Protect Your Credit: TransUnion Credit Monitoring

TransUnion offers credit monitoring as well as identity protection. However, its services have very few standout features, and it lacks many services other companies provide.

Our rating:
2.8 out of 5.0
2.8 out of 5 stars2.8
Customer service
2.8 out of 5 stars2.8
3.3 out of 5 stars3.3
3.4 out of 5 stars3.4
Mobile Access
2.5 out of 5 stars2.5
    • Pro BulletCredit Lock prevents access to your credit report
    • Pro BulletInstant Alerts notifies you immediately when a credit check is made
    • Pro BulletDashlane password protection is included
    • Pro BulletFree app is included with subscription
    • Con BulletInformation is difficult to find online
    • Con BulletThe company has a poor customer service reputation
    • Con BulletCredit reports from all three bureaus cost an additional fee
    • Con BulletYou get only $25,000 ID theft insurance with the free subscription
    • Con BulletNo services or features are offered for families or children
    TransUnion is well known as one of the three major credit bureaus in the United States, but did you know that it also offers credit and identity monitoring? TransUnion’s services provide a combination of industry-standard and unique ways to monitor customers’ credit and protect their information. Although we like the few unique monitoring features TransUnion provides, the company does not meet the standards of our top three best credit monitoring services; read on to find out why.

    What sets TransUnion apart: Credit Lock and Instant Alerts

    TransUnion’s credit monitoring service is generally comparable to other credit monitoring companies in terms of price ($19.95 a month) and the basic features you’d expect. That includes identity theft insurance and 24/7 fraud resolution assistance as well as tools to analyze debt and learn about the factors affecting your credit. TransUnion also encourages password protection through Dashlane, which is a free password manager service. (Check out our article here for more information.)

    Subscribers receive their TransUnion credit report (which is refreshed every 24 hours) and credit score for daily monitoring. All of this can be done from the free TransUnion app (available for iOS and Android), which adds an extra layer of convenience to the services.

    The credit monitoring and identity theft protection subscriptions all come with two unique features that set TransUnion apart from the competition: Credit Lock and Instant Alerts.

    Credit Lock

    Credit Lock allows you to lock your TransUnion credit report from your smartphone so no one can view your credit information without your knowledge. If you fill out an application that requires a credit check (for a loan or credit card, for example), you simply unlock your credit report until after the inquiry has been made.

    The upside to this unique feature is that it protects you from identity theft; the downside is that it applies only to your TransUnion credit report, so inquiries made to the other credit bureaus would not be affected.

    In light of the Equifax data breach, TransUnion currently offers Credit Lock Plus with the credit monitoring services (but not the identity protection services). Credit Lock Plus lets you lock both your TransUnion and your Equifax credit report. However, you won’t be able to see your Equifax report or score; this gives you the ability only to prevent anyone from accessing the report.

    Instant Alerts

    The Instant Alerts feature sends you a confirmation email every time a lender requests a credit check from TransUnion. That way, if someone applies for a loan in your name, you’ll be alerted immediately so you can halt the process—for example, by locking your credit report. Again, this could be extremely helpful in catching fraud in the moment instead of months later, but it is limited to inquiries made on your TransUnion report.

    Where TransUnion falls short: Limited information and services

    While we like these unique TransUnion features, other companies offer a more thorough list of standard services. For example, TransUnion has resources for parents whose child is the victim of identity theft—but unlike other companies, it doesn’t offer any packages or programs to proactively protect children’s information.

    Credit score access, credit report access, and monitoring are limited to TransUnion and do not cover the other two credit bureaus. While you can access your credit reports from the other bureaus, it costs an additional one-time fee of $29.95, which is more than the monthly subscription. Other companies provide monitoring and credit reports from all three bureaus through their subscriptions, which more thoroughly protect you from fraud.

    Another disappointing aspect of TransUnion is that it doesn’t include any identity theft protection features with its credit monitoring service. To get those, you have to sign up for a separate service called TrueIdentity (more on that below).

    The TransUnion website is not particularly helpful either. Information, including FAQs, is limited, and you have to dig through the fine print to discover the subscription details. In this, as in many ways, TransUnion simply falls short of the standard set by other companies.

    Subscription comparison: Credit monitoring vs. TrueIdentity

    In addition to the credit monitoring service, TransUnion also offers an identity protection service, TrueIdentity, with both a free version and a paid subscription. While these are separate from the credit monitoring service, all three subscriptions have very similar features.

    The credit monitoring service provides tools to monitor and improve your credit, including credit report, credit score, and debt analysis tools. The unique Credit Lock and Instant Alerts features are included, as is $1 million of credit theft insurance. Because no identity theft protection is included, subscribers are encouraged to sign up for TrueIdentity as well.

    However, the free version of TrueIdentity has most of the basic features of the credit monitoring service, including Credit Lock and Instant Alerts but without the monthly fee. If those features are your main interest in TransUnion, then TrueIdentity would be the best fit for you.

    To get identity theft protection, you have to upgrade to the Premium version of TrueIdentity. It includes all the same credit-focused features as the credit monitoring service (with the exception of Credit Lock Plus), plus identity monitoring on the black market and court records, address tracking, and an up-to-date sex offender registry for your area. Because TrueIdentity Premium offers more services than the Credit Monitoring package for the same price, it is the better service in our opinion.

    Our experience: Disappointing service

    As we explored TransUnion’s website, we were concerned by the lack of transparency. We were continually redirected to the subscription page, and it was not clear how much the subscription cost or even what we were signing up for.

    When we reached out to customer service, we had a hard time finding a phone number—though once we did, we got through quickly. Both of the representatives we spoke with were reasonably helpful, but the answers we received felt scripted and it was often difficult to hear and understand them. Overall, our experience with TransUnion was disappointing.

    User reviews: Hard to find the bright side

    The top user complaints talk about the poor quality and effectiveness of the TransUnion customer service. The second most common complaint is how difficult it is to find information on the website and how it almost tricks you into signing up for credit monitoring services (which lines up with our experience). A third common complaint is that the TransUnion credit scores don’t match FICO scores. (But TransUnion uses VantageScore 3.0 to calculate scores, which is different from the method used to calculate a FICO score and which accounts for the variation).

    Positive reviews often focus on the Instant Alerts and Credit Lock features and how well they work. But overall, reviews from customers who enjoyed their TransUnion credit protection experience are difficult to find.

    Positive reviews

    “I've signed up for it 3 different times and never had an issue. I decided to keep the subscription and 6 months later I immediately got an email for TransUnion noticing me of a new inquiry... I froze access to my report from the website right away and contacted the person who pulled it. It turns out it was someone who applied for a car 1000 miles away. Thanks to TransUnion I found out within one hour of applying and was able to freeze it so that those people couldn't go to the next dealer. I've been using TransUnion for 2 years now and love it. I recommend it to anyone.” — Sasha, December 2016, Consumer Affairs

    Negative reviews

    “For the past 6 months I have been attempting to cancel this service. Three times I called and three times the service was supposed to be canceled and refunded. The money taken from your account automatically renews but your credit score does not. You have to pay to refresh! "These memberships automatically renew, each month, indefinitely." If it took me an hour just to locate this information, someone needs to warn others NOT TO SIGN UP WITH TRANSUNION! Have to dig very hard to find out. To cancel you must call them, and the info is buried under PRIVACY.” — Susan, February 2017, Consumer Affairs

    Our opinion: Better options are out there

    While TransUnion’s Instant Alerts and Credit Lock are the kinds of standout features we look for in a good credit monitoring company, those were really the only positive aspects of the credit monitoring and identity theft protection service. Everything else fell short compared to other companies, especially considering that the TransUnion credit monitoring subscription was lacking compared to the TransUnion TrueIdentity Premium subscription.

    If you are intrigued and impressed with the Instant Alerts and Credit Lock features, we recommend the free TrueIdentity subscription. Otherwise, there are better options for credit protection and identity theft monitoring.

    Have you used TransUnion for credit protection? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!