Best Credit Monitoring Services for 2021 [In-Depth Reviews]

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Monitoring your credit is essential to ensure that your personal information, such as your social security numbers and credit card information, is not stolen.

That’s why I think everyone should consider credit monitoring services: You receive consistent and reliable information to help you detect identity theft, fraud, and the likes.

In fact, check out these crazy statistics:

identity fraud victim u.s statistic

Image: The Millennial Money Woman | Source: Source: IdentityForce

That number is 2x more than the global average… so if you’re an American, you could fall victim to identity fraud next.

identity theft victim statistic

Image: The Millennial Money Woman | Source: Source: CNN Money

…And for these gruesome and hair-raising facts, I think you should look into the best credit monitoring services today to track and monitor your credit activity.

Sneak Peek: Best Credit Monitoring Services

Best Overall: Identity Guard

MMW Rating
4.8/5

Best Free Credit Monitoring: Credit Karma

MMW Rating
3/5

Best Single Bureau Monitoring: TransUnion

MMW Rating
4/5

Most Dependable: myFICO

MMW Rating
4.5/5

Best Credit Monitoring Services for 2021


Let’s take a look at the best credit monitoring services available.

In the information that follows, I’m going to give you:

  • The MMW Star-System rating
  • Detailed explanations of the best credit monitoring services
  • Why I decided to give the credit monitoring services a top rank

Let’s jump right in.

Best Overall Credit Monitoring Service: Identity Guard

MMW Rating
4.8/5

Before I go into further depth for Identity Guard, let’s take a look at some of the stats.

Identity Guard

Monthly charge

Individual Plans: $13.33 to $20

Family Plans: $20 to $26.67

Credit Bureaus Monitored

- TransUnion
-
Experian
-
Equifax

Credit Scoring Model Used

VantageScore

Dark Web Scan

Yes

Identity Theft Insurance

Yes ($1 million)

What I’m most concerned about, is whether my personal information is sold on the dark web and that I become a victim of identity theft.

And that’s why I love any credit monitoring service that scans the dark web – like Identity Guard – and offers up to $1 million of identity theft insurance (which is awesome).

Below are some additional reasons why I think Identity Guard is one of the best credit monitoring services out there:

  • $1 Million Identity Theft Insurance
  • Artificial Intelligence alert service
  • Response Time of 4 min. or less
  • Bank Account Takeover Alerts
  • Credit Score & Report
  • Dark web scanning

Although I’m not a big fan of spending $20 to $26.67 per month (using Identity Guard’s family plan for my husband and myself), I think it’s 100% worth the money to monitor your credit and receive alerts if someone stole your identity – and money.

Related: Best Credit Repair Companies

Best Free Credit Monitoring Service: Credit Karma

MMW Rating
3/5

Before I go into further detail for Credit Karma, let’s take a look at some of the stats.

Credit Karma

Monthly charge

Free

Credit Bureaus Monitored

- TransUnion
-
Equifax

Credit Scoring Model Used

VantageScore

Dark Web Scan

Yes

Identity Theft Insurance

No

I think that Credit Karma certainly is a great option if you’re not a high net worth individual (yet) and if you want to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself, your family and your wealth – for free.

I’m not super happy that Credit Karma doesn’t offer identity theft insurance, but you also get what you pay for – which, in this case, is $0.

However, I think there are many benefits to Credit Karma’s credit monitoring services:

  • Receive alerts to any changes in your credit reports
  • Check if your personal info is exposed on the dark web
  • Receive customized suggestions to use your credit in better ways
  • Understand what impacts your credit scores and how you can improve them

Is Credit Karma a good credit monitoring service?

Considering the free services Credit Karma provides, you’re actually getting a great deal.

Just keep in mind that Credit Karma only monitors 2 out of the 3 credit bureaus – so if you’re serious about keeping track of your credit history and transactions, it might be worth considering obtaining a credit monitoring service that tracks all 3 bureaus.

Related: How to Improve your Credit Score

Best Single Bureau Monitoring Service: TransUnion

MMW Rating
4/5

Before I go into further detail for TransUnion, let’s take a look at some of the stats.

TransUnion

Monthly charge

$24.95

Credit Bureaus Monitored

- TransUnion

Credit Scoring Model Used

VantageScore

Dark Web Scan

Yes

Identity Theft Insurance

Yes ($1 million)

The credit monitoring services offered through TransUnion certainly are helpful, especially when you are suspicious that you may fall victim to identity theft.

However, I have identified a few downsides when it comes to solely relying on the TransUnion services:

  • Only 1 credit bureau is actively monitored (TransUnion)
  • It’s not very clear that TransUnion scans the dark web for fraud

Those 2 cons aside, I think there are many advantages that you receive when signing up with TransUnion’s credit monitoring services:

  • Customized debt analysis
  • Unlimited access to scores & reports
  • Daily updates on credit score & reports
  • Up to $1,000,000 in identity theft insurance
  • Unlimited access to identity theft specialists
  • Instant email alerts if someone else applied for a loan/credit in your name

What I love about TransUnion’s credit monitoring service is that you receive instant feedback if someone opens an unauthorized account in your name – plus you receive up to $1,000,000 in identity theft protection…

Just knowing I have that financial protection gives me some relief.

And I also love knowing that TransUnion offers unlimited access to ID theft specialists… and trust me, I would NOT hesitate to call them with questions.

Related: How to Rebuild Credit

Most Dependable Credit Monitoring Service: myFICO

MMW Rating
4.5/5

Before I go into further detail for myFICO, let’s take a look at some of the stats.

myFICO

Monthly charge

$29.95 for the basic plan

$39.95 for the Premier Plan

Credit Bureaus Monitored

- TransUnion
-
Experian
-
Equifax

Credit Scoring Model Used

FICO

Dark Web Scan

Yes

Identity Theft Insurance

Yes ($1 million)

To be very honest, the MyFICO and the Identity Guard credit monitoring services are probably my favorite out of the 4. 

Here’s what I like about the MyFICO credit monitoring service:

  • Toll-free support
  • Bank level security
  • $1MM ID theft insurance
  • Monitors all 3 credit bureaus
  • 24/7 credit and ID monitoring
  • Uses a FICO credit scoring model
  • Immediate alert when credit reports change

Especially if you’re someone with a higher net worth – or someone who expects to build a higher net worth in the near future – it’s probably a good idea to monitor your information ASAP and protect yourself against identity theft.

Identity theft is real.

Take the precautions now.

Related: How to Build Credit Fast

FAQs

What is a credit monitoring service?


Now that you know the best credit monitoring services, let’s find out what actually 
is a credit monitoring service.

Hiring a credit monitoring service is an easy, fast and hands-off way to have someone else keep a watchful eye on your credit activity and give you instant notifications when someone applies for a loan in your name.

Loans could include:

  • New auto loans
  • New credit cards
  • New store credit cards

The reason why I am pro credit monitoring services is because you’ll be alerted instantly when a change happens to your credit profile and you will have the chance to take proactive measures before irreversible damage is done.

What to consider before applying to a credit monitoring service:


Before you go ahead and financially commit to a credit monitoring service (unless it’s with the free service offered through 
Credit Karma), then I would suggest you consider the following points first:

  • Cost
  • Credit scoring model
  • Dark web scan services
  • Identity theft insurance
  • Monitored credit bureaus

Let me give you a little further explanation as it relates to these 5 considerations:

Things to Look for in Credit Monitoring Services

Cost

- Is the service free?

-
Is there a monthly flat fee?

-
Is there a different fee for individuals vs. family plans?

Credit Scoring Model

There are 2 credit scoring models:

- FICO Score

-
VantageScore

Dark Web Scan Services

Services scan the dark web to see if your personal information is being used and/or distributed

Identity Theft Insurance

Insurance coverage (typically up to $1 million) of any costs associated with resolving ID theft and restoring your identity if stolen

Monitored Credit Bureaus

There are 3 main credit bureaus:

- Equifax
-
Experian
-
TransUnion

Consider if all 3 or just 1 or 2 are monitored with your credit monitoring service

Although my blog post was able to discuss each of these 5 key factors for you, I would still suggest for you to do your own, outside research to consider which credit monitoring service would be the best for you and your situation.

It’s important to keep in mind that credit monitoring services can only monitor and alert you of any changes to your credit profile.

Sadly, they cannot take action for you, fix or stop identity theft.

How does credit monitoring work?


There are several steps involved to start your credit monitoring service. 

Below are some of the key steps:

  • Complete your user profile
  • Confirm your personal information
  • Generate a secure and password-protected account
  • Permit the credit monitoring service to monitor your credit

After these 4 key steps are completed, don’t forget to set-up your account so that you receive notifications (typically via email, some may offer the alerts also via text) when activity to your credit profile occurs. 

The most impactful credit monitoring services work when all 3 credit bureaus are monitored at once – not just 1 bureau. 

Keep in mind the 3 main credit bureaus are:

  • Equifax
  • Experian
  • TransUnion

That’s why I’m a bigger fan of Identity Guard and MyFICO because these 2 credit monitoring services monitor all 3 bureaus.

How much does a credit monitoring service cost? 


Most credit monitoring services typically charge a monthly flat fee, which can range between $9.99 per month to $39.95 per month or more. 

The cost per month depends on:

  • The number of tools included with your subscription
  • The number of services included with your subscription
  • The number of users that are included (family vs. individual plan)

As such, it should not come as a surprise that Credit Karma’s free credit monitoring services may not be as complete as Identity Guard’s for example.

What is the best credit monitoring service available?


There are several best credit monitoring services available, including:

  • Best Free Credit Monitoring Service: Credit Karma
  • Most Dependable Credit Monitoring Service: MyFICO
  • Best Overall Credit Monitoring Service: Identity Guard
  • Best Single Bureau Credit Monitoring Service: TransUnion

Of course, I would suggest doing your own research in addition to reading this blog post.

Closing Thoughts: Best Credit Monitoring Services


It’s important to keep a 
healthy credit score, but it’s not the only thing you need to keep an eye on. 

In the digital age, it’s more important than ever to monitor your credit activity 24/7 to make sure you don’t fall victim to identity theft.

total fraud losses in 2017 statistic

Image: The Millennial Money Woman | Source: Source: Experian

That’s why I think it’s so important to start monitoring your credit activity today instead of waiting and hoping nothing will happen.

Chances are, you’ll be a victim in the future.

Here’s a pro tip for those of you who are worried about falling victim to identity theft and want to triple-check they’ve done everything they could do to decrease their chances of falling victim to identity theft…

A credit freeze makes it more difficult for identity thieves to access your credit and open an account in your name. 

Keep in mind that to properly freeze your credit, you will have to call each of the 3 credit bureaus separately and request a freeze on your credit. 

The downside to a credit freeze is that if you want to open a new account like a:

  • Business loan
  • New credit card
  • Refinance for your mortgage

…Then you will have to call up each of the 3 credit bureaus again to request them to unlock your frozen credit. 

Although a credit freeze certainly is a fantastic first step to putting obstacles in the path of identity thieves, it only slows them down, so make sure you stay vigilant and alert of any changes to your credit profile….

…And that’s why I like credit monitoring services, because they also actively scan the dark web and can offer you $1 million of ID theft protection. 

Consider it today. 

Save yourself from tomorrow.

Your bank accounts will thank me later. 

Have you ever fallen victim to identity theft?

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Fiona Smith
Fiona Smith
The Millennial Money Woman was founded by Fiona Smith. She holds her Master of Science Degree in Personal Financial Planning and has co-founded a local non-profit community teaching financial literacy to young professionals.

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