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Credit Monitoring Services Compared

Credit monitoring services keep track of changes to your credit report and score and alert you via emails of any changes (such as a new account, a balance increase, a late payment or a change of address). A credit monitoring service can be useful to ensure your identity stays out of the wrong hands or as you try to improve your credit score in anticipation of getting an auto loan or mortgage.

Prices for credit monitoring services range from free to $30 a month, but not all are equal. Some focus on identify theft protection: These offer features to help in the event somebody steals your credit information, but they may not provide regular, detailed access to your credit information. Others let you access all 3 credit scores and reports upfront as well as monitor your scores going forward.

Credit Service
LifeLock — LifeLock is the premier credit monitoring and identify theft protection service, providing regular monitoring of all 3 credit bureaus and tools to help you recover in the event somebody else uses your credit profile; you also get immediate access to your 3 credit bureau reports and scores.
30-day free trial; $25 per month
CreditKarma — Credit Karma is a free, ad-supported alternative to paid credit monitoring services; they provide a free estimated credit score from TransUnion with updates if there are changes. There’s no full credit report access.
Privacy Guard — PrivacyGuard is an Equifax product that gives you your free Equifax credit score upon enrolling and 3-bureau monitoring; they offer a 14-day free trial.
14-day free trial; $19.99 per month
Protect My ID from Experian — ProtectMyID from Experian is a full-service credit monitoring and ID Theft prevention service. You get immediate access to your Experian credit report and 3-bureau monitoring, but no score.
7-day free trial; $19.95 per month — provides 3-bureau credit monitoring and immediate access to all three bureau’s credit scores; for a $1 “donation” you can also get instant access to your 3 credit reports (sites are prohibited from advertising free credit reports).
7-day free trial; $29.95 per month

How Often Should You Check Your Credit?

Although you should check your credit at least once a year, I recommend you do it more frequently. Checking your credit twice a year or quarterly is smart to make sure your credit is consistently free of errors and knowing where you stand with lenders. If you are currently working to erase errors, improve your credit score, or plan to get a mortgage in the next year, you may want to watch your credit report monthly.

Your Free Annual Credit Report

If it’s just your credit report you need (not your credit score, credit monitoring or identity theft protection), federal law gives you the right to a free copy of your credit report once a year at