The best credit monitoring services make it simple and easy 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 a lot for everything from checking accounts to mortgages. It is therefore essential to ensure that your credit report remains accurate.
Investing in a reliable credit monitoring service is one of the best things you can do, especially to protect yourself from fraud. Credit monitoring will allow you to be alerted to any problem immediately, allowing you to fix it quickly.
Credit monitoring services have access to a lot of information from a wide range of sources. Most people have a hard time keeping track of their public information, but the best US credit monitoring services can do it for them.
Generally, there are two types of services in the market. Basic credit monitoring services that comes for free but have limited coverage. Premium services, on the other hand, come with a modest fee and greater peace of mind.
We've evaluated the market and have come up with the best US credit monitoring services today. Below are our top five picks.
- Also check out our roundup of the best identity theft protection.
IdentityForce is the market leader when it comes to credit monitoring, and they offer this service through two main and comprehensive services: UltraSecure and UltraSecure+Credit.
These watch over the information all over the different services and sites even on social medial, in court records, and on the dark web. Whenever there are potentials 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.
These services are owned by Sontiq, a cybersecurity company boasting 100% success in stolen identity recovery. They provide your reports from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion plus all other sources, which is convenient for most people. They do get you secured and safe from mobile attacks, payday loans, and even sex offenders list. When you download their app on your phone, it scans your device automatically for fake networks, spyware, and insecure websites, to name a few.
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. They have a Lost Wallet Assistance feature as well as online PC protection tools. You get to set up alerts for activities in your bank, credit card, and other investment accounts, threats on your information, and other potential dangers
They do come with a monthly cost but signing up for a yearly subscription can help you save a couple of dollars. Their price is also quite good compared to the competition. You have the option to utilize IdentityForce’s two-factor authentication. It lengthens the log-in process by a few seconds, but it definitely heightens the security of your information.
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 and kind of protection through the ChildWatch service, which is technically a separate account from yours.
- Read our full IdentityForce review.
Capital One launched CreditWise in 2014, which is an absolutely free credit monitoring service. You do not have to provide your credit card details to sign up for the service. You do not have to be a Capital one customer as well, which is a really good thing. All you need to do is to sign up on their site. However, Capital One account holders can see it integrated into their mobile app if they decide to sign up.
CreditWise also comes with a really good-looking interface. With CreditWise, you get your credit score, your 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 of them.
For your TransUnion Credit Report, you actually end up with a better-organized report than the one you receive directly from TransUnion. It comes with a whole list of items, which are identified as either new, changed, negative items, and ones that are still in dispute. Any errors with the report have to be dealt with TransUnion directly though. 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 one of its free features that many users have appreciated. A common use for it is to notify every time a user’s email address is found on the Dark Web. It might be harmless at times, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. CreditWise also provides dark web scans together with social security number scanning. These two are usually not available from free services.
Lastly is the Credit Score Simulator, which allows you to see how much different your score is 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 someone who already has a Capital One account. There is no good reason not to use this service since it is already there. Those who are not Capital One customers will still find this useful especially if they are not yet using any credit monitoring service. It is easy to use and does not cost a penny anyway.
One of the primary services offered by Experian 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. You will also be alerted to any changes made to your personal information as well as any activities on your credit report that seem suspicious. Users of the service are given their 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. This brings a potential add-on to your credit score.
The service does not regularly do dark web scans. However, you are provided a one-time dark web surveillance report though when you sign up. It includes a search in more than 600,000 web pages for your email address, phone number, and social security number.
For further protection from fraud, you also get a notification from Experian in case of a hard inquiry. This takes place when someone processes a loan application under your name. The first thing that needs to be done is to request for your credit score along with a hard copy of your credit report for assessment. If you did not make the request, then you should be wary that someone is trying to use your name to take out credit. You will also be alerted whenever a new credit card account or loan is activated under your name. This notification is sent on an immediate basis, so you can do something about it right away.
This credit monitoring service also communicates to you about certain conditions that negatively impact your credit score. These include 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.
- Read our full Experian review.
Trilegian Corporation from Connecticut has a wide array of products and services pertaining to consumer protection, entertainment, health, shopping, and travel. Its offer in the arena of credit monitoring and reporting is PrivacyGuard. There are actually three plans available from PrivacyGuard. The Credit Protection plan is all about credit scores, monitoring, and reporting. The ID Protection plan is focused on identity monitoring and protection. The third Total Protection plan is a combination of the two.
It is a bit more expensive than some of its competitors. However, PrivacyGuard has quite an 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 very minimal fee. This is available for the first 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 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.
- Read our full PrivacyGuard review.
myFICO is a complete-package service for credit monitoring from Fair Isaac Corporation or 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 $1million, 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.
Their 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. It is equipped with all the information you need 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.
Choosing the best US credit monitoring service
Legally, you are entitled to receive a one-time credit report for free through Credit Karma or annualcreditreport.com. This is required by law, which is considered by some people to be enough for their need to monitor their credit.
Using a credit monitoring service certainly has its advantages that can help you make the most out of your credit information. Since they offer additional features such as the options to safeguard yourself from identity theft, their value exceeds providing your credit reports.
- We've also highlighted the best personal finance software.