Updated May 15, 2022

Best Credit Monitoring Service

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Is a paid credit monitoring site worth the money? Find out which free and paid credit monitoring sites are accurate and trustworthy.

Top 10 Credit Monitoring Services
  1. Credit Karma - Best free option + best for data breaches
  2. LifeLock - Best for families
  3. Experian IdentityWorks - Best paid option
  4. IdentityForce -Most valuable features
  5. Credit Sesame - Best value
  6. Identity Guard - Best identity theft protection
  7. PrivacyGuard - Most comprehensive coverage
  8. myFICO - Best for FICO tracking
  9. Equifax - Best for credit freezing
  10. TransUnion - Best for unlimited credit reports

If your identity is ever stolen, the consequences can be huge.

Criminals can take out loans in your name and hurt your credit without you knowing. This could even keep you from owning a home, buying a car, or getting certain jobs.

So how should you protect your info?

Credit monitoring services can help you spot issues before they get out of control. In this guide, compare the 10 best credit monitoring services, how they work, and if they're worth it for you.

Top 10 Credit Monitoring Services

Protect yourself from fraud and identity theft. Check out the best credit monitoring services to keep you and your family safe.

1. Credit Karma - Best Free Option + Best for Data Breaches

Credit Karma is one of the most popular free credit monitoring services. It monitors your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports and credit scores. It also checks your reports daily, so you'll have the most recent information.

The site alerts you if there are any important changes to your credit report. You'll also get notified if your personal data comes up in public data breaches or on the dark web.

The service stays free by advertising credit cards and loans to its members. Credit Karma makes money when its members sign up for these products. These are completely optional—you don't have to sign up for anything if you don't want to.

While Credit Karma is a solid free option, it only monitors two out of three credit bureaus. So, you'll have to use another credit monitoring service to get your Experian credit report.

Pricing and Key Features[1]

Credit Karma
PriceFree
Credit Bureaus MonitoredEquifax, TransUnion
Credit Score UpdatesDaily
Credit ReportsYes
Identity MonitoringYes
Identity Theft InsuranceNo

Free credit monitoring services are great for getting updates about your credit report. But if you want identity fraud protection features, you may need a paid service instead.

2. LifeLock - Best for Families

LifeLock is one of the oldest credit monitoring services. The service offer three different paid pricing plans, with a long list of credit monitoring features. Unfortunately, these features don't come cheap.

The least expensive tier only monitors your Equifax credit score and report. At this price point, you'll get the industry-standard $1 million in identity theft insurance and $25,000 in stolen fund reimbursement.

If you want a more complete picture of your credit, you'll have to shell out for a more expensive tier. The priciest plan comes with advanced features like 401(k)/investment account alerts, home title monitoring, and social media monitoring.

LifeLock raises its price after the first year. You can get it for a lower price if you pay annually instead of monthly. For protection for your whole family, LifeLock also offers plans to cover a spouse and up to 5 children.

Pricing and Key Features[2]

StandardAdvantageUltimate Plus
Price$8.99/mo (Renews at $11.99/mo) $17.99/mo (Renews at $22.99/mo)$23.99/mo (Renews at $34.99/mo)
Credit Bureaus MonitoredEquifaxEquifaxEquifax, Experian, TransUnion
Credit Score UpdatesMonthlyMonthlyDaily
Credit ReportsYesYesYes
Identity MonitoringYesYesYes
Identity Theft Insurance$1 million for legal costs; $25,000 for stolen funds$1 million for legal costs; $100,000 for stolen funds$1 million for legal costs; $1 million for stolen funds

3. Experian IdentityWorks - Best Paid Option

Experian IdentityWorks is a credit monitoring service that offers FICO scores for all three credit bureaus. Unlike the monitoring services offered by the other credit bureaus, Experian's service is fairly priced.

For $9.99 per month, you can get basic identity monitoring, Experian FICO scores, and $500,000 in identity theft insurance. The $19.99 per month tier bumps up your insurance coverage to $1 million and includes your reports and scores from the three bureaus.

Pricing and Key Features[3]

IdentityWorks PlusIdentityWorks Premium
Price$9.99/mo$19.99/mo
Credit Bureaus MonitoredExperianEquifax, Experian, TransUnion
Credit Score UpdatesDailyDaily
Credit ReportsYesYes
Identity MonitoringYesYes
Identity Theft Insurance$500,000$1 million

4. IdentityForce - Most Valuable Features

IdentityForce offers two tiers of protection: UltraSecure and UltraSecure+Credit. As the names suggest, the UltraSecure+Credit plan is the only one that includes credit monitoring. If you choose the cheaper plan, you'll only get identity monitoring.

Both plans search the internet to see if your personal information pops up anywhere it shouldn't. This includes the dark web, court records, sex offender registries, and more.

Unfortunately, if you want any credit monitoring features, you'll have to get the most expensive pricing tier. The UltraSecure+Credit service is on the pricy side, but it's a solid way to get credit reports from all three credit bureaus.

Pricing and Key Features[4]

UltraSecureUltraSecure+Credit
Price$17.99/mo$23.99/mo
Credit Bureaus MonitoredNoneEquifax, Experian, TransUnion
Credit Score UpdatesN/AMonthly
Credit ReportsNoYes
Identity MonitoringYesYes
Identity Theft Insurance$1 million for legal costs; $1 million for stolen funds$1 million for legal costs; $1 million for stolen funds

5. Credit Sesame - Best Value

Credit Sesame is a credit monitoring service with free and paid subscription tiers. The free tier only monitors your TransUnion credit report and score. Although the free plan doesn't offer identity monitoring, it comes with identity theft insurance up to $50,000.[5]

The insurance covers legal costs and other expenses in case of identity theft. This includes court costs, lost wages, and travel costs. It doesn't reimburse you for any stolen funds.

If you want to monitor all three bureaus, you'll need to choose one of Credit Sesame's paid plans, which are fairly affordable. There are three plans to choose from. But only the most expensive one includes identity monitoring.

Pricing and Key Features[6]

FreeAdvanced CreditPro CreditPlatinum Protection
PriceFree$9.95/mo$15.95/mo$19.95
Credit Bureaus MonitoredTransUnionEquifax, Experian, TransUnionEquifax, Experian, TransUnionEquifax, Experian, TransUnion
Credit Score UpdatesMonthlyDailyDailyDaily
Credit ReportsYesYesYesYes
Identity MonitoringNoNoNoYes
Identity Theft Insurance$50,000$1 million$1 million$1 million

6. Identity Guard - Best Identity Theft Protection

Identity Guard offers three tiers of identity theft protection for you or your whole family. The lowest tier only offers identity theft protection. You'll have to choose the most expensive plan to access your credit reports, scores, and credit monitoring.

The highest tier provides credit monitoring for all three bureaus. Plus, it comes with more robust monitoring for your credit and debit cards, investment accounts, and bank accounts.

Identity Guard offers family plans for each of the three pricing tiers. This allows you to extend coverage to a spouse and minor children. If you choose to pay annually instead of monthly, you'll also get a discount.

Pricing and Key Features[7]

ValueTotalUltra
Price$8.99/mo$19.99/mo$29.99/mo
Credit Bureaus MonitoredNoneEquifax, Experian, TransUnionEquifax, Experian, TransUnion
Credit Score UpdatesN/AMonthlyMonthly
Credit ReportsNoYesYes
Identity MonitoringYesYesYes
Identity Theft Insurance$1 million$1 million$1 million

7. PrivacyGuard - Best for Comprehensive Coverage

PrivacyGuard is another service that offers both identity monitoring and credit monitoring. It offers 3 different plans for identity protection, credit protection, or a combination of the two.

Both the credit protection and total protection plans feature triple-bureau credit reports and scores. Unlike some other sites, you don't have to spring for the top tier to get the full picture of your credit. However, you will need to get the top plan if you want to add identity theft insurance.

If you're only in the market for credit monitoring or identity monitoring, PrivacyGuard could be a good value. You'll be able to focus on what you want instead of spending more on features you won't even use.

Pricing and Key Features[8]

Identity ProtectionCredit ProtectionTotal Protection
Price$9.99/mo$19.99/mo$24.99/mo
Credit Bureaus MonitoredNoneEquifax, Experian, TransUnionEquifax, Experian, TransUnion
Credit Score UpdatesN/AMonthlyMonthly
Credit ReportsNoYesYes
Identity MonitoringYesYesYes
Identity Theft Insurance$1 millionNone$1 million

8. myFICO - Best for FICO Tracking

Most lenders use your FICO score to determine whether you'll be approved for loans and other accounts. Since myFICO is powered by FICO, it can help you get a more accurate idea of what lenders will see when they check your credit score.

One of the biggest drawbacks to myFICO is its price. Despite having relatively few features, the basic plan costs $19.95 per month. It only monitors your Experian credit report and score. And it doesn't include identity monitoring.

Complete three-bureau credit monitoring with quarterly updates costs $29.95 per month. Or, you can opt for the $39.95 per month plan to get updates every month.

Pricing and Key Features[9]

BasicAdvancedPremier
Price$19.95/mo$29.95/mo$39.95 /mo
Credit Bureaus MonitoredExperianEquifax, Experian, TransUnionEquifax, Experian, TransUnion
Credit Score UpdatesMonthlyQuarterlyMonthly
Credit ReportsYesYesYes
Identity MonitoringNoYesYes
Identity Theft Insurance$1 million$1 million$1 million

9. Equifax - Best for Credit Freezing

Equifax offers two credit monitoring plans with identity theft protection. The Equifax Complete plan only monitors your Equifax score, while the Premier plan monitors all three credit bureaus.

At $19.95 per month, the Premier plan is priced on par with other competitors. While it does lack some more advanced features like 401(k) and investment account monitoring, it does offer helpful credit freezing. This allows you to restrict any new accounts from being opened in your name.

Pricing and Key Features[10][11]

Equifax CompleteEquifax Complete Premier
Price$9.99/mo$19.99/mo
Credit Bureaus MonitoredEquifaxEquifax, Experian, TransUnion
Credit Score UpdatesDailyDaily
Credit ReportsYesYes
Identity MonitoringYesYes
Identity Theft Insurance$500,000$1 million

10. TransUnion - Best for Unlimited Credit Reports

TransUnion Credit Monitoring is far from being the cheapest credit monitoring service. Its main draw is its unlimited credit reports and scores, which are updated daily. The rest of its features are fairly standard.

You'll get $1 million in identity theft insurance, alerts, and insights on your credit score. For the steep price, there are better options out there. But TransUnion does offer a few helpful features, like credit report locking, that make it stand out from the crowd.

Pricing and Key Features

TransUnion Credit Monitoring
Price$24.95/mo
Credit Bureaus MonitoredTransUnion
Credit Score UpdatesDaily
Credit ReportsYes
Identity MonitoringYes
Identity Theft Insurance$1 million

How Do Credit Monitoring Services Work?

Credit monitoring services work by tracking your credit report and scores for you. You can sign up for account alerts and get notified right away if anything out of the ordinary comes up on your credit report.

From there, you can review the activity to see if it's actually you. If it's fraudulent activity, you can take action to protect yourself from more damage.

Should You Buy Credit Monitoring?

With all the free services available, is it worth paying for credit monitoring? The answer depends on the number of accounts you have and the level of protection you want.

Free services typically offer basic credit monitoring and may or may not have identity theft insurance. If you have few accounts and credit cards, this level of protection could be more than enough.

On the other hand, if you have many accounts and credit cards open, a credit monitoring service can provide extra security. This can bring you peace of mind knowing that your credit and identity are being carefully monitored at all times.

A paid credit monitoring service is a great decision if your identity has been stolen before. If your personal data is floating around online, you'll want to keep as close an eye on your credit as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which credit monitoring service is most accurate?
Most credit monitoring services use either VantageScore or FICO credit-scoring models. Both these scoring models consider a different mix of factors. Most credit monitoring services are very accurate to the criteria used to determine your credit score.

However, FICO scores tend to be more in line with what actual lenders will see. In general, lenders will use your FICO score to predict whether you'll be able to repay a debt.

What is a good credit score?
A good credit score ranges depending on which scoring model is being used. In general, credit scores above 690 are usually considered good. Scores above 750 are considered excellent.

Which credit score is recommended for buying a house?
To purchase a home, your credit score will generally need to be 650 or higher. Lower scores aren't unheard of. But a higher credit score will increase your chance of getting approved for a mortgage.

Bottom Line

You don't necessarily have to pay for a credit monitoring service to get the extra security. There are free options that can get the job done if you don't want to shell out the monthly fee.

But in the long run, spending a few dollars a month can save you a big headache. Credit monitoring services are worth it in many cases. If your identity has been stolen or you want the best protection for you and your family, the peace of mind can be priceless.

References

  1. ^ Credit Karma. Credit monitoring, Retrieved 5/15/2022
  2. ^ LifeLock. Pricing, Retrieved 5/15/2022
  3. ^ Experian. Plans and Pricing, Retrieved 5/15/2022
  4. ^ IdentityForce. Products & Pricing, Retrieved 5/15/2022
  5. ^ Credit Sesame. What is $50k and $1M identity theft insurance?, Retrieved 5/15/2022
  6. ^ Credit Sesame. Premium Services, Retrieved 5/15/2022
  7. ^ Identity Guard. Plans, Retrieved 5/15/2022
  8. ^ PrivacyGuard. Plans and Pricing, Retrieved 5/15/2022
  9. ^ myFICO. Plans and Pricing, Retrieved 5/15/2022
  10. ^ Equifax . Equifax Complete, Retrieved 5/15/2022
  11. ^ Equifax . Equifax Complete Premier, Retrieved 5/15/2022

Donna Tang is the head of purpose and audience at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Donna Tang at donna.tang@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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