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You might remember the days when you had to pay $20 every time you wanted to access your credit score. Not anymore! These days, most banks give you free access to your score just for having an account. There are also several free services that provide your credit score on a weekly or monthly basis.
But, what if you want to keep a closer eye on your finances? Or you want alerts if any suspicious activity is detected on one of your accounts? You're smart to think that way: according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), approximately 27,000 Canadians experience identity theft every year, but only 29% of people they surveyed actually check their credit reports regularly as a means of protecting their personal information.
Monday, August 2nd
Borrowell is our favorite no-cost credit monitoring provider. This rising-star fintech company has earned lots of accolades in the handful of years it's been on the Canadian marketplace, including a Top 100 from KPMB, a spot in Deloitte Technology's Fast 50 two years in a row, and several others. The service partners with numerous top financial institutions, like Scotiabank, Capital One and more, to offer not just credit monitoring but also the best possible product recommendations for a healthy financial profile.
Weekly Equifax Credit Score Updates
So, what does Borrowell have to offer with respect to credit monitoring? This no-cost service updates your Equifax credit score and delivers reports to you on a weekly basis. Many free services only provide monthly updates, giving Borrowell members a definite advantage.
AI-powered Personalized Credit Education
Borrowell was the first company to offer free credit scores to Canadians, and it comes as no surprise that their tech features are also some of the most advanced in the industry. Using this service gives you access to an Artificial Intelligence-powered "Credit Coach", which delivers personalized information about your credit score, plus tips and articles on how to improve it.
Used By More Than 1 Million Canadians
It's worth pointing out that, like most of the free credit report and credit monitoring platforms out there, Borrowell makes money by recommending financial products to its members. For example, they get paid for every loan, credit card, or mortgage that their subscribers sign up for. However, there's absolutely no obligation to sign up for anything. You can use Borrowell just to keep an eye on your credit report and learn more about managing your finances wisely. More than a million Canadians use this platform to do exactly that.
Plenty Of Helpful Information, No Account Necessary
Not ready to create your free account? There's still a lot of free information on the Borrowell site that can give you a sound foundation with respect to credit and finance topics. You can scroll down and click on The Well Blog to find articles about what is considered to be a "good" credit score in Canada, how to build credit without having a credit card, how to manage financial stress, and a host of other topics.
Borrowell doesn't disappoint when it comes to reputation, either. After five years in operation, the company earns an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau. Happy members say that they've been successful at improving their credit by using the information provided through Borrowell and applying their recommendations, that the service is beyond easy to navigate, and that the customer service team is friendly and keen to help.
While it won't cost you any money, you'll still find that Borrowell has much to offer - especially if you're just starting to understand how credit scores work and want to improve your financial health. They have a strong track record of helping so many Canadians track their credit history and get informed about making wise choices with their money. For all these reasons, Borrowell earns our highest recommendation among Canadian credit monitoring providers.
Founded in 2003 and with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Winnipeg, Mogo is a Canadian fintech company providing credit monitoring for Canadians. The service has more than a million people who use the platform not just to keep an eye on their credit history, but also to take out personal loans and mortgages, get prepaid debit cards, and even access a bitcoin exchange.
Alerts For Changes To Your Credit Profile
Mogo comes really close to offering most of the credit monitoring features you usually have to pay to get. This free service is the only one that includes daily Equifax checks to see if any new inquiries have been placed on your account (many competitors only check weekly or monthly). This means that any time a hard credit inquiry is noted on your file, you'll get an email notification within 24 hours. Your actual credit score is only updated monthly, however.
If you're actively working to improve your credit score, Mogo makes it fun - and potentially lucrative. They offer the only credit monitoring service in Canada with a rewards program. While the details are a little hard to dig up on the site, the most attractive feature is the $200 monthly prize for the Mogo member with the most improved credit score. They also give you $5 just for activating a bitcoin and rewards account in their app. This is a risk-free way to get started with bitcoin.
Well-rounded, Fun, Educational Features
The Mogo platform does a great job of teaching you exactly how to "level up your money game" (even if you don't win the $200). You'll get pro tips through your Mogo app, as well as access to a MoneyClass that teaches you everything you need to know about your finances. Is it any wonder that Mogo was featured in Apple's Apps We Love and on news outlets like CBC and The Globe and Mail?
Financial Product Offers
Mogo offers a pre-paid platinum Visa card that comes with a 1% bitcoin cashback, offsets 1lb of carbon for every dollar you spend, and helps control your spending since it functions like a debit card but with the convenience of a visa card. They also offer personal loans. It's free to apply for a loan and there's no impact to your credit score - but keep in mind you might see higher interest rates on their loans because they utilize risk-adjusted pricing. Looking through customer reviews on their BBB listing, we came across several customer comments regarding perceived high interest rates and approval concerns. Just make sure you understand the details of your loan offer before you accept, and you should be ok.
Best Range Of Features Among Free Providers
Mogo is a fantastic - and totally free - tool that most Canadians will find helpful for credit monitoring. They provide access to daily alerts that are often only available through a paid service, as well as just about everything you could expect from a no-cost credit monitoring service - and then some. They are highly recommended.
ID Shield is a member of the Legal Shield brand family, a company that has been in operation for the better part of 50 years. This comprehensive, trustworthy credit monitoring company earns our highest recommendation among Canadian paid subscription services.
Most Affordable Pricing For Individuals And Families Too
This company keeps it simple with only one selection to make: monitoring for an individual or for a family, which includes a couple and up to 10 dependent children. ID Shield is surprisingly affordable, with monthly prices of $12.95 for one person and $24.95 for the family plan.
Despite having much lower costs than many other paid platforms, this service is very robust with the coverage they provide. ID Shield monitors your TransUnion credit history, triggering an alert every time your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) shows up on a credit check. Their intelligent analytics also track your PII on the dark web, as well as any uses of your email addresses, phone numbers, driver's license and passport, and much more.
Help Provided If Identity Theft Occurs
If you become the victim of identity theft while subscribing to ID Shield, their specialists will give you comprehensive reputation and financial restoration. This may include working with law enforcement personnel to clear your name, with credit card companies and financial institutions, and so forth. You can also work with a certified identity theft specialist to get personalized guidance on protecting your privacy, reputation and PII online.
We appreciate that ID Shield makes it clear that they are focused on the needs of Canadian residents. As a subscriber, you'll get address monitoring through the Canada Post Change of Address Database, plus regular scanning of Canadian public directories on the internet. Your Canadian Medical IDs are also monitored, and your ID Shield membership will help you access your medical data reports and correct any inaccurate details you find there.
Glowing Customer Feedback
Best of all ID Shield has received a lot of positive feedback. More than 90% of its customers give the service a 5-star rating, with lots of reports of super-quick alerts when fraud is detected, friendly representatives who are glad to answer questions and offer help, and clients who say that this credit monitoring is well worth the small monthly fee. The Better Business Bureau agrees, giving ID Shield a flawless "A+" rating and accreditation as well.
Best Choice For Paid Credit Monitoring In Canada
Credit monitoring doesn't have to be complicated - or expensive. ID Shield provides Canadian consumers the best level of service at a very affordable price, especially for large families who want to protect the credit of parents and children alike. This company receives our highest recommendation among paid credit monitoring providers in Canada today.
When it comes to accessing your credit score and getting monitoring services directly from the credit bureau, Equifax has a few advantages over TransUnion. Each bureau uses a different algorithm for calculating your credit score, but essentially provides the same information: how likely you are to make good on your debts with on-time payments and no defaults. But, the way each bureau provides credit monitoring services is different: read on to find out more.
Credit Monitoring Plus Identity Theft Protection
There are two main components of Equifax Complete Premier, priced at $19.95 per month: credit monitoring and identity theft protection . First, you'll have unlimited access to your Equifax credit score. We don't think most people need to see their score on a daily basis, but you've got that capability if it interests you. The feature that convinces most people to sign up for Equifax's service is the real-time alerts when key changes are made to their credit report. This lets you intervene quickly if there are any attempts to use your credit fraudulently.
Identity Theft Insurance Included
Your Premier package also includes many identity theft features, like lost wallet assistance, up to $50,000 in identity theft insurance, and internet scanning that looks for any unauthorized use of your bank/credit account numbers or Social Insurance Number.
Look For Discounts
As we browsed the Equifax Canada site, we got a popup offering a 75% discount for our first month's subscription, bringing the price down to $4.95. That's a great offer, making it much more affordable to get credit monitoring and see how well it works.
Multiple Packages Available
While the Equifax site doesn't make it obvious, there are actually several different types of coverage you can get that go beyond the most prominently-advertised Complete Premier for one person. You can also get Equifax Complete Friends and Family for two adults ($29.95/month), Equifax Complete (credit monitoring only, no identity theft features or protection) for $16.95/month, or Equifax Identity (focused on identity protection but also with limited credit monitoring features) for $11.95/month. We recommend that you scroll down on the main Equifax Complete Premier page until you see the "Compare All Products" button; click to get access to everything Equifax is currently offering and decide which product is right for your situation.
There's no long-term commitment when using any of Equifax's credit monitoring subscriptions. You can cancel at any time, though you won't receive a refund for any partial month time period that may be left on your account.
Good Reputation Overall
Is it worth it to pay almost $20/month (or more, for a couple) to access Equifax's credit monitoring? That's hard to say on customer reviews alone: most of them relate to their services for consumers in the United States. Equifax itself has a good reputation, with over 120 years in operation and an "A+" from the Better Business Bureau, and we have no doubt that all of their monitoring packages deliver on their promises.
Paid Credit Monitoring = Extra Peace Of Mind
Ultimately, it comes down to what you can get from a paid service compared with the free credit monitoring platforms out there. Most no-fee credit "monitoring" companies only keep track of your score and give you hints for how to improve it, but do nothing to let you know if something suspicious pops up on your credit report. If you're looking for an added level of security, or if you know that it's not likely that you're going to remember to get the details on your credit history in time to spot a problem, it may be well worth the $20 each month to let Equifax do that for you - and to get their help if your credit is used by a fraudster.
Good Option For Comprehensive Coverage
While there are less expensive paid credit monitoring services available, Equifax has several different types of coverage that may give you what you're looking for. It's a solid option for most Canadian consumers who want credit monitoring and identity theft protection in one package.
More than 60 million people in Canada and the US use Credit Karma to get free credit scores and reports. In operation since 2007, this service helps people get the financial education they need to put their credit into context and feel more confident about money matters.
Easy To Sign Up
Signing up for a Credit Karma account is completely free, but you will have to verify your identity. (That shouldn't be a surprise, since they need to be able to access your credit report.) You'll either provide your SIN or answer additional verification questions to confirm who you are.
Scores Updated Weekly
Your Credit Karma account gives you access to your credit score as reported by TransUnion. While you can access it at any time, your score is only updated every 7 days. However, your credit report isn't actively monitored by this service: if you're not logging in and looking for any errors, Credit Karma doesn't have a way of letting you know about them. That's typical among most of the free credit monitoring services in our review.
More Information, Please?
We would love to see Credit Karma provide more information about what else Canadian consumers get when signing up for the free service. They mention the free credit score and report, plus credit articles and education, but what does that look like? Is it browser-based only or also a mobile app? Do they offer any structured education for understanding credit health and improving scores?
Not Available To All Canadians
We had to look beyond the Credit Karma site to user reviews to try and answer a lot of the big questions we had - and in doing so, we found that this service might not be available in all provinces (Yukon Territory, Quebec, Nunavut, and Northwest Territory seemed to be the excluded areas). Since that's not spelled out anywhere obvious on the Credit Karma site, most people won't know they can't use the site until they go to sign up.
Good Enough, But Better Options Exist
Beyond that, Credit Karma comes off feeling like another service designed for consumers in the United States and then repurposed as an afterthought for Canadians. Lots of people use Credit Karma and love it - and who can argue with "free"? But, this service has some up-and-coming competition in the no-fee credit monitoring arena - including a couple of rivals that provide services with Canadians in the centre of their focus. While there's nothing inherently bad about Credit Karma, it's not at the top of our list of free credit monitoring platforms in Canada.
Identity Guard specializes in the type of credit monitoring that gives you identity theft protection: safeguarding your data from thieves and helping you restore your identity quickly if you become a victim. The parent company of Identity Guard has worked with nearly 50 million customers over the last 20 years, most recently using the artificial intelligence system IBM Watson to proactively detect and prevent threats. Nearly 150,000 cases of identity theft have been resolved by Identity Guard's team of experts.
Definitely Not Created With Canadians In Mind
Before we get too far into the details of how Identity Guard works, we want to point out one big thing we noticed: the site is hyper-focused on our neighbours to the south. You'll see all about how many Americans were affected by identity theft (16.7 million, for what it's worth), and we're pretty sure all of the pricing is in USD as well. Even their customer care team is (proudly?) US-based. There's a link at the bottom for Canada, but it just takes you to a login page; every Identity Guard page with a .ca extension took us nowhere useful. We didn't have much more luck when reaching out to Identity Guard's toll-free number or when emailing the customer service department. All of these factors combined to land Identity Guard much lower in the rankings among Canadian credit monitoring services, despite a first-place finish among US providers.
Extensive Options For Plans And Pricing
Now that we got that out of the way, let's take a look at the positives of the Identity Guard platform, because there are quite a few. First, this credit monitoring company offers the widest range of plans for both individual consumers and families. With three tiers of service, you've got options that let you pay just for the features you need:
Identity Theft Insurance Included
All Identity Guard plans include $1 million in identity theft insurance. And, the company offers discounts of 26-33% if you pay for your credit monitoring on an annual basis rather than monthly. Just select the annual plan in the drop-down box to see what your cost would be.
No Concerns About Reputation
Overall, Identity Guard maintains a good reputation. The Better Business Bureau gives the company both their highest rating as well as accreditation, and the service has many loyal customers who have subscribed for years. People especially like the comprehensiveness of the service: many competitors offer fewer features for more money.
Needs To Be Easier For Canadians
But, when it comes to credit monitoring for Canadians, Identity Guard comes up a little short - if for no other reason than the fact that they don't make it clear or easy to see their services specifically for customers in Canada. Could this be the best credit monitoring service in the nation? Possibly. Would you know that by using the Identity Guard website? Not as things were at the time of this review. You might have a better experience using a credit monitoring platform that is by Canadians, for Canadians.
TransUnion is one of the two bureaus that track consumer credit scores in Canada, along with Equifax. Although they provide essentially the same information, each company uses different formulas to calculate your credit score - and some lenders prefer to use one bureau over the other.
TransUnion winds up ranked lower than Equifax for one big reason: an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau. At the time of our evaluation, there were nearly 100 complaints filed against TransUnion at the BBB, and almost every single one was in regards to the credit monitoring subscription. People felt that they'd been tricked into paying for a monthly plan when they just wanted to access their credit report, and some described having a very difficult time getting TransUnion to cancel their membership on request. That's not a good look for a company with the responsibility of accurately recording consumer credit.
Another not-great aspect of TransUnion's credit monitoring is the lack of details offered about the service. Yes, you'll get unlimited access to your credit report and score, alerts if potential identity fraud is detected, credit and debt analysis to help you make better financial decisions, and $50,000 of identity theft insurance coverage. What about internet scanning? Lost wallet assistance? Bank or credit account monitoring? The TransUnion site won't tell you, even if you spend a good amount of time digging through the website. Their biggest rival, Equifax, doesn't make you guess at what you're getting with your $19.95/month subscription.
No Options To Choose From
This service also doesn't seem to offer any plans for couples or families, or tiered service levels that provide different amounts of coverage and combinations of features. That's another downside when compared with Equifax (and with most other paid credit monitoring providers).
Not Worth The Investment
Although we like the idea of being able to go directly to the credit bureau for our credit monitoring needs, TransUnion doesn't give consumers enough transparency about their service to make it worth the money - especially with so many reports about it being very hard to cancel. If you're really concerned about accessing your credit scores through both bureaus, you should consider a combination of platforms (free and paid) that will connect you with that information with much less hassle.
At the outset, Credit Verify looks like a well-rounded service for credit monitoring in Canada. Their coverage includes daily monitoring of your TransUnion credit score and alerts if anything suspicious is detected, guidance if you find errors on your credit history, and even reward "dollars" that can be used to get discounts at top retailers and services. So far, so good, right?
Have To Pay For A 1-week Trial First
You'll have to start by paying $1 for a 7-day trial, which then rolls into a $24.95/month membership plan. While most services don't offer a paid trial - it's either start paying right away or get all features for free, all the time - Credit Verify's monthly fees are on par with their rivals in the industry.
Unfortunately, Credit Verify doesn't have a good reputation. Listed under the name of its parent company, Credique LLC, this service earns a dismal "D" rating from the BBB. We were particularly troubled to see allegations of the platform using a job search site to get people to pay for credit checks through Credit Verify. Worse than that, many consumers report that the toll-free number provided by the company - the one you're required to use to cancel your monthly subscription - is out of service: calls never connect to an actual person or even a voicemail account.
Impossible To Cancel Membership
Even when customers are able to reach an agent and request cancellation, charges continue to be placed by Credit Verify. Many people say that the only way to get it to stop is by filing a dispute with their credit card company: ironic, don't you think, given that this service is meant to detect and prevent fraud?
Go Elsewhere For Trustworthy Credit Monitoring
There are better, more reliable ways to get credit monitoring in Canada, whether you go directly to one of the credit bureaus and pay for their services or use a third-party platform. When dealing with something as important as your credit history, you shouldn't have to worry that your monitoring service is working against you - and maybe even perpetuating the kind of fraud you're trying to detect and prevent! Credit Verify shouldn't be trusted with your sensitive information or your credit card number. You'll have a much better experience with any of the higher-ranked services in our review.
That's where credit monitoring services come in. You have several options to choose from, ranging from those free services mentioned earlier to monthly subscriptions that go much more in-depth to monitor your accounts, alert you if anything unusual comes up, and may even help you recover if you become a victim of identity theft.
Which Canadian credit monitoring provider is right for you? That depends on what you're looking for, and here are several criteria to keep in mind that can help you decide:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best credit monitoring services for Canadians. We hope this information helps you understand your credit score, keep track of your credit usage, and continue to establish healthy credit habits well into the future.
Would you go for months without checking the balance of your bank account? Would you ignore reviewing your monthly credit card statement under the assumption that all the charges on it were valid? Chances are, if you're like most people, you wouldn't.
The same rule applies to your credit report. It should be reviewed at least once annually, and ideally 3 times a year or more, to make sure everything is in order.
What, exactly, is a credit report? It is the compilation of an individual's financial history, from their first bank account to their latest credit card, it's all in there. The history of where a person has taken out credit - as well as whether they've been able to pay on time or are chronically late with repaying their debts - is all included in one handy document. Financial brokers, credit card companies, potential employers and any creditor with whom you wish to do business has the right to view you credit history.
Credit history also is used to assign a credit score to each individual. The score is calculated through a mathematical algorithm, which pulls data from the credit report and generates a three-digit number. Credit scores range from 300 to 850. Persons with scores over 700 are considered to be in good financial standing and rarely are turned down by creditors. They also are able to secure the best interest rates on loans.
Knowing your credit score, as well as how it can affect your everyday life, is a valuable tool for all consumers. Credit histories and credit scores are used to determine credit-worthiness by credit card companies, cell phone providers, utility companies and even landlords and insurance companies. Having a bad credit report can have lifelong consequences for the consumer.
Credit reports are issued through three major reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian and Transunion. Each of the three agencies compiles its own report on individual consumers, and each report may vary slightly from the others.
There are many reasons why consumers should make a habit of viewing their credit reports:
Select any 2 Canadian Credit Monitoring Companies to compare them head to head
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