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Home / Tips and Tricks / The Best Credit Monitoring Services in 2020: Experian, FreeCreditReport.com, and More

The Best Credit Monitoring Services in 2020: Experian, FreeCreditReport.com, and More



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Always keep an eye on your credit report.

James Martin / CNET

With all data breaches that have surfaced in recent years, you probably know someone (if not yourself) who was affected by one of the breaches. And if the Capital One data breach or the Equifax data breach what you were involved in, you probably learned the importance of checking your credit report.

After all, your credit score is an important part of your financial picture – especially when applying for credit cards or loans and making major purchases, such as down payments for a new home or car. Getting involved with your credit is another way of verifying that your identity has not been stolen. Keep in mind that viewing your credit score will not affect your credit rating.

read more: How to choose a credit card

If you haven’t checked your credit score recently, start with a well-known company like Experian and Credit Karma (full list below). There are several that offer a range of services at a variety of prices, including a free online check and a 30-day free trial. Keep in mind that some companies require your credit card information, but they typically provide additional services such as identity theft insurance and identification of suspicious use of your Social Security number.


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So how does a credit score work? Everyone starts with a FICO score. This is your credit number which can range from 300 to 850. The higher the number the better. Some of the factors that affect your FICO score include “hard questions”, such as applying for credit (your creditworthiness is currently being assessed); “derogatory remarks”, such as paying a bill late (these can keep your score low); and how much of your total credit you use (the less you use the better). You get a FICO score from the three major US credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. This is how these services are broken down.

Read more: The Best Identity Theft Monitoring Services for 2020

Will checking my credit score affect my credit?

Many people think that checking their credit score will add to their credit report, but that’s not true. Checking your own credit score is considered a soft question and will not affect your credit rating. However, if you apply for a loan or credit card and a company conducts a credit check, it is considered a difficult investigation, which can cause your score to drop several points.

Experian

Screenshot by Katie Conner / CNET

  • Free 30-day trial
  • Price: $ 20 per month
  • Provides a tool to increase your credit score
  • Includes identity theft monitoring
  • It says it will tackle fraud if your identity or personal information is stolen
  • Shows your FICO scores for all three agencies (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax)
  • Guards your creditworthiness

Experian (or download the app for iOS or Android) is one of the major credit monitoring services that provides your FICO scores for the three bureaus. Experian can help you increase your FICO score by using utility bills you already pay to apply to your credit. Your new credit scores take effect immediately.

The company monitors identity theft and performs daily scans of dark web pages to detect if your information has been stolen. If anything is detected, Experian says the support team will help.

TransUnion

Screenshot by Katie Conner / CNET

  • $ 25 a month
  • Includes free identity protection
  • Unlimited access to scores and reports
  • Credit Lock Plus
  • Up to $ 1,000,000 in identity theft insurance

Also one of the top three credit monitoring services is TransUnion (or download the app for iOS or Android). With TransUnion, you can review your credit score report as often as you want to see if your score has changed.

Identity protection is included through Javelin, an identity protection service provider. Your monthly fee includes credit monitoring, instant alerts if someone applies for credit in your name, and up to $ 1,000,000 in ID theft insurance. TransUnion Credit Lock is a service that keeps your credit profile locked until you unlock it. For example, if a criminal applies for credit in your name, the lock prevents him from stealing your credit information.

Equifax

Screenshot by Katie Conner / CNET

  • $ 20 a month
  • Shows your credit scores from three Equifax bureaus
  • Includes identity protection
  • Sends alerts about suspicious activity
  • Monitored credit and social security number

The third major credit bureau in the US, Equifax (or download the app for iOS) suffered one of the worst data breaches in 2017, affecting more than half of all Americans. Equifax has a three-year plan to regain your trust. If you were affected by the data breach, you can still file a claim (it is now in the extended claim period, so you should apply as soon as possible) for a refund of the time spent recovering from identity theft or from own pocket loss as a result of the data breach.

If you’re feeling forgiving, Equifax’s services are on par with the competition. It provides a copy of your Equifax credit report and monitors your credit and social security numbers by scanning websites selling consumer information. Equifax also sends alerts about suspicious activity, such as someone applying for credit in your name on the other side of the country.

Read: Data Breach Hall of Shame 2019: These were the biggest data breaches of the year

Credit Karma

Screenshot by Katie Conner / CNET

  • Free
  • Check the credit score for free
  • Guarded credit
  • Shows credit factors and how they affect your score

Credit Karma (or download the app for iOS or Android) is a personal finance company. You can use it to check your credit scores as many times as you want for free. You can also access your credit scores from TransUnion and Equifax, but not Experian. Credit Karma monitors your credit and sends weekly updates and will notify you if there is a change in your credit score.

The site also shows you your score and credit factors that affect your score, such as whether you’re using too much of your credit card limit, anomalous flags, and hard questions.

Note that Intuit Acquires Credit Karma, that if you are concerned about your privacy and the security of your data, put much of your personal financial information in the hands of one company.

Mint

Screenshot by Katie Conner / CNET

  • Free
  • Check your credit score for free
  • All personal information is encrypted

Mint (or download the app for iOS or Android) is a free service for managing your personal finances. In addition to tracking your payments, you can use it to find out where your credit score is missing, such as not having a long credit history, and where things are going well, such as paying bills on time. Mint shows you your on-time payments, credit usage (so you can see if you’ve hit your limit) and average credit age on one screen.

After you verify your identity, Mint will send your credit report summary and credit monitoring alerts if your score goes up or down.

FreeCreditReport.com

Screenshot by Katie Conner / CNET

  • Free
  • Check your Experian credit report
  • Report information updates every 30 days
  • Keep an eye on credit usage, hard questions and late payments

FreeCreditReport.com is a limited service provided by Experian to access your credit report for free. The company will provide you with an updated credit report every 30 days. You can access your account history, such as real estate and credit accounts. FreeCreditReport.com shows you hard questions about your account, tracks your credit usage, and shows you any points against you, such as late payments.

Note that this only shows your credit report and not your credit score. To see your score, you must upgrade to Experian CreditWorks Premium. You can get a one-month trial for $ 5.

Combining and matching services can help to cover more ground

When it comes to checking your credit, there are many ways to go. You can select one service or link free services together to access your FICO score from all three major agencies.

However, if you go down that path, keep in mind that you won’t have the promised credit protection and monitoring that Experian, TransUnion and Equifax offer.

To learn more about data breaches that may have affected you or someone you know, see Equifax, MGM Resorts, and more: every major security breach and data hack.

Disclaimer: The information in this article, including program features, program fees and credits available through credit cards to apply to such programs, are subject to change from time to time and are provided without warranty. When evaluating offers, check the credit card provider’s website and review the terms and conditions for the most current offers and information.


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