The best credit monitoring services make it simple and easy to monitor your credit rating, to protect yourself against fraud.
This is especially important because your credit rating is used whenever you apply for finance, such as a loan, mortgage, or even an insurance policy. Therefore it's essential to ensure your credit score is as it should be, and that there are no unexpected flags against it. This could be something simple such as a bill demand you aren't aware of, which could aversely impact your score.
Additionally, keeping track of it will alert you to any attempt by a hacker to steal your identity to try and use it to commit fraud in your name, so you can put a stop to it and protect yourself as quickly as possible.
The best credit monitoring services access a lot of information from the widest range of sources to ensure this remains the case, and will alert you to any problems. Free versions generally offer fairly limited coverage, while there are paid versions that can offer so much more, including boosted security for peace of mind.
We've done a comparison of some of the best credit monitoring services out in the market. We looked into aspects such as the number of agencies the services provides reports from, the level of detail of the report, if suggestions are included for improving the credit score, and furthermore, the overall ease of the service. Finally, we also examined the associated identity protection offerings and the pricing model.
Below we list what we think are the best credit monitoring services currently available.
You may also like to check out our roundup of the best identity theft protection.
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The best credit monitoring services of 2023 in full:
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Best credit monitoring service overall
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IdentityForce remains a market leader for credit monitoring and other associated ID theft prevention tools, with its two main services: UltraSecure and UltraSecure+Credit.
This company states that they monitor a wide range of information beyond your financial information, including social media, court records, and even on the less accessible dark web. Wherever exists a potential for fraud on your credit card, any investment accounts, your bank accounts, and even on your address, medical ID, and social security number, users get an alert right away.
These two services have many of the same features in common, but the higher plan tier of UltraSecure+ comes with the three bureau credit score reports as well as report monitoring. For those with children, IdentityForce can also provide them equivalent protection through its ChildWatch service, operating almost as a separate plan from yours.
The company behind IdentityForce - Sontiq - claims a 100% success rate in stolen identity recovery, so you should feel pretty easy that any mishaps found with your data should be rectified. It has the tools to provide you with reports from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion among other sources. Once downloaded to your device, you can even scan for fake networks, spyware, and insecure websites. There are also other features, such as a Lost Wallet Assistance feature, PC protection tools, and users can set up alerts for activities in their bank, credit card, and other investment accounts, threats to their information, and other potential dangers.
You also gain access to a Credit Score tracker and simulator that assists in gaining insight into how your score gets changed by different financial actions, which is important if you’re planning a big event like a mortgage application and want to make sure everything’s in line beforehand.
These services do carry with them a monthly cost, but signing up for a yearly subscription helps to save a couple of dollars, at a competitive price point.
To find out more, read our full IdentityForce review.
Best free credit monitoring service
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Capital One launched CreditWise in 2014 as an entirely free credit monitoring service. Users do not have to provide credit card details to sign up for the service, or even be a Capital one customer, although you will see the service integrated into their mobile app if you do sign up.
With CreditWise, users are able to view their credit score, TransUnion credit report, alerts, and get access to a credit score simulator. For your credit score, you will be given the six main factors affecting your score along with some ideas on how you can improve on each.
For TransUnion Credit Reports, you actually end up with a better-organized report than the one you may receive directly from TransUnion, as it comes with a whole list of items, which are identified as either new, changed, negative items, and ones that are still in dispute (although any errors will have to be dealt with TransUnion directly). An updated VantageScore credit score is provided from TransUnion on a weekly basis along with a credit report update in real-time from Experian and TransUnion.
CreditWise’s alert system is another major advantage, as it can notify every time a user’s email address is found on the Dark Web. CreditWise also provides dark web scans together with social security number scanning, although both are not available for free.
Like many other services, there's also a built-in credit score simulator that allows you to see how much different your score would be if you do one thing or another. Whether it is timely payment of credit card debt or increasing a card’s credit limit, it has an impact on one’s credit score and their subsequent creditworthiness.
Capital One’s service is definitely a helpful tool, especially for those who already have a Capital One account. However, anyone who is not a Capital One customer should still find this useful especially if they are not yet using any credit monitoring service.
Best credit monitoring service for features
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One of the primary services offered by Experian is a free credit monitoring service. It does not require any of your credit card details during sign-up and comes with a number of really useful features that are not dissimilar to what the premium Experian plans have to offer.
With Experian’s service, you will be notified of any accounts or inquiries made in your name, and you'll also be alerted to any changes made to your personal information as well as any activities on your credit report that seem suspicious.
Users are given an updated Experian credit report along with their FICO credit score on a monthly basis. There is also the added feature Experian Boost, which adds your phone and utility bill payments to your Experian credit profile, potentially boosting your score.
Given that it’s a free service, it’s fair to expect limited features in other areas, and while this is somewhat true, you do get a one-time dark web scan at the point of signup, checking around 600,000 sites for your email address, phone number, and social security number. There’s just no continued monitoring as you’d get with paid plans.
For further protection from fraud, you also receive a notification in case of a hard inquiry - this takes place when someone processes a loan application under your name. You will also be alerted whenever a new credit card account or loan is activated under your name, with the notification sent on an immediate basis, so you can do something about it right away.
Experian also communicates to you about certain conditions that could negatively impact your credit score, including high balances on your credit card and missing out on your payments. A credit card balance exceeding around 30% of the limit can have a bad effect on your credit score. A missed payment also ruins an otherwise healthy score.
For more information, read our full Experian review.
Best credit monitoring service for coverage
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PrivacyGuard offers three plans - the Credit Protection plan is all about credit scores, monitoring, and reporting, the ID Protection plan is focused on identity monitoring and protection, and the Total Protection plan is a combination of the two.
Although a bit more expensive than some of its competitors, PrivacyGuard does offer extensive coverage that makes the cost worth it. Based on the plan that you take, you get credit score updates and reports every month plus notifications on new information from all three main credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
PrivacyGuard’s Credit Protection Plan offers a number of credit information and tools such as a calculator for a car loan, fixed mortgage, and home budgeting. You also get access to a credit score simulator to help you understand more easily how your actions like adding credit or closing a credit card account influence your credit score.
It also comes with credit scores and reports from the three bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), 24/7 credit monitoring, credit score tracking on a monthly basis as well as mobile secure keyboarding and web browsing. These are supported by a hotline for credit information hotline along with fraud resolution support. It does not include identity monitoring services though.
Their basic plan monitors different sources for use of your personal information such as your full name, credit, and debit accounts as well as your social security number. It also comes with insurance for identity theft along with scans in public databases and on the dark web. However, it does not offer credit reports. To get the three-bureau credit monitoring daily and credit score and credit report monthly, you have to go with the mid-tier plan. It does not include identity theft insurance or public and dark web scanning though. The best deal to get everything is the total protection plan which offers a fully comprehensive service, but you’ll find yourself parting with more cash than you might’ve set out to do.
Check out more in our full PrivacyGuard review.
Best FICO credit monitoring service
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myFICO is a complete-package service for credit monitoring from FICO, a world-renowned name in credit reporting. This paid service is utilized for evaluating consumers’ level of creditworthiness as a basis for approving credit cards, loans, and the like. Your FICO score dictates the interest rate that a creditor will issue to you as it’s an indication of the risk you present.
You get access to myFICO’s very own bureau credit monitoring reports. The credit monitoring it provides for each of the reports is not always available from competitors. You also get to have some wisdom on how you can work on improving your credit score with the help of its tools such as the credit score simulator. With myFICO’s FICO 8 and other popular versions of your credit score, you end up with a very extensive view of your score, formatted quite practically.
Like many other competitors, you’ll also benefit from identity theft protection. This includes scanning different information sources like Blackmarket sites along with other databases. It looks for any cases where your personal information is present without your authorization. You can set up the service to alert you through the app, by email, or SMS whenever they learn of any illegal use of your information or identity. In addition to that, you also get identity theft insurance amounting to as much as $1 million, protection for a lost wallet, and identity theft restoration service available 24/7.
The service works through both mobile and computer access. Its mobile app is available for iOS and Android, and it is as accessible, easy to use, and functional as the website itself. You can also customize the alerts that you receive, so you do not get bombarded with updates that you do not find important.
FICO comes with a reputation for having fewer complaints than its competitors coupled with reliable and trusted customer service that has been in service for decades. The brand has an untarnished image in a very delicate industry, full of scams and breaches. It is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and has an A+ rating, maintaining a good name in the credit history for almost a century now.
For all of this, you may find myFICO to be on the expensive end of the spectrum, but there’s no doubting the value for money. Even the basic plan is comprehensive, and the protection on offer with higher plans is even better. The advanced plan includes the basic plan plus dark web monitoring and social security number scans. Its premier plan is all that the basic and advanced plans have to offer plus ID theft monitoring services. Both the advanced and premier plans provide reports from the three bureaus; quarterly for the advanced plan and monthly for the premier one.
myFICO is one of your best options for paid credit monitoring service in the US because of its top-notch quality, being equipped with all the information needed to keep your credit status monitored. Together with the basic services, you get a user-friendly interface, helpful tools to understand credit scores, and additional educational resources to guide you.
To find out more, see our full myFICO review.
Best credit monitoring service for security
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Aura includes its credit monitoring as part of its larger suite of security that endeavors to provide personal digital security, along with identity theft protection as a single, encompassing plan. For folks that are in need of a fix-it-all with one solution plan, then this one is worth a closer look.
There are three plans in total, but each has the same comprehensive suite of services. The only real difference is how many people are covered. The choice of plans is Individual to cover one member, the Couple plan covers two members, and the Family/Group plan can have up to five members. Each plan includes 24/7 US-based support, White Glove fraud resolution, and a fairly average $1 million in Identity Theft Insurance for each member of the plan.
The features are grouped around three basic areas. The first, Online Device and Security, has features such as antivirus, a VPN, a password manager, and safe browsing, each for up to 10 devices. The Identity Theft Protection category includes online account monitoring, criminal and court records monitoring, SSN and personal info monitoring, along with identity verification monitoring. Finally, in the third area of Identity Verification Monitoring the features are credit monitoring, a credit lock, bank account monitoring, and a monthly credit score, which is what is of most importance here.
Making this even better value is the offer of a 60-day money-back guarantee on an annual plan purchase. In summary, Aura is worth a close look, and we appreciate the full suite of services that it provides to its subscribers.
Read our full Aura review.
The best credit monitoring service FAQs
How to choose the best credit monitoring service
Legally, you are entitled to receive a one-time credit report for free through Credit Karma or annualcreditreport.com, which is considered by some people to be enough for their need to monitor their credit.
But if you want to choose the best credit monitoring service for yourself, you'll want to consider aspects like: how comprehensive the credit score tracking and reporting is, how the pricing plans are, and how well the app runs on different platforms (mobile, laptop, and tablet). Also, look out for the identity protection tools they offer and the quality of the customer service.
What are credit monitoring services?
A credit monitoring service keeps track of a user's borrowing behavior, which is reflected in their credit score. A lender will want to consult an individual’s credit score before approving an application in order to check that they’re likely to pay back the money.
These services can also protect users from identity theft (stolen credit cards) by detecting odd buying patterns and warning them promptly. With that in mind, a person’s credit information and history can be a valuable tool to somebody on either side of the fence.
Should I pay for a credit monitoring service?
This totally depends on what you want from your monitoring service. If you’re just curious about your credit score, then you may want to check out a free tool first.
However, if you have a significant online presence and you think your data could be at risk, or you just want to get some additional features included, then chances are you’re going to have to pay for a more premium product.
How we test the best credit monitoring services
To test the best credit monitoring services, we looked at various aspects, starting from the comprehensiveness of the reports, the number of agencies the reports are from, and the ease of setting up an account.
We checked how good the credit score trackers were and if there was a credit score simulator to give users an insight into how their score would be impacted by different financial decisions. We also analyzed how good their fraud protection services were and if the services gave ideas on how to improve the user's credit score.
We then looked at the pricing plans and how effectively the different tiers addressed users' needs, among other aspects.
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