9 Best Credit Monitoring Services: How to Monitor Your Credit in 2021

Identity theft and fraud are common in the world today, and it’s easy for criminals to use your personal information to take out loans or open up credit cards with your credentials. Such incidents can seriously damage your credit score, thereby ruining your credit. It’s vital that you monitor your credit.  

Choose one of the best credit monitoring services, and it’ll help you keep tabs on all credit activity and notify you should anything fishy happen. 

Best Credit Monitoring Services: First Look

  1. Best credit monitoring service overall – Lifelock
  2. Best value service – IdentityIQ
  3. Best for social media monitoring – Identity Force
  4. Best dark web monitoring – Identity Guard
  5. Best no-fee service – Credit Karma
  6. Best for families – Experian
  7. Best for accurate credit scoring – myFICO
  8. Strong identity theft protection – TransUnion
  9. Cheapest credit monitoring service (Costco members) – Complete ID

1) LifeLock – Best Credit Monitoring Service Overall

Pros

  • Stolen-money reimbursement
  • Dark-web monitoring
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Family plan available
  • Monthly credit scores

Cons

  • Annual credit reports
  • Free trial available via third-party registration

Seeking a service with unique, reliable features? Then LifeLock might be worth a try. From dark-web monitoring to potential-threat alerts and monthly credit scores, this provider could make you stay ahead of identity thieves. 

The company offers three plans, with prices oscillating between $11.99 and $34.99 per month. You get to enjoy a cool 25% off your first year, though, which might help you save some $$$. And while the “standard” plan affords only credit reports from one bureau, the “ultimate” plan offers access to reports from all three credit bureaus.

Lifelock will reimburse any funds stolen (from $25,000 to $1 million, based on your membership plan) due to identity theft. They will also return your money if, for any reason, you’re unsatisfied with anything. 

This provider has a 30-day complimentary trial, too, only it’s available via third-party registrations.

LifeLock’s standout features include:

  • Stolen-money reimbursement: Have your money reimbursed (up to $1 million) if you lose it due to identity theft.
  • Identity-theft fix: If it’s compromised, get your identity fixed by experts.
  • Money-back guarantee: Get your membership fee back should you, for any reason, be unsatisfied with anything within your first 60 days of use. Only available on yearly plans.
  • Up to 25% off the first year: Enjoy a 25% discount on your first yearly plan.

If you’re looking for a credit monitoring service with reliable features, you might want to look no further than LifeLock.

2) Identity Force – Best For Social Media Monitoring

Pros

  • Daily credit report monitoring
  • $1 million identity theft insurance 
  • Simulates how actions can affect your score

Cons 

  • Child identity theft coverage not included
  • No free trial available 

IdentityForce offers all-encompassing identity protection and credit monitoring service in the shape of its UltraSecure+Credit package. It monitors your information across a range of services and sites. It even includes social media checks on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. 

The basic UltraSecure plan costs $9.99 every month, while the +Credit plan costs $17.99 monthly. Pay for the whole year in one payment and get two free months.

Some of the top features offered with IdentityForce include:

  • Credit score simulator: This enables you to investigate what happens when you apply to mortgage lenders to refinance with or make an application for credit cards, for example.
  • ID theft protection services available for your business: This service includes rapid response to a data breach and ID protection for customers, employees, or affiliates. 
  • $1 million ID theft insurance: Use it to cover any expenses relating to sorting out your identity theft.  

3) Identity Guard – Best Monitoring Company for Versatility

Pros

  • Safe browsing tools 
  • Daily credit monitoring scans 
  • A capabilities promise short response times

Cons

  • Only annual credit reports
  • No specific computer protection tools 

Identity Guard offers customers three plans for anyone who wants to keep tabs on their credit files. The monitoring service offers all three bureau credit monitoring, and there are individual and family options. 

Prices start at $6.67 for individuals and go up to $26.67 for a family plan. Depending on your package, features might include alerts if any of your information is discovered on the Dark Web, $1 million in ID insurance, account takeover alerts, and a manager who works with you should someone steal your identity. 

The features that make this service shine include:

  • AI-based monitoring: This service uses IBM Watson to uncover identity theft issues. 
  • Home title monitoring: It provides access to all tax information relating to your home, including its latitude, longitude, and deed information.
  • Great-value prices: Prices start at $6.67 for the Value plan. 

If you want a service that promises to identify threats quickly, Identity Guard is the one for you.

4) PrivacyGuard – Best Service for Credit Protection

Pros

  • 14-day trial costs $1
  • Secure browser 
  • Keyboard apps
  • Bureau credit scores and credit report every month 

Cons

  • Not available in all US states 
  • No family plan available

PrivacyGuard is a monitoring service on the pricier end of the spectrum, but with good reason. You can expect good overall coverage that includes alerts from the three main credit bureaus, monthly reports, and credit score updates.

Three plans are available, and there’s a special offer that allows you to try the service for 14 days, at only $1. Afterward, you will have the option of picking a package best suited to your unique credit needs. Packages start at $9.99 for the basic cover: The most expensive plan costs $24.99 every month. 

Top features offered by PrivacyGuard include:

  • Monitoring for identity protection: This service monitors other areas where someone might find your credentials, such as neighborhood reports and public records. 
  • Useful additional features: Extra features include a registered offender locator, reduced pre-approved credit card offers, medical records reimbursement, emergency travel assistance, lost and stolen wallet protection. 
  • Digital protection app for iPhone users: The app provides a secure mobile browser to protect against phishing and a secure keyboard that protects against malware.

PrivacyGuard is best suited for someone looking for a little more than a basic credit monitoring service. You won’t find many of the extra features anywhere else.  

5) Credit Karma – Best No-Fee Credit Monitoring Service

Pros

  • Weekly credit report
  • Dark web monitoring
  • App to monitor your credit report

Cons

  • Only two out of three credit bureaus
  • No paid options with identity theft insurance

Credit Karma also helps to guard against a data breach. The company also offers personal loans online, credit card reviews, and a range of other financial services.

Credit Karma doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the paid credit monitoring services, but it’s one of the best free credit monitoring services and does have some useful features. For example:

  • Regular credit score updates: VantageScore 3.0 updates for every login you make.
  • Monitor your scores for free: You can monitor your Equifax and TransUnion credit report scores. 
  • Dispute errors directly: You don’t need to leave the site to dispute TransUnion errors. 

If your budget is tight and you can’t stretch to the expense of a paid service, Credit Karma provides a very basic package that will help to keep you protected. 

6) Experian – Best Family Credit Monitoring Service

Pros

  • Monitors all three credit reports 
  • Dark Web monitoring 
  • Plans include up to two adults and ten children

Cons

  • Computer security tools not included
  • Customer support not available 24/7 

If you’re looking for a service that helps you to monitor your credit, Experian IdentityWorks is one to consider for the whole family. The two available plans cover up to two adults and ten children. Prices start at $9.99 for IdentityWorks Plus and $19.99 for the Premium plan. You can start either plan free for 30 days.

Both plans include change of address and social security number alerts, dark web monitoring, and identity theft insurance. Cover is up to $500,000 for Plus plans and $1,000,000 for Premium customers. 

If you find something wrong, you can improve your credit completely for free with Experian Boost or pay one of the many credit repair companies to do it. 

Experian IdentityWorks has some excellent features, including:

  • Additional alerts: These include fraud activity relating to payday loans, court records, social networks, and sex offender registries. 
  • Experian CreditLock: This feature lets you freeze your Experian credit if the service reports something suspicious. 
  • Dark web surveillance: It provides additional protection that includes email, social security number, and other contact information. 

Credit monitoring with IdentityWorks suits people who want to protect the whole family from ID theft. This is especially relevant for families that include teenagers.

7) myFICO – Best for Accurate Credit Scoring

Pros

  • Access to true FICO credit score
  • Detailed easy-to-read reports
  • 24/7 fraud protection

Cons 

  • Family plans might be too expensive

Many of the monitoring services in this list use what is known as educational scores. This service uses your FICO score instead, which is what lenders and banks use if you need to apply for credit. This service uses three bureau credit monitoring of your credit score.

Subscriptions start at $29.95 monthly, but there’s also a Premier plan that costs $10 extra every month or a family plan that costs $49.95. 

Several features make this service stand out. They include:

  • Resource page: Learn all about credit scores and how to fix your credit.
  • Identity restoration: myFICO can help you recover if you suspect someone has stolen your identity.
  • Credit score estimator: Use this tool to find out how you can improve your FICO credit score. It also helps you to develop a strategy. 

You should consider signing up with myFICO if you want an accurate and comprehensive credit score provider. It gives you a FICO score most commonly used by various lenders. 

8) TransUnion – Added Identity Theft Protection

Pros

  • Unlimited access to your TransUnion score/report
  • Educational resources available
  • 1-touch credit lock (freeze your TransUnion report)

Cons

  • Only applies to TransUnion reports

TransUnion, one of the three most commonly used credit bureaus, runs this service, and it lets you access your score an unlimited number of times. It also notifies you if any significant changes to your credit or your credit information occur. These changes might include accounts being opened with your name or a change of address. 

You receive monthly credit monitoring relating to personal credit reports and credit scores with the bureau. There’s only one plan, and the cost is a little under $25 every month. For that price, you’ll get unlimited access to both your score and report, with daily credit monitoring updates, unlimited access to ID-theft specialists, and much more.

What are the useful features of this service? Here are some examples:

  • An extra layer of ID theft protection: TrueIdentity identity theft insurance and continual monitoring while Credit Lock lets you limit who is able to access your TransUnion report. 
  • Instant alerts: Every time someone asks for a credit report in your name, this service sends you an email.
  • TrueIdentity Premium service is free: It offers extra protection at no additional cost. 

If you want to limit the monitoring to one credit score agency, this might be the right service for you

9) Complete ID – Cheapest Credit Monitoring Service

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Monitors three credit reporting agencies
  • Take advantage of Costco programs

Cons

  • You can only view credit reports annually
  • Scores are only updated annually

High price tags can scare some people off, but that’s not the case with the comprehensive protection provided by Complete ID. It’s part of Experian but only available to members of Costco Wholesale Club. 

This low-cost option offers a range of identity protection and monitoring tools. These tools include monitoring of three credit bureaus, credit alerts, Social Security number monitoring, $1 million ID theft insurance, and dark web surveillance. There’s also a 24/7 support team based in the US. 

The features that make this service stand out include:

  • 24/7 support: You can call up the support team any time of the day or night with your questions or report identity theft incidents. 
  • Covers all the basics at a reasonable price: Monitoring unauthorized use of your ID, scanning criminal databases, and scanning the dark web are just some features. 
  • $1 million insurance: You can use this to cover legal fees, lost income, and any other damages without a deductible.  

Best Credit Monitoring Service Buying Guide/FAQs

If you’re new to credit monitoring services, you might feel a little overwhelmed. It’s not unusual to have some questions, and it’s always best if you get the answers in advance. Here are some of the most common questions answered for your convenience. 

How Does Credit Monitoring Work?

Credit monitoring companies keep a close eye on your credit report files. If they see activity in those files, they will notify you. You get the opportunity to check the activity and determine whether it is fraudulent or the result of an action you took. 

What Other Services Are Offered Under Credit Monitoring?

Some credit monitoring providers offer additional services alongside the comprehensive tracking of your credit activity. These services might include monitoring a credit score, offering credit score advice, disputing fraudulent activity, and insurance coverage against identity theft.

How Much Does Credit Monitoring Cost?

The cost of credit monitoring varies depending on the service you’ve chosen. Some services are free. Paid monitoring, on the other hand, can cost anywhere from $8 to $50. 

Is Credit Monitoring Worth Paying For?

If your identity has already been stolen or you’re at high risk of it happening, paying for a service is worth it. Some companies offer daily credit monitoring so you can spot any discrepancies immediately. 

Paying for someone to keep track of your credit is also worth it if you haven’t got the time to do it yourself can be time-consuming. The added features of many of these services also make them worth paying for. 

Are Free Credit Monitoring Services Any Good?

There is a place for free credit monitoring services. Such services do, however, have their limitations. Not all of them will check credit reports with all three credit reporting bureaus, they may not provide your FICO score, and the checks aren’t quite so thorough and all-encompassing. 

We should also point out that nothing will completely protect you from identity theft. Instead, this type of service shows you there’s a problem and prompts you to take action.

Best Credit Monitoring Services: The Takeaway

You can use the best credit monitoring services to help you spot fraud early. Paid for services provide additional coverage, but you can also actively monitor personal credit reports yourself. 

Credit monitoring services won’t prevent identity theft or fraud, but they can give you a heads up and provide insurance or assistance to resolve the issue. 

Our #1 pick is LifeLock because it offers a wide range of features at a reasonable price. If you’re not sure whether it’s right for you, there’s also a money-back guarantee that you can take advantage of. 

A credit monitoring service is only worth the expense if you take note and take action. If you choose to disregard any notifications, you’re paying for something you’re not making good use of. In such a case, a free service might be the better option. 

 

The reviews and statements published here are those of the sponsor and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, position or views of Observer. 9 Best Credit Monitoring Services: How to Monitor Your Credit in 2021