Best Credit Monitoring Service [2024]: Which One Is Worth It?

Our favorite free services are CreditWise from Capital One and Experian.

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Updated May 24, 2024
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Credit monitoring services generally provide the same thing — a way for you to track important changes to your credit report. However, there are three major credit reporting agencies, and some services only monitor reports from one or two of them.

For the most complete coverage, I recommend using a service with three-bureau monitoring or using multiple services that add up to three-bureau monitoring with their individual coverages.

Some of our favorite free services include CreditWise from Capital One and Experian. For a comprehensive and affordable paid service, I like Aura.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • Credit monitoring is important because it helps you stay on top of things that could affect your credit. These could include instances of theft and fraud, which, if left unchecked, might lead to a financial crisis.
  • For free services, consider using a combination of services to provide full three-bureau credit monitoring. That could include using a combination of CreditWise from Capital One, Experian, myFICO, Credit Karma, or Credit Sesame.
  • For paid services, Aura is one of the best and most affordable options. It provides three-bureau credit monitoring and generally costs less than other products.

8 best credit monitoring services

  1. CreditWise from Capital One
  2. Experian
  3. Aura
  4. IdentityForce
  5. PrivacyGuard
  6. myFICO
  7. Credit Karma
  8. Credit Sesame

Best credit monitoring service comparison

Cost Credit bureaus monitored Credit scoring model used Identity insurance
CreditWise from Capital One $0 Experian and TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 No
Experian $0-$34.99 per month Basic plan: Experian

Premium/Family plans: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion

FICO Score 8 Up to $1 million with Premium/Family plans
Aura $13-$50 per month

$120-$384 per year

Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 Individual: Up to $1 million

Couple: Up to $2 million ($1 million per adult)

Family: Up to $5 million ($1 million per adult)

IdentityForce $34.90-$39.90 per month

$349.90-$399.90 per year

Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 Up to $2 million
PrivacyGuard $19.99-$24.99 per month Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 Up to $1 million with Total Protection
myFICO $0-$39.95 per month Free plan: Equifax

Advanced/Premier plans: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion

FICO Score 8 Up to $1 million with Advanced/Premier
Credit Karma $0 Equifax and TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 No
Credit Sesame $0-$19.99 per month Free plan: TransUnion

Sesame+ plan: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion

VantageScore 3.0 Up to $1 million with Sesame+

1. CreditWise from Capital One

Pros
  • Free to sign up and use
  • Offers free two-bureau credit monitoring
  • You can use CreditWise even if you’re not a Capital One customer
Cons
  • Doesn’t monitor Equifax
  • Doesn’t provide identity insurance

CreditWise is a free credit monitoring service and identity theft protection tool offered by Capital One, and you can use it whether you’re a Capital One customer or not. That’s pretty nice because some credit card issuers like Discover restrict their free credit monitoring tools to their cardmembers.

For a free tool, you get some decent benefits, including two-bureau credit monitoring (Experian and TransUnion) and access to your VantageScore credit score. However, you typically want three-bureau credit monitoring for more protection.

CreditWise also alerts you if it finds your Social Security number or email address on the dark web, which could be helpful for identity theft monitoring. Note that this isn’t identity insurance, and CreditWise wouldn’t be of much use if your identity were actually stolen or compromised.

Visit CreditWise from Capital One

2. Experian

Pros
  • Has a free version
  • Provides options for three-bureau monitoring and up to $1 million in identity insurance
Cons
  • Paid plans are expensive
  • Free version only monitors Experian

Experian is a well-known name since it’s one of the three major credit bureaus along with Equifax and TransUnion. So it’s no surprise that you can monitor your credit for free with Experian itself.

Unfortunately, the free Experian credit monitoring only covers one bureau (guess which one). If you want three-bureau monitoring, you’ll have to cough up a hefty monthly sum between $24.99 to $34.99 depending on the plan. But opting for a paid plan will also give you up to $1 million in identity theft insurance.

I use the free Experian credit monitoring services quite often, both for credit alerts and to check my FICO score. It’s a good supplement to the other free monitoring services I use that cover the other credit bureaus. I also like seeing my FICO score because many other services only show your VantageScore credit score.

Visit Experian

3. Aura

Pros
  • Offers three-bureau credit monitoring
  • Offers up to $5 million ($1 million per adult) in identity theft insurance
Cons
  • There’s no free version
  • Credit monitoring plans cost between $15-$45/mo

Aura might come off as a bit gimmicky since they have a huge Hollywood actor (Robert Downey Jr.) involved in their marketing efforts. Not that we don’t love RDJ.

However, digging deeper shows that Aura is legit as it has one of the most affordable credit monitoring and identity theft insurance products on the market. There’s no free option, but you can choose from three paid plans (all of which include three-bureau credit monitoring).

  • Individual: $15 per month or $144 per year
  • Couple: $29 per month or $228 per year
  • Family: $45 per month or $240 per year

The Individual plan covers one adult, the Couple plan covers two adults, and the Family plan covers five adults and unlimited kids. As you move up the plans, each adult gets up to $1 million in identity theft insurance rather than up to $1 million total between everyone on the account.

Visit Aura

4. IdentityForce

Pros
  • Offers three-bureau credit monitoring
  • Offers up to $2 million in identity theft insurance
Cons
  • There’s no free version
  • Credit monitoring plans cost between $34.90 to $39.90/mo

IdentityForce (a TransUnion brand) offers UltraSecure+Credit plans, which include credit monitoring, for individuals and families, but the standard UltraSecure plans don’t include credit monitoring. The pricing for UltraSecure+Credit is:

  • UltraSecure+Credit Individual: $34.90 per month or $349.90 per year
  • UltraSecure+Credit Family: $39.90 per month or $399.90 per year

Both of these individual and family plans provide three-bureau credit monitoring and up to $2 million in identity theft insurance. The only difference between the plans is that the family plan provides monitoring for two adults and up to 10 children while the individual plan covers one adult.

Considering how expensive credit monitoring and identity insurance could get if you’re paying for multiple people, the family plan could be a decent deal.

Visit IdentityForce

5. PrivacyGuard

Pros
  • Offers three-bureau credit monitoring
  • Offers up to $1 million in identity theft insurance
Cons
  • There’s no free version
  • Credit monitoring plans cost between $19.99 to $24.99/mo

PrivacyGuard has three available paid plans, but only two of them (Credit Protection and Total Protection) offer credit monitoring. These plans start at:

  • Credit Protection: $19.99 per month
  • Total Protection: $24.99 per month

With either of these plans, you get three-bureau credit monitoring. However, only Total Protection provides identity theft insurance (up to $1 million). Considering the small difference in price between the two plans, it might be worth getting the insurance if you’re concerned about identity theft.

Compared to other plans on this list, PrivacyGuard has one of the lowest prices for a paid plan, and it provides a lot of value for the price.

Visit PrivacyGuard

6. myFICO

Pros
  • Has a free plan
  • Provides options for three-bureau credit monitoring and up to $1 million in identity theft insurance
Cons
  • Paid plans are expensive
  • Free version only monitors Equifax

With myFICO, you have the option of three credit monitoring plans: Free, Advanced, and Premier. The Free plan provides one-bureau credit monitoring (Equifax) while the paid plans provide three-bureau monitoring. Here is the paid plans pricing.

  • Advanced: $29.95 per month
  • Premier: $39.95 per month

The Free plan doesn’t provide identity insurance benefits, but both paid plans provide up to $1 million in identity theft insurance. I think the myFICO options are slightly more expensive than some alternatives, so it could be worth shopping around and comparing benefits before making a decision. It is one of the only paid plans to offer FICO score monitoring, though.

If you only want a service for free Equifax monitoring, myFICO is the place for you.

Visit myFICO

7. Credit Karma

Pros
  • Doesn’t cost anything to sign up and use
  • Offers free credit scores, free credit reports, and free identity theft monitoring in addition to credit monitoring
Cons
  • Doesn’t monitor Experian
  • Doesn’t provide identity theft insurance

Credit Karma is a free service for credit monitoring and identity theft monitoring. It offers two-bureau monitoring (Equifax and TransUnion) and access to your VantageScore credit score.

As a free service, Credit Karma makes it easy for you to quickly see your credit score and stay on top of your Equifax and TransUnion credit reports. But it’s missing Experian credit monitoring and any option for identity theft insurance.

I recommend a service with three-bureau credit monitoring for more coverage. You can also use multiple free services to cover all three bureaus. And if you want identity theft insurance, consider other alternatives.

Visit Credit Karma | Read our Credit Karma review

8. Credit Sesame

Pros
  • Has a free version
  • Provides an option for three-bureau monitoring and up to $1 million in identity theft insurance
Cons
  • Has a free version
  • Provides an option for three-bureau monitoring and up to $1 million in identity theft insurance

Credit Sesame provides a simple service for tracking your credit score and monitoring your credit. It has a free credit monitoring option, but it’s not the most useful because it only monitors the TransUnion credit bureau.

If you want three-bureau monitoring, you have to upgrade to Sesame+, a paid plan. Sesame+ costs $19.99 per month and provides three-bureau monitoring as well as up to $1 million in identity theft insurance. Compared to other options on this list, the pricing for Sesame+ is about the same for the features you get.

The only issue we had with our Credit Sesame experience was trying to figure out what Sesame+ offers and how much it costs as it’s not very clear on the website. We ended up having to create a free account to easily see Sesame+ features and pricing.

Visit Credit Sesame

How to choose the best credit monitoring service

Consider these factors as you compare credit monitoring services.

  • Included credit bureaus: The best credit monitoring services monitor all three major credit bureaus. To make things more affordable, you could also use multiple free services to cover the three credit bureaus.
  • Pricing: Some services only provide free monitoring, some only provide paid monitoring, and others provide a mix of the two with different plans. In general, the cost goes up as you add more features, including three-bureau credit monitoring and identity theft insurance. Having more insurance coverage can also increase the cost. Individual monitoring and identity insurance doesn’t typically cost more than $20 per month.
  • Type of credit score: Most credit monitoring services provide access to a credit score, but the type of score varies by service. Lenders use both FICO and VantageScore credit scoring models, so it comes down to your preference of which score you want to see.
  • Identity insurance: Not all credit monitoring services provide identity theft insurance. If you value identity insurance, be sure to compare services that actually provide this coverage.
  • Other features: Features and benefits vary by credit monitoring service but could include 24/7 customer service, dark web monitoring, identity restoration, access to a VPN, and much more.

FAQs

Which credit monitoring service is most accurate?

Most credit monitoring services use similar information collected from some or all of the three major credit bureaus, so one service isn’t necessarily more accurate than another. If you want as much updated information as possible, use multiple free credit monitoring services at the same time. That can give you wider coverage and more alerts than only using one service.

What is the best app for monitoring your credit score?

These are some of the best credit monitoring apps available.

  • CreditWise from Capital One
  • Experian
  • IdentityForce
  • PrivacyGuard
  • myFICO
  • Aura
  • Credit Karma
  • Credit Sesame

What is the best company to check your credit score?

It depends on which type of credit score you want to check. For FICO score information, use Experian or myFICO.

For VantageScore information, use:

  • Aura
  • CreditWise from Capital One
  • Credit Karma
  • Credit Sesame
  • IdentityForce
  • PrivacyGuard

Bottom line

In general, I think using multiple free credit monitoring services for complete three-bureau monitoring is the most affordable way to stay on top of things involving your credit.

However, it could make sense to use a paid service if you want additional features and protection, such as identity theft insurance and access to dedicated customer service teams. In that case, I recommend a cost-effective product like Aura that offers identity theft protection.

To stay on top of your finances, check out these ways to learn how to manage your money.

Methodology

To identify the best credit monitoring service, we compiled a list of well-known companies.

From the credit monitoring services, we picked those that offered the most value and benefits. We gathered details about pricing, plans, benefits, which credit scoring models they use, and drawbacks. Keep in mind that our list is not exhaustive. Rather, it is curated to serve as a resource for someone who is looking for the best credit monitoring programs.

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.