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Where is the best place to monitor your credit? In order to purchase a home, buy a car, or obtain almost any kind of loan, you need good credit and history. Falling behind on credit card payments, making too many expensive purchases, opening multiple credit card accounts, filing for bankruptcy, not paying monthly bills, and other factors may cause your credit score to drop significantly. On the flip side, staying on top of credit card payments, paying bills right away, and paying off loans are a few of the ways you can build a fantastic credit score.
Staying aware of your current credit score and proactively working to keep it up will help you, in almost all, financial aspects of your life. During the interview process, companies looking to hire may even request access to a modified credit report to check for signs of financial distress. This helps companies know if candidates may be at risk for committing theft or fraud. With new online services, you can easily access your credit score and stay on the road to financial success.
Friday, December 3rd
Hopefully we are not the only ones who think the nitty-gritty details that make up a credit score can be confusing. Luckily, Credit Karma has a video displayed right when you land on the home page titled "How Reporting Works". From the get-go, Credit Karma makes it clear that they are an advocate for consumers who want to have healthy credit. They provide plenty of resources on their website to help make this happen for people including a credit score simulator, debt repayment calculator, loan calculator, help articles, community forums, and more.
100% free credit monitoring
Did we mention Credit Karma is free? Yep. 100% free. This is because when they give you access to your credit scores through credit bureaus like Equifax and TransUnion, Credit Karma will make recommendations about products that will save you money by analyzing your data. If you choose to get a product based on Credit Karma's recommendations, the lender will pay them. Essentially, they are using your personal information to advertise to you. (If this is worrisome, might we suggest you ditch all forms of internet use, since this is pretty much how marketing works these days).
Free alerts and updates
Most importantly, Credit Karma provides free credit monitoring as often as you'd like. You will need to create an account and provide your personal information, including your social security number. They will then perform a "soft pull" or inquiry without affecting your overall credit score. In addition to viewing your score, you receive alerts and updates if something seems out of the ordinary. This is a great way to spot identity theft. Credit Karma will show you a graph of your credit over time and let you see how your score compares to others by age, state, and income.
Unfiltered product reviews
Credit Karma matches you up with products and services you might need when buying a house, car, or credit card. On the website, you can read honest product reviews about the suggested companies and products from other customers. You'll notice that some reviews really rip on a particular credit card, insurance company, loan company, or whatever it may be, while other reviews sing their praises. These are obviously unfiltered reviews, and they really let you, as the customer, make the best decisions for yourself.
The Better Business Bureau gives Credit Karma an A rating. Because their services are free, you really can't go wrong here. They are not selling your information, but rather using it to target you with the best credit cards or loan services available to you. Transparency is central to the workings of Credit Karma. They want you to have access to your own data and make educated decisions about your financial future. We are impressed by this business model and have given them our highest rating among credit monitoring services.
My FICO offers four plans: basic ($19.95), advanced ($29.95), premier ($39.95), and a family plan ($49.95). All of the plans come with the ability to view your FICO Score. This is the calculation used by most lenders to gauge financial responsibility.
Credit monitoring service
The credit monitoring plans offered by My FICO includes the following:
FICO Family Advanced plan
The FICO Family advanced plan covers 3-bureau quarterly reports and FICO score updates for 2 adults, 3-bureau credit monitoring and FICO score alerts for 2 adults, identity theft monitoring for 2 adults and up to 10 children, and fraud resolution and up to $1 million in identity theft insurance for the whole family.
Easily compare credit reports
The FICO score from My FICO comes from reports from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. You can view reports side-by-side to spot potential errors and understand score discrepancies. My FICO constantly monitors credit files and sends notifications regarding changes like inquiries, address changes, late payments, and new accounts.
Other helpful pages from My FICO include FAQ, credit education, blog, and a community forum. The community forum allows customers to ask questions and get help from others on a variety of topics including credit card discrepancies, bank cards, paying off debts, and more. Help videos are available on the website as an additional way to help users understand the basics of building credit scores, paying off debts, and using the My FICO platform.
The Better Business Bureau gives My FICO an A+ rating. We like that individuals can find out their actual FICO score from My FICO, rather than just going off of their VantageScore. FICO scores are more accurate and reliable for those who are seriously considering taking out a large loan or applying for housing. Although the plans are more costly than some competitors, it may be worth it for those wanting long-term FICO credit monitoring for themselves and/or their family.
Customers have great things to say about their experience using Credit Sesame's credit monitoring services and often report that they would recommend it to others. They receive an A+ from the Better Business Bureau and other positive reviews from third-parties. One of the reasons people like Credit Sesame so much is that it is free as long as you are using the basic services. A Platinum Protection membership is offered for $15.95/month for an annual membership or $19.95/month if you pay monthly. This also monitors your social security number, public records, and the use of your personal information on black market websites.
Credit Sesame offers real-time alerts so you know if changes have been made to your credit report. These might include address changes, tax liens, new credit cards, loan pre-approval, etc. Your credit is monitored daily and updated monthly, so you'll know as soon as something changes on your credit report. Credit Sesame's monitoring service tracks the credit reports issued by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Easy to navigate
Some users prefer using Credit Sesame's app rather than the web version of the platform because it focuses on the most relevant features of credit monitoring. Here you can view detailed overviews of your loan payments, debt, interest rates, and credit utilization. Plenty of snapshot views of the dashboard are shown on the Credit Sesame website so you can see for yourself just how easy it is to navigate.
Product and loan recommendations
Credit Sesame gives product and loan recommendations based on your information including current credit score, home value, credit usage, loans, and debt-to-income ratio. Their technology will run 5,000 scenarios to predict how all the loans will perform over time and then narrow down available products that could help you save money. You will be matched with financial offers like the highest APY rate for a savings account, or rates for a new mortgage or car loan.
Credit Sesame is a reliable, easy-to-use platform that will work for most customers wanting low-cost (or in this case, no cost) credit monitoring. We found that they lacked some of the resources that our highest-rated monitoring service has like calculators and community forums. However, Credit Sesame's blog and other help articles provide useful information to users. Overall, we are impressed with Credit Sesame's features and customer-oriented services.
In addition to credit monitoring, LifeLock offers other services in the realm of cyber security to protect household devices and give parental controls to families. Four package options are available for customers looking for identity protection services. The package costs range from $9.99 to $34.99 and all pricing goes up after the first year. The price range depends on the extent of services needed by the customer.
Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus
The most thorough and expensive package is the Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus. This package includes:
LifeLock's pricing is on the higher end of the spectrum when compared to competing companies that offer similar services. Their package options do not include features that are vastly different from other companies offering similar services. Something LifeLock lacks is a good family plan. Children can be added to receive coverage for an extra $5.99 a month, but spouses must purchase a separate plan for themselves.
Mixed customer reviews
The Better Business Bureau give LifeLock an A- rating. Other customers give average feedback about the services received by LifeLock. Many people are frustrated with overly heavy marketing efforts. Some report being bombarded with emails and physical mail. In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission brought allegations against LifeLock after people complained that they did not provide the services they advertised.
Middle of the road
LifeLock's actual services seem to be satisfactory to customers who use them. Despite their customer complaints, luckily they have never experienced a security breach that would put their customers at risk. We feel their pricing is quite a bit higher than other companies who provide similar services. Rather than just focusing on credit monitoring and helping individuals improve their credit scores, LifeLock puts efforts into cyber security. For credit monitoring specifically, we suggest using a higher-rated site.
For over 100 years, Equifax has been providing credit reporting options for customers at a low cost. In 2017, they experienced a data breach that exposed the personal information of millions of customers including social security numbers, credit cards, and drivers licenses. It took weeks for them to alert customers of the breach, and customers were (and still are) very upset about the way it was handled.
4 credit monitoring packages
For customers willing to look beyond the data breach, Equifax has four main products useful for credit monitoring. They include Equifax Complete Premier ($19.95/month), Equifax Complete Family Plan ($19.95/month), Equifax ID Patrol ($16.95/month), and Score Watch ($14.95/month). A breakdown of what is included with the two main packages goes as follows.
Credit monitoring features
The Equifax Complete Premier and Equifax Complete Family Plan includes:
VantageScore vs FICO credit score
Any of the plans can be cancelled at any time. It should be noted that the credit score provided by Equifax is not the FICO credit score, but rather a VantageScore that is a product of the three major credit bureaus. The Equifax ID Patrol plan has fewer features, for $3 cheaper per month.
Disappointing customer service
Equifax receives an A- rating from the Better Business Bureau. There are quite a few customer complaints about bad interactions with Equifax's customer service team. This seems to be the main source of frustration, rather than poor experiences with the products themselves. We recommend going with one of the higher-rated services if you are looking for basic credit monitoring and don't want to deal with the hassle of poor customer service.
Experian offers a professional user experience with an easy-to-navigate website. Their services are free for 30 days and then the premium membership kicks in at $19.99/month. It is advertised that you can cancel at any time. However, many customers report that it is very difficult to cancel both the free trial and membership.
Premium credit monitoring features
If you choose to use Experian's services, the premium product features include:
Comprehensive mobile app
Experian has a comprehensive mobile app that gives on-the-go access to all of their features. Other helpful resources offered by Experian are their score simulator, wallet protection, and a frequently updated blog. The score simulator that lets you see how taking out a loan, paying off a loan, or getting a new credit card might affect your Experian credit score. If your wallet is stolen, Experian will assist you in canceling and replacing any cards. If you fall victim to identity theft, fraud resolution specialists will help file police reports and other necessary work.
One resource that sets Experian apart from other credit monitoring companies is their free "boost" feature. Experian Boost is designed to help people who are either recovering from financial setbacks or building their credit score for the first time. Users must agree to let Boost connect with their bank accounts and scan their transactions for payment information on phone and utility bills. You choose and verify positive payment history you want added to your credit file. Overtime, these payments made on time will contribute to your credit score and slowly "boost" it up.
Poor customer satisfaction
Unfortunately, Experian has overall bad ratings from customers. The main concerns people have with Experian are their poor customer service as well as their frequent mistake of double charging people's cards each month. There are also hundreds of reports of glitches on the website when entering private information and viewing credit scores. Based on the heavily negative feedback from users, despite the professional website and seemingly impressive services, we would suggest staying away from Experian and using one of our higher-rated suggestions for credit monitoring instead.
At first glance, we would be hesitant to trust this company with our personal information. Credit Reporting is a vault of text-heavy, outdated information. They also operate an unsecure website, meaning your information is not private. Their services are confusing and minimal, leaving them at the bottom of our list for credit monitoring services.
The graphics and design of the Credit Reporting website are as outdated as their most recent blog posts from 2013. Credit Reporting does not seem to be actively providing credit score information to consumers, but rather directing them to Experian's website. Here a 7-day trial is advertised for $1. After the trial period, Experian's services can cost between $19.95 and $29.95 for each additional month you continue to use them.
Hard to digest
Credit Reporting contains a lot of "about" categories full of information presented in a way that might put you to sleep. Categories include "About Credit Reports", "About Credit Scores", "About Credit Bureaus", "About Business Credit", "About Identity Theft", and "About Credit Reporting Laws". Bless the poor soul who did all the research, writing, and backlinking for these topics, but they are hard to digest.
Avoid the middleman
Unless you are willing to read through the pages of information about credit reporting, laws, and bureaus, Credit Reporting is essentially useless to consumers. It makes more sense to skip over them as a middleman and go straight to Experian's website to use their services. Due to their lack of relevant resources and direct services, Credit Reporting has earned a ranking on the lower end for credit monitoring services.
It may seem appealing that Free Score 360 offers a 7-day free trial, but after the trial period, customers are charged $29.95 for membership. This is more expensive than most of the other credit monitoring services we reviewed.
In order to cancel a membership, you'll have to reach customer service with an online form or by phone. There is no online chat feature on their website, but rather just the contact form. It seems concerning that you have to rely on getting ahold of customer service to cancel a membership. Many customers have complained that they were repeatedly charged for the services they no longer wanted.
Lack of resources
Free Score 360 is powered by ScoreSense. With the free trial and/or membership, customers receive access to daily credit monitoring and alerts, interactive tools and a learning center, and ScoreSense dispute center. Membership also comes with $1M in identity theft insurance. Additional resources are lacking at Free Score 360. There are no help articles, calculators, community forums, or other resources that would help individuals learn to build their credit.
No clear description
The specifics of Free Score 360's services are vague. Rather than telling what their platform can do for customers, the website is full of obvious information about why good credit scores are important. Free Score 360 makes it clear that credit reports should be accurate, affordable, and thorough, but fail to explain how their services accomplish these things. Anyone who signs up for their services is taking a gamble on their services considering they do not give a clear explanation of what you are paying for.
Look for something more reliable
The Better Business Bureau gives Free Score 360 a B- rating, which is lower than all the other credit monitoring services we have reviewed. Due to the lack of unpaid features on the Free Score 360 website, we felt that they were more concerned about making quick money than truly helping customers. All throughout the website, there is a basic explanation of their services and repeated links to sign up for the services. We suggest using a more reputable-looking and helpful credit monitoring service.
After creating an account with Free Credit Report, customers gain instant access to their FICO score and Experian credit report for free. The free credit report is from Experian, whereas the premium membership comes with a three-bureau report. Scores are updated every 30 days. To gain access to the Experian CreditWorks Premium services, the cost is $4.99 the first month and then $24.99 for each additional month.
No identity theft insurance
Customers can get alerts about changes on their credit report including fraud, sign-ins, credit pulls, and more. Dark web surveillance is also in place to protect individuals from identity theft. Alerts are sent if it seems that someone else is trying to use your personal information. However, something lacking from Free Credit Report is identity theft insurance. Other credit reporting companies offer identity theft insurance up to $1 million of protection, but you won't find any of that at Free Credit Report.
Customer service hard to reach
It seems suspicious and frustrating that Free Credit Score doesn't offer a way to easily contact customer service. There is no email address, website contact form, or phone number provided. On the "Contact Us" page you are simply directed to a physical mailing address, which is not very helpful. When dealing with such sensitive information and services, we would like to have better access to customer service.
Hesitant to trust
Free Credit Score runs a blog that has not been updated since 2016. It does not seem like there is a lot of effort going into this service to keep it up-to-date. The fine print tells us that Free Credit Score is part of a family of companies that belongs to Consumerinfo.com Inc. and is owned by Experian. The out-of-date information makes us think there is not a lot of attention going towards Free Credit Score. Therefore, we are hesitant to trust them with personal information and we don't expect fully accurate credit information in return. We recommend skipping over Free Credit Score in your search for a credit monitoring service and trying one of our higher-rated sites.
Aside from working to qualify for a loan or your next big career move, a big issue in the world today is identity theft. It is estimated that nine million Americans are victims of identity theft each year. Sometimes this can be caught by watching to see if your credit score takes a major hit. If this is the case, you can dispute the credit report and work to fix the problem. Working with a credit monitoring company that has good customer service to help you through potential issues is important.
Before choosing a credit monitoring service, we suggest you keep the following criteria in mind:
To help you identify the best credit monitoring service, TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked a variety of options. We hope this information helps you find a credit monitoring company that will provide a good experience for you!
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:
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