Rankings as of Nov 08, 2022.
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Whether you’re looking for ways to improve your credit score or have been a recent victim of identity theft, a credit monitoring service could help.
The best credit monitoring services will send you timely alerts, credit reports and scores and notify you of any potentially suspicious activity. This can help you take action to fix any problems and better protect your credit profile as quickly as possible.
Read on for our picks of the best credit monitoring providers, along with our guide to the services and tools they offer.
Our Top Picks for Best Credit Monitoring Services
- Experian – Best free credit monitoring
- PrivacyGuard – Best low-cost credit monitoring
- Experian IdentityWorks℠– Best for families
- IDShield – Best security features
- Aura – Best customer support
Best Credit Monitoring Services Reviews
- Offers FICO® score
- Free plan includes monthly Experian credit report and score
- Sends real-time alerts for new inquiries and accounts on your credit file
- Features FICO® credit score tracking, score simulator for all plans
- Three-bureau monitoring is only offered in premium plan
- FICO® score simulator is only offered in premium plan
Why we chose Experian: We chose Experian because it is the only free service that offers a FICO® score, the scoring model used by the majority of lenders.
With the Experian CreditWorks Basic plan, you’ll receive real-time alerts to changes in your credit file as well as to changes in your credit utilization ratio.
You’ll have access to a monthly Experian credit report and free FICO® Score tracker that shows a visual representation of the activity in your profile over time so you can understand the bigger picture of your credit history.
You also have access to its Experian Boost program, which helps you improve your score by including your phone, utility and streaming service bills to your credit file (provided you pay those bills on time, of course.) Another standout feature is a free, one-time scan of the dark web for your social security number, email and phone number.
Experian’s premium plan, which costs $24.99 per month, offers three-bureau credit monitoring and provides $1 million in ID theft insurance, but we found that some of the other credit monitoring services on our list offered more security features such as social media monitoring or device protection for the same price tag
Experian has comprehensive credit monitoring tools, educational resources, financial calculators and its website is clear and easy to navigate. Overall, Experian is a high-quality free service and a great choice if you aren't needing additional security features.
Plans and cost
- CreditWorks Basic plan is free
- CreditWorks Premium plan costs $24.99
- Credit score simulator
- Credit hotline
- FICO® score tracker to visualize your score and activity over time
- Educational resources and tools like financial calculators
Discounts and benefits
- Free credit boost using your payment for utilities, phone and streaming services
- Free, one-time dark web scan
- Seven-day, free trial for the premium plan
- Both plans include extensive credit monitoring services
- Three-bureau tracking
- Three-bureau monthly reports
- $1 million ID Theft Insurance only offered in premium plan
- Only provides VantageScore, not FICO score
- Customer support by email and phone only – no chat function available
Why we chose PrivacyGuard®: We chose PrivacyGuard as the best low-cost credit monitoring service because it offers two plans that provide daily three-bureau credit monitoring for a competitive price. Additionally, its three-bureau reports are sent monthly instead of quarterly, bi-annually or annually, as most of its competitors do.
For $19.99 per month, the PrivacyGuard Credit Protection plan offers many useful tools such as a credit score simulator, credit hotline and financial calculators. It also offers secure browsing and secure keyboard, two features which are fairly unique at this price point. You’ll receive alerts to changes in your credit profile through email and text.
PrivacyGuard’s Total Protection plan, though more expensive at $24.99, is still a great price for additional cybersecurity protection features that the basic plan is missing. Standout features include emergency travel and online fraud assistance.
One area where PrivacyGuard falls short is it only offers its $1 million ID theft insurance under its premium plan. Some competitors include the same coverage under their basic (and lower priced) plans.
That being said, PrivacyGuard still offers plenty of great features at both plan levels at a reasonable price.
Plans and cost
- PrivacyGuard Credit Protection costs $19.99
- PrivacyGuard Total Protection costs $24.99
- Emergency travel assistance
- Neighborhood reports
Discounts and benefits
- First 14 days cost $1
- Highly customizable plans with up to ten children allowed on the family plans
- Website includes clear information on pricing and plans
- Multiple alerts at all plan levels
- Good customer service response times
- Three-bureau monitoring is only offered with the premium plan
- No parental control features, VPN or password manager
Why we chose Experian IdentityWorks℠: Experian IdentityWorks made our list because its plans can be customized to fit even large families at reasonable prices.
Experian IdentityWorks offers basic and premium plans ranging in cost from $9.99 to $34.99 — pretty competitive pricing when compared to others in the industry. Additionally, unlike many of its competitors, Experian offers family plans for single-parent homes.
Though Experian IdentityWorks only offers three-bureau monitoring and quarterly reports under its premium plan, all plans offer extensive credit monitoring tools such as FICO® score tracking and score simulator. Family plans also provide some notable security features such as dark web surveillance and social network monitoring. Like the premium plan, family plans offer $1 million in identity theft insurance as well.
Overall, Experian IdentityWorks offers flexible credit monitoring plans with additional security features that can help keep the whole family’s devices safe.
Plans and costs
- IdentityWorks℠ Plus – one adult for $9.99 per month
- Identity Works℠ Plus – one adult (ten children) for $14.99
- Identity Works℠ Plus – two adults (ten children) for $19.99 per month
- IdentityWorks℠ Premium – one adult for $19.99 per month
- Identity Works℠ Premium – one adult (ten children) for $24.99
- Identity Works℠ Premium – two adults (ten children) for $34.99 per month
- Experian CreditLock feature for for all plans
- FICO scores, score simulator, and score tracking
Discounts and benefits
- Free 30-day trial with one adult Plus and Premium
- 17% discount for annual payment
- Device protection for both desktop and phone included in all plans
- All plan levels include $1 million ID theft insurance
- Real-time alerts
- Limit of six devices in the family plan
- Non-emergency customer service is offered only Monday through Friday
- Email response is slow
Why we chose IDShield: IDShield makes our list because it’s one of the few companies that offer a wide array of all-in-one credit monitoring services plus identity theft protection features.
IDShield is one of only a handful of services to offer device protection such as antivirus, VPN and password manager, along with credit monitoring.
Additionally, IDShield’s family protection was competitively priced and came with unique security features such as consultation services for cyberbullying and cybersecurity, encryption services and medical data monitoring, to name a few.
IDShield’s restoration assistance features also set them apart from the competition. Licensed private investigators will work on your behalf to restore your identity and keep creditors away.
IDShield’s credit monitoring services are robust. You’ll receive monthly credit reports and VantageScore® tracking from TransUnion. The company will also send you 12 different types of alerts for hard credit inquiries, data breaches, fraud alerts and more.
The company offers an individual and a family plan. Prices range from $14.95 to $34.95, and you can choose between one- or three-bureau monitoring.
If your family has multiple devices, you should note that IDShield only covers up to six devices. That being said, if you’re looking for credit monitoring protection with additional identity theft protection, IDShield is a great option.
Plans and cost
- Individual – One-bureau monitoring $14.95 per month
- Family – One-bureau monitoring $29.95 per month
- Individual – Three-bureau monitoring $19.95 per month
- Family – Three-bureau monitoring $34.95 per month
- One- and three-bureau credit monitoring plans
- Monthly credit reports
- Monthly VantageScore®
- Credit threat alerts
- Credit freeze assistance
Discounts and benefits
- Free 30-day trial
- 24/7/365 support phone, chat, email
- Case manager works on your behalf after identity fraud or theft
- $ 1 million in ID theft insurance for individuals, $2 million for couples ($1 million each) and up to $5 million ($1 million each) for families
- There are complaints about app stability and functionality
- Highest priced premium plan in our list
Why we chose Aura: We chose Aura because its customer support is available 24/7/365, can be reached by phone, chat and email, and was highly responsive through all three avenues.
Aura offers three-bureau credit monitoring with multiple alerts such as inquiries made to your credit file, monthly credit score updates and financial transactions. Along with credit monitoring, it also offers cybersecurity and device protection features such as anti-virus, VPN, dark web monitoring, among others.
Aura sets itself apart from competitors when it comes to ID theft insurance, in particular for family plans. While most services in the industry offer a flat $1 million, Aura offers $1 million under the individual plan, $2 million in the couple’s plan and up to $5 million ($1 million per member) for the family plan.
But where Aura really stands out is in the customer service it provides. It has an A+ with BBB and only eight complaints in the last 12 months, significantly lower than many of the competitors we reviewed. Its highly responsive customer support is available at all hours, through email, phone and chat. Additionally, if you were to be a victim of identity theft, all of Aura’s plans offer access to a personal case manager who will help you file claims and call creditors for you.
Of all the credit monitoring plans we reviewed, Aura is the most expensive. However, its top-notch features and attentive customer service might make it a worthwhile investment.
Plans and cost
- Individual plan $15 per month or $12 per month paid annually
- Couple plan $29 per month or $22 per month paid annually
- Family plan $50 per month or $37per month paid annually
- Three-bureau monitoring and daily reports
- Experian credit lock
- Multiple alerts for inquiries on your credit account, bank and investment accounts and credit card number
Discounts and benefits
- Free two-week trial
- 60 day money-back guarantee on annual plans
Other credit monitoring services we considered
- Free plan offers one-bureau credit monitoring, reports and alerts
- Premium plan offers three-bureau and dark web monitoring
- You must sign up to find out details and pricing of premium plans as they're not available on its website
- Website is out of date (mentions its Platinum plan, which no longer exists)
Credit Sesame provides free resources to help you monitor your own credit, including access to your VantageScore® and a free credit report, updated monthly, through TransUnion.
You’ll also receive real-time alerts, notification of changes on your report and, under its premium plan, three-bureau monitoring.
Credit Sesame didn’t make our list because it offers minimal features for the price and its website doesn’t offer pricing details. (You have to register to find pricing information.) Additionally, there is no customer support number listed.
- $500,000 ID theft insurance as part of its Equifax Complete plan ($9.95 per month)
- High number of complaints on BBB compared to other companies
- Family plan only allows up to four children, fewer than many competitors
- App has minimal functionality
Equifax offers six credit monitoring plans ranging from free to $19.99 per month. One-bureau plans offer an Equifax credit report and VantageScore®. Premium plans offer three-bureau credit monitoring, VantageScore® and annual reports.
Equifax did not make our list because its plan features aren’t as comprehensive as those who did make our list, and the website only gives vague details about each plan. The family plan only provides child social security number monitoring and doesn’t offer social media monitoring or sex offender alerts. Additionally, there is a limit of four children for the family plan. Lastly, the Equifax app, Lock & Alert, only works to lock or unlock access to your credit report.
- Premium plan offers $1 million stolen fund coverage and 401K insurance
- Only plan in our list to offer $1 million stolen fund insurance for Health Savings Accounts (HSA)
- High plan prices for one-bureau monitoring
- Low ratings for IDWatchdog app
ID Watchdog didn’t make our list because its credit monitoring features weren’t very robust for a paid plan. The premium plan offered three-bureau monitoring but reports were only sent annually.
ID Watchdog provides basic and premium plans for individuals and families; however, the family plan has a four-child limit. Prices range from $14.95 to $34.95 and, for the premium price, it does offer some nice security features such as VPN and safe browsing. However, we found other plans that offer better value and ID Watchdog’s mobile app received low ratings from users.
- Family plan covers and unlimited number of children under 18
- Competitive pricing for three-bureau credit monitoring
- Extensive security features to cover the whole family including children and older adults
- Customer support phone wait times are long and representatives were not very knowledgeable about plan details.
- Negative reviews about functionality of app
IdentityForce® was a strong contender for the best credit monitoring for families category. After all, it offers competitively priced, three-credit bureau monitoring, real-time alerts and quarterly reports. Its Ultrasecure+Credit family plan protects an unlimited number of children and includes deceased family member fraud remediation
However, IdentityForce® customer service leaves a lot to be desired. The company was unresponsive by email, while wait times on the phone were long and agents weren’t able to provide clear answers.
- Wide variety of plan options
- Extensive identity protection features
- Comprehensive credit monitoring services features are sparse compared with other plans with a similar price
- Pricier than many competitors
While it does offer a wide variety of plans at competitive prices, Identity Guard didn’t make our list because its credit monitoring features are a little sparse. Three-bureau reports are only offered annually at the premium plan level, and the value plan offers no credit bureau monitoring or credit score updates at all.
IdentityGuard’s strengths lie more in cybersecurity, than in credit monitoring. If you’re looking for three-bureau credit monitoring, there are more comprehensive plans available elsewhere at a better price.
- All plan levels feature alerts and dark web monitoring
- All plan levels come with $1 million stolen fund insurance
- Only the premium plan comes with $25,000 ID theft insurance
- Credit score tracker only offered with premium plan
IdentityIQ stands out for its highly customizable plan options. It offers four plan levels ranging in cost from $6.99 to $29.99 per month. Additionally, its website provides good credit tools such as a credit score simulator and credit score tracker.
We didn't choose IdentityIQ because only two plans offer three-bureau monitoring and reports. Additionally, its premium plan offers only $25,000 in ID theft insurance, where other companies offer $1 million for the same price point.
- Wide variety of plans that you can tailor to your credit monitoring needs
- Knowledgeable customer service
- Number of plans and similar names make product offerings confusing
- Lack of transparency for some of the costs
LifeLock by Norton offers a variety of plans and add-on security features making it possible for you to fully customize your plan according to your needs.
However, you’ll only receive three-bureau monitoring and an annual report with the premium plan. Additionally, Norton has such a wide variety of products that it could be hard for some consumers to understand the details of its services and pricing. That being said, customer support was very knowledgeable, friendly and they’ll work with you to find the best plan.
- Receive FICO® scores instead of VantageScore
- Three-bureau monitoring available
- A wide variety of educational resources
- 24/7 emergency support for ID theft
- Very few identity monitoring and security features
- Plan details are sparse on the website
MyFICO has great credit monitoring features. It offers three plans ranging from $19.95 to $39.95 per month, and they all include FICO® scores and ID restoration services. Two plans feature three-bureau monitoring.
MyFICO also stands out for its educational resources. For example, its website includes many articles, videos, financial calculators and even a community forum where you can learn about credit. The reason we didn’t choose myFICO as part of our top list is that you can find more comprehensive credit monitoring plans that also include identity protection and cybersecurity features for a similar price.
- Extensive educational resources
- Subscription service offers credit lock for both Equifax and TransUnion credit reports
- Very few features for the cost of the paid plan
- Plan and pricing details are difficult to find on website
TransUnion provides a free plan and a premium credit monitoring plan for $29.00. The free service offers credit reports through Annualcreditreport.com, your VantageScore® and alerts. These features are similar to other free plans we reviewed. However, TransUnion didn’t make our list because its website doesn’t provide much detail about its paid plan. Additionally, its premium plan offers features like a score simulator and $1million ID theft insurance that other plans offer for far less money.
Credit Monitoring Services Guide
Credit monitoring services help you keep an eye on the activity in your credit file and provide you with alerts, updated credit scores and reports. This can lead you to make better decisions with your credit, and make it easier to spot irregularities or possible fraud before it causes serious damage to your finances.
Our guide will help you understand credit monitoring services and how they work so you can choose the service which best fits your needs.
What is credit monitoring?
Credit monitoring services continuously scan and track the data in your credit file and will send you credit reports and scores from one or more of the three largest credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You’ll also receive alerts that inform you of any changes or potential threats to your credit profile.
How do credit monitoring services work?
There are typically two types of credit monitoring services: free or subscription, which will charge a monthly fee. When you sign up with a company, you’ll provide your social security number and other personal information like your date of birth, address and phone number.
Depending on the plan, you may also include financial accounts for monitoring such as bank accounts and credit and debit cards.
Free services typically monitor your credit file and send you updated credit reports and scores.
They’ll also send alerts triggered by account activity that can include:
- hard inquiries
- changes to your credit score or credit utilization rate
- address changes
- new accounts such as credit cards or loans being opened in your name
- changes in public records such as court records
- Many, though not all, also scan for the appearance of your personally identifiable information (PII) on the dark web
Paid subscriptions usually include daily, monthly, quarterly or annual updates on your credit report and credit score as well as protection against identity theft, such as dark web and social network monitoring and ID theft insurance.
Credit monitoring services can’t prevent ID theft or fraud, but they can alert you to suspicious and potentially fraudulent activity on your credit file. You can then take action to prevent further damage to your credit, for example, by freezing your credit report which can prevent other accounts from being opened or contacting creditors. Note you can always access your own free credit report.
Note that there are a lot of similarities between credit monitoring, credit repair and identity theft services, and many plans share comparable features. However, there are also some important differences to keep in mind.
Read on to understand the differences between these services, and be sure to also read our guides to the best credit repair companies and best identity theft services so you can choose a reputable company.
|Credit monitoring services||Credit repair services||Identity theft services|
|What do these services do?||Continuously monitor your credit file, alert you to any changes in your credit accounts or suspicious activity and provide you with updated reports and scores.||Actively work to remove errors from customers’ credit file, provides consultation and support in navigating the dispute processes.||Continuously monitor the dark web, social networks, and public records for your PII. In some cases, they also provide protection for multiple devices.|
|What is included in the plans?||Free plans typically include one-bureau monitoring and alerts. Paid plans include monitoring of up to three-bureau monitoring and security features.||Paid plans can include both credit monitoring features and credit repair features such as personal debt consultation and dispute intervention and support.||Paid plans can include both credit monitoring features, cybersecurity features such as identity theft and device protection.|
|Do they provide alerts?||Yes. Company will alert you if there are new inquiries to your credit file, attempts to open new lines of credit and credit score updates.||Not usually, unless your plan has a credit monitoring component.||Provides alerts so you can take steps to initialize response to suspicious activity.|
|Is there personalized customer support?||In some cases. Most companies offer generalized customer support. When it comes to disputes, many companies simply link you to the dispute resolution pages of the major credit bureaus.||Yes. Representatives file disputes with bureaus and creditors, provide live consultations and other services such as cease and desist letters, goodwill deletions and debt validation letters.||Yes. ID theft specialists and case managers offer emergency support and work with you to recover lost or stolen identification, some call creditors on your behalf.|
|How can they help me improve my credit?||By keeping an eye on your credit file and alerting you if there are transactions or inquiries, so you can create a credit plan to improve and protect your credit profile.||By finding mistaken or outdated information in your credit report and filing disputes to get them removed. This can help you improve your score and overall credit health.||By reducing your likelihood of falling victim to identity theft and/or preventing further damage to your credit if your identity is stolen. These services can spot any fraudulent activity early on and can also provide protection for multiple devices.|
Is credit monitoring worth it?
You can always monitor your credit yourself — in fact, you can access free weekly reports and scores from all three bureaus through annualcreditreport.com until 2023. The question to ask yourself, however, is how much self-monitoring do you actually want to do.
Credit monitoring services are valuable because they can save you time and directly provide you with important credit information, alerting you to potentially fraudulent activity before it causes serious damage to your finances.
How do you choose the best credit monitoring service?
Understanding your priorities, your credit history and your security needs can help you assess credit monitoring services. Consider the following factors to help you choose the service that’s right for you.
- Number of credit bureaus monitored: While some credit monitoring services only check one credit bureau, you’ll gain a more complete picture of the activity occurring on your credit file by monitoring all three bureaus and learning how to check your credit report.
- Credit monitoring alerts: Free or low-cost plans usually alert you to changes in your credit score, new inquiries on your credit file or applications for new lines of credit. More expensive plans offer security features such as alerts if your personally identifying information (PII) is found in public records, the dark web or social networks.
- Credit score model: FICO score and VantageScore are the two most common scoring models. The FICO® score is the model most widely used by lenders, so if your goal is to improve your credit score in order to get a loan or buy a house, consider a plan that provides you with access to your FICO® score and find out how to check your credit score.
- Cost: Plans range from free to $50 a month. Free plans include basic one- or two-bureau monitoring reports and alerts. The pricier plans usually include a variety of security features such as device protection, dark web and social network monitoring.
- Security features: If you have been a victim of identity theft or have children, you may want to consider plans with additional security features. Plenty of low-cost plans include dark web monitoring, financial account monitoring and identity theft insurance. Family plans may include social network, cyberbully and sex offender monitoring.
Credit Monitoring Services FAQ
Is credit monitoring a scam?
How do you avoid credit monitoring scams?
How much is credit monitoring?
What is the best free credit monitoring service?
How We Chose The Best Credit Monitoring Services
To find the best credit monitoring services, we compared plans from 22 leading companies placing importance on the following criteria:
- Three-bureau monitoring. We preferred companies that offered three-bureau monitoring in their plans. This feature is key for comprehensive credit monitoring.
- Plan cost and features. We analyzed plan prices and available features for each of our categories.
- Credit scoring model. We evaluated whether plans offered VantageScore® or FICO®. We gave preference to FICO® because the majority of lenders use FICO® over VantageScore®.
- Transparency. We preferred companies whose websites clearly outlined pricing information and plan details.
- Ease of use. We evaluated the website and educational tools for functionality and ease of use.
- Customer service. We tested available communication options: phone, chat and email. We also investigated customer satisfaction reviews and complaints registered on sites like BBB, Trustpilot, Google Play and Apple.