Best Credit Monitoring Service for 2020

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Credit monitoring services will alert you of erroneous account activity and help you identify both mistakes on your report and fraudulent attempts. Identity theft is more common than you might think; there were a record 3.2 million reports of fraud in 2019, according to the Federal Trade Commission. And anyone is at risk of having their sensitive information stolen. With credit monitoring, you can rest a little easier at night knowing that you’ll be warned of fraudsters trying to wreak havoc on your finances. Most credit monitoring services come with a suite of features. Whether you’re looking to lock your credit file for greater protection or achieve access to your credit scores, a credit monitoring service can help

Lending Partner
Basic Plan
Premium Plan
Mobile App
  • Identity Force
    Basic Plan
    $9.99
    Premium Plan
    $19.99
    Mobile App
    3.6/5
  • Identity Guard
    Basic Plan
    $6.67*
    Premium Plan
    $16.67*
    Mobile App
    4.1/5
  • LifeLock
    Basic Plan
    $11.99
    Premium Plan
    $34.99
    Mobile App
    4.7/5
  • Identity IQ
    Basic Plan
    $6.99
    Premium Plan
    $29.99
    Mobile App
    N/A

In this article

    To help you narrow down your options, we’ve rounded up the best credit monitoring services of 2020, using our SimpleScore methodology to make recommendations by comparing basic plan costs, premium plan costs, mobile app ratings, perks and customer support.

    The 5 best credit monitoring services of 2020

    Best credit monitoring services at a glance

    ProviderBasic Plan CostWhat’s Included in BasicPremium Plan CostWhat’s Included in PremiumKey Benefit
    $8.99 per month billed monthly, $7.50 per month billed annually$1 million in insurance, risk management score, certain alerts, and more$29.99 per month billed monthly, $24.99 per month billed annuallyMonthly credit score, 3-bureau credit report, social insight report, and moreOnline identity dashboard and mobile app
    LifeLock$9.99 per month for the first yearUp to $25,000 in stolen funds reimbursement, up to $1 million for lawyers, identity and social security number alerts, dark web monitoring, and more$29.99 per month for the first yearUp to $1 million in stolen funds reimbursement, three-bureau annual credit reports and scores, one-bureau monthly credit score tracking, and moreGood coverage for lawyers
    IdentityForce$9.99 per month or $99.90 per yearFraud monitoring, dark web monitoring, account alerts, $1 million identity theft insurance, and more$19.99 per month or $199.90 per yearThree-bureau credit monitoring, reports, and scoresRobust insurance coverage
    Experian$9.99 per month after 30 day trial or $99.99 per yearUp to $500,000 in identity theft insurance, one-bureau credit monitoring, score tracking, and more$19.99 per month after 30 day trial or $199.99 per yearUp to $1 million in identity theft insurance, three-bureau credit monitoring and score trackingUnlock and lock credit file at any time
    Transunion$24.95 per monthUp to $1 million in identity theft insurance, unlimited credit reports and scores, three-bureau credit monitoring, and moreN/AN/APersonalized debt analysis

    *Data accurate as of July, 2020. Mobile app rating is an average of Apple App Store and Google Play Store ratings.

    Best overall – Identity Guard

    Identity Guard’s plans offer fantastic value for money. If you’re after both credit monitoring and identity theft protection, go with the Total or Ultra plan.

    Basic Plan
    $8.99
    Premium Plan
    $19.99
    Perks
    N/A
    SimpleScore
    3.8 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore Identity Guard 3.8
    Basic Plan 4
    Premium Plan 4
    Perks 4
    Customer Support 3
    Mobile App 4

    Identity Guard has protected 47 million identities with plans that cater to different budgets and circumstances. Identity Guard is all about identity theft protection but relies heavily on credit and financial monitoring. It offers some of the best credit monitoring services on the market. Identity Guard’s top-tier Total and Ultra plans include triple-bureau credit change monitoring and alerts, and you’ll also receive monthly credit scores calculated based on your TransUnion credit file.

    Identity Guard uses sophisticated artificial intelligence technology, and its identity theft protection programs are comprehensive.

    Best for identity protection – LifeLock

    LifeLock’s Ultimate Plus is a great choice if you want thorough credit monitoring alongside identity protection.

    Basic Plan
    $9.99
    Premium Plan
    $29.99
    Mobile App
    4.7/5
    SimpleScore
    3.2 / 5.0
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    SimpleScore LifeLock 3.2
    Basic Plan 4
    Premium Plan 1
    Perks 3
    Customer Support 3
    Mobile App 5

    LifeLock works with Norton to provide “all-in-one” protection to block, detect and resolve identity theft issues. In recent years, LifeLock and Norton joined forces to create a full-featured identity protection and cybersecurity product. LifeLock Norton’s message is clear: identity theft risk comes from spending more time online. So as you would expect, there is a big focus around keeping devices safe.

    If you’re using LifeLock for credit monitoring though, the Standard, Select and Advantage plan only comes with credit monitoring of one bureau. The Ultimate Plus will give you triple-bureau credit monitoring and monthly VantageScore tracking.

    Best family plan – Identity Force

    IdentityForce is strong on customer service, but you’ll need to go with the premium plan for credit monitoring.

    Basic Plan
    $17.95
    Premium Plan
    $23.99
    Mobile App
    3.6/5
    SimpleScore
    2.6 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore Identity Force 2.6
    Basic Plan 1
    Premium Plan 2
    Perks 4
    Customer Support 3
    Mobile App 3

    With over 40 years of experience in identity protection solutions, IdentityForce aims to offer individuals and families 100% peace of mind. IdentityForce boasts a 100% recovery success rate in stolen identity-related events, a 95% member satisfaction rating and a 98% member retention rate. IdentityForce provides 24/7 customer service.

    For credit monitoring, the UltraSecure+Credit offers triple-credit bureau monitoring, reports and scores. You’ll also have access to a credit score tracker and simulator. Its ChildWatch product includes ongoing identity monitoring, SSN tracking and a social media monitoring suite.

    Best for triple-bureau credit monitoring – Experian

    Experian has options to suit every budget. Product features are clearly identified, making it easy to compare and find the right plan.

    Basic Plan
    $0.00
    Premium Plan
    $19.99
    Mobile App
    4.7/5
    SimpleScore
    4.4 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore Experian 4.4
    Basic Plan 5
    Premium Plan 4
    Perks 4
    Customer Support 4
    Mobile App 5

    A “big three” national credit reporting agency, Experian offers triple-bureau credit monitoring services and one-time access to a credit report. Experian is a globally recognized brand and maintains credit information on over 220 million consumers in North America alone. Experian enjoys a reputation for being thorough and is widely used amongst lenders. This means credit applications made under your name will likely be picked up by Experian, making its credit report extremely useful.

    A great thing about Experian is its range of products. You can subscribe to free credit monitoring or premium plans, get one-time access to either your Experian credit report and FICO score or reports and scores from all three bureaus. There are separate identity theft protection plans, too.

    Best for one-time credit report – TransUnion

    TransUnion will give you one-time access to your TransUnion credit report for $11.50. It’s a thrifty option if you don’t need other credit monitoring or identity protection features.

    Basic Plan
    $24.95
    Premium Plan
    N/A
    Mobile App
    4/5
    SimpleScore
    2.5 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore TransUnion 2.5
    Basic Plan 2
    Premium Plan N/A
    Perks 1
    Customer Support 3
    Mobile App 4

    Another major credit agency, TransUnion offers credit monitoring subscription and one-time access to your credit report and VantageScore. TransUnion describes its role as enabling trust between consumers and businesses. It does this by providing an accurate and comprehensive picture of each person through its credit report and credit score, which is based on the VantageScore model. Though VantageScore is gaining market share, FICO is more often used by lenders to evaluate applicants.

    Having served more than 12 million members, TransUnion is highly reputable and offers credit monitoring and identity protection tools for subscribers. However, TransUnion’s website is somewhat difficult to navigate, and subscription benefits aren’t clear compared to competitors’ websites. Although it offers one-time access to your TransUnion credit report, and you could order your VantageScore as an add-on, information on how to do this is difficult to find.

    What are credit monitoring services?

    Credit monitoring services regularly look for errors on your credit report and suspicious account activity. If you know about mistakes on your credit report, you’ll be able to repair your credit and keep your credit score in check. And if you’re alerted of potential fraud, it can help you recover losses. You’ll be notified if someone tries to open a new account with your information, for example. Most credit monitoring services offer insurance that entitles you to reimbursement for costs to reclaim your identity, and most premium plans also give you access to your credit reports and scores.

    [Read: Where to Find Relief During the COVID-19 Pandemic]

    How credit monitoring companies work

    Credit monitoring companies provide two distinct benefits to consumers: First, they watch your credit file and alert you if someone tries to open a new account with your information, make a large purchase or change the address on one of your credit cards. That way, you can determine if new information on your credit report has appeared due to fraud. Without these alerts, you may not recognize identity theft until it has already ruined your credit.

    Second, credit monitoring companies provide access to credit reports and scores, helping consumers understand the impact of their borrowing and spending behavior on their credit score. Increasing your credit score can save you thousands on interest rates and insurance premiums, so using a credit monitoring service could be well worth the cost for you if it allows you to improve your score.

    [Read: The Simple Guide to Building Credit in 2020]

    What’s included in credit monitoring?

    In addition to alerts of activity on your credit file and access to credit reports and scores, some credit monitoring services offer:

    • Insurance coverage for identity theft
    • Dark web monitoring
    • Instant credit freezing
    • Court records monitoring
    • Payday loan monitoring
    • Sex offender monitoring of nearby residents
    • Social media monitoring of children’s accounts
    • Score simulator: Estimate the impact of different factors on your credit score

    Some credit monitoring services only provide access to scores and reports from one bureau, while others offer three-bureau credit monitoring. But most credit monitoring companies check for newly opened accounts or credit inquiries through at least one bureau.

    How your accounts are protected with credit monitoring services

    Credit monitoring services only provide alerts about activity on your credit report. While they won’t warn you about all possible instances of identity theft, they will watch out for:

    • Hard credit inquiries
    • New accounts
    • Late payments
    • Unusually large purchases
    • Bankruptcy records
    • Legal records
    • Changes in credit limits
    • Changes to contact information

    If you notice that activity on your credit report doesn’t match your recent borrowing behavior (e.g., you find a hard credit inquiry but never applied for a credit card), you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and put a freeze on your credit so no one can open a new account in your name.

    [Read:Simple Steps to Avoid Identity Theft]

    Pros and cons of credit monitoring services

    ProsCons
    • Educates about what impacts credit score
    • Helps identify and respond to fraud sooner
    • Identifies and repairs mistakes
    • Provides access to lawyers and experts
    • Costly
    • You can monitor your own credit for free
    • Doesn’t prevent identity theft
    • Insurance doesn’t typically cover stolen money

    How to choose the best credit monitoring company for you

    1. Decide if you need identity protection, credit report access, or both.
    2. Decide who you need covered. Do you need protection for just you, or your spouse and children as well? Consider the value of different family plans.
    3. Decide what additional features are important to you. Do you want identity monitoring outside of your credit profile, such as dark web monitoring or payday loan monitoring? Many services offer these protections in addition to basic features.
    4. Read the fine print. On your shortlist of choices, be sure to compare what’s actually covered under identity theft insurance, and make sure you fully understand what you’re getting for the cost.
    5. Sort your choices by value. Once you have selected plans that cover everything you need, list them in order of total price, including any billing discounts or other offers, to find the best deal.
    6. Test it out. Some credit monitoring companies offer a free trial or allow you to cancel after a month. You might want to test out the service to make sure it provides everything you need and is worth the cost.

    Credit monitoring FAQs

    It depends on the service provider and the plan you choose. You can get a value plan with Identity Guard for just $7.50 per month when billed annually, while more robust services will set you back closer to $30 per month. Some plans come with a free trial, and most offer billing discounts if you pay annually.

    Free credit monitoring is available through companies like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame. However, the features of these services are limited when compared to paid plans. You can also monitor your credit yourself by accessing a free annual report from each of the credit bureaus, although you won’t be able to catch errors or fraud attempts in real-time.

    Some people believe credit monitoring services are worth it for the peace of mind, while others think they provide educational benefits that can lead to healthier credit. If you need help with your credit score and would feel safer with someone looking after your credit report, a credit monitoring service will probably be worth it for you. Just know there are steps you can take on your own that will also mitigate your risk. Whether you hire a service or DIY, there’s no surefire way to prevent identity theft.

    We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the credit monitoring companies we recommend. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

    Methodology

    SimpleScore

    The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

    For every review, our editorial team:

    • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
    • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
    • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore

    Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best credit monitoring services of 2020.

    Why do some brands have different SimpleScores on different pages?

    To ensure the SimpleScore is as helpful and accurate as possible, we developed unique criteria for every category we compare at The Simple Dollar. Since most brands offer a variety of financial solutions, their products and services will score differently depending on what we’re scoring on a given page.

    However, it’s also possible for brands to have different SimpleScores across multiple pages on The Simple Dollar. For instance, if we compare Experian’s ID theft monitoring services using SimpleScore, it scores a 4 out of 5. However, if we apply our SimpleScore methodology for credit monitoring services, Experian scores a 4.4 out of 5. Each unique criteria results in separate SimpleScores for multiple brands based on what we’re comparing.

    Questions about our methodology?

    Email Hayley Armstrong at hayley@thesimpledollar.com.

    Basic plan price

    We award brands who have lower monthly costs for credit monitoring services with higher scores in our methodology.

    Premium plan price

    We award brands who have lower monthly costs for credit monitoring services with higher scores in our methodology.

    Perks

    Who doesn’t like a nice perk? We awarded brands with higher scores if they offered perks to customers, such as free trials, family plans, discounts for annual billing and more than two pricing tiers.

    Customer support

    The SimpleScore system rewards brands that have multiple channels of support so customers can contact representatives in a variety of way.

    Mobile app rating

    We compared brands based on their mobile app ratings as an average of Google Play and iOS App Store ratings.

    Lindsay Frankel

    Contributing Writer

    Lindsay Frankel is a Denver-based freelance writer. She regularly contributes to several personal finance publications, including LendingTree and FinanceBuzz. When she’s not writing, you can find her enjoying the great outdoors with her rescue pup, playing music, or listening to audiobooks.

    Reviewed by

    • Courtney Mihocik
      Courtney Mihocik
      Editor

      Courtney Mihocik is an editor at The Simple Dollar who specializes in insurance, personal finance, and loans. Previously, she wrote and edited for Interest.com, PersonalLoans.org, Ballantyne Magazine, Thread Magazine, The Post, ACRN, The New Political, Columbus Alive and the Institute for International Journalism.