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Our top 5 credit monitoring services for 2020

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Monitoring your credit can mean more than just keeping track of your credit score. Your credit score is unmistakably important – after all, we live in a credit-driven economy. Your credit score will dictate your mortgage rate, your pension returns, your job opportunities, and your utility bill flexibility. It’s an all-encompassing little number than can be hard to understand and monitor without the right tools and knowledge. That’s why we’re here. Today, we will be discussing the top 10 credit monitoring services available. This list is geared towards our US audience, but rest assured many of these companies have international components. 

Why is monitoring your credit important?
Apart from loan rates, housing opportunities, debt repayment plans, and financing interests; credit monitoring is essential to avoid Identity theft and credit card fraud. Big scary words for the modern ‘man.’ But, unfortunately, the fear these words evoke is not unfounded. In the US, Identify theft occurs every 79 seconds. Not to mention, identity theft and credit fraud can be an insidious and creeping crime. The Federal Trade Commission found in 2019 that the most significant financial impact was experienced by victims whose identity theft went undetected for more than six months. Sporadic, low-level purchases mean substantial long term losses. These losses are easily avoidable. How do you ask? Credit monitoring. 

It is essential for intelligent finance management and as protection against identity theft to monitor your credit regularly. 

What criterion are we using for this list?
Judging the ‘best’ is always hard and always subjective. However, we do have some pretty clear cut criterion. Firstly, to what degree does the service offer protection. Secondly, is the service good value for money if it requires payment. And lastly, is it responsive and easy to use. With this criterion in mind, read on to discover the top credit monitoring services for 2020. 

Privacy Guard
Privacy Guard monitors credit reports and scores through Experion, Equifax, and Transunion. These three credit giants cover almost the entire US credit market and provide the most wholistic snapshot of your credit score and overall credit trends and behaviour. It also features a credit score simulator to allow users to predict what effect financial actions will have on their credit score. 

image credit: Instagram (official)

Why we recommend Privacy Guard?
Privacy Guard provides a range of ID protection levels, watching for signs of theft through dark web data, public records, and credit behaviour. They send daily credit monitoring alerts to your email or phone, keeping you aware of your credit behaviour and identity footprint. 

Privacy Guard is excellent value for money. They charge just $1.00 per day for the first 14 days, and thereafter subscription changes according to your selected protection level. The most expensive options, for ‘total protection’ of ID and credit, comes in at just $24.99. 

Privacy Guard is a mostly ‘hands-off’ service. Using analytics drawn from the US credit bureaus, tracking credit and ID behaviour is as easy as checking your texts. 

Credit Karma
Credit Karma is free. If that doesn’t catch your attention, then surely the weekly credit updates and running credit score values will! Credit Karma is an excellent service for investors and homebuyers who are looking to monitor and track their VantageScore 3.0 or borrowing rate. Credit Karma uses TransUnion and Equifax data to calculate it’s credit card stores. Credit Karma also offers identity monitoring services. It checks dark web and back door internet access to find weak spots in your personal information, and sends free alerts anytime anything suspicious happens in your name. This is not as inclusive as Privacy Guard, but as a free service is surprisingly accurate, responsive, and provides support in case of theft or fraudulent activity. 

Why do we recommend Credit Karma?
Credit Karma provides free safety and fraud checks to pre-empt fraudulent activity and identity theft. It also sends responsive and immediate updates of any suspicious activity, keeping you aware and proactive. 

Credit Karma is free. That’s the best value for money there is. 

Credit Karma has a fresh, modern, and easy to use interface. It displays credit scores, action consequence, and credit reports in understandable and everyday language. Overall, Credit Karma offers a very accessible service.

myFico Ultimate 3B Credit Monitoring
While the name might not be catchy, myFico provides an excellent service targeted at the credit scores most used by lenders and real estate. This means you will see the same data as mortgage brokers, car financing agents, and bankers. For this reason, myFico is an excellent resource for those looking to get into the housing market. Besides, myFico offers automatic alerts for any changes to your credit information, such as newly opened accounts, new public records, changes to your account balance, and further credit inquiries. These alerts keep you in control of your credit score and identity. 

image credit: myfico.com

Why do we recommend myFico Ultimate 3B credit monitoring?
myFico offers superb protection in the form of updates and transparency. While not as proactive as Credit Karma or Privacy Guard, this service provides resources and recourse for fraudulent action and keeps records of all behaviour. 

myFico is one of the pricier credit monitoring options on this list, coming in at 29.95 USD per month. However, myFico does allow any-time cancellation (don’t expect a refund for any subscription fees already paid). 

myFico uses a lot of technical languages, and its interface can take some getting used to. However, overall, after a bit of fiddling, myFico is easy to use in-app and desktop form. The services work for you and bring all your queries to one place. The service provides negotiation rates for loans and mortgages in a single click and doesn’t make you wade through pages of calculations to do so.

AnnualCreditReport.com
Annual Credit Report is a free credit report. This report is your right by federal US law and uses the three major credit unions to list all transactions and credit data in one document. This document is very in-depth and inclusive. However, the site and credit records are not user-friendly. Breaking down your Annual Credit Report is a time-consuming exercise, involving tracking expenses and credit expectations. 

Why we recommend AnnualCreditReport.com?
Annual Credit Report doesn’t boast pre-emptive protective actions. However, it does what most other credit monitoring services will- record and display your credit history. Being vigilant is the best protection you can offer yourself against fraud and once suspected, can be reported to the appropriate authorities for action. 

Annual Credit Report is an intensive record for a free report. What’s a better value than being free?

Annual Credit Report is not very readable or easy to use. It requires a lot of time and patience to decipher. 

TransUnion
Transunion uses a single bureau to produce a base credit score and report each month. It also sends out alerts whenever changes occur, such as a new account opening, a creditor details negative information or a credit card balance increases.

Why we recommend TransUnion
TransUnion offer alerts whenever changes occur, giving you the information to pursue protective measures and call the FTC. However, these alerts do not include changes to any Equifax or Experian credit reports.

TransUnion charges $19.95 a month. This includes alerts and a monthly credit report. TransUnion makes your report and any credit changes simple and easy to understand. 

Our Five Honourable Mentions

Experian Identity Works
One of the major credit bureaus, this service monitors all your credit reports and looks for identity theft signals. Plans start from $9.99 per month. 

Identity Force
This services monitors any data patterns that might mean your privacy has been compromised. All inclusive plans run at approximately $19.95 per month. 

Identity Guard
Identity Guard offers premium protection with a U.S. based case manager to work with victims of fraud, dark web protection, and account takeover alerts. These services come in at $24.99 per month. 

CreditWise
CreditWise draws from TransUnion reports to show a user’s VantageScore 3.0 and alerts when hard credit enquiries, like new accounts, occur. This service is free.

IdentityIQ
IdentityIQ offers safety and protection information, as well as daily updates and detailed monthly reports. Prices start at $6.99 per month. 

Your identity, credit, and financial security is important. With credit and identity fraud on the rise, the best protection is to be proactive. By investing in a credit monitoring service you can guarantee knowledge of an fraudulent activity and act on it quickly. This isn’t the only benefit of credit monitoring! Monitoring your Vantage or Credit score means you won’t be surprised by mortgage rates, debt interest levels, and other financial credit options. 

Sam is a former journalist and editorial consultant with many years of experience in traditional news. He currently writes on verticals that include business and communication. When he’s not at work, Sam is likely designing creative graphics or playing the guitar.

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