Chase Credit Journey Review

Credit monitoring should be a part of your money management routine, and there are several platforms out there that can help you track and improve your credit score.

One service that you may want to consider signing up for is Chase Credit Journey.

Whether you bank with Chase or not, you could benefit from Chase’s Vantage Score 3.0 credit checks, offers, and recommendations.

In the Chase Credit Journey review below, we’ll provide you with an overview of the platform’s features and take a look at how it compares to competitors.

Table of Contents

  • About
  • How To Sign Up
  • How It Works
  • Cost
  • Features
  • Advantages
  • Disadvantages
  • Alternatives

What Is Chase Credit Journey?

Chase Credit Journey is an online credit monitoring service that is free to both Chase cardholders and those who don’t have an account with the bank.

It gives you weekly score updates, tailored credit offers, and educational tools to help you see how different financial decisions could impact your score.

Unlike some competitors, which may provide Experian and Equifax scores, Chase is operated by Transunion, meaning that’s the one score you’ll see in the app.

Also different from many other banks and credit monitoring services, Chase Credit Journey tracks your VantageScore 3.0, which can look a little different than your actual FICO credit score.

VantageScore 3.0 is gaining popularity, allowing individuals with limited or recovering credit histories to get approved for funding.

However, most lenders still use your FICO score in their decision process, and it could look quite different than the score calculated on the VantageScore 3.0 scale.

While Chase doesn’t give you your FICO score, it can still be a solid indicator of how healthy your credit is and how likely you are to get approved for various loans or credit cards.

How Do You Sign Up for Chase Credit Journey?

Chase Credit Journey makes signing up and using the app easy.

Signing up for a Chase Credit Journey account is simple and secure.

You just have to follow a few prompts and enter basic identifying information, including your:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • Social Security Number
  • Contact info

Once you create a login and go through Chase’s identity verification (a PIN or set of security questions), you’re all set.

When you create your account and enter your information, you grant Chase permission to access your TransUnion credit report.

How Does the App Work?

Chase will routinely check your report and VantageScore 3.0, which will not impact your score in any way.

Whether you’re scrolling on the desktop version or mobile app, whenever your log in, you’ll be directed to your dashboard.

The dashboard features your most recent score, the date that it will be updated again, and access to your previous scores.

It also features a breakdown of each of the six credit factors and how you’re doing in each, which can help you pinpoint ways to boost your score.

How Much Does Chase Credit Journey Cost?

With all of the services offered by the platform, you may be wondering, is Chase Credit Journey free?

The answer is yes.

While some credit monitoring services are subscription-based and offer limited functionality in their free versions, Chase offers one free comprehensive service.

You don’t even have to have a Chase bank account or credit card to get started.

Anyone can access all of Chase Credit Journey’s features with a free account. We’ll unpack all of those features below.

Chase Credit Journey Features

Chase Credit Journey comes with a range of helpful features, which not only track your credit score, but also help you to improve it and borrow successfully in the future.

Credit Score

As mentioned above, Chase provides you with a weekly updated version of your TransUnion credit score.

The TransUnion model uses the following 6 factors to calculate your score, listed from most impactful to least:

  • Late payments: Your payment history is the biggest factor, with derogatory marks hurting your score. This component of your score can even be affected by how many accounts you have open.
  • Oldest account: The age of your credit is another important factor, and the TransUnion model weights the age of your oldest credit card account heavily.
  • Credit use: Your credit utilization rate is the next most significant factor. It’s simply the amount of available credit you use monthly.
  • Total balances: Simply put, it’s the amount of money you owe all your lenders across every account.
  • Hard inquiries: Your score also factors in the number of hard credit checks that have been run on your report, which can happen when you apply for a loan, credit card, or even a job or a new apartment.
  • Available credit: Similar to credit utilization, available credit is simply the dollar amount of credit that’s available to you that you don’t use.

You can select any one of these six factors from your Chase dashboard to see how much impact they have, how you’re doing, and to get an overview of your credit usage in that category.

For instance, you can see the number of late payments on your report, the number of hard inquiries, the percentage of credit you’re using, and the age of your oldest account.

Credit Alerts

If your credit report changes in any way, you can expect to get an email alert from Chase Credit Journey.

This includes changes like:

  • A hard or soft inquiry
  • New account
  • Late payment
  • Collections
  • Update to your credit limit
  • A significant change to your credit utilization or balance
  • Public records such as bankruptcy or foreclosure
  • Change of address

Chase also sends alerts for positive changes, like reducing your balances or reaching other milestones to improve your credit score.

Chase automatically updates you on changes like the ones above, but you can tweak your alert settings if you’d like to get fewer updates.

These real-time alerts can be a lifesaver if you’re a victim of identity theft or subject to a reporting error.

The app even links you to appropriate places for filing a dispute.

Score Simulator

Chase’s Score Simulator is a handy tool that lets you play around with your credit usage to see how different financial choices might affect your score.

For instance, you can simulate the following scenarios to see the effects:

  • Adding a new credit card, installment loan, or mortgage
  • Increases your credit limit or utilization
  • Getting rejected for a loan application
  • Missing a payment
  • Paying off credit cards
  • Transferring your balance to a new credit card
  • Maxing out a card
  • Declaring bankruptcy
  • Making timely payments for a set amount of months

While it might not be the most accurate indicator, and your actual FICO score will look different than the Vantage Score 3.0. one, the simulator can give you a general idea of how different scenarios could affect your credit.

Product Offers

In addition to tracking your score and keeping you in the loop, Chase also gives you credit card, mortgage, and loan offers.

They also show your approval odds for each card, based on your score and credit factors.

As far as credit cards are concerned, you can choose between business and personal cards.

From there, Chase presents you with a list of the best cards for you, with reviews, approval odds, and a link to apply for each.

The only potential drawback to being mindful of is that Chase only promotes its own cards. That means you won’t see any options from competitors.

Say, for instance, that you are an entrepreneur recovering from bankruptcy or a college student with no credit history to stand on, and you’re looking for a secured credit card for people with poor credit.

Chase may have an offer for you, but it could be wise to do a bit more research to see if there are more rewarding options elsewhere.

Educational Resources

Chase has a wealth of knowledge about building and utilizing credit to meet your goals, and it shares all of it with people who use the Chase Credit Journey platform.

Their education center has helpful resources for:

  • Building your credit
  • Basics of credit reporting
  • Credit myths
  • How your score is calculated
  • How credit inquiries work
  • How to raise your score

Advantages of Chase Credit Journey

There’s a lot to love about Chase’s free credit monitoring platform. Here are a few of our favorite features:

  • Free service: Your credit score and all of Chase’s other great features are completely free, whether you bank with Chase or don’t.
  • Frequent credit checks: Your score is updated weekly, ensuring you stay on top of any changes that might occur.
  • Score simulator: The simulator tool really stands out, letting you easily change several variables to see how you can improve your score.
  • User experience: Using Credit Journey is a breeze. You can easily navigate through the interactive content on the mobile and desktop versions.

Disadvantages of Chase Credit Journey

Like all services, Chase Credit Journey does come with a few potential drawbacks.

  • VantageScore: While VantageScore 3.0 is a useful scoring model, it isn’t used by lenders as much as your FICO score.
  • One score: Along those lines, Chase only provides you with your TransUnion score, so you’ll have to subscribe to another service to track your Experian and Equifax scores.
  • Limited offers: Chase only provides you with their own credit card offers, while other credit monitoring services give you offers from multiple creditors.

Alternatives to Chase Credit Journey

Chase Credit Journey is a good credit monitoring service, but it’s far from your only choice.

Whether you’re looking for an app that tracks your FICO score or one that gives you more expansive card offers, take a look at the top free alternatives to Chase below:

  • Experian: With free access to your Experian score and alerts, Experian could be worth adding to your toolbox. You can also upgrade to see all your scores for a low monthly price.
  • Credit Sesame: Another free service, Credit Sesame gives you your Experian score and loads of credit card offers from various lenders and creditors.
  • Credit Karma: Credit Karma has the best of both worlds, showing you your Equifax and TransUnion scores, along with alerts, card offers, and tools.

Should You Sign Up for Chase Credit Journey?

If you’re looking for weekly monitoring of your TransUnion score and access to free resources to help you build your credit, all on an app that’s well-designed and easy-to-use, Chase Credit Journey is a good call.

It’s completely free to use and accessible to Chase customers and non-customers, so there’s no harm in signing up.

For Chase bankers, the service is a no-brainer as it’s integrated with your Chase account. For everyone else, it could be a useful tool.

Whether you should choose Chase, a competitor, or a combination of credit monitoring services depends on the features you’re looking for.

Sign up for a free account today to see if Chase Credit Journey could help you.

credit sesame logo

Credit Sesame Review

Free credit score reporting and monitoring services are cropping up all over, but some question whether these up-and-coming platforms are a scam.

We’ve compiled this Credit Sesame review to answer some of your questions regarding these newly offered services.

Table of Contents:

  • Credit Sesame Offers
  • Pros & Cons
  • Is Credit Sesame Safe?
  • Credit Sesame Cost
  • Is Credit Sesame For You?

What is Credit Sesame?

credit sesame logoCredit Sesame is a credit reporting and monitoring platform that offers both free and paid services.

The company was founded in 2010 and is currently based out of Mountain View, California.

They have received many accolades, including recognition from Forbes and the Wall Street Journal.

Today, Credit Sesame has over 6 million subscribers. These members receive not only credit monitoring, but credit score reports, financial advice, and anti-identity theft protection.

Credit Sesame claims that their financial analyses are based on the methods of UC Berkley scientists.

What Does Credit Sesame Offer?

Credit Sesame offers free credit monitoring and monthly credit scores through TransUnion, one of three credit reporting bureaus. Credit Sesame can help you understand how your credit score is calculated.

Credit Sesame offers 4 plans:

  1. Free Membership
  2. Advanced Credit
  3. Pro Credit
  4. Platinum Protection

Free Membership

When you sign up for the Free Membership with Credit Sesmae you will get 1 bureau monthly credit score update and 1 bureau credit monitoring with alerts.

Advanced Credit

When you sign up for the Advanced Credit plan with Credit Sesame you will be charged $9.95 per month.

You will get the same benefits of the free membership plus you will also get 1 bureau DAILY credit score updates, 3 bureau monthly credit score updates and 3 bureau monthly full credit reports.

Pro Credit

When you sign up for the Pro Credit plan with Credit Sesame you will be charged $15.95 per month, and they advertise this plan as being their “Best Value”.

You will get all the benefits of the free membership, the advanced credit membership plus you will also get 3 bureau credit monitoring with alerts and 24/7 access to live experts to help you solve any credit report inaccuracies you may come across.

Platinum Protection

When you sign up for the Platinum Protection Plan with Credit Sesame you will be charged $19.95 per month.

You will get all the benefits from the free membership, the advanced credit plan, the pro credit plan plus you will also get 24/7 access to live experts to help you with stolen or lost wallet issues, black market website monitoring, public record monitoring, and social security number monitoring.

Protect Your Credit Today

Pros and Cons of Credit Sesame

Pros:

  • Useful Interface: The interface uses helpful visuals that show how your score is divided between your payment history, credit utilization, credit inquiries, your age, and the make-up of your different existing accounts.
  • Identity Theft Insurance: One unique feature of Credit Sesame is that they offer identity theft insurance of up to $50,000, even to their free subscribers. This provision proves the company’s faith in its ability to protect you against fraud and identity theft.
  • Suspicious Activity Alerts: Credit Sesame will give its subscribers alerts against suspicious activity that could be the result of identity theft so that they can take action as quickly as possible. They also offer the Credit Sesame app, as well. Some prefer this mobile application for its easy use, though subscribers will find many more features available on the desktop version.
  • Monthly Credit Score Report: Credit Sesame provides a monthly credit score report that will rate your credit standing on the Vantage scale. It will give you a helpful breakdown to see how much you owe and what dollar amount and percentage of your income you need to pay to keep a healthy financial status. Credit Sesame also offers tips to improve your credit score, based on your unique situation.

Cons:

  • Not Many Options For the Free Membership: While premium credit sesame users have access to reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, free subscriptions only receive reports from TransUnion. This is one drawback to Credit Sesame. FICO scores are pulled most frequently by lenders, and a TransUnion report alone does not adequately express how you’ll rank in this scoring model.

Is Credit Sesame Safe?

Yes. Credit Sesame has been certified by MacAfee, Norton, and eTrust, and is under 24-hour watch. Their security methods are similar to those of banks and online government databases.

Credit Sesame will ask for information such as your full legal name, age, phone number, your current address, and any previous residence in the last six months.

You will only provide them with the last four digits of your social security number.

Credit Sesame does not share your information with any third-party vendors. They are an accredited, award-winning business with over 6 million subscribers. If you are thinking to join Credit Sesame, you can rest assured that it is a safe program and not a scam.

Is Credit Sesame Free?

Yes, Credit Sesame does offer a free membership. If you sign up for their services, you will not be asked to give your credit card information or to subscribe to a trial.

However, Credit Sesame keeps itself running through premium and platinum services.

If you decide to upgrade, you will have access to some additional features. The premium subscription includes credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, giving you the most accurate numbers possible.

Platinum protection will keep watch on your personal information, including your social security number, and will alert you to any activity on black market websites that uses your personal information.

Should You Use Credit Sesame?

Credit Sesame has received a positive review from several notable sources, including Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and The Times.

Credit Sesame’s data security has been affirmed by Norton, MacAfee, and eTrust to ensure a level of excellence in your identity theft protection.

In short, if you’re looking to be more aware of your financial situation based on your credit, Credit Sesame is an excellent—and potentially no-cost—option.

Credit Karma Review

Checking your credit score has become easier and more affordable.

Several credit monitoring platforms, including Credit Karma, offer free credit scores.

In this Credit Karma review, we’ll look at the most common questions people ask about this free service.

Table of Contents:

  • What is Credit Karma?
  • Products
  • Cost
  • Pros & Cons
  • Safety & Security

What is Credit Karma?

San Francisco-based Credit Karma is an app and website that provides subscribers with free credit scores and free access to some of their credit report data.

But Credit Karma offers more than just a free credit score. This service can also help you better understand what kind of data creates your credit score.

With this kind of knowledge, you can start improving your credit history which can help you lower interest rates on future loans.

Credit Karma can also help subscribers avoid (and resolve) identity theft.

What Does Credit Karma Offer?

As a Credit Karma member you’ll get access to a variety of helpful data:

Credit Reports

Credit Karma offers its members credit scores and credit report data from TransUnion and Equifax, two major credit bureaus.

Then it calculates your credit score using the VantageScore 3.0 credit scoring model.

(Credit Karma does not pull data from Experian, the other major credit bureau.)

You won’t be able to read your credit reports verbatim, but you can see data pulled from your reports.

The data will be organized into categories like payment history and available credit.

In many ways, seeing your data organized this way it actually a lot easier than scrolling through an entire credit report.

However, you can also see your full credit report from all three credit bureaus by visiting annualcreditreport.com.

Monitor Credit Inquiries

Credit Karma also helps you monitor inquiries on your credit

Credit inquiries happen whenever you apply for new credit (hard inquiries) or check your own credit score (soft inquiries).

Hard inquiries require your consent. They happen when you apply for a loan or place a security deposit on an apartment or a house.

Through Credit Karma, you can track when your credit has been pulled as a hard inquiry.

This can be super helpful because if you didn’t consent to the hard inquiry, someone else may be using your identity to open a new credit card account.

Credit Karma itself uses soft credit inquiries to gather the information it provides you, so using this app will not adversely affect your good credit scores.

Free Credit Scores Daily

Some platforms may show your free credit score once a month or once a year, but Credit Karma will display your TransUnion and Equifax scores any time you tap the app or log into your account online.

This access to your score can become a first line of defense against identity theft or errors on your credit report.

If you see a sudden drop in your credit scores, you’ll know to look deeper and find out what’s going on with your credit profile.

Help with Identity Theft

Credit monitoring will help you defend yourself against identity theft, but credit monitoring isn’t always enough.

Once you detect a problem you have to take immediate action to protect your credit information.

Credit Karma can walk you through the steps you need to take if you do become an identity theft victim.

Credit Score Simulator

I especially like Credit Karma’s credit score simulator. This service helps you see how a personal finance decision could affect your score.

The simulator is purely hypothetical and not exact, but it could still help you understand the potential credit impact of a personal finance decision.

You could see how getting a certain personal loan, balance transfer credit card, or auto loan would affect your score or how much your score would increase if you paid off your student loans.

Credit Karma’s credit score simulator is fun to use. You can experiment by trial and error without experiencing any of the actual, real-life negative effects of a bad decision.

Credit Score Comparison

Here’s another interesting feature: Credit Karma can compare your credit scores with scores of other anonymous subscribers who are also in your age and income categories.

You can see how your Credit Karma score stands compared to existing averages.

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Other Credit Karma Services

Along with free credit monitoring, Creditkarma.com has a few other tools of note.

As a member, you’d be under no obligation to use or open these Credit Karma accounts, but they’re nice to know about:

  • Auto Insurance Rate Finder: You can see auto insurance quotes through Credit Karma but this service doesn’t add much value when you’re shopping for coverage.
  • Credit Karma Tax Service: Credit Karma now has an online tax prep service designed to compete with TurboTax, H&R Block, and other leading tax filing platforms. You could file your tax return for free even if you’re a freelancer who doesn’t get W2s from an employer.
  • Credit Karma Savings: This bank account pays online-bank caliber savings rates. Right now, in the current low-interest rate climate, the rate isn’t super impressive. But it remains competitive with other high-interest savings accounts. Plus, the account charges no fees and there’s no minimum balance requirement. You’d have to connect the account to one of your other bank or credit union accounts to withdraw or deposit money. Some customers have reported technical problems when withdrawing their money.

Is Credit Karma Free?

Yes, Credit Karma is completely free to its subscribers.

You won’t be asked to enter your credit card information to register.

There is no free trial involved that may charge you if you do not unsubscribe.

The Credit Karma free credit score offer is not a scam.

But you will have to enter your Social Security number and the system will ask for your phone number and an email address.

The service pledges that it will never sell your contact information or other personal data.

How Does Credit Karma Make Money?

Credit Karma’s free credit reports and free credit monitoring are possible because of advertisements.

Banks pay Credit Karma to advertise new loan and credit card offers you could qualify for, based on your information that’s recorded on the site.

While this may seem alarming at first, this business model is used by a variety of companies and is very similar to how Facebook uses your information to send you targeted ads.

Credit Karma does not share your data with third parties.

Credit Karma also receives a commission when you take a new loan or sign up for a credit card with one of its partner companies.

These companies benefit from economized marketing.

Credit Sesame, another free credit monitoring company that competes with Credit Karma, works the same way.

Pros and Cons of Credit Karma

Pros:

  • It’s user-friendly: Your credit scores from TransUnion and Equifax are presented in a graph on your account dashboard when you sign in. The credit simulator also helps visual learners see how their debt repayment or borrowing decisions could affect their credit scores.
  • Daily Credit Score: While other platforms may restrict your access to a free credit score to once a year, Credit Karma will show your scores whenever you like. When you’re trying to improve bad credit or monitor your credit use, seeing your score on demand helps a lot.
  • Bonus Financial Services: You can use Credit Karma’s tax service or online savings account free of charge. While you can also find these same financial products elsewhere, some users like using the same platform for multiple features.

Cons:

  • Won’t provide FICO scores: Credit Karma provides data and credit scores from Equifax and TransUnion using the VantageScore 3.0 credit scoring model. This can provide a lot of insight, but most lenders will check your FICO score which could be different. Still, your VantageScore 3.0 score will follow the same trend lines as your FICO score. Incidentally, Credit Sesame also uses the Vantagescore 3.0 model.
  • Advertisements: Ads make Credit Karma’s business model possible, but they can also annoy users. Just know that you should always make your own decisions about new loans, refinances, and credit card offers. You’ll see a lot of ads, but ultimately that’s a small price to pay for contact access to your credit scores.

Credit Karma Safety and Security

Should Credit Karma users worry about a data breach? After all, this platform has millions of Social Security numbers in its database, right?

Credit Karma assures its customers their data is safe thanks to the platform’s 128-bit encryption system with 24/7 monitoring. This level of security is the industry standard for financial services.

Because of some security problems on Credit Karma’s mobile app, the federal government has required that the company turn in security reports every two years until 2034. This works out well for users concerned about a data breach.

Also, you should know Credit Karma does not store your Social Security number. It does store the last four digits of your number so it can pull soft credit inquiries when you check your scores.

Why Should You Use Credit Karma?

You’ll want to know your credit score before applying for a new loan, and Credit Karma offers a free and simple way to track or score from two credit reporting agencies.

Even if you don’t use Credit Karma or its competitor, Credit Sesame, you should find another way to monitor your credit score so you can protect yourself against any discrepancies as to the result of an error or identity theft.

If you don’t mind an ad or two and some affiliate offers, Credit Karma is a superb—and free—way to monitor your credit.

how to freeze your credit

How to Freeze Your Credit

Your personal data is everywhere these days. And now that data breaches have become a regular event, you have to do what’s needed to protect yourself.

While there is no absolute way to fully protect your identity, there are strategies you can employ to minimize the damage.

One way to do this is to freeze your credit. But then “how to freeze your credit” becomes the question.

Before we get into the mechanics of how to put a freeze on your credit, let’s first discuss the reasons why it’s a good strategy to protect your identity.

Table of Contents:

  • Why You Might Need to Freeze Your Credit
  • How to Put a Freeze on Your Credit
  • Who Still Has Access to Your Credit Even if You Freeze It?
  • Pros & Cons of Freezing Your Credit
  • How To Unfreeze Your Credit
  • FAQ

Why You Might Need to Freeze Your Credit

You should consider freezing your credit if you’ve already been a victim of identity theft or if any sensitive financial information has been compromised. That might include a fraudulent charge on an existing credit card or suspicious bank account activity.

There’s not much you can do to keep a thief from getting your personal information. All they need is your name, address, and a significant number. That can be a birthday, an existing account number, your driver’s license number, or the most important of all numbers, your Social Security number. This is why it is so important to actively monitor your credit.

Armed with this information, a thief can attempt to access one or more of your existing accounts, and either run up more debt or drain an account of funds. He or she can also use the information to impersonate you.

It would then be possible to apply for new credit in your name, gain employment, or even file a fraudulent tax return to obtain a bogus refund.

A credit freeze won’t protect you from all possibilities, but it will prevent a thief from opening new accounts in your name. That alone will protect you from the most common identity theft outcomes.

With a credit freeze, the credit bureau will contact you before issuing any information. That will usually be done by a direct call to the phone number you put on record. That will give you an opportunity to tell the credit bureau that you did not authorize the pull, alerting them that they’re dealing with a potential fraud situation.

Even with a credit freeze, your credit report will continue to function normally. Credit information will be reported, including your monthly payments and other information. Your credit score will continue to be generated.

And you yourself will have access to both your credit report and your credit score.

How to Put a Freeze On Your Credit

In the wake of the many recent data breaches, the process of how to put a freeze on your credit is now easier than ever. And it can be done free of charge.

Provide Identification

To put a freeze in place, you’ll need to provide sufficient identification to verify your identity. The credit reporting company will then give you a personal ID number or password so you can access your credit report going forward.

Complete an Application Online or by Phone

You can complete the application online, or by phone.

If it’s done by phone, you’ll need to provide:

  • your full name
  • date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • complete addresses for the past two years
  • copy of a government-issued ID card, such as a driver’s license
  • copy of the utility bill
  • copy of a bank statement (or some other documentation verifying your current address is valid)

Your personal identification number will be given once the credit freeze is in place.

For the freeze to be effective, you’ll need to do it through each of the three major credit bureaus:

  • Experian: Online at the Experian Freeze Center, or by phone at 1(888)397-3742
  • TransUnion: Online at the FCRA Free Freeze webpage, or by phone at 1(888)909-8872
  • Equifax: Online at myEquifax, or by phone at 1(800) 349-9960

how to freeze your credit

Who Still Has Access to Your Credit Even if You Freeze It?

A credit freeze serves primarily to keep unauthorized parties from accessing your credit report. It won’t prevent authorized parties from accessing your report.

Obviously, you will still be able to access your credit report. The other parties with access include:

  • Current creditors
  • Government agencies, in circumstances permitted by law
  • Your current employer, if you’ve already granted them access to your report

And once again, the actual flow of your credit report will continue as usual. That includes reporting of payment information, public records, and other information that normally flows to a credit report. The credit reporting agencies have arrangements with your active creditors to report this information, and that is not affected by the freeze.

Put another way, a credit freeze only blocks access to your credit report from new parties. But it doesn’t stop the flow of information into the report by creditors and other agencies with whom you have an ongoing business relationship.

The Pros and Cons of Freezing Your Credit

Pros:

  • A freeze will prevent any new accounts from being opened in your name without your direct and consent.
  • It won’t interfere with any existing credit arrangements, or any other third-parties directly authorized by you to access your credit.
  • Because credit bureaus will be required to contact you anytime your credit report might be accessed, you’ll know if your identity has been compromised. You can then take steps to minimize the damage, such as contacting existing creditors and other financial institutions.
  • A credit freeze will remain in place until you remove it.
  • You will have the ability to temporarily unfreeze your credit if you are applying for financing, employment, or any other purpose.
  • Freezing your credit is a free service by each of the three major credit bureaus.

Cons:

  • A credit freeze won’t protect you from all potential identity theft outcomes.
  • If a potential breach is identified as a result of the freeze, you will need to take action personally to limit the damage. This will include contacting financial institutions and lenders you already work with.
  • When you freeze your credit, your own ability to apply for credit, a financial account, or a job will be inconvenient. You’ll need to temporarily unfreeze your credit each time you do (see next section).
  • There is generally a fee to temporarily unfreeze your credit report.

How to Unfreeze Your Credit

You’ll need to unfreeze your credit report anytime you plan to apply for credit, including credit cards, student loans, auto loans, mortgages, or other installment debt.

You may also need to unfreeze it if you’re applying for a new job, or even for certain insurance policies. Unless you do, the parties you’re making an application with will not be able to access your report.

Once you enact a credit freeze it can last indefinitely. However, you can choose to lift the freeze, either permanently or temporarily.

Contact Each Credit Bureau

To do so, you’ll need to contact each of the 3 credit bureaus individually. Much as you did when you placed the credit freeze, you’ll need to provide identifying information to unfreeze it.

But you’ll also need to supply the personal ID number provided to you by the credit bureau at the time you froze the report.

  • Experian: 1(888)397-3742
  • TransUnion: 1(888)909-8872
  • Equifax: 1(800) 349-9960

Pay a Fee to Lift the Freeze

Unfortunately, while placing a credit freeze is done free of charge, you’ll need to pay a fee each time the freeze is lifted. That fee may be as high as $20 per lift. But it will give an intended third-party vital access to your credit report when necessary for your own purposes.

Credit freezes may be somewhat inconvenient, and they’re not 100% foolproof. But it’s worth having as a general identity theft protection strategy, knowing you can unfreeze it and refreeze it when it’s necessary for your own purposes.

FAQ

Is freezing your credit a good idea?

It all depends on your financial situation and if you feel you are at risk for identity theft. You should consider freezing your credit if you’ve already been a victim of identity theft or if any sensitive financial information has been compromised.

How much does it cost to do a credit freeze?

Placing a freeze on your credit is done free of charge. Unfortunately, lifting the freeze can cost you up to $20.

How long does a credit freeze last?

Once you enact a credit freeze it can last indefinitely. However, you can choose to lift the freeze, either permanently or temporarily.

Do I need to freeze all three credit bureaus?

For a credit freeze to be effective, you’ll need to do it through each of the three major credit bureaus:

  1. Experian: 1(888)397-3742
  2. TransUnion: 1(888)909-8872
  3. Equifax: 1(800) 349-9960

myFICO Review

When it comes to keeping your personal finance assets safe, a reliable credit monitoring service can provide invaluable peace of mind.

Although myFICO and other similar services come at a price, they’re well worth considering if you want to keep tabs on everything related to your credit, hopefully thwarting any future id theft attempts.

Over fifty years of experience in the credit reporting industry ensures there are plenty of reasons to keep myFICO credit monitoring in mind if you’re in the market for a credit reporting service.

By using a myfico subscription, you are able to monitor the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.

Table of Contents

  • About myFICO
  • Services Offered
  • Advantages
  • Cost

What is myFICO?

myFICO.com is a comprehensive credit monitoring service and is the consumer division of FICO, which also offers high-quality educational tools and materials to its users. It is a paid service and not a scam.

It’s run by the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), a world leader in credit reporting tools.

The FICO Score versions are used by lenders to decipher your creditworthiness before issuing you as a borrower a credit card, new car loan, or any other loan type.

The higher your FICO score 8, the more likely the credit card issuer will offer a low-interest rate.

Bottom line, the wide range of services, useful features, and the excellent reputation of myFICO are all factors that make this a highly recommended service.

What Services Are Offered By myFICO?

When paying for any service, it’s important to know what you’ll get for your money.

Fortunately, myFICO offers a range of different credit-related services from $19.95 to $39.95 per month.

The price is a bit higher than some of their competitors, but it evens out when you consider the extent of what they offer.

Does myFICO Offer Triple-Bureau Reports?

myFICO is one of the few companies which offers users the ability to access their bureau credit monitoring reports.

This 3B subscription service also provides credit monitoring on each of these reports, a feature that you’d be hard-pressed to find when shopping around for similar services.

Beyond the credit reports, this service also provides insight into how to improve your current credit score; by providing users with access to tools, like a credit score simulator, to quickly formulate future financial decisions.

myFICO offers Identity Theft Protection

Along with the other aspects of the Ultimate 3B subscription, myFICO also includes comprehensive identity theft protection.

This feature scans a variety of information sources, such as Blackmarket sites and other databases, to see if your personal information, like your social security number, appears without your consent.

You can have instant notifications sent to yourself via email, SMS, or the app if they discover any wrongful use of your identity.

As if that wasn’t thorough enough, myFICO also provides up to $1 million in identity theft insurance, lost wallet protection, and 24/7 identity theft restoration.

This comprehensive service, with the insurance, provides even the most worrisome customers with peace of mind against the threat of identity theft.

Credit Score Simulator

Making a major financial decision can be difficult when you’re not exactly sure how it’s going to affect your credit score.

Fortunately, myFICO’s credit score simulator can help you to plan while keeping your credit in check.

Does myFICO have a Mobile App?

Whether you’re an Apple user or an Android user, the myFICO mobile app works well for both platforms.

One of the best parts of this application is that it provides nearly the same functionality and accessibility as their website.

On top of giving users access to most aspects of their services, it’s easy to use.

It can also be customized only to send certain notifications if you prefer, to minimize the number of alerts that you receive.

What Are Some Advantages to Using myFICO?

Besides the range of excellent services myFICO has on offer, there are also some less obvious advantages to using it which you shouldn’t overlook.

Reputation 

When it comes to choosing any kind of credit service, trust and reputation are incredibly important factors.

myFICO not only has relatively few complaints when viewed alongside its competitors, but it also has a track record of efficient, above-board customer service that traces back for decades.

myFICO has built up a trustworthy reputation free of any major scandals, and this is commendable when you consider that the credit industry is notorious for scammers and identity thieves.

Access to True FICO Credit Scores 

myFICO offers its customers FICO 8 as well as the other most popular versions of their credit score.

In total, they offer 19 different ratings as well as detailed information on what the score means, what it pertains to, and how to increase it.

Few services offer such an all-encompassing view of your credit score in such a practical format.

myFICO Forums Make Learning Easy

If you don’t have much experience when it comes to your credit, it always helps to have a community that you can turn to for advice or opinions.

myFICO’s online forums are extremely active, and they have been a source of support and information for myFICO clients for several years.

Easy-To-Use Interface 

When you already have enough questions related to understanding your credit situation, the last thing you need is an intuitive website that is difficult to navigate.

Fortunately, myFICO’s website and app have both received top marks when it comes to being easy to use. This way, you spend more time taking care of business and less time on technology-related frustrations.

What Sets myFICO Apart from Other Similar Services?

One of the major features which many myFICO customers love is the three-bureau reports included in the 3B subscription service.

It’s one of the few credit reporting services to offer such a comprehensive view, which shows reports from all three of the credit reporting agencies.

This popular service is included in both the basic and premium packages.

Security is another major plus point to consider when you look at the myFICO offering.

Accredited by the Better Business Bureau, this company has an A+ rating and has maintained this high standard of customer satisfaction in the credit industry for over half a century.

There have been no scandals or data breaches over the years, so it’s no wonder so many customers continue to trust myFICO with their credit reporting.

How Much Does myFICO Cost?

Admittedly, myFICO is a bit more expensive than comparable services. The range and quality of services, however, leaves no room for doubt.

No myFICO customer needs to question where their money is going when paying for premium services.

The price breakdown is as follows:

  • The FICO Basic plan: $19.95 and includes one credit bureau coverage (Experian only), monthly updates, scores for auto loans, mortgages, and more, credit monitoring, a credit report, FICO Score simulator, true FICO Score. With this plan you also receive lost wallet protection, 24/7 credit restoration, and the $1 Million insurance policy.
  • The FICO Advanced plan $29.95 and includes three complete credit bureau coverage updates every three months, and everything offered in the basic plan. It almost offers the above id monitoring, but also adds social security number scans and dark web monitoring.
  • The FICO’s Premier plan: $39.95 and includes everything in the Basic and Advanced Plans, but also includes three complete credit bureau coverage with monthly updates to 28 FICO Score options and all the above id theft monitoring services.

FICO’s Identity Ultimate is the option that will currently get you the most bang for your buck.

It offers comprehensive services for every aspect of credit bureau monitoring, identity theft protection, and credit monitoring.

Although the subscription does renew automatically, users also have the freedom to cancel any time they want to.

If you don’t want to do a monthly subscription service, you can buy a one-time report of one credit bureau for $19.95 or all three for $59.85.

Why Choose myFICO?

When it comes to credit monitoring and keeping tabs on every aspect of your credit, myFICO is the leader in providing top services and customer satisfaction.

If you’re the type of customer who is willing to pay a bit more to receive higher-quality credit services myFICO is for you.

Their top-notch services, comprehensive insights, easy to use interface, useful tools, and educational resources make myFICO a great choice for just about anyone.

As a general disclaimer, you are entitled to a one-time free credit report by law (annualcreditreport.com or Credit Karma), but through using a credit monitoring service, you have access to multiple safeguards including identity theft monitoring, access to your credit history, and even identity restoration.

AnnualCreditReport.com Review

Personal Finance isn’t exactly the most exhilarating of topics, however keeping up with your FICO score as reported by the three credit reporting bureaus (Experian, Equifax, or Transunion), whether you have a good credit history or shaky credit accounts, is vital.

Those very same major credit bureaus help determine whether or not you can qualify for good credit card interest rates or loan rates.

In fact, paying attention to your credit file is vital now more than ever, with identity theft rates high especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shopping around for a credit reporting company to provide you with a credit report can seem like an unnecessary expense, especially if you’re only interested in checking your score once a year.

Fortunately, www.AnnualCreditReport.com is there to provide you with a free credit report once every twelve months.

For the unbeatable price of $0.00, this website is perfect for somebody who is only interested in the absolute basics of credit reporting.

What is AnnualCreditReport.com?

The Annual Credit Report is officially recognized by both the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission (www.FTC.gov).

So, AnnualCreditReport.com is the only site which is obligated by federal law (FCRA-Fair Credit Reporting Act) to provide users with a free annual credit report from:

  1. Equifax
  2. Experian
  3. TransUnion

The website is managed and maintained by Central Source LLC, an Atlanta-based joint venture between the three relevant credit unions.

How Do I Use AnnualCreditReport.com?

All you need to do to get a free copy of your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com is to provide some personal information when you fill out the free credit report request form.

These details include:

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Residential Address

This information is merely to confirm you are who you claim to be, to prevent your credit information falling into the wrong hands and opening up a new credit account in your name.

Many people fear giving out their personal information online so as not to fall victim to an identity theft scam, but AnnualCreditReport.com has an outstanding reputation for being dependable and safe.

Upon confirming your identity, AnnualCreditReport.com will lead you to the relevant website of the credit company whose report you wish to view.

In some cases, you may not have an adequate credit trail to confirm the authenticity of your identity on the spot.

If this occurs, you’ll have to wait to receive your credit report by mail rather than being able to view it instantly online.

Other than that, AnnualCreditReport.com doesn’t get much more complicated. There’s no sifting through different price packages and products because the annual credit report is the only service they offer.

If you like to keep things simple, and only need the most basic information on a personal credit score, this service is an excellent choice.

What Services Are Offered?

Since AnnualCreditReport.com is entirely free of charge, the credit reporting platform and the services that it offers are pretty minimal.

As such, the single service that it provides is a free annual credit report from the three primary credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Although it doesn’t come with the bells and whistles like some other credit monitoring services, it’s tough to argue with the fact that it’s something for nothing.

If you are wondering what is included in the basic free credit score when you sign up for the AnnualCreditReport.com service, it’s surprisingly comprehensive.

You can expect to receive:

  • A list of your previous loans
  • Current credit limits
  • Payment history
  • Credit information which falls part of the public record

Unfortunately, this service does not include any credit score to speak of, nor credit monitoring services, and identity theft services. They do provide some resources on the subject of identity theft and credit safety.

You’re better off signing up for a paid service, however, if you wish to have these included as part of the package.

Advantages of AnnualCreditReport.com

It’s FREE

First and foremost, the fact that AnnualCreditReport.com is a totally free service is a tough point to disclaim.

Individuals may wish to take advantage of constant credit monitoring, extremely detailed reports, and identity theft insurance.

Others, though, prefer a minimalistic approach, keeping track of their own details. It’s free, it’s uncomplicated, and it’s easy to use.

Owned By the 3 Primary Credit Agencies

The service is owned by the three primary credit agencies:  Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

The convenient partnership provides you the option to request a single report from one of the companies any time.

That way, you can monitor your credit throughout the year rather than getting three reports at one time.

It’s a smart way to get the most bang for your buck, even though you’re technically not paying a cent for it.

What Sets AnnualCreditReport.com Apart?

As mentioned previously, the price point is the one major factor that sets AnnualCreditReport.com apart from other credit reporting services.

Unfortunately, AnnualCreditReport.com doesn’t offer any services other than the annual credit report.

It is one drawback to those who wish to have a more comprehensive view of their credit situation.

The service also does not have any form of live customer support, so if you run into any issues, you’ll have to communicate via their website’s contact form. Another common complaint can also be an advantage.

They are so careful with your information that it is incredibly difficult to get into your account if you cannot remember the security questions. Write them down somewhere safe just in case.

Despite its drawbacks, AnnualCreditReport.com is an official government resource. It was mandated federally as a provision of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) in 2003.

It is government-sanctioned, therefore, and an excellent way to get access to your credit information.

AnnualCreditReport.com Reputation

Since it is a free government-sanctioned service, AnnualCreditReport.com is definitely a reputable source of credit information. It should not elicit any fears of being cheated or scammed.

Since the services are basic, and limited to the essential credit reporting functions, it certainly leaves a lot to be desired. However, it’s tough to rightfully expect a lot when you aren’t required to pay anything.

Although it is a reputable credit reporting service, AnnualCreditReport.com has received a handful of valid complaints from its users. Specifically, several users have reported that the identity verification process can be confusing and frustrating.

In defense of the website, this is because identity safety is paramount, and specific protocols need to be in place to ensure the safety of users’ information.

All things considered, AnnualCreditReport.com is great for what it is. It’s the perfect way to get a basic look at your credit from a trustworthy website.

You don’t have to pay a penny, your information will be kept safe, and you can have an idea where your credit stands from year to year.

AnnualCreditReport.com Contact Information

Their contact information is listed here for you:

  • Address: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
  • Phone Number: No phone number is listed on their website.
  • Website: www.annualcreditreport.com

Should I Use AnnualCreditReport.com?

AnnualCreditReport.com is the perfect option for somebody who wants to get a basic annual snapshot of their credit from year to year.

There are plenty of specialized credit-reporting services, but AnnualCreditReport.com is for you if you prefer to go with a minimalistic approach to monitoring your credit.

You should use this service if you aren’t interested in paying for special features or constant credit monitoring, but also be prepared to go through an online identification process which may not be completely obvious and straightforward the first time around.

If you prefer the extra security net of identity theft insurance, constant monitoring, and a definitive credit score, then AnnualCreditReport.com is not for you.

There are plenty of paid services that offer these specific add-ons, but AnnualCreditReport.com doesn’t have any kind of premium or paid option available.

Avoid this service if you take your credit monitoring seriously and wish to go the extra mile to keep track of your credit.

For what it is, you can’t beat AnnualCreditReport.com. It was mandated by the federal government so that everyone has the resources to check in on their credit annually.

The website does a phenomenal job of providing bare-bones credit reporting to its users at a price that literally anyone can afford.

Fair Credit Reporting Act

Using a credit card is easy — you use the card to buy things and then pay the credit card bill.

A credit card can sometimes be difficult, however, when dealing with your credit file.

From a  missed payment to a loan that isn’t yours that’s incorrectly listed on your credit report, there are all kinds of ways your credit score can drop.

And not all of them are from something you did wrong.

What Is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

Consumers have protections under the law regarding their credit reports — which is where credit scores and credit problems are listed for lenders to check before offering you credit.

Errors on a credit report can drop your credit score, making it harder to get a loan, credit card, rent an apartment, or qualify for insurance coverage, among other things.

The main law that protects consumers from credit errors is the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA.

Your Rights Under The FCRA

Here are some of the rights you have under this law and how to use it to protect your credit:

View Credit Reports

The FCRA entitles you to review your credit file from each of the three main credit bureaus for free once every 12 months.

You can do one check every four months from each of the three — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — if you really want to be on top of it.

Start by going to AnnualCreditReport.com to request your credit file online.

Only use that website and don’t use a copycat site that charges fees for what should be a free service.

You’ll need to verify your identity to get online access. You can also request your credit file through an automated phone system or the mail.

The FCRA applies to all consumer reporting agencies.

You can also look at reports from other consumer reporting agencies that collect noncredit information about you.

These include rent payments, insurance claims, employers, and utility companies.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau lists the reporting companies and how to request a free report from each.

DISPUTING ERRORS

Getting a credit report in your hands can lead to all sorts of eye-opening concerns. Anything that’s listed as negative should be checked for accuracy. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Eviction that wasn’t legal.
  • Creditor listed that you didn’t have an account with.
  • Loan default.
  • Wrong name.
  • Wrong address.
  • Wrong Social Security Number.
  • Incorrect loan balance.
  • Closed account reported as open.
  • A loan you didn’t initiate.

Some errors may be simple to resolve and others you may need to do more research on before disputing them to ensure they’re incorrect.

For example, you may not recognize the name of a creditor and assume you don’t have an account with them. But it may just be a store credit card you recently applied for that is listed by the issuing bank’s name. Or maybe a home or auto loan was sold to a new loan servicer.

Other errors could be reason to suspect identity theft, or there could just be wrong information that’s bringing down your credit score.

If you suspect identity theft, such as someone taking out a credit card in your name, then file a police report and report it to your credit card company and the credit reporting agencies.

To dispute erroneous information, use certified mail to send the credit bureau a letter and copies of documents explaining the error. If a loan still shows an outstanding balance and you have written proof that it was paid off, for example, send a copy to the credit agency.

The Federal Trade Commission has a simple sample letter to dispute errors on your credit report.

Credit agencies have 30 days to investigate and respond to your dispute, unless they deem it frivolous.

If it corrects an error, it must send you a free copy of your credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com so you can see that the corrections have been made.

Check Your Credit Score

The law allows you to request a credit score, though it’s legal for credit agencies and other businesses to charge you a fee for this service.

Some credit cards provide scores for free, so check with your credit card issuer first.

A credit score isn’t the same as a credit report.

Information in a credit report determines a credit score, and each credit bureau can use a different scoring model that requires it to provide different information.

You have different credit scores, depending on which factors are weighed more heavily.

Monitoring your credit is vital. Make sure that you review your credit report for any inaccuracies.

Know Who Can View Your Credit Report

The FCRA doesn’t allow a credit reporting agency to share your credit file with someone who doesn’t have a valid need.

Some inquiries, such as from a potential employer or landlord, require your written consent.

And, they can only check your credit report, not your credit score.

The credit reporting agencies can share your credit report for legitimate reasons, such as when you’re applying for credit, insurance, housing, or with a current creditor.

A Time Limit To Negative Information

The FCRA doesn’t allow credit bureaus to report negative information that’s more than seven years old, though it allows some forms of bankruptcy to remain on a credit report for 10 years.

There’s also a time limit for positive credit information such as on-time payments and low balances — up to 10 years after the last date of activity on the account.

Rejections Based on Credit Report

If your application for credit, job, insurance, or housing has been denied because of information in your credit report, the law gives you the right to know this information.

The landlord, employer or other entity that denied your application must notify you and give you the name, address and phone number of the credit reporting agency that provided the information.

The FCRA allows you to get a free copy of your credit report from that reporting agency within 60 days of the action against you. That’s in addition to the three free credit reports allowed annually.

To best deal with a potential rejection ahead of time, it’s smart to check your credit report before applying for credit, rental unit or related use of your credit report and check it for errors. Give yourself enough time to fix them.

Credit Checks for Employment

When looking for a new job or career, prepping for and landing an interview is essential.

There are a few red flags job applicants should look out for in any potential employer.

If a prospective employer asks to see your credit score or credit information as part of a job application, be wary about making any employment decisions — for a few reasons.

First, employment credit checks for employment screening purposes are illegal. Again it breaks several individual state laws to check any potential employees’ credit score.

Second, they’re probably confusing financial information such as a credit score with a credit report.

There’s a big difference between the two.

Why Do Employers Do Credit Checks?

Employers want to see prospective employee personal financial information such as a credit report for a number of reasons.

Stability, Organization, and Trustworthiness

They may be looking for stability, organization, and trustworthiness. Financial responsibility is important, just as integrity and positive job performance.

Checking your report may highlight poor character qualities or point out the possible likelihood of fraud and embezzlement from the company

They may want to reduce their legal liability for negligent job candidate hiring.

History of Financial Trouble

Potential employers may be looking for a history of financial trouble, bad credit, judgments against you, large student loan sums, evictions or criminal charges or convictions so they can get a sense of the type of person you are.

How You Deal with Money

Background credit checks are becoming less common.

When they are used, background checks are mostly to target specific jobs related to how an applicant deals with money, such as in a job handling large sums of cash or having access to confidential information, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, which found in a survey that poor credit history often isn’t a barrier to hiring.

What Companies Do Employee Credit Checks?

Traditionally, the biggest users of credit reports for hiring are companies in the defense, chemical, pharmaceutical, and financial services industries, according to Experian, one of the three main credit bureaus.

Such industries may hire workers in more sensitive positions, and employer credit checks are used to verify financial honesty and personal integrity.

Most companies don’t check credit reports in the early phases of the job hiring process, but wait until after the job interview or making a job offer.

According to the National Association of Professional Background Screeners, companies that do credit checks are most interested in credit history of two to seven years, according to the HR society.

Credit Score vs. Credit Report

If an employer is asking to check your credit score pre-employment, they’re probably confused. They can only do soft inquiries of your credit reports — with an applicant’s permission — and some states don’t allow credit checks at all.

Credit Score

A credit score is a number on a credit report that measures your credit risk at a point in time. Information from your credit report — payment history like late payments, credit utilization, length of credit history, new credit and credit mix — is put into an algorithm to measure credit risk.

A credit score is then computed using the three credit reporting bureaus Transunion, Equifax, and Experian, ranging from 300 to 850. FICO and VantageScore are the two most popular credit scoring models.

The number is used to help lenders set the terms and interest rate you’re offered on new credit, such as home and auto loans and credit cards. A credit score may also be used to determine if you can rent an apartment or sign up for a utility without having to pay a deposit.

Credit Report

Essentially a credit report is a record of your credit history.

It includes details about your past and current credit accounts and debts, when and where you’ve applied for new credit, and collections that have gone to a third party.

Public record information such as evictions, bankruptcies, foreclosures, liens and judgments are also included.

A credit report has your personal information such as your address, Social Security number, and may have the names of your employers.

Hopefully, you are already monitoring your credit with your free annual credit report mandated by the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) and know what the employer should expect when they view it.

Get a Free Copy of Your Credit Report

What Employers Can Check

The terms “credit score” and “credit report” are sometimes used interchangeably, creating confusion. Some employers may ask to see your credit report but not your credit score, giving the wrong impression that they can check both.

Federal law only allows a credit report to be checked by an employer, and only then under certain restrictions.

At least 11 states have more strict laws, prohibiting employers from pulling credit reports, or limiting how they can be used in hiring decisions. They are the following:

  1. California
  2. Colorado
  3. Connecticut
  4. Delaware
  5. Hawaii
  6. Illinois
  7. Maryland
  8. Nevada
  9. Oregon
  10. Vermont
  11. Washington

Some cities, such as New York City and Washington, D.C., also restrict them.

To start, federal law requires an employer to get an applicant’s written consent to request a credit report.

The authorization form must be a standalone document with no waivers, not part of another form that could require you to waive your rights while obtaining your authorization.

When getting your credit report, the employer only gets a modified version of it. It won’t be the same report a lender sees.

The modified report will show employers information about your loans and credit cards, but it won’t show identifying information such as account numbers, your year of birth, references to your spouse, or anything that violates equal employment laws.

Other Consumer Protections

If an employer pulls your credit report with your permission and the report plays any part in an adverse action, such as not getting the job, federal law requires the company to give you a copy of the report and a written description of your rights from the Federal Trade Commission.

Some information on a credit report can’t be used in hiring decisions, such as any credit lines referred to as “medical” information.

Employers are required to give an applicant the opportunity to clarify an issue on a credit report such as 3-5 business days, so if there is an issue, you may have time to explain.

To protect consumer privacy, access to a credit report by an employer isn’t shown on future credit reports, unless the applicant gets their own report directly from a credit agency. Also, lenders don’t see if employers check credit reports.

Before applying for a job where you may be asked to authorize a credit check, you can get your report in good shape by getting a copy of your credit report and fixing any errors.

If you’re planning on applying for jobs months from now, then start good credit habits such as paying bills on time, paying down credit balances, shooting for using no more than 30% of your available credit, and only applying for credit you really need.

TransUnion logo

Best Credit Monitoring Services of 2021

A credit monitoring service should make tracking your credit score a seamless part of your life — much like checking your email or ordering delivery for dinner.

The best services, which I list below, all excel with this kind of accessibility, but they also have some distinct differences.

Each credit monitoring service charges different fees (or no fees) and provides a unique combination of services. So choosing a service comes down to finding the service that best fits your individual needs.

Let’s get into some of the different features found in each one of the credit monitoring services we recommend so that you can choose the right one for you.

9 Best Credit Monitoring Services

Here are the 9 best credit monitoring services you can start using today:

  1. TransUnion: Best Single Bureau Credit Monitoring
  2. LifeLock: Best for Monitoring and ID Theft Protection
  3. Experian: Best for Families
  4. IdentityForce: Best for Extra Security Features
  5. Identity Guard: Best for Flexible Plans
  6. Privacy Guard: Best Three Bureau Credit Monitoring
  7. Credit Sesame: Best Free Monitoring
  8. Credit Karma: Runner-up for Best Free Monitoring
  9. myFico: Best for FICO Score Monitoring

TransUnion

TransUnion logo

TransUnion is one of the services I use. I like this service because you can get a copy of your TransUnion credit report as well as your credit score whenever you want — even every day.

This service is simple and affordable at only $24.95 per month.

TransUnion Features

  • Unlimited updates to your TransUnion credit report and credit score (not Equifax or Experian).
  • Email alerts of changes to your credit report.
  • Instant email alert when someone opens a new account in your name.
  • Score simulator to see how specific credit choices affect your score.
  • Unlimited access to toll-free identity theft specialists.
  • Up to $1 million in identity theft insurance.

Learn More: Read our full TransUnion Review.

Compare Rates Now

LifeLock

lifelock logo

LifeLock offers a 60-day money-back guarantee with the annual membership, providing a great way to test drive the service before making a complete commitment.

LifeLock focuses on protecting your entire identity. Your credit score is part of your identity, so you’ll also get credit monitoring with the package.

If protecting your identity, rather than checking your credit score every month, is your priority, Lifelock will be a great choice.

Lifelock also offers three different credit monitoring products, each with different features. They are priced from $9.99 a month (fewest features) to $29.99 a month (tons of features).

To get routine checks from all three credit bureaus, you’ll need to opt for LifeLock’s most expensive plan.

LifeLock Features

  • Reimbursement for stolen money if someone steals your identity
  • Security software for your electronic devices
  • Interacts primarily with Equifax; TransUnion and Experian can be added.

Learn More: Read our full LifeLock Review.

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Experian

experian logo

Experian should make your shortlist if you’re mostly interested in your Experian credit report.

Some creditors prioritize Experian credit reports over others, so if you’re planning to work with a lender that values your Experian score in the next few months, you can benefit by choosing this service.

Experian has a Basic package that is free, but the Premium package, which monitors reports from all 3 credit bureaus among other perks, costs $4.99 for the first month and $24.99/month thereafter.

Experian Features

  • Everyday access to your Experian credit report and FICO score.
  • Daily Monitoring of your Experian credit report.
  • Score factors showing what’s positively or negatively impact your FICO score.

Learn More: Read our full Experian Review.

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IdentityForce

identity force logo

Identity theft protection and credit monitoring have become intertwined for good reason: Your credit score is a big part of your financial identity, and your Social Security number is a key piece of your identity.

But there’s more to your identity than your Social Security number and your credit score. IdentityForce focuses on the bigger picture of your entire identity.

IdentityForce offers two subscription-based programs:

  • UltraSecure: For about $18 a month, you’ll receive alerts anytime your financial information has been potentially compromised by fraudulent activity and up to $1 million in identity theft insurance in case something does go wrong.
  • UltraSecure+Credit: For about $24 a month, you’ll get the identity theft protection provided by the UltraSecure plan along with a thorough credit monitoring service that checks all three credit bureaus 24/7.

IdentityForce stands out because it monitors for suspicious activity and it also helps you recover from a security breach. The company’s customer service staff will make phone calls and even fill out paperwork to help you regain control of your financial life.

These services will be available only if the data breach occurs while you have an active contract with IdentityForce.

IdentityForce Features

  • 24/7 monitoring from all three credit bureaus
  • Recovery tools in case of a breach or ID theft
  • Credit score simulator
  • Automatically receive four free credit bureau reports and scores
  • Automatic credit score tracking
  • ID theft monitors public and Dark Web records

Learn More: Read our full IdentityForce Review.

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Identity Guard

Identity guard logo

Identity Guard provides a flexible choice for customers looking for a basic and affordable layer of identity protection and credit monitoring.

Prices range from $8.99 to $29.99 a month for individuals and $14.99 to $39.99 for families.

All plans (Value, Total, and Ultra) offer $1 million in ID theft protection and a counselor to help you sift through the mess if you are struck by identity theft.

Identity Guard monitors all three credit bureaus with the Total and Ultra plans and will send alerts via email or text about changes to your scores.

Identity Guard Features

All three Identity Guard plans offer:

  • $1 million in ID theft insurance
  • Dark Web monitoring
  • A customized risk management report
  • Tools (web & smartphone) to help avoid online scams

To get a monthly credit score reflecting all three bureaus you’d need to opt for the Total or Ultra plans ($19.99 and $29.99 a month, respectively).

Learn More: Read our full Identity Guard Review.

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Privacy Guard

privacy guard logo

Privacy Guard has emerged as another leader as more and more people opt for regular credit monitoring.

You can get a 14-day trial for $1 before committing to a monthly subscription which ranges from $9.99 for the simplest to $24.99 for the most elaborate plan.

Privacy Guard is simple and thorough: You can customize your email or text alerts to avoid getting false alarms about minor changes.

And, most importantly, Privacy Guard monitors all three of the major credit bureaus every day — if you get the most expensive plan.

Privacy Guard Features

  • Dark Web monitoring to detect ID theft
  • $1 million ID theft insurance
  • Public record monitoring
  • Credit score simulator to help anticipate changes

Learn More: Read our full Privacy Guard Review.

Credit Sesame

credit sesame logo

Credit Sesame is one of several newer services offering free credit monitoring. You can set up an account online or on the Credit Sesame mobile app and then log in anytime to see your score.

So what’s the catch? How can Credit Sesame give you free credit monitoring while other leading services require a monthly fee?

Those are good questions, but Credit Sesame is not a scam. Rather than relying on user fees for revenue, the service gets commissions from the credit card offers they send members on a regular basis.

So, if you sign up for Credit Sesame or a similar free service, expect regular emails suggesting credit cards along with email alerts about your credit score. You don’t have to click on any of the credit offers, of course.

Speaking of your score, keep in mind Credit Sesame works only with your Experian credit score and not your broader FICO score.

Credit Sesame Features

  • Free credit monitoring
  • Top-notch online tools and apps
  • Shows Experian score only
  • Suggestions for credit cards designed to help improve your score

Learn More: Read our full Credit Sesame Review.

Credit Karma

credit karma logo

Credit Karma works a lot like Credit Sesame. In fact, it’s easy to confuse the two services which both offer free credit monitoring.

Credit Karma monitors your TransUnion and Equifax credit scores. The service will not monitor your Experian score (Credit Sesame monitors only Experian).

As with Credit Sesame, you won’t pay a monthly fee. As a result, expect to get a lot of emails and possibly text messages about credit card offers (and about changes to your credit score).

Credit Karma Features

  • TransUnion & Equifax credit scores (no Experian)
  • Alerts about credit score changes or credit checks
  • Top-notch apps and online experience

Learn More: Read our full Credit Karma Review.

myFICO

myFICO Logo

Just about all major lenders use your FICO score which is built from data gathered from all three credit reporting agencies.

FICO applies its own formula to your data from the credit bureaus to calculate your 3-digit FICO score.

Now, FICO has created a credit monitoring service, myFICO, which monitors only your FICO score.

Since so many banks and credit cards also use your FICO score, myFICO provides an efficient way to monitor your credit.

But with subscriptions ranging from $20 to $40 a month, myFICO does cost more than most other services:

  • Basic Plan: $19.95 a month for access to your FICO score applied to data from one credit bureau each month.
  • Advanced Plan: $29.95 a month to access your FICO score applied to all three credit bureaus four times a year.
  • Premier Plan: $39.95 a month for monthly access to your FICO score applied to all three credit bureaus.

myFICO Features

  • Access to your proprietary FICO score
  • $1 million in ID theft insurance
  • Credit restoration and simulation tools
  • One-time purchases available if you don’t want to join

Learn More: Read our full myFICO Review.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Chase Credit Journey
  • Equifax Credit Score Monitoring
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Why Every Adult Needs Credit Monitoring

Why this recent surge in credit monitoring and ID theft protection services? Because more and more people need this kind of protection.

If you aren’t monitoring your credit report with a credit monitoring service every month, you’re playing with fire. I would even say not actively monitoring your credit report is downright foolish.

It is easier than ever to at least review your credit report annually if nothing else by obtaining your free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com.

Recent and ongoing hacks, such as the enormous Equifax hack that affected most of the adult population in the U.S., has made credit and identity monitoring a necessity when just a few years ago it was a “nice to have.”

Don’t Assume Your Personal Data is Private

Routinely, companies we trust with our sensitive data have let us down, and we can no longer assume our credit history is safe from identity thieves. Sadly, we need to assume our data has or will be stolen at some point.

Aside from completely severing our lives from the modern consumer economy, we can’t prevent identity thieves from having the opportunity to steal our financial data.

Here’s what you can do: Make sure you have one of the above services in place to let you know as soon as possible that your data has been stolen. When you discover a data breach early, you can take quick action to limit its damage to your financial life.

If you wait for the company who got hacked to let you know someone has stolen your credit card numbers, you’ll be giving hackers and their customers abundant time to wreck your credit score and your family budget.

Free Credit Monitoring vs. Subscription Services

Is it OK to use a free credit monitoring service, or should you pay for a subscription-based service?

Free services are safe and reliable within the scope of what they do. To get a full range of identity theft protection services you’ll need a paid service.

A free service just can’t offer total protection for your credit information and Social Security number.

But here’s what you can do with a free service:

  • Monitor the Big Picture: When someone applies for new credit in your name — or when your credit score experiences a big change — a free service can alert you. Then you can access your free annual credit report to see what’s up and whether you need a credit freeze. In other words, a free service can serve as a first alert system.
  • Get Real-Time Alerts via Text or Mobile App: Free services like Credit Sesame and Credit Karma excel with providing seamless user experience. If your credit file takes a hard credit check, these apps will let you know via text message or app notification.
  • Do-It-Yourself Credit Protection: Free services provide a perimeter fence around your personal finances. A fence isn’t enough security against identity fraud, but at least you’d know someone had crossed the fence.
  • Credit Score Tracking: No, a free service won’t show your actual FICO score, but it can provide credit score tracking. Chances are good if your VantageScore (via Credit Karma) drops by 50 points in one day, your FICO has taken a similar hit. This sudden change could mean you’re a victim of identity theft, or it could mean you ran up your credit card balances last month and upended your credit utilization ratio. The point is you’d know to check.

So you can create your own daily credit monitoring with help from a free service. But you’d be missing an important piece of the puzzle: tools to help protect yourself against identity theft.

Only a paid service comes with total protection. Paid services can lock down your credit for you in response to a data breach or suspected identity theft.

Using the Credit Monitoring Service You Already Have

Financial institutions like your mortgage loan servicer or credit card company may already be providing you with a level of credit score tracking.

Next time you log into your bank account or credit accounts online, see if your financial institution has a free credit score built into your account. Some of these services even let you check your FICO score anytime.

It would be up to you to monitor your credit score because these services likely won’t send out fraud alerts if your score drops.

You’d need to set your own reminder to check in every few days. I’d recommend setting an alarm on your smartphone.

Just like with a free service, a drop in your score should prompt you to investigate further.

Through April 2021, the Federal Trade Commission will provide a free copy of your TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax credit report once a week.

Normally, you’d be entitled to a free copy of each credit report only once a year. Visit annualcreditreport.com to get your free copy.

Related Topics:

  • What To Do If Your Employer Wants To See Your Credit Report
  • How To Use The Fair Credit Reporting Act To Your Advantage
  • How To Freeze Your Credit