, sex offender, file-share, and social media monitoring services and an additional $500,000 in identity theft insurance.

    Additionally, this plan monitors your credit report from all three major bureaus instead of just Experian.

    It costs $19.99 per month for individuals, $24.99 for one adult and up to 10 children, and $29.99 for two adults and up to 10 children.

Cost: $9.99 per month to $29.99 per month (if you choose annual billing, you can save 17%);
Credit scoring model: FICO;
Credit bureaus monitored: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

6. MyFICO

MyFICO is a credit monitoring service that offers insight into all 28 versions of your FICO credit score. Your FICO credit score is one of the most widely used scoring models for determining your credit score. MyFICO offers three different credit monitoring plans to choose from — these include:

  1. Basic 
    The “Basic” plan offers monthly credit monitoring insight into your Experian credit report, but no identity/personal information monitoring. Even though there is no identity/personal information monitoring with this plan, you do receive up to $1 million in identity theft insurance.

    This plan costs $19.95 per month.
  2. Advanced 
    The “Advanced” plan features all of the services in the “Basic” plan and also identity monitoring. Instead of monthly updates, this plan offers quarterly updates. The advanced plan also offers insight into your credit report from all three primary bureaus instead of just Experian.

    This plan costs $29.95 per month.
  3. Premier 
    The “premier” plan offers all of the services in the “Advanced” plan, but instead of quarterly updates, you will receive updates every month.

    This plan costs $39.95 per month.

Cost: $19.95 to $39.95 per month;
Credit scoring model: FICO;
Credit bureaus monitored: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

7. CreditWise

CreditWise is an entirely free credit monitoring service offered by Capital One. Users receive real-time credit report updates from two out of the three major credit bureaus and weekly VantageScore updates.

CreditWise also offers dark web monitoring and Social Security number monitoring to users. They will notify you of suspicious activity on your account, but they do not provide any identity theft insurance like many other providers. This credit monitoring service is available to anyone, not just Capital One customers.

Cost: Free;
Credit scoring model: VantageScore;
Credit bureaus monitored: Experian, TransUnion.

How Does Credit Monitoring Work?

Credit monitoring services essentially notify consumers of any changes made to your credit file. A credit file is made up of the data that is collected by credit reporting bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — and it provides insight into your credit history and credit score.

When you apply for some form of credit and you use that credit, creditors report that information to the three credit reporting agencies above. Credit monitoring companies relay that information to the borrower.

There are certain things that credit monitoring services provide, and certain things that they do not — you can expect to receive the following information from credit monitoring services:

  • New accounts that are opened under your name;
  • Any personal information changes to your account (address, name, contact information);
  • Balances on your account(s);
  • Payments due or payments made on your account(s);
  • Hard inquiries on your credit report;
  • Missed payments and late fees;
  • Potential fraudulent activity.

There are often misconceptions about what credit monitoring services provide — below are some examples of information/services that credit monitoring organizations do not offer:

By and large, credit monitoring services provide you with updates and useful information for monitoring your credit and protecting your personal information, but they do not take any action according to that information.

Why Do People Use Credit Monitoring Services?

There are several reasons why people use credit monitoring services — below are some of the reasons why individuals may use credit monitoring services:

  • To detect identity theft: Identity theft is a serious issue that can occur anywhere. Credit monitoring service can help you recognize any suspicious activity on your account so that you can take any necessary action before things progress;
  • To help improve financial health: When you have a better understanding of your credit habits, you become aware of the different factors hurting your credit. This type of insight powers you to make changes accordingly and improve your financial health overall;
  • To help spot inaccuracies: From time to time creditors or credit reporting agencies make errors to credit reports. When these errors are reported, credit monitoring services will notify you, and you can work on fixing the errors;
  • To save time: Monitoring your credit on your own can be a time-consuming task. Taking advantage of credit monitoring services will help you stay on top of your credit without putting in the extra effort.

The exact reason why people use credit monitoring services varies between users, but generally, they are used for insight into your credit file, to improve financial awareness, to save time, and to protect your personal information.

Considerations for Choosing a Credit Monitoring Service

Not all credit monitoring services are the same. One organization may fit your exact monitoring needs and another may not. Before you sign up for any credit monitoring services, you should consider the following:

  • Determine credit monitoring goals: It is important to set clear goals behind using credit monitoring services. Determine your goals and select the provider that is the best fit based on those goals;
  • Services offered: Different credit monitoring companies offer different credit monitoring services. Be sure to take note of what is offered and what is not so that you can choose the best option for your specific needs;
  • Look at reviews: A great way to narrow down your options is to look at online reviews. You can find this information on the Better Business Bureau. Bad reviews should raise red flags;
  • Shop around: Do your due diligence and shop around for different credit monitoring services. It can be easy to pick the first one you see, but this may not be the best option for you. Compare credit monitoring companies and take note of the differences between them.

Image Source: https://depositphotos.com/

 

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