Having great credit is more important today than ever before. Luckily, you have multiple top credit monitoring apps and services to choose from to keep an eye on your credit report. Use these tools to boost your credit score, and give you more access to better loans and credit cards. Avoid devastating effects on your finances should you become a target of identity theft, which is still one of the largest crimes. You can use the information gathered from these services to build and protect healthy credit. But where do you start?
We’ve put together a list of best-reviewed tools that will get you on your way to a solid financial foundation. Consider any one of these to get to understand
What is credit monitoring?
First and foremost, you should know that credit monitoring watches and reports information on your credit report. Your credit report holds all your financial information including credit card and loan activity and payment information. Your credit report (as well as a calculated score derived from your report) is the sources of your financial health. There are multiple sources for your credit report. But usually, your report is from one of the three largest credit bureaus or agencies – Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Creditors and lenders often use both your report and a credit score to determine if and how they extend you any type of loan or credit.
Credit monitoring can be basic or robust. It can be a free or paid service that offers a variety of offerings including:
- report monitoring from one or more credit agencies
- credit score options
- financial tools and resources to improve your credit
- fraud monitoring and alerts
- fraud counseling and insurance
Why would you use a credit monitoring service or app?
There are many reasons you should consider using a credit monitoring service or app including:
- You want to do all you can to prevent identity theft
- You want to improve your credit score
Identity theft continues to rise and can ruin your finances. Your personal information, like your social security number, can be used to open new accounts fraudulently. These false accounts can be devastating to your credit health. Credit monitoring can alert you early of any suspicious activity on your accounts so you can respond fast. You’ll be better positioned to reduce the negative impact on your credit. While there is no tool that can guarantee your accounts won’t be compromised, credit monitoring helps.
Credit monitoring products also allow you to stay pro-active on making your credit the best it can be. Should you be shopping for a new credit card or loan, knowing where you stand on your credit score is helpful. If you wait until you are denied credit because of something derogatory on your credit reports, it’s too late. Set up alerts through helpful online apps so that you can make necessary steps to improve your score.
Does Credit Monitoring Hurt Your Credit?
No. Credit monitoring does not hurt your credit score. Whether you check your own credit reports or use a free or premium service, this does not affect your credit health. Credit monitoring inquiries are soft inquiries and they do not blemish your report.
What to look for.
Comparing credit monitoring services can be a lot of work as they offer various features. As we reviewed them, we looked at various criteria such as:
- product offering such as credit bureaus checked
- credit score tools
- identity theft alerts
TIP: If you are working to meet requirements for a certain loan such as a mortgage, ask your mortgage lender which credit score they use. You can then choose an app that provides more accurate credit score data.
Top 10 Credit Monitoring Apps
Mint is known for numerous financial information and tools. They offer a free credit monitoring app that provides your Equifax credit score and activity each month. They also offer a premium service starting at about $16.99 a month, that will provide all your scores also based on Equifax’s credit model. It gives you ways you can improve your score including a score calculator and comparison tool. Mint also monitors for fraud and provides you an identity theft score based on what personal information you have public. You also have the option of linking your bank accounts, credit cards, and any other investment accounts to Mint to provide you with a comprehensive financial overview. Mint offers its tools for Android and iOS.
PrivacyGuard gives you access to your 3 bureau credit reports and scores based on data from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Each day, you’ll receive alerts as your credit report information changes. You’ll also learn your credit score derived using common credit scoring practices. They also offer identity fraud resolution support. Prices start at $9.99 per month. We weren’t able to determine that they offer mobile access.
Capital One offers this free credit monitoring service which includes quite a bit at no cost. And, you do not need to have a Capital One credit card in order to sign up for their CreditWise monitoring service. Each week, they update your Transunion credit score. They also offer a cool feature that allows you to simulate changes so you can see how they impact your credit score. CreditWise offers free dark web surveillance and monitoring for fraud to protect your credit. CreditWise offers its tools for Android and iOS.
This comprehensive credit monitoring is strong in that it includes all three credit bureau reports – Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. There are a variety of fee-based plans to offer a different level of information, monitoring, and alerts ranging from $8.99 to $24.99 a month. Identity Guard plans focus more on protecting your identity with things like dark web monitoring and even a social media analysis. They also provide a monthly credit score based on Transunion’s model and yearly credit reports from each of the three major credit agencies. We found that Identity Guard offers mobile services for both Android and iOS.
Discover is well known for its commercials to offer ways to monitor your credit. Their scorecard is offered for free and you don’t have to be a Discover cardholder to sign up. Each month you’ll be able to check your FICO score, which is used by a majority of creditors and lenders. They’ll provide information as to what’s helping and hurting your score. It’s not a robust credit monitoring service but does give you free insight on activity on your credit. It does not appear at this time that they offer mobile access.
6. Credit Karma
Credit Karma offers a totally free credit monitoring service. They don’t offer a fee-based product so they do not require credit card information. Credit Karma supplies you your VantageScore 3.0 credit score and your credit reports from Transunion and Equifax. Information is updated weekly. They also offer a clear way to see how you are doing and ways you can improve your financial health. Be mindful as they do provide offers to open new credit as a way to improve your overall credit. You can opt to receive alerts for any unusual activity that appears on either report. Credit Karma offers its tools for Android and iOS.
Experian, which is one of the “big three” credit bureaus, provides a credit monitoring service that watches all three of your credit reports. It’s called IdentityWorks and it starts at $9.99 a month. This app checks your Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax Credit Reports each day and lets you know of anything unusual. You’ll get updated credit reports and FICO scores from all 3 credit bureaus every 30 days. You will be able to easily lock your Experian credit report and up to $1 million in identity theft insurance. It also scans the dark web and monitors and alerts for fraud. Experian offers its offerings on Android and iOS.
This known credit monitoring service offers a free option if you want to find out your credit score. Credit Sesame offers real-time alerts using your TransUnion credit report. They update your score once per month and their site offers a dashboard that outlines your debts, payments, credit utilization and suggestions on how to improve your credit. Credit Sesame also offers premium services that include monitoring of all 3 major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Additionally, they will watch your social security number, public records and the use of your personal information on black market websites. Credit Sesame offers its products on both Android and iOS.
LifeLock’s credit monitoring service range from $9.99 to $29.99 a month and offers a money back guarantee. It includes Norton Security with its packages so you can add antivirus and security to your computers and devises. Lifelock includes reimbursement should you be a victim of fraud. Their premium offering includes all 3 credit bureau reports and scores, account alerts, social security and unlike many credit monitoring services they watch your 401K account for activity. Mobile apps are available for Android and iOS.
10. FICO Ultimate 3B
FICO is the most widely used credit score amongst lenders. Now you can monitor your credit score with the FICO Ultimate 3B credit monitoring service which costs about $30 a month. This app provides you access to your credit report from all three bureaus quarterly. Additionally, you’ll see a lot of versions of your credit score that are used in mortgage, auto and credit card loans. Each quarter, your reports and scores are updated. You can choose to get alerts for credit card changes and unusual activity like new inquiries, new accounts, public records, address changes, and changes to your account balances. MyFICO offers its tools for Android and iOS.
Consider Your Credit Monitoring App Carefully
Credit monitoring apps do provide you regular check-ins of where you stand financially. You will receive periodic updates and alerts as your credit reports change. Be aware, if the credit monitoring service you use only checks one or two of the credit agencies, it is still good practice to check the remainder reports. Likewise, if you do not opt to use one of these apps, you still need to monitor your credit reports on your own. Checking your credit report is free once a year.
In conclusion, if you want to take preventative action against identity theft or you’d like to make substantial improvements to your score to get better interest rates, you may want to consider one of the apps we’ve mentioned. Take your time to consider all your options. The most important thing is to know your credit score and continue to take steps to build, maintain, and protect it.