Your credit score will influence just about every major financial decision in your life. From renting an apartment, purchasing a home, financing a car, or even securing a personal loan, lenders will unquestionably pay a hyper focus to your credit score.
With active management, discipline, and proper money management habits, you can improve your credit score. One of the first steps you’ll need to take to improve your credit is to actively monitor your credit.
Luckily, there are plenty of credit monitoring services that make that easy! What is credit monitoring, and what is the best free credit monitoring service? We’ll cover those details below!
Quicklook: Best Credit Monitoring Services
- Experian Premium Plan: Best for in Depth Protection
- Credit Karma: Best Free Option
- Privacy Guard: Best for ID Theft Insurance
- ID Shield: Best for a Versatile Option
- IdentityForce: Best for a Mobile User
Table of Contents:
- Best Credit Monitoring Services
- What Is Credit Monitoring?
- How Does Credit Monitoring Work?
- What to Consider With Credit Monitors
- Your Credit Impacts Your Personal Finances
5 Best Credit Monitoring Services
There are plenty of credit monitoring services available today. How do you know which credit monitoring service is right for you? We’ve done some leg work and reviewed the 5 best credit monitoring services below.
Experian Premium Plan
Experian is an excellent credit monitoring service. Experian offers a few different credit monitoring options, of which, their premium plan is a very common option. One of the greatest benefits of the premium plan is how in depth this software is. Experian’s premium plan goes above and beyond a typical credit monitoring service, and provides a long list of additional features.
Credit Bureaus Monitored: The premium plan will monitor all the 3 major credit bureaus.
Credit Scoring Model Utilized: FICO
Watches for: In addition to monitoring your credit, Experian’s premium plan will also provide identity theft coverage, monitor your social security number, monitor your financial account activity, and court records.
Standout Features: The best feature is simply how robust this option is. Virtually anything you can think of can be monitored through the premium plan.
- You’ll get much more than just credit monitoring service protection
- You can receive real time notifications when a new account is opened in your name, or when your social security number is used
- You can save money if you sign up for their annual plan
- Although many would consider the price well worth it, at $20 a month you may feel as though you do not need all the services the premium plan provides
- There is not a family bundle. Each adult, or child, would need to have their own subscription.
Pricing: The premium plan costs $19.99/month. However, you will save 17% if you pay for it annually.
If you’re looking for a free credit monitoring service, look no further than Credit Karma. Credit Karma is a well established and recognized credit monitoring company. The insights Credit Karma provides on your credit score will surely help you make better financial decisions. Without question, Credit Karma is the best free credit monitoring service.
Credit Bureaus Monitored: Credit Karma monitors your credit reports from 2 of the 3 big credit bureaus. Equifax and TransUnion will be monitored, whereas Experian is not included in their service.
Credit Scoring Model Utilized: VantageScore
Watches for: Considering Credit Karma is a free service, it does not monitor nearly as much as the premium plan above. However, your credit, identity, and credit reports will all be included in their services.
Standout Features: The best feature about Credit Karma is the fact that the credit reporting feature is always free!
- The software is free!
- The mobile and desktop app is easy to use and organized
- You’ll receive a credit report from 2 of the 3 credit reporting agencies
- Credit Karma reports on the VantageScore, and many people are more interested in knowing their FICO score
- The list of services/features the software reports on is not as complete as other options
- Credit Karma comes with a lot of ads. Afterall, the company provides free software, and ads are how the company keeps the service free
Pricing: Credit Karma won’t cost you a penny! It is completely free to use.
If you’re looking to protect your ID, Privacy Guard is likely the software you should partner with. Privacy Guard is more than just a credit monitoring service, and will help protect other sensitive information. Not only does Privacy Guard help monitor what’s going on with your ID and your credit, they also provide insurance if you ever need to make a claim.
Credit Bureaus Monitored: All 3 credit bureaus are monitored!
Credit Scoring Model Utilized: VantageScore
Watches for: Privacy Guard monitors your credit across the three credit bureaus, and also provides extensive ID protection.
Standout Features: The ID protection, and ID protection insurance Privacy Guard provides is by far the best feature.
- There are two plans to choose from, allowing you to drill down on exactly what you need
- Privacy Guard gathers information from all three credit bureaus
- There is 24/7 support if you ever need to dispute something or file a claim
- There is no family bundle, every individual will pay full price for their service
- Although the ID and credit monitoring service is excellent, monitoring other sensitive areas beyond that (such as your address, or new accounts) is not included
- Your FICO score is not something the company reports on
Pricing: If you’re only looking for credit protection, that will cost you $19.99/month. If you want total protection, that will cost you $24.99/month.
ID Shield is the most versatile option on the market today. Not only are there numerous plans you can choose from, ID Shield provides many benefits that can help protect you and your family. From credit monitoring services, to complete restoration, ID Shield has quickly established a great reputation.
Credit Bureaus Monitored: At a minimum ID Shield will monitor one of the credit bureaus. However, you can subscribe to their more advanced plan which monitors all three credit bureaus.
Credit Scoring Model Utilized: FICO
Watches for: ID Shield provides personal privacy management, social security management, credit reporting, and fraud protection.
Standout Features: The best standout feature is the family bundle option ID Shield offers. You can protect yourself, your partner, and up to 10 children for a low monthly cost.
- The family bundle is a great economic option
- ID Shield also provides free restoration
- ID Shield provides business protection as well
- ID Shield is known for providing many email updates regarding your credit or ID. Whereas this could be a good thing, all the noise may actually cause you to start ignoring what’s going on
- You’ll need to pay more for the three credit bureau service
- There is no discount for paying annually
Pricing: There are four different options you can choose from, ranging from a personal option to a family bundle. The price range is $14.95/month to $34.95/month.
With our busy lives today, having great software we can access from our mobile platforms is increasingly more important. That’s exactly where Identity Force steps in. Identity Force is a fantastic credit and ID protection company that provides an excellent mobile app experience.
Credit Bureaus Monitored: Various plans provide different coverage. You can have all three credit bureaus monitored if you select the more advanced plan.
Credit Scoring Model Utilized: FICO
Watches for: Identity Force watches your credit, social media accounts, your personal identity, medical ID fraud, and provides various privacy features.
Standout Features: The best feature of Identify Force is how complete this option is. Whether you’re looking to use this software for personal use, or business use, it truly is a one stop shop.
- You can have a 14 day free trial
- There is identity theft insurance, up to $1,000,000 for both the personal plans
- You can sign up for a family option, and receive credit monitoring services from all 3 credit bureaus
- Their mobile app is world class
- Their basic option is pricey considering it only reviews 1 credit bureau
- Canceling the service can be a hassle, and you won’t receive a refund if you are between billing cycles
Pricing: Identity Force offers 2 different personal plans, ranging from $17.95/month to $23.95/month.
What Is Credit Monitoring?
What is credit monitoring? Simply put, credit monitoring is when a company and/or software monitors one’s credit to identify fraud or suspicious activity. Considering how important credit is in today’s world, making sure your credit is accurate and free of fraud is incredibly important.
How Does Credit Monitoring Work?
Although the mechanics of credit monitoring may change between what software or company you partner with, on a high level, the mechanics are quite simple. Credit monitoring works through a series of algorithms.
These algorithms are programmed to recognize typical behavior. When something seems off, an alert will be sent. You will be able to accept or deny the claim, meaning you can stop fraud in live time!
What to Consider With Credit Monitors
Protecting your credit is becoming increasingly more important with the amount of fraud occurring. With that said, you should consider the following variables with all credit monitoring services.
Depth of Analysis
First and foremost, you want to make sure the software you’re working with goes deep into the reporting. If the report only scratches the service, fraudulent activities may be impossible to detect.
Providing 360 degrees of protection, and taking the protection numerous levels deep, is a great way to ensure you are fully covered. Some commonly found services provided include ID protection, dark web analysis, and credit monitoring.
Triple Bureau Protection
There are three main credit bureaus. Ideally, the software/company you partner with pulls information from all bureaus.
It’s possible one bureau does not have something on record, but another bureau does. If you want to fully understand your credit, leveraging a software that pulls from all three bureaus is the most complete way of making that possible.
Credit Score Model Utilized
A credit score model can also help you better understand where your credit score stands, and what the numeric value means. A model will help you understand how lenders view your credit worthiness.
You will find that scores are reported under the FICO or VantageScore models.
Notification of Compromised Credit
You’ll also want to make sure the company/software you are using provides you with live time updates if they suspect suspicious activity and/or if your credit has been compromised. The quicker you get this information, the quicker you can act and fix things!
Last but not least, there are plenty of credit monitoring services that also offer insurance if your identity is stolen, or if you have any financial consequence from stolen credit/identity. Having everything you need under a single platform is a recipe for success.
Your Credit Impacts Your Personal Finances
Your credit impacts many areas of your personal finances. If you have bad credit, a lender may not lend you money or they will do so at a high interest rate.
Financing a home, renting an apartment, or obtaining a personal loan all become increasingly more challenging if your credit is poor. A good financial advisor looks out for all areas of your finances.
Not only will a financial advisor help you make wise investment decisions, they will also help you manage your credit and instill good spending/saving habits. Combining a credit monitoring service with a financial advisor can help ensure you are making the best financial decisions at all times.
Frequently Asked Questions
Experian is often considered the highest rated credit monitoring service.
The best way to monitor your credit is actively. Make sure you establish a monthly cadence to comb through your credit, dispute inaccurate information, and protect your credit score. Or you could simply subscribe to a credit monitoring service or utilize a free one!
Privacy Guard is often considered the best software for identity theft protection.