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Best credit monitoring services of 2022

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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
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(Image credit: Pixabay)

The best credit monitoring services provide a simple solution to check up on your credit score, to ensure you haven't fallen foul of bad payments or even fraud. 

This is important because credit scores matter for everything from checking accounts to mortgages, making it essential to ensure that your report remains accurate. 

The best credit monitoring services have access to a lot of information from a wide range of sources. Investing in one of the best credit monitoring services will also help protect yourself from fraud, keeping you alerted to any problem immediately.

Generally, there are two types of services available today - basic credit monitoring services that come for free but have limited coverage, and premium services, which, come with a modest fee but can provide greater peace of mind.

We've compared some of the best credit monitoring services in the market here. We looked into aspects like how many agencies the services provided reports from, how detailed the reports were, whether there were suggestions for improving the credit score, and the overall ease of using the service. We also looked into their identity protection offerings and their pricing models.

You may also like to check out our roundup of the best identity theft protection and the best payroll software

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Best credit monitoring services of 2022 in full

(Image credit: IdentityForce)
Best credit monitoring service for ID theft protection

Reasons to buy

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Reports from all three bureaus
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Great customer service
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Multiple plans to choose from

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the best iOS app

IdentityForce (opens in new tab) is the market leader when it comes to credit monitoring, providing two main services: UltraSecure and UltraSecure+Credit. 

The company says these can monitor a wide range of information, including on social media, in court records, and even on the dark web. Whenever there is the potential for fraud on your credit card or any investment accounts, bank account, and even on your address, medical ID, and social security number, you will be alerted right away.

The two services share mostly the same features, but the UltraSecure+ comes with the credit score report as well as report monitoring. If you have children, IdentityForce can also offer them the same amount of protection through its ChildWatch service, operating almost as a separate account from yours.

Owned by Sontiq, a cybersecurity company boasting 100% success in stolen identity recovery, the tools provide your reports from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion plus all other sources, and once downloaded on your device, can even scan for fake networks, spyware, and insecure websites. 

You also get to access a Credit Score tracker and simulator to help you gain insight into how your score is affected by your different financial actions. There's also a Lost Wallet Assistance feature as well as online PC protection tools, and users can set up alerts for activities in your bank, credit card, and other investment accounts, threats on your information, and other potential dangers.

The services do come with a monthly cost, but signing up for a yearly subscription can help you save a couple of dollars, with a price very comparable to the competition.

To find out more, read our full IdentityForce review.

(Image credit: CreditWise)

2. CreditWise

Great credit monitoring service that's free for monitoring your VantageScore

Reasons to buy

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Costs nothing to have and use
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Free for all
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Offers a credit score simulator

Reasons to avoid

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Doesn't provide FICO scores

Capital One launched CreditWise (opens in new tab) 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 these will see the service integrated into their mobile app if they do sign up)- all you need to do is sign up on the site. 

With CreditWise, users are able to view their credit score, TransUnion credit report, Alerts, and 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 (opens in new tab). CreditWise also provides dark web scans together with social security number scanning, although both are not available for free.

There's also a built-in Credit Score Simulator, which 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 how one’s credit score ends up to be.

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.

(Image credit: Experian)
Best credit monitoring service for free FICO Score monitoring

Reasons to buy

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Free service
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Lock option for Experian credit report

Reasons to avoid

-
No Dark Web scans
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No 24/7 customer service available

One of the primary services offered by Experian (opens in new tab) 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. 

The service does not regularly conduct dark web scans but does provide a one-time dark web surveillance report when you sign up that includes a search of more than 600,000 web pages for your email address, phone number, and social security number.

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.

(Image credit: PrivacyGuard)
Best credit monitoring service for your latest triple-bureau credit report

Reasons to buy

+
Plans for credit reporting and identity theft protection
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Costs only $1 daily for new members

Reasons to avoid

-
No social network monitoring

PrivacyGuard (opens in new tab) 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 the three main credit bureaus; Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. 

New members who wish to try out the services of PrivacyGuard can do so for a $1 fee, which provides 14 days of using the service. Once this trial period is used up, one can then choose between the different plans. 

PrivacyGuard’s Credit Protection Plan offers a number of credit information and tools such as a calculator for an automobile 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, credit monitoring 24 hours a day for seven days a week, 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 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.

Check out more in our full PrivacyGuard review.

(Image credit: MyFICO)
Best official offering from the FICO

Reasons to buy

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True FICO credit score
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User-friendly Interface
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Supported by myFICO forums

Reasons to avoid

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Quite expensive

myFICO (opens in new tab) 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 is negatively corresponding to the interest rate that a creditor will issue to you.

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.

Together with your subscription to their service, you also receive complete 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, breaches, and the likes. 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. 

Cost-wise, it cannot be denied that myFICO is a little more expensive. Considering the quality and quantity of service that you receive though, you cannot doubt the value of your money. The basic plan is already comprehensive by itself. It monitors your credit via Experian and observes any inquiries and opening of new accounts, $1 or more balance changes, account status changes as well as more than 75% utilization rate. 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 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.


What are credit monitoring services?

A credit monitoring service keeps track of a user's borrowing behavior and notifies them of changes in their credit score. These services can also protect users from identity theft (stolen credit cards) by detecting odd buying patterns and warning them promptly.

How to choose the best credit monitoring services for you?

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. 

The best credit monitoring services: How we test

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.