When it comes to credit monitoring, not all services are created equal. Some companies have built a strong reputation for themselves, but do they deserve it? Are the underdogs better options or should you be cautious of trusting them with your information? These are some of the valid concerns consumers have when trying to decide on the best credit monitoring services.
What Makes a Good Credit Monitoring Service
These services often bring a lot more to the table than checking your credit history and score. Companies also differ on what they monitor and how.
Some credit monitoring services monitor just one credit bureau. This can paint a less objective picture of your credit score, because lenders may use another.
Credit Score Model
VantageScore is a popular choice among free credit monitoring services. However, most lenders rely on a FICO score to determine your creditworthiness.
Not all credit monitoring services scan the dark web for your information. Those that do provide the extra safety you need to determine if your identity has been stolen based on non-financial data.
Some credit monitoring systems are free of cost. These companies make their money from trying to match you with related services, such as credit cards or car insurance.
Identity Theft Assistance
Some services will help you resolve identity theft assistance, but how they do so may differ. For instance, some provide informational assistance while others may insure incidents up to $1 million.
What Services Rank Above Others
Some of these services operate independently. However, several are tied to specific account types. This may limit access to consumers, but they are still worth looking into.
1. ProtectMyID by Experian
If you have AAA, then you have likely been offered the ProtectMyID benefit before. The service comes directly from Experian and comes with some excellent benefits. First, it offers up to $1 million in insurance coverage for identity theft. It may even help you resolve identity theft issues.
ProtectMyID also responds quickly to notify you of updates to your account faster than most third-party reporters. To add to this, it provides continuous monitoring of your information on the dark web. Finally, it provides a FICO score and allows you to lock and unlock your Experian credit file with a click.
The one downside to this is that you generally must have AAA to be eligible for the service for free. Otherwise, you would need to purchase Experian IdentityWorks for similar protection. The main difference between this and what is offered to AAA members is that the premium plan also tracks TransUnion and Equifax.
2. myFICO by FICO
If you need an accurate FICO score for financial planning, your best is to get your score straight from the source. It also provides identity theft insurance up to $1 million. Dark web scan is available for premier and advanced plans. These plans also monitor all three credit bureaus, while the basic plan monitors only Experian.
The main downside to this option is the cost. You could end up sending as much as $39.95 per month for this level of monitoring and insurance.
3. Credit Karma
Credit Karma has been an industry leader in free credit monitoring services for quite some time. This company provides an easy-to-use app to track your score. Because it makes its money from affiliate commissions, it also does an excellent job of matching you to the right credit card companies and insurance companies. It even offers a savings account and can help with filing your taxes. Finally, Credit Karma monitors your Equifax and TransUnion scores.
Unfortunately, Credit Karma does not scan the dark web for your information, but it does inform you of data breaches. It also does not provide identity theft insurance and it uses VantageScore.
This platform provides the same benefits as Credit Karma but is more subtle with selling financial products for a commission. Nerdwallet also focuses more on being an overall financial management tool by tracking your expenses, net worth and how close you are to being debt-free. As you spend more or less money in one month compared to the previous one, it will notify you.
Unlike Credit Karma, Nerdwallet does not offer a savings account or assist with taxes. It also only tracks TransUnion and uses VantageScore.
CreditWise by Capital One
When it comes to bank-offered credit monitoring, CreditWise ranks among the best for several reasons. It monitors two credit bureaus, namely Experian and TransUnion. It also provides a dark web scan and can tell if your information shows up in sketchy places online.
Even so, this service is not perfect. It offers no identity theft insurance and it uses VantageScore.
The Bottom Line
There are many credit monitoring services available. When services are free and trustworthy, you can take advantage of their different strengths by using more than one. Credit monitoring services are also useful for informing you of when your purchased tradeline becomes active and begins to influence your credit score. If you’re interested in buying your first or another tradeline, complete the Coast Tradelines assessment.