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Published: Sep 19, 2023 24 min read
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Free 14-day trial offers and $1 million in identity theft insurance

  • Comprehensive fraud alerts and credit freeze option
  • Receive a monthly credit score and a full credit report annually
  • Monitors your credit report from all three major credit bureaus
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Starting at $9.99 a month

  • $1 million in identity restoration insurance
  • Partners with Norton 360 for complete identity protection
  • ID theft protection, password manager, and parental controls
     
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Individual and family plans available

  • $1 million identity theft insurance with all plans
  • Credit monitoring and reporting, social media monitoring, and more
  • Data breach, dark web, and high-risk transaction monitoring with all plans
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$1 million ID theft insurance

  • 3 bureau monitoring, reports, and scores
  • ID recovery services by Certified Protection Experts
  • 24/7 monitoring of personal information and real time alerts

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 companies, along with our guide to the services and tools they offer.

Our Top Picks for Best Credit Monitoring Services

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Best Credit Monitoring Services Reviews

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Pros
  • Offers FICO® score
  • Free plan includes monthly Experian credit report and score
  • Includes a one-time dark web scan
  • Features FICO® credit score tracking and simulator
Cons
  • Three-bureau monitoring not available
  • Credit report is updated only once per month

Highlights

Plans and cost

  • CreditWorks Basic plan is free
  • CreditWorks Premium plan costs $24.99

Important features

  • 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

Trial period

  • Seven-day, free trial for the premium plan

Why we chose Experian: Experian is our pick for best free credit monitoring because it’s the only free credit monitoring service that includes 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 also have access to a monthly Experian credit report and a free FICO® Score tracker. This tool monitors credit scores over time and organizes changes to your score in a chart so you can track your overall progress.

You’ll get access to the Experian Boost program, which can help 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.

The company does have a premium plan, which costs $24.99 per month. It offers three-bureau credit monitoring and provides $1 million in ID theft insurance, but we found that some of the other paid credit monitoring services on our list offered more security features such as social media monitoring or device protection for the same price tag.

Pros
  • Plans include extensive credit monitoring services
  • Three-bureau tracking
  • Three-bureau monthly reports
Cons
  • $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

Highlights

Plans and cost

  • PrivacyGuard® Identity Protection - $9.99/month
  • PrivacyGuard® Credit Protection - $19.99/month
  • PrivacyGuard® Total Protection - $24.99/month

Important features

  • 24/7 triple-bureau daily credit monitoring
  • Credit information hotline
  • Credit score tracker
  • Dedicated ID fraud resolution agent

Trial period

  • $1 for the first 14 days and automatically renews monthly (unless canceled during the trial period or at any time thereafter)

Why we chose it: We chose PrivacyGuard as the best for low-cost credit monitoring since 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, financial calculators and a credit hotline that you can contact if you have credit-related doubts. 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, like emergency travel and online fraud assistance.

However, PrivacyGuard only offers its $1 million ID theft insurance under its premium plan. Some competitors, on the other hand, include the same coverage under their basic (and lower priced) plans.

Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • Three-bureau monitoring is only offered with the premium plan
  • No parental control features, VPN or password manager

Highlights

Plans and costs

  • IdentityWorks Family: $34.99 per month

Important features

  • Includes Experian CreditLock
  • FICO scores, score simulator and score tracking

Trial period

  • 7-day trial

Why we chose it: We chose Experian IdentityWorks as the Best for Families because its family plan covers two adults and up to 10 children at a reasonable price.

Experian IdentityWorks Family costs $34.99 — pretty competitive pricing considering it can cover a family of up to twelve. The plan features over 10 credit and identity monitoring services, including three-bureau monitoring and quarterly reports with FICO scores. The plan also offers extensive credit monitoring tools such as real-time alerts, credit score tracking and a score simulator.

Additionally, the family plan provides some notable security features such as dark web surveillance, social network monitoring and $1 million in identity theft insurance.

Pros
  • Device protection for both desktop and phone included in all plans
  • All plan levels include $1 million ID theft insurance
  • Real-time alerts
Cons
  • Limit of six devices in the family plan
  • Non-emergency customer service is offered only Monday through Friday
  • Email response is slow

Highlights

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

Important features

  • One- and three-bureau credit monitoring plans
  • Monthly credit reports
  • Monthly VantageScore®
  • Credit threat alerts
  • Credit freeze assistance

Trial period

  • Free 30-day trial

Why we chose IDShield: IDShield is our pick for best security features because it offers a wide array of all-in-one credit monitoring services along with robust identity theft protection features.

The company offers an individual and a family plan with prices ranging from $14.95 to $34.95, and you can choose between one- or three-bureau monitoring. The plans include device protection such as antivirus, VPN and password manager, along with credit monitoring.

Additionally, the company’s family protection plans are competitively priced and feature unique security tools like cybersecurity consultation services, encryption services and medical data monitoring, to name a few.

IDShield’s credit monitoring services include 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.

IDShield’s restoration assistance also set it apart from the competition. Licensed private investigators will work on your behalf to restore your identity and keep creditors away.

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.

Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • There are complaints about app stability and functionality
  • Highest priced premium plan in our list

Highlights

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

Important features

  • 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
  • 60 day money-back guarantee on annual plans

Trial period

  • Free two-week trial

Why we chose Aura: Aura's customer support is available 24/7/365, can be reached by phone, chat and email, and was highly responsive through all three avenues.

Aura really stands out for the customer service it provides. The company has an A+ with BBB and only eight complaints within 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.

Aura offers three-bureau credit monitoring with multiple alerts such as inquiries made to your credit file, new credit accounts, 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. 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..

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.

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Other credit monitoring services we considered

Credit Karma

Pros
  • Free credit score and monitoring
  • Easy to use mobile app
Cons
  • Only offers VantageScore
  • Pervasive card and loan offers

Credit Karma is free and lets you access your credit scores and reports from Experian and Equifax. But keep in mind that the score you get is the VantageScore, which lenders rarely use when evaluating credit applications.

Why we didn't choose it: The company recommends numerous financial products, like credit cards and personal loans, that users are supposedly pre-approved for. This practice led to a lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which accused Credit Karma of using these offers to deceive customers into applying for products they didn't qualify for.

Credit Sesame

Pros
  • Free plan offers one-bureau credit monitoring, reports and alerts
  • Premium plan offers three-bureau and dark web monitoring
Cons
  • 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.

Why we didn’t choose it: Credit Sesame 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.

Equifax

Pros
  • $500,000 ID theft insurance as part of its Equifax Complete plan ($9.95 per month)
Cons
  • 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 $29.95 per month. One-bureau plans offer an Equifax credit report and VantageScore®. Premium plans offer three-bureau credit monitoring, VantageScore® and annual reports.

Why we didn’t choose it: Its plans aren’t as comprehensive as the ones offered by our picks, and the website provides vague details about each plan.

ID Watchdog

Pros
  • 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)
Cons
  • High plan prices for one-bureau monitoring
  • Four-child limit on family plans
  • Low ratings for IDWatchdog app

ID Watchdog provides basic and premium plans for individuals and families and does offer some nice security features such as VPN and safe browsing.

Why we didn’t choose it: However, ID Watchdog’s credit monitoring features aren’t very robust when compared to other paid plans. For example, the premium plan features three-bureau monitoring but reports are only sent annually.

IdentityForce®

Pros
  • Family plan covers and unlimited number of children under 18
  • Competitive pricing for three-bureau credit monitoring
  • Online security software against phishing and keylogging
Cons
  • Customer support phone wait times are long and representatives were not very knowledgeable about plan details.
  • Negative reviews about functionality of app

IdentityForce® 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

Why we didn’t choose it: 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.

Identity Guard

Pros
  • Wide variety of plan options
  • Extensive identity protection features
Cons
  • Comprehensive credit monitoring services features are sparse compared with other plans with a similar price
  • Pricier than many competitors

IdentityGuard does offer strong cybersecurity features and a wide variety of plans at competitive prices.

Why we didn’t choose it: Identity Guard didn’t make our list because its credit monitoring features are a bit sparse. Three-bureau reports are only offered annually at the premium level, and the value plan offers no credit bureau monitoring or credit score updates at all.

IdentityIQ

Pros
  • All plan levels feature alerts and dark web monitoring
  • All plan levels come with $1 million stolen fund insurance
Cons
  • 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 $9.99 to $29.99 per month. Additionally, its website provides good credit tools such as a credit score simulator and credit score tracker.

Why we didn’t choose it: We didn't choose IdentityIQ because only its most costly plan features credit tools like a credit score simulator and tracker.

LifeLock by Norton

Pros
  • Wide variety of plans that you can tailor to your credit monitoring needs
  • Knowledgeable customer service
Cons
  • 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.

Why we didn’t choose it: 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.

myFICO

Pros
  • Receive FICO® scores instead of VantageScore
  • Three-bureau monitoring available
  • A wide variety of educational resources
  • 24/7 emergency support for ID theft
Cons
  • Very few identity monitoring and security features
  • Plan details are sparse on the website

MyFICO offers three plans ranging from $19.95 to $39.95 per month, and they all include FICO® scores and ID restoration services. The company also stands out for its educational resources, like articles, videos, financial calculators and a community forum where you can discuss credit topics.

Why we didn’t choose it: However, other companies offer more comprehensive credit monitoring plans that also include identity protection and cybersecurity features for a similar price.

TransUnion Credit Monitoring

Pros
  • Extensive educational resources
  • Subscription service offers credit lock for both Equifax and TransUnion credit reports
Cons
  • 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 $29.95. The free plan offers credit reports through Annualcreditreport.com, your VantageScore® and alerts, which are features similar to other free plans we reviewed.

Why we didn’t choose it: However, TransUnion’s 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 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 major 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.

Credit monitoring vs credit repair vs identity theft protection

Credit monitoring services Credit repair services Identity theft services
What do these services do? Continuously monitor your credit file and alert you to changes in your credit accounts or suspicious activity. They also provide updated reports and scores Remove errors from your credit file, provide consultations and support in navigating the dispute processes. Monitor the dark web, social networks, and public records for your personal information. In some cases, they also provide cyber protection for your 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 credit accounts 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.

For more detailed information, check out our guides to the best credit repair companies and best identity theft protection services to learn how these services work and how to choose the best company for your needs.

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 personal 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 FAQs

Why is it important to monitor your credit score?

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Monitoring your credit score can help you detect errors or fraudulent activity on your credit report. Mistakes on your credit report, such as inaccurate late payments, can significantly lower your credit score. Additionally, monitoring your credit report can help you spot accounts that don't belong to you, which could point to identity theft.

Does credit monitoring affect your credit score?

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Monitoring your credit score doesn't lower it because it's considered a soft credit check — that is, it's not related to a new credit account application. Only hard credit checks — such as when you apply for a card or a loan and a lender — can lower your credit score.

Should you pay for credit monitoring?

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Credit monitoring services can offer valuable benefits, like real-time alerts of potential credit fraud and financial tools, like credit score simulators. However, you can monitor your credit yourself for free by requesting free credit reports from the major credit bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also take additional steps for identity protection theft, like freezing your credit report or setting up fraud alerts directly with the bureaus.

How do you avoid credit monitoring scams?

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Make sure to only engage the services of reputable, well-known credit monitoring providers. You can check out our list of top providers, but we always recommend you conduct your own research as well. A good place to start is by reading other consumers' reviews of the company in third-party websites, such as the Better Business Bureau or TrustPilot.

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.

Summary of Money’s Best Credit Monitoring Services of 2023