Your credit score influences more than you might realize. From interest rates to the cost of insurance, your score is an invisible hand that can quietly chart a course for your life. It’s important to keep an eye on your credit activity with the best credit monitoring service that can alert you to changes in your score as well as provide early warnings of fraud.
You will find a lot of options when looking for the best credit monitoring service. Benzinga has done the research for you and offers you a list of options below.
The Best Credit Monitoring Services
- Best Overall: MyFico
- Best for Phishing Protection: Identity Guard
- Best for Credit Alers: Privacy Guard
- Best for Tiered Service Options: LifeLock
- Best for Reviewing Credit Scores: Credit Karma
Best Overall: MyFico
When you apply for an auto loan or a home loan, there’s a good chance that your lender uses MyFico to pull your credit report and scores. The good news is that you can have the same information that lenders use when you choose MyFico as your credit monitoring service.
MyFico offers three credit monitoring products ranging from $19.95 per month up to $39.95 per month. MyFico Premier is a good choice if you’re rebuilding your credit or working toward a loan goal. It provides monthly updates for your three credit bureau scores as well as individual credit scores such as mortgage and credit card scores. A total of 28 individual reports are available.
Identity theft monitoring is also included with Advanced and Premier plans and both plans offer up to $1 million of ID theft insurance. Fraud resolution is also included with premium plans and MyFico keeps a watchful eye on the dark web for you, alerting you to potential risks
Mobile apps are available for Android and iOS.
- There are 28 total reports available to you
- You can purchase ID theft insurance, which many other platforms do not offer
- MyFico can help you learn about your credit, but the price might be high for many consumers
Best for Phishing Protection: Identity Guard
Identity Guard’s Value package pricing is hard to beat, at $8.99 per month for basic credit monitoring, including dark web monitoring and identity theft coverage for up to $1 million.
Consider Identity Guard’s Ultra plan, which offers the most comprehensive tools, for $23.99 per month. It gives you a suite of credit monitoring tools, phishing protection, monthly credit scores and reports from all three credit bureaus.
Identity Guard brings enhanced value, but if you need detailed individual reports for each type of credit, MyFico is a better choice.
As an affordable alternative for those who need basic credit monitoring and scores from all three credit bureaus, Identity Guard deserves consideration. The Ultra plan can cover the whole family for $33.33 per month and cancellation is a breeze if your credit monitoring needs to change after you’ve enrolled in a plan.
Access your account on the go with mobile apps for Android and iOS.
- You might can use this platform to check up on figures for the whole family
- There is phishing protection that makes it much easier to avoid scams
- The price might seem a little high considering that the platform offers basic services you might feel you can get elsewhere
Best for Credit Alerts: Privacy Guard
Pricing starts at $9.99 per month with PrivacyGuard, another affordable choice if your credit monitoring needs are less complex but you still want data from all three bureaus.
Daily credit monitoring is available and scans all three credit bureaus for new inquiries, derogatory information, new accounts and other changes that can trigger an alert.
ID theft insurance is only available with PrivacyGuard’s Total Protection plan and the feature-limited ID protection plan, priced at $24.99 per month and $9.99 per month, respectively. The first 14 days are free.
Expect a more robust set of features with the Total Protection plan, including monthly credit reports and scores from all three bureaus, 24/7 credit monitoring and a credit score simulator feature.
PrivacyGuard’s mobile-friendly website gives you access to your account whether on your PC or using a mobile device.
- You can purchase ID theft insurance if you feel it is necessary
- There is 24/7 monitoring of all credit bureaus
- A long free trial helps you learn more about the platform
- The total protection plan is much more expensive than the basic service
Best for Tiered Service Options: LifeLock
LifeLock places its focus on identity theft protection and broadens its scope to include protection for other threats like ransomware and online scams. This identity theft protection service, however, goes far beyond simply looking out for your name as it will also help monitor your credit.
If your goal is security with built-in reimbursement coverage for personal funds, related personal expenses and legal or expert assistance, LifeLock is a solid choice. If you need detailed credit score reporting and credit score simulation, MyFico is a better alternative. However, if you need a fraud alert, LifeLock is perfect for your needs.
LifeLock offers three membership options which range from $8.99 per month for standard protection up to $23.99 per month for LifeLock Ultimate Plus with its Million Dollar Protection Package. Prices jump slightly higher after your first year with LifeLock. Remember, however, that this is not identity theft insurance, which is a completely different product.
Credit monitoring from all three bureaus is included with all LifeLock membership levels but monthly credit score tracking is only available with the Ultimate Plus membership and is limited to your VantageScore 3.0 credit score based on Equifax data. Even so, you can see your payment history, FICO score, full credit file and get an idea of your credit profile.
LifeLock uses proprietary software that’s installed directly on your PC or Mac. Mobile apps are also available for Android and iOS and provide protection for up to 5 devices.
- Reimbursement coverage can help you get back to normal much faster after ID theft or losses
- Protection from ransomware is quite helpful for everyone in the digital age
- While LifeLock is a leader in this space, remember that it has experienced bad press in the past regarding its service
Best for Reviewing Credit Scores: Credit Karma
For those with budget constraints, it’s tough to beat free. Credit Karma is candid about how it makes money and still offers free credit scores and free credit monitoring. If you take advantage of a finance offer suggested through the platform, Credit Karma earns a commission.
Credit monitoring is limited to your TransUnion credit report, which may be enough for consumers who just want a simple solution.
Credit scores are provided by both Equifax and TransUnion and are updated weekly, providing you with a more up-to-date snapshot of your credit than paid competitors.
Many of the detailed reports available with paid providers aren’t available with Credit Karma (remember, it’s free) but there are still a number of features that make the service attractive, including:
- Credit simulator
- TransUnion credit score
- Equifax credit score
- Details of factors that help or hurt your score
- Tools to track spending
Apps are available for Android and iOS.
- You can use this platform on your mobile device to, at the very least, check your credit score
- You can see full credit reports
- You can see insights into why your score is changing
- Though you can use this platform for free, the advanced settings are useful for many consumers, and you may not want to pay a high price for those services
What Credit Monitoring Services Do
Every place you use credit, make non-cash purchases or share certain types of personal information is a potential risk. No matter how careful you are with your data in your home and on your devices, the data and personally-identifying information in the hands of third parties are at risk, as seen in recent high-profile data breaches.
Credit monitoring services can provide you with an overview of your credit, give you detailed reporting and send alerts if your credit information has changed. New inquiries or requests for new credit in your name can appear, for example.
A credit monitoring service can show you your overall credit score from one or more credit bureaus but many services don’t offer access to the individual sub-scores specific to one type of credit. Across the three credit bureaus, there are nearly 30 types of individual scores. You have a credit card score, an auto loan score, mortgage score and more.
MyFico, the provider used by most lenders, shows 28 individual scores with its Advanced and Premier packages, whereas the company’s Basic package only provides 10 individual scores. Other providers may not offer these individual scores or may provide a more limited scope.
This is why you need to decide if a data breach or your credit score is more important. If you need more than credit monitoring companies can offer, you might want to subscribe to 2 different services.
Access to Credit Scores and Reports
There are three major credit bureaus for consumer credit reporting: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. A credit monitoring service gives you access to your reports from these bureaus.
Some services provide all three and others only provide data from one or two. Ideally, access to all three is better because while the data from each is similar, each may contain unique credit items or items may appear on the reports at different times.
Some credit reporting services provide more granular information and may even include additional credit scores specific to a certain type of credit.
This is very important because you can catch credit card fraud easily, find if someone has opened a bank account in your name and use credit protection to keep your score as high as possible. Identity thieves are much less likely to benefit from your name and info if you are using a credit reporting company, download their app and check with the credit reporting agencies often.
For example, before applying for a mortgage or a refinance, you might find that access to your mortgage credit score is useful. The level of detail and types of reports available can vary considerably from one service to the next, so you’ll want to consider your needs carefully before choosing a credit monitoring service.
Identity Theft Protection
It’s common to find identity theft protection bundled with credit monitoring services or sold as an add-on. The level of protection can range from simple alerts to insurance to cover your losses or even identity restoration services provided by identity theft experts.
These products can compare your credit behavior to what’s happening and send alerts just to make sure you know what’s going on. Plus, they do this with every credit reporting agency so that you can see if one report is changing and the others are not.
Alerts to Changes in Your Credit
Not every change to your credit report indicates fraud. It’s often useful to know about small changes to your score or new inquiries, especially if you’re working on building your score prior to a home or auto purchase.
Dark Web Scan Alerts
Some credit monitoring packages scan the dark web to see if your identity or personal information have been compromised and are being traded or sold. These alerts allow you to take action before your identity is used to open new credit accounts or your existing credit accounts are used to make fraudulent purchases.
Score Simulation and Score Insights
Some credit monitoring services give you a chance to experiment in a virtual sandbox and see the possible effects on your score before you make any real changes to your accounts.
For tracking purposes and direct efficiency, it’s probably best to make a dispute directly with the credit bureau if there’s a mistake on your credit report, but a handful of credit monitoring services have built this functionality into their platform.
What to Look for in a Credit Monitoring Service
Some credit monitoring services may offer more options than you need and some may not offer enough information or features. Consider your needs before choosing.
If you’re considering a service just to keep an eye on things, your needs will differ from someone preparing for a mortgage or rebuilding bad credit.
- Access to all scores: Many services only offer access to your credit score from one bureau. However, it’s common to find slightly different information on each credit report from each respective credit bureau. For in-depth reporting, you may also want access to the individual scores for various credit types, like your credit card score or your auto loan score.
- Trusted name: The consumer credit space is littered with companies that don’t offer much value — even for free — or who may be trying to sell your information to other marketing partners. Some are more candid about how they make money. For example, Credit Karma recommends products and earns a commission when you buy and other free services may bury the details deep inside their terms of service agreements.
- Mobile and desktop apps: Depending on the devices you use, you may want access to alerts when you’re on the go. Not all providers offer a mobile app, so this may be a deciding factor.
- Easy to cancel: Your needs for credit monitoring software may be temporary or you may not need a premium service forever. Maybe you’re working to improve your credit prior to buying a home. After the mortgage is approved, a service with fewer features may be adequate. Make sure you can get out easily when you’re ready and consider your needs carefully before agreeing to a lengthy or expensive contract.
- Easy-to-use reports: Can you print out your report and bring it to a loan broker or save to read your credit report at the monthly family budget meeting? Believe it or not, some reporting services make this difficult.
Choosing the best credit monitoring service requires that you match the features to your needs. Some providers offer a basic service like fraud monitoring or ID theft protection.
If you’re building or rebuilding your credit or if you have a credit goal in mind, like getting a great mortgage rate or a low lease rate, you’ll probably want a full-featured credit monitoring service with more tools.
Choose the Best Credit Monitoring Service Today
It’s important to mention that AnnualCreditReport.com is a free option that provides all three credit reports once per year as required by federal law. However, the government-authorized site doesn’t give you a score, just the reports, nor does it provide credit monitoring.
Cost-conscious consumers can choose from several lower-cost credit monitoring plans starting at about $10 per month from the list above or take advantage of Credit Karma’s free credit monitoring system.
For the most detailed reporting, it’s tough to beat MyFico’s Premier plan, which is pricier than competitors but provides the same reports used by most lenders, along with a wealth of tools and report options.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a credit monitoring service?
A credit monitoring service is a company that charges consumers a fee to keep a watch over their credit and alert them if any changes occur to it. These services can help to prevent identity theft.
Does credit monitoring affect your credit?
Credit monitoring does not affect your credit because it does not require anyone to conduct a hard credit check on your report.
What is the best way to prevent identity theft?
The best way to prevent identity theft is to keep a close eye on your credit so you will know when someone else tries to use it. You can do this yourself or by hiring a credit monitoring service for a small fee.