The Best Credit Monitoring Services June 2023

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Your credit score is a prominent factor in your financial profile. Good credit makes it easier to qualify for loans and secure low interest rates, so it pays to improve your score. Keeping tabs on your credit reports will help you track your progress and protect you from bad actors looking to steal your identity and use your credit. 

The Best Credit Monitoring Services of May 2023

Credit Karma Free Credit Report – Product Name Only + Experian Free Credit Report – Product Name Only: Best for free credit monitoringCapital One CreditWise – Product Name Only: Best for light monitoringIdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit – Product Name Only: Most comprehensiveAura – All-In-One ID Theft Protection – Product Name Only: Best for familiesComplete ID – Product Name Only: Best dealPrivacyGuard Credit Protection – Product Name Only: Best additional features

While you’re limited in how many free credit reports you can get per year, a wide selection of credit monitoring services will give you access to your reports and will notify you of any changes. Some monitoring services will provide additional services including VPNs or identity theft insurance. Because of this, the best credit monitoring services somewhat overlaps with the best identity theft protection services.

Here is our selection of the credit monitoring companies and what you can expect from each one. The prices listed are the standard rates advertised at the time of writing, but you can likely find discounts through referrals or other promotional codes where applicable. Most of these services also offer a free trial, so you can test them before buying.

Best Free Credit Monitoring Services

Best Paid Credit Monitoring Services

Methodology: How We Chose the Best Credit Monitoring Services

Choosing the best credit monitoring services comes down to what you get for the money you’re paying. A paid service at its highest tier needs to monitor your reports from all three of the major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. 

The best services also have aspects of identity theft protection included in their features, like public records monitoring or dark web monitoring, two services that are hard to replicate on your own. They should also give you some recourse for recovery if you fall victim to identity theft such as stolen wallet protection or identity theft insurance. 

While the free services don’t offer nearly as much compared to the paid services, it is very hard to argue with free. In the worst-case scenario, these services fill your inbox with superfluous emails. This cost is a small one to pay for free credit monitoring. 

Credit Monitoring Services Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How to choose a credit monitoring service

Most credit monitoring services on the market have a free trial, so you aren’t under pressure to stick . That said, you should be choosing a service that gives you the amount of protection you need. For example, if you have family members who are also in need of credit monitoring, you would want to look into companies that provide family options.

You shouldn’t be tempted to pay for a more expensive service with additional features if you don’t need them or worse, you won’t use them. 

Is paying for credit monitoring worth it?

Paid credit monitoring can be worth the money in certain situations, particularly if you’re also looking for comprehensive identity protection. If you’ve been the victim of identity theft in the past or you have any other reason to be concerned over your personal information, paying credit monitoring may be worth it. 

Do I have to pay for credit monitoring?

No, you do not have to pay for credit monitoring. There are plenty of free services, some services even available through your credit card provider, though they won’t have as many benefits as paid services. You will also have to sign up for more than one free service to receive the same coverage you would receive with one paid service.

How can I monitor my credit score?

You can play an active role in monitoring your credit score by frequently checking your credit report. While normally, you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the major credit bureaus, you can request a weekly free credit report from each bureau until the end of 2023. 

Best Free Service

Credit Karma + Experian free credit monitoring

Cost: Credit Karma Free Credit Report – Fees Display

Credit Karma Free Credit Report – Editorial Name Only and Experian are separate services, both available for free. Neither one reports from all three major credit bureaus — Credit Karma Free Credit Report – Editorial Name Only monitors TransUnion and Equifax, while Experian naturally offers data from its own reports — but together, they cover all the bases.

As is often the case, when something is free, you’re the product. Using these services means sifting through marketing material like credit card, loan, or insurance offers, along with invitations to upgrade to a paid service (in the case of Experian). Once you look past the ads, however, you’ll see a detailed look at your credit score, including account balances, credit utilization, payment histories, average age of credit accounts, recent hard inquiries, and records of any derogatory marks.

These services allow you to dispute any inaccurate information directly through the platform. While you get to dispute errors directly with Experian through their service, Credit Karma is disputing your credit report on your behalf. A Consumer Financial Protection Bureau survey found that disputes filed through a third party are less likely to receive a response. 

Both services offer email and push notifications for various events, including data breaches or potential identity theft, changes to your credit report, and even reminders to pay bills. Both services also have highly rated mobile apps, which sets them apart from most apps offered by specialized identity theft protection services. That’s a big plus if you prefer to monitor your credit on a mobile device.

Best Service for Light Credit Monitoring

CreditWise from Capital One

Cost: Capital One CreditWise – Fees Display

Capital One CreditWise – Editorial Name Only is a free credit monitoring service from Capital One. You don’t have to be a Capital One account holder to use it, but you can access Capital One CreditWise – Editorial Name Only from within the Capital One app, so it’s convenient if you already have a Capital One credit card or other accounts.

Like Credit Karma, Capital One CreditWise – Editorial Name Only monitors data from two of the three major credit reporting agencies (TransUnion and Experian, in this case). While you’ll get alerts about changes to both files, you’ll only be able to access data from TransUnion. Capital One CreditWise – Editorial Name Only won’t show you details of your Experian file. That makes Capital One CreditWise – Editorial Name Only less attractive if keeping an eye on all your credit reports is a priority.

On the positive side, Capital One CreditWise – Editorial Name Only is slightly easier to use than Credit Karma, as it presents the most vital data concisely and upfront without subjecting users to ads. It’s a great tool if you’d prefer to use a single service and don’t have a pressing need for more thorough credit monitoring or identity theft protection services.

Best for Additional Features

IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit

Cost: IdentityForce Ultra Secure+Credit – Fees Display

IdentityForce Ultra Secure+Credit – Product Name Only is a product of TransUnion, but the +Credit plan also monitors Experian and Equifax reports. On top of credit monitoring, IdentityForce Ultra Secure+Credit – Editorial Name Only offers broader protection of social media accounts, banking and investment accounts, mobile device scanning, and dark web data analysis. That additional scrutiny improves the odds of detecting suspicious activity and credit-related fraud, making it a good fit for anyone whose personal information has already been compromised.

IdentityForce Ultra Secure+Credit – Editorial Name Only goes beyond detection by offering a variety of security tools to help prevent identity theft from occurring in the first place. These include anti-virus and malware protection, a virtual private network (VPN) for safe browsing, password management software, and an online vault for storing sensitive digital documents.

Best for Families

Aura 

Cost: Aura – All-In-One ID Theft Protection – Fees Display

Aura – All-In-One ID Theft Protection – Editorial Name Only provides fewer monitoring services than IdentityForce. It doesn’t include social media, for one, but it offers well-rounded protection with monitoring and real-time alerts for all three credit bureaus. You’ll also get a similar array of security tools, as well as email aliases, to reduce spam and exposure to data breaches. 

Aura – All-In-One ID Theft Protection – Editorial Name Only shines brightest with its couple and family plans, which provide the same protections for additional members at a heavily discounted cost per person. Aura – All-In-One ID Theft Protection – Editorial Name Only family plan also offers some parental controls for mobile and other devices.

Find our full Aura review here.

Best Deal

Complete ID

Cost: Complete ID – Fees Display

Complete ID – Editorial Name Only is exclusively available to Costco members, and like many deals at Costco, the price is hard to beat. Every plan offers monitoring from all three credit bureaus, digital security tools like a password manager and VPN, and restoration services with 24/7 support. Like Aura – All-In-One ID Theft Protection – Editorial Name Only, Complete ID – Editorial Name Only monitoring services are less extensive than IdentityForce, but the essentials are covered. 

Couple and family plans come at an even lower cost per person. For example, the price for two adults is $15.99 per month (less than the cost of individual plans from similar services). If you’re a Costco member seeking credit monitoring with identity theft protection, give Complete ID – Editorial Name Only a look.

Best For Credit Building

PrivacyGuard Credit Protection

Cost: PrivacyGuard Credit Protection – Fees Display

 

Most of the services included on this list will give you some form of identity theft protection in addition to credit monitoring. PrivacyGuard separates its credit monitoring and identity theft protection services (included on our list of the best identity theft protection services) into two different plans, merging both services in its PrivacyGuard Total Protection – Product Name Only. 

While no identity theft protection is a major loss, especially at its relatively high price tag, PrivacyGuard still offers fraud resolution for its credit monitoring customers. However, the reason we’ve included PrivacyGuard Credit Protection – Product Name Only is for its credit-building resources.

Credit monitoring is useful for detecting identity theft, but it’s also a great tool to use when you’re trying to improve your credit scores. This is where PrivacyGuard shines. In addition to a credit information hotline, PrivacyGuard also has a credit score simulator, which will give you a rough estimate of where your credit score would be if you signed up for certain products.

What is Credit Monitoring?

Credit monitoring involves regularly checking your credit files for changes, inaccuracies, or suspicious activity. While you can do this yourself, credit monitoring services can automate this process. They alert you of changes on your credit profile, such as new credit inquiries, open or closed accounts, increasing or decreasing balances, and potential identity theft.

A credit monitoring service by itself is a car’s dashboard indicator: It can detect and warn you about potential problems, but it won’t solve them. The onus is still on you to respond, and much like a flat tire or low oil pressure, ignoring the warning will likely make things worse.

The best services will also offer security and recovery tools to help you avoid trouble and address it promptly when it arises. These varying levels of protection come at similarly varying prices. Free services typically offer limited monitoring capability from only one or two of the three major credit bureaus, while high-end services package credit monitoring with identity theft protection and data security tools for a monthly premium.

How to Compare Credit Monitoring Services

The best credit monitoring solution is the one that meets your needs at a price you can afford. The free options listed will suffice if you only want an extra eye on your credit report, while the paid options offer additional services. Monitoring one or two bureaus is better than no monitoring, so the option you choose doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect.

If you want to be thorough, look for services that offer reporting from all three major credit bureaus. Many entry-level plans only monitor one bureau, leaving room for inaccuracies to slip through unnoticed on your other credit reports.

Finally, look for a service you’ll actually use. Your decision can come down to something as simple as an app you like or maybe you just like how the dashboard is designed. If one service inspires you to be more proactive about monitoring your credit, that’s a strong selling point.

Should You Pay for Credit Monitoring Services?

Monitoring your credit is a solid financial practice akin to balancing your checkbook and examining credit card statements. As shown with some of our top choices above, you can do it effectively at no cost. Free services like Credit Karma and Capital One CreditWise – Editorial Name Only provide the information you need to detect something amiss on your credit file, so long as you’re paying attention. If you have no acute concerns about the security of your personal information, that level of monitoring should suffice.

Paying for credit monitoring (along with additional monitoring and identity theft protection) is more attractive if your data has been compromised before. The odds of illicit activity on your credit file are higher in that case, so the cost of more comprehensive protection is easier to justify. Paid services are also a good fit if digging into your credit regularly is too much of a hassle.

If you’re unsure what level of protection you want, start with a free service to get acquainted with your credit report and see whether it suits your monitoring needs. If you find the free services lacking, you can always upgrade.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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