You can check your credit reports once a year for free, but if you want to keep a close eye on your finances, improve your credit, or watch out for ID theft, glancing at your report once a year won’t be enough. An in-depth credit monitoring service gives you frequent access to your reports, but it also sends you alerts and helps you comb through all that data so you don’t have to track all that information on your own.
We dove deep into the world of credit monitoring to find you the best coverage and best value. In most cases, IdentityForce is your best bet. Keep reading to learn why and to find out which other services made the cut.
Here are the best credit monitoring services
SPECIAL OFFER: IdentityForce Discount
IdentityForce is offering discounts on its identity theft and credit monitoring plans to ASecureLife readers - up to 50% off monthly plans with some packages. View Offer
IdentityForce is offering discounts on its identity theft and credit monitoring plans to ASecureLife readers - up to 50% off monthly plans with some packages.View Offer
Compare credit monitoring companies
|Credit monitoring service||IdentityForce||Credit Sesame||Experian CreditWorks|
|Plan price range (individual coverage)||$19.95/mo. for plan with credit monitoring||$9.95 to $19.95/mo.||$24.99/mo.|
|Free plan available*||No||Yes||Yes|
|Lowest price for three-bureau monitoring||$19.95/mo.||$15.95/mo.||$24.99/mo.|
|Bank/credit balance alerts||Yes||No||No|
|Identity theft insurance||Yes, up to $1 million||No||Yes, up to $1 million|
|Level of ID theft monitoring||Thorough||Limited||Thorough|
|View Plans||View Plans||View Plans||View Plans|
*Extremely limited monitoring. One bureau only. No additional protection.
Data effective 2/8/2019. Pricing and data subject to change.
1. IdentityForce | Best for thorough coverage
- Credit monitoring from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion
- Credit score simulator
- Banking and credit card alerts
- Comprehensive identity protection
- More expensive plans than Credit Sesame
What we like about IdentityForce
IdentityForce beats out other monitoring services by offering more coverage than most alternatives. You get three-bureau monitoring, banking alerts, family plans, social media monitoring, a credit simulator, and full-fledged identity theft protection with $1 million in insurance. All this coverage means you don’t have to spend your own time pouring over reports. It also means you’re more likely to catch problems quickly.
Frequent monitoring of all three bureaus
IdentityForce’s highest-tier package, UltraSecure+Credit, offers regular monitoring of all three credit bureaus and access to full reports from each bureau four times a year.
You can get your report once a year for free, but accessing them more often makes it much easier for you to keep a close eye on your spending. Plus, you’re more likely to catch suspicious activity quickly if you get regular reports.
Credit score simulator and monthly monitoring
The higher-tier package also includes a credit score simulator that lets you estimate how certain financial decisions can impact your credit. This simulator lets you test the effects of paying off your student loans, applying for a mortgage, or buying a new car.
Between the simulator and the monthly monitoring, it will be easier to maintain a positive credit score, keep an eye on your credit history, or rebuild your credit.
Banking and credit card activity alerts
IdentityForce lets you set up personalized alerts that tell you when a transaction from your bank account or credit card exceeds a certain amount. Frequent alerts help you keep your own spending in check, but they’ll also help you catch on if someone else has used your information to make a big-ticket purchase.
Excellent identity protection service
If you’re already paying a monthly fee for credit monitoring, you might as well get some identity theft protection with it since identity theft often impacts your credit and your finances. When you get credit monitoring from IdentityForce, you also get court records monitoring, fraud alerts, Social Security number tracking, lost wallet assistance, and identity theft insurance.
ASL’s Recommended Plan | UltraSecure+Credit
2. Credit Sesame | Best low-cost option
- Free and low-cost monitoring plans
- Affordable monthly updates from all three credit bureaus
- Higher-tier packages that include basic ID monitoring services
- More positive customer reviews than most services
- Less identity protection than competitors
- No bank/credit account monitoring
What we like about Credit Sesame
Credit Sesame doesn’t offer the level of coverage you’d get from IdentityForce, but it still offers good credit monitoring at a much lower monthly price.
It’s a great alternative if you need inexpensive credit monitoring. In fact, if you’re on a really tight budget, there’s a free option. It’s less thorough, but it’s better than nothing.
Monthly reports and scores from all three bureaus
All paid Credit Sesame plans give you a monthly credit score and credit reports from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—even the least expensive package. This coverage makes it easier to keep an eye on your finances, watch for fraudulent activity, and manage your credit score.
Help resolving credit report errors
If you choose either the Pro Credit plan or the Platinum Protection plan, you get access to 24/7 support to resolve issues with your credit report. Since credit reports can be complicated and a bit confusing, pro support could save you a lot of time and stress.
Daily credit monitoring with higher-level packages
The Pro Credit plan and the Platinum Protection plan both include daily credit monitoring from all three credit bureaus.
ASL’s Recommended Plan | Pro Credit
3. Experian CreditWorks | The runner-up
What we like about Experian CreditWorks
Experian CreditWorks has great coverage but didn’t beat out IdentityForce and Credit Sesame because it has more negative customer reviews than both. It’s also a bit pricey.
That said, it’s a great option if you want to keep an eye on your credit score and build your credit. It’s one of the only monitoring services that also tracks your FICO score—important if you’re looking into a serious loan.
Monitoring coverage includes account balance changes, credit inquiries, credit utilization, and a daily Experian report. It also gives you access to monthly credit reports from all three credit bureaus.
Plus, it includes full identity theft monitoring with insurance, lost wallet assistance, and address change verification.
ASL’s Recommended Plan | CreditWorks Premium
Companies we ruled out
Your financial information is important, so we’re picky about which companies we recommend. We researched LifeLock, Credit Karma, Identity Guard, ID Watchdog, and more, but ultimately ruled them out because they just don’t provide the value of our top picks.
>>Still thinking about LifeLock? Check out Lifelock vs. Experian.
What to look for in a credit monitoring service
We recommend picking a credit monitoring service that includes the following:
- Frequent monitoring from all three credit bureaus
- Access to credit scores and reports from all three bureaus at least once a quarter, if not more often
- Some identity theft protection
IdentityForce provides the best coverage and value, which saves you time, gives you more control over your financial goals, and protects you if your personal data makes it into the wrong hands. It’s our top recommendation for most people.
If you’re on a tighter budget, Credit Sesame is a solid, inexpensive alternative.