Choosing to regularly monitor your credit reports is a smart financial decision. Your biggest problem will likely come in deciding which of the hundreds of different credit monitoring services to use. Most only offer services to residents of the US. Read on to get some tips that should make the decision a whole lot easier.
There can be a rather staggering price difference between services. You can pay as little as $4.95 per month, all the way up to $29.95 per month. Watch out for those that are advertised as “Free” as that usually only refers to your first month, with each month thereafter resulting in a bill that you might not be aware of. Those are the companies that tend to be on the high end of the price scale. Most reputable companies will be more than willing to offer a free trial period with no obligation to buy. It’s entirely up to you in the end, but the recommendation is that you go with a company in the $12 to $15 per month range, as they usually provide all the services and features you need.
Just as with the price, the features that each company provides will differ wildly. At the bottom of the totem pole you will find services that offer a single credit report, when there are actually 2, but with no score included. Even if they do include a single score, you will still want to look for a service that delivers all three, as the reports and information included are not always the same. The fact that the information in each report might be different tells you exactly why a service that delivers score from all three sources is the one to go with.
Something else to look out for is the regularity with which a credit monitoring service delivers alerts to any changes in your credit reports. Ideally, you will want one that does so every 24 hours, as this will give you the best chance of catching fraudulent activity. The quicker you can catch it, the quicker you can take steps to put it all to an end.
There are often a bunch of other features thrown in, but the ones listed above are the most important when it comes time to make a decision. Other features that you might see will include budget tools, financial calculators, and other little tools that help maintain and control your personal finances.
Ease of Use
Credit reports are not always the easiest things in the world to read, and if the credit monitoring company delivers a jumbled mess, it gets all the more difficult. Look for a service that delivers clear reports that are easy to read and which have all of the data presented in a way that is totally self-explanatory. Personally, I use the Online Credit Monitoring service offered by TransUnion Canada. I find that they offer the most comprehensive break down of my credit, credit health and most importantly, my credit score.