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Best Credit Monitoring Service for 2021
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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 2021
- Best Overall: Identity Guard
- Best for Identity Protection: LifeLock
- Best Family Plan: IdentityForce
- Best for Triple-Bureau Credit Monitoring: Experian
- Best for One-Time Credit Report: TransUnion
Best credit monitoring services at a glance
|Provider||Basic Plan Cost||What’s Included in Basic||Premium Plan Cost||What’s Included in Premium||Key Benefit|
|Identity Guard||$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 annually||Monthly credit score, 3-bureau credit report, social insight report, and more||Online identity dashboard and mobile app|
|LifeLock||$9.99 per month for the first year||Up 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 year||Up to $1 million in stolen funds reimbursement, three-bureau annual credit reports and scores, one-bureau monthly credit score tracking, and more||Good coverage for lawyers|
|IdentityForce||$9.99 per month or $99.90 per year||Fraud monitoring, dark web monitoring, account alerts, $1 million identity theft insurance, and more||$19.99 per month or $199.90 per year||Three-bureau credit monitoring, reports, and scores||Robust insurance coverage|
|Experian||$9.99 per month after 30 day trial or $99.99 per year||Up 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 year||Up to $1 million in identity theft insurance, three-bureau credit monitoring and score tracking||Unlock and lock credit file at any time|
|Transunion||$24.95 per month||Up to $1 million in identity theft insurance, unlimited credit reports and scores, three-bureau credit monitoring, and more||N/A||N/A||Personalized debt analysis|
*Data accurate as of July, 2020. Mobile app rating is an average of Apple App Store and Google Play Store ratings.
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.
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.
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.
Pros and cons of credit monitoring services
How to choose the best credit monitoring company for you
- Decide if you need identity protection, credit report access, or both.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or questions.