As more identity fraud victims continue to take on a heavier financial burden than ever before, the importance of finding credit monitoring services also continues to increase. Credit monitoring services are convenient tools enabling you to keep tabs on your overall financial health and stay one step ahead of potential errors and fraud.
With your personal information scattered throughout the digital landscape, finding a reliable credit monitoring service can make all the difference when it comes to preventing credit and identity theft.
Whether applying for a loan, credit card, or trying to lower your car insurance premiums, your credit score has a large effect on whether or not you can receive proper financing for some of life’s biggest purchases.
You don’t want your credit history ruined by fraud, so we’ve personally tested some of the top credit monitoring services out there to bring you the best of the bunch.
The 3 Best Credit Monitoring Services
- LifeLock – Most Secure
- Credit Karma – Best Free Service
- Identity Guard – Best for Families
The Best Credit Monitoring Services: Summed Up
LifeLock – Most Secure
- Up to $1 million in reimbursement for stolen funds
- Includes identity theft protection and device security
- 24 hour support
- Lower insurance limit with entry-level plans
Reports from all three bureaus not available with every plan
LifeLock is an identity monitoring company with a full range of services covering credit, identity, and even device security. Each membership level comes with a few basic services like alerts, insurance, VPNs for your electronic devices, and even cloud backup for your computer. The premium Ultimate Plus package also includes more thorough personal monitoring across a variety of different websites and security for unlimited devices.
On the credit monitoring side, LifeLock provides one-bureau reports with its entry-level memberships, with three-bureau reports available at the highest level. You can also sign up for alerts on activity related to your bank account, credit cards, and social security number.
LifeLock was acquired by Symantec in 2016 and is now combined with Norton, an anti-virus software company launched in the 1990s. The merger allows the company to provide a wide range of both credit and device monitoring services.
Points to consider
LifeLock makes it easy to choose between three different membership levels, which start at $9.99 and go up to $29.99 per month. However, be aware that after the first year, these monthly fees will automatically increase to $14.99 and $34.99, respectively.
The service is easy to sign up for in just a few minutes. However, it does require installing different applications separately on each of your devices if you also wish to take advantage of the device security benefits. Thankfully, LifeLock provides 24/7 support in case you run into any trouble getting set up.
Credit Karma – Best Free Service
- Mobile app available
- Breaks down credit score factors
- Gives tips and insights
- Limited functionality
- No identity theft insurance
- Includes advertisements
Credit Karma overview
For those who want to monitor their credit without paying a monthly fee, Credit Karma is the best option out there. To receive credit monitoring, just sign up with your email address and create a password. From there, you’ll get access to weekly updated credit scores from TransUnion and Equifax. (Experian scores aren’t currently available.) You can also opt to receive email or mobile app notifications when new scores are available, or there is a change to your report.
Of course, since this is a free service, you won’t find the same functionality with Credit Karma as you would with paid services. For example, there’s no device security included, and you won’t be able to make an identity theft insurance claim if your information is stolen. Still, it’s a great entry-level option, especially if you’re just learning how to monitor your credit.
Points to consider
Credit Karma is powered by advertisements, which allows the company to offer a free credit monitoring service to users. This means that each time you log in to Credit Karma, you’ll be faced with advertisements for credit cards, mortgage lenders, and other services. Just keep in mind that these are sponsored recommendations, and you should do thorough research through other sources before signing up for one of them.
Identity Guard – Best for Families
- Choose between individual or family plan
- Dedicated case manager
- Offers mobile app
- Entry-level plans don’t always include regular credit score and report checks
- Doesn’t include as many digital security tools as competitors
Identity Guard overview
If you live in a household with multiple family members who would benefit from credit monitoring, Identity Guard might be for you. The provider allows you to sign up for either an individual or family plan, generating savings when you enroll more than one person in credit monitoring.
Identity Guard is great for use across multiple devices. Not only does it include a mobile app, but there’s also a safe browsing extension that you can install directly in your web browser to protect your activity online.
One huge advantage of Identity Guard is that its $1 million insurance plan for stolen funds is available across all plans, even the most basic. The benefits include lost wages, travel expenses, and elder or spousal care with a $0 deductible. You just need to make sure you report any claims within 90 days.
Points to consider
Choose your Identity Guard plan wisely. The most entry-level plan doesn’t include monthly credit scores and is only ideal for basic credit monitoring. However, the more advanced plans are only a few dollars more each month and include plenty of services to keep you up to date on what’s happening with your personal information. You’ll also receive alerts when there are any changes to your credit report and if the Identity Guard artificial intelligence system detects suspicious activity.
How To Use a Credit Monitoring Service
Put knowledge of your score to work
A credit monitoring service helps you understand the different factors influencing your credit score. But what’s the point of having this information if you don’t use it when making financial decisions?
“Knowing what is on your credit report and being able to manage your credit will provide you with the ability to make informed financial decisions,” says Todd Davis, co-founder of LifeLock.
As you start to learn what helps your credit score go up – and what sends it tumbling down – you can adjust your financial plans to keep your score as high as possible.
Double-check your report for errors
Credit reporting errors are more common than you might think. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, one in five people has found an error in their credit report. Even though most credit monitoring services will alert you to suspicious activity, you should still thoroughly review your report to make sure nothing slips through. Errors need to be reported as early as possible to give you the best chance of getting them removed.
Beware of companies promising to “repair” your credit
Many credit monitoring services advertise the ability to help you repair your credit, but this really isn’t true – at least not in the sense that it implies. All these companies can do is show you how to best use the tools already available to you to improve your credit score. Since the average consumer doesn’t necessarily have the knowledge or experience to do this on their own, they have to pay a monthly fee for credit monitoring. Just be realistic about the services that you are and aren’t getting with your membership.
Credit Monitoring FAQ
What is a credit monitoring service?
A credit monitoring service helps you keep track of your credit activity by monitoring reports from one to three credit bureaus. The service notifies you of any changes to your credit history or credit score, which helps protect you against identity theft and fraud.
Who needs credit monitoring?
Anyone with a Social Security number can benefit from credit monitoring as it’s the best way to watch for fraud or unauthorized activity using your personal information. Credit monitoring can also help you improve your credit score and plan for major financial events such as getting a mortgage.
What’s the difference between a credit score and a credit report?
A credit score is a simple three-digit number that evaluates your creditworthiness on a scale of 300 to 850. A credit report, on the other hand, is a very detailed summary of the information that is used to determine your score. It includes current and past lines of credit, derogatory marks, and other financial activities.