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How Much Is Credit Monitoring?

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Stacey Leasca

Stacey Leasca

Updated June 1, 2021
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How Much Is Credit Monitoring?; Is credit monitoring worth it? Learn more about what credit monitoring covers, what it costs, and how you can access credit reports and credit scores for free.
Without looking, can you name your credit score right now? In fact, can you remember the last time you checked your credit? Credit monitoring, which can come in paid or free form, could help.Keeping track of your financial health not only means taking a peek at your bank accounts every now and then and refreshing your budgets as you see fit, but it also means checking in on your credit reports occasionally. But is credit monitoring worth it, and do you really need it? 

What Is Credit Monitoring?

Credit monitoring services track how and where your credit is being utilized. Credit monitoring can alert you to potential fraud and gives you a heads-up on changes, including when a new account is opened, when someone checks your credit reports, or when a loan or credit card balance is paid off. Your credit reports from the three main credit reporting bureaus reflect your history of debt and payments, but they do not include your credit score—usually a number from 300 to 850 that’s based on information in a credit report. But you can get all of that information for free or with a paid service.A number of places typically offer credit monitoring, including credit bureaus, credit card issuers, banks, and independent companies. 

Who Needs Credit Monitoring?

Credit monitoring may be a good idea for any adult simply because your credit history and credit score can have a significant impact on major financial decisions, including your ability to rent or buy a home, lease or buy a car, or get a student loan, home loan, personal loan, or business line of credit.If your credit rating is in the higher range (base FICO® Scores categorize 670 to 739 as “good,” 740 to 799 as “very good,” and 800 to 850 as “exceptional”), you’re more likely to not only gain approval for loans and credit cards but also be offered more favorable terms like lower interest rates. If your credit score falls below the “good” range, you could be denied a loan or given an interest rate that feels significant because you have what is considered “fair” or “bad” credit. That can happen if someone steals your information and tanks your credit without your knowledge, but if a credit monitoring company catches the fraud quickly enough, you can dispute it and limit or avoid damage to your credit score.

What Credit Monitoring Can Do...

Different credit monitoring outfits offer a variety of services, but they likely include monitoring any hard inquiries on your credit report, which happens when you apply for a credit card or loan, or someone attempts to apply for one of those in your name. The service will also likely alert you when a new account is opened, when a name or address changes on one of your accounts, and how your credit card or loan balances are affecting your score. Some services may even track whether your personal information (including Social Security number and email address) is being traded on the dark web. 

...and What Credit Monitoring Can’t Do

While credit monitoring services can do a lot, what they can’t do is prevent identity theft or fraud completely. Yes, they will alert users to potential fraud or if they notice something fishy, but it is up to the user to take the next step and fix the issues. Credit monitoring cannot keep your information safe from all data breaches across the web. It also cannot report fraud or automatically freeze your credit for you. Credit monitoring services also do not manage your bank accounts, meaning if someone steals directly from you it may not alert you to the change. Credit monitoring services also cannot fix credit reporting issues. Again, that hard work is up to you. 

How Much Does Credit Monitoring Cost?

While reviewing credit monitoring services, you may want to consider not just cost but also how they can help with your specific needs. There are both free and paid credit monitoring services. Free credit monitoring services will give you the basics, like any hard inquiries and new accounts opened in your name. You can take a DIY approach in checking credit reports and scores.Paid credit monitoring services may include everything from fraud protection to analysis of your social media profiles. 

Paid Versions

Experian®  offers a CreditWorks℠ Premium option at $24.99 per month. With the premium plan, users get a daily update of their FICO score and Experian credit report; monthly credit reports from Experian, Equifax®, and TransUnion®; identity theft insurance; and alerts on credit inquiries.LifeLock™ offers a basic service at $99.48 a year for the first year that comes with similar credit monitoring services as well as stolen-fund reimbursement of up to $25,000. Identity Guard® provides alerts of changes by all three credit bureaus, provides a monthly credit score, offers a service to sweep your social media channels to assess your online image, and more. Its basic service is $15.99 a month. As for credit scores, you can purchase yours from the three credit bureaus or from FICO.

Free Versions

Although the paid versions come with a lot of bells and whistles, sometimes you just want the basics. Luckily, there are a number of free routes to credit reports and scores. Experian’s CreditWorks℠ Basic version will provide your FICO score and Experian credit report monthly.SoFi Relay (available on desktop or mobile) offers weekly credit score updates, money tracking, and spending breakdowns at no cost.Anyone can go to annualcreditreport.com, the federally authorized source, to get free credit reports once a year from each of the three credit bureaus. It’s a good way to get an annual snapshot of your finances, though some financial experts advise checking your credit reports monthly.You may be able to get your credit score from your financial institution, lender, or credit card company on a statement or on your online account. You can also use a free credit scoring site.

The Takeaway

Monitoring your credit is important for maintaining your financial health and ensuring that your data has not been breached. How much is credit monitoring? It starts at no cost. Paid services may monitor an array of personal details and provide fraud protection.While you’re thinking about all things credit, maybe it’s time for a new credit card.Explore the options, tailored to your credit rating, at Lantern. 
The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.SOLC0421055

About the Author

Stacey Leasca

Stacey Leasca

Stacey Leasca is a personal finance, lifestyle, and travel journalist. Her writing, photos, and videos have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Travel + Leisure, TIME, Glamour, Men's Journal, and many more. You'll usually find her in an airport or hunting for waves somewhere in the ocean.
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