Credit monitoring services can alert you to potential fraud on your credit report before it happens. This alert allows you to take measures to protect your personal information.
While these services cannot prevent identity theft, they do inform you of potential problems so you can act if something goes wrong.
Many services search for your information on the dark web and keep track of your publicly available information. Unfortunately, few individuals can do this without help.
You can find out more about the best credit report services currently on the market in this review. You will also find FAQs to help you navigate the world of credit report services. It also may be helpful, if you need it to review what a credit score even is.
When considering credit monitoring services, you have two choices. First, you can choose between the best free credit report service with limited coverage or a premium service with comprehensive coverage.
However, it would be helpful to consider whether you qualify for a credit report monitoring service before paying for a service.
This guide lists the top five best credit report services. Study these services carefully, and hopefully, at the end of this guide, you will have enough information to choose the best credit report service for you.
1. Winner – Best Overall: Lexington Law
Lexington Law, a credit restoration company founded in 1991, has thousands of happy clients. As one of the best credit report service consumer reports, this company can help you enhance your credit score by removing judgments.
Unlike some other best free credit report services, Lexington Law employs qualified lawyers well-versed in the sector.
The staff at Lexington Law also have experience in dealing with federal and financial regulations and have a high success record. They typically delete 10.2 unfavorable items from consumer credit reports, which also adds to their appeal as the best credit report service.
Additionally, this company provides several credit repair-related services, making it an excellent choice for anyone wanting to enhance their credit scores.
Read through the pros and cons of this best credit report service to learn more.
- Provides credit counseling to encourage excellent credit habits.
- Uses all angles of the law to achieve tremendous success.
- Lexington Law is known for resolving disputes quickly and effectively.
- It uses an app to track every aspect of the service.
- Removes collections and chargebacks, assists with late payments, bank failures, section issues, foreclosures, inaccurate information.
- Packages for the best credit report service have grown too pricey.
- There is no assurance of service or refund policy.
- Not accredited by the Better Business Bureau.
Runner Up: Experian Boost
What role does alternative data have on your credit score? Utility payments (electric bills and telephone bills) and video streaming services have traditionally had no impact on credit scores because these organizations don’t report to credit bureaus.
However, you can now use utility bills to boost your credit score. This new feature works to your advantage if you have a history of making regular payments on these types of accounts. A habit of making regular and full payments heavily influences your FICO score. So, if you have a “thin” credit file or weak credit, adding accounts that demonstrate this habit is beneficial.
You’ll need your bank account and some utility or communications bills in your name to join up for the service. Unfortunately, you cannot use this benefit unless you have accounts in your name.
Examine the pros and cons of Experian Boost below:
- No cost: Unlike the best credit report service, which can cost thousands of dollars and only allow you to delete inaccuracies from your credit reports, this service is free.
- Builds weak or limited credit using alternative data: Experian Boost allows you to improve your credit simply by paying your utility and phone bills on time. For those whose credit scores have been affected by weak scores or low credit, this might be a step in the right direction.
- Instant credit score improvement: If you qualify for a credit score boost, you’ll get your improved score right after selecting the applicable payments to add to your credit report.
- Not all lenders accept the credit score: Experian Boost only affects your FICO 8, not all FICO scores. However, when choosing whether to approve an applicant for a personal or student loan or a retail credit card, most of the best free credit report services use the FICO 8 score.
- Chances of a slight score increase or decrease: If you don’t have a long history of utility or telecom payments, the boost you obtain may be minor. Similarly, after you link your bank account, your score may drop. However, you can always disconnect the bank account to restore your score with this best credit report service free.
3. Alternative 1: Credit Karma
Situated in San Francisco, Credit Karma is among the best free credit report services. You can access the best credit report service free and use their free credit score app to access credit report data.
However, this credit report monitoring service provides more than simply a free credit score. This service can also assist you in better understanding the types of information that go into calculating your credit score.
You can start improving your credit history using this information, which will help you obtain attractive interest rates and terms on future loans.
Credit Karma can also assist subscribers in preventing (and dealing with) identity theft, making it one of the best credit report service consumer reports available.
- It’s simple to use: When you sign in, your Transunion and Equifax credit scores display in a graph on your account dashboard. The credit simulator also allows customers to see how debt repayment and borrowing decisions affect their credit scores.
- Credit Karma allows you a free credit score every day: However, other platforms may limit your access to a free credit score once yearly. Seeing your credit score on demand is extremely helpful when improving bad credit or keeping track of your credit usage with the best credit report service.
- Bonus financial services: Credit Karma’s tax preparation service and online savings account are free, making this company among the best credit report service free. While similar financial solutions are available elsewhere, some customers prefer to use the same platform for numerous functions.
- Does not offer FICO scores: Despite being in the top five best credit report service companies, Credit Karma uses VantageScore 3.0. They use this credit scoring mechanism to provide you with data and credit ratings from Equifax and Transunion. Most lenders will check this information and your FICO score to see how they differ. Your VantageScore 3.0 score will, nevertheless, follow the same trends as your FICO score. Similarly, Credit Sesame also uses the VantageScore 3.0, as do many of the best credit report services.
- Advertisements: Credit Karma’s business model is made possible by advertisements. However, they are sometimes aggravating for users. Despite this aggravation, customers continue to use this credit report monitoring service because of its benefits. Just remember that you should always make your own evaluation when applying for credit on this platform. You may be bombarded with advertisements, but this is a small price to pay for direct access to your credit scores.
4. Alternative 2: Self Inc.
While there’s no denying that having a good credit score can help you achieve financial stability by giving you easier access to loans and credit cards, getting one might be challenging. Many people believe that unless you already have credit, it is nearly impossible to build it.
Self Financial (FKA Self Lender), a newcomer to the market in 2014, offers a unique way to develop credit without paying anything upfront. Self is the best credit report service that accomplishes this by using a Credit Builder Account. This feature is like a personal installment loan explicitly designed to generate a solid payment history, which is one reason why Self is the best free credit report service.
This service is a terrific option to obtain a secured credit card for individuals who need to build their credit history and score. It also helps you save money and is especially beneficial to people who are new to credit or don’t have access to standard financial products.
Continue reading to learn about the pros and cons of this best credit report service.
- Self is an effective tool for establishing or increasing your credit, which clearly indicates why it is on this list of best credit report services free of charge.
- You do not need to make a deposit–another reason to access the best credit report service consumer reports.
- Self allows you to save.
- It is less risky than other options, which is also why this is the best free credit report service.
- Self receives positive user feedback as the first choice as the best credit report service.
- They are a reputable business that you can trust.
- CD terms restrict the timing and access to your funds.
- You can’t temporarily suspend your account.
- No one knows what happens to your account after completing the use of their services.
5. Alternative 3: TransUnion
As one of the top three credit report monitoring services, TransUnion has years of experience dealing with credit scores. You need to consider a reputable company in this increasingly crowded credit monitoring business, so why not go for the best credit report service?
TransUnion provides the best credit report service consumer reports, identity theft protection, and valid identity service.
You will also receive notifications of significant changes to your credit information from this best free credit report service. Notifications include a change of residence or when someone creates a new account in your name. As a result, you can trust that if someone tries to steal your identity, you will be able to stop the situation from worsening swiftly.
The core credit monitoring service that TransUnion provides is comparable to that which Experian and Equifax offer. All these companies land at the top of the list for the best credit report service free. TransUnion also has all the essential features you’ll need to keep track of your credit score.
This company has also added two security elements to differentiate itself from the competition. These enhancements provide you with additional identity theft protection, giving you the unrivaled security of one of the best credit report monitoring services around.
- A credit lock protects your credit file via this best credit report service.
- After completing your credit check, you will receive immediate notifications, courtesy of this credit report monitoring service.
- You have access to the password manager Dashlane to secure your data.
- The subscription includes the free application from the best credit report service.
- The organization has a poor track record when it comes to customer service.
- Additional costs will apply for credit information from all three sources.
- TransUnion only provides $25,000 in identity theft insurance in the free subscription.
- Families and children do not have access to any services or features.
Best Credit Report Service FAQs
If you have questions about your best credit report service score or using a credit report monitoring service, we have the answers you need to make informed decisions to build the best credit possible.
Discover what the “big three” bureau services are, what the best credit report service is, and most important, what the 20/10 credit card rule is in our FAQs.
What are the three bureaus for credit?
There are multiple best credit report service consumer reports companies in the United States. However, only three are of national significance: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
This trio of the best free credit report services has a monopoly on collecting, analyzing, and disseminating consumer information in the credit market.
Credit scores are traditionally based on the FICO score. The Fair Isaac Corporation creates this FICO score because it specializes in data analytics.
While any of these best credit report services free can still give you a credit score, their calculation techniques differ. For example, Experian also uses its own FICO scoring system, known as the “Experian/Fair Isaac Risk Model v2.”
Equifax has been operating since 1899 and has investments or operations in 24 countries. It protects individuals from credit fraud and identity theft, as well as selling credit reports to companies. Credit monitoring services that contain Equifax credit scores, sometimes known as beacon scores, are also available to consumers from this best credit report service.
Hackers tarnished Equifax’s reputation in 2017, and a data breach exposed the sensitive personal information of 147 million customers. Since then, Equifax has made a tool available on their website to check if you were affected.
For those customers whose accounts were compromised, the company offered them a free credit report monitoring service as part of its attempt to make amends.
Experian began its business in London when local businesspeople started sharing information about clients who had not paid their bills. In 1826, these individuals founded the Manchester Guardian Society, which became a vital element of Experian and had a global reach. Forbes named Experian one of the “World’s Most Innovative Companies” in 2018. Experian employs around 17,800 people in 45 countries.
Experian uses the FICO 8 credit score algorithm and offers a subscription-based Credit Works Premium service. If you subscribe every month, you’ll receive your credit score as well as your credit report from all three agencies.
TransUnion opened its business in 1968 as a holding company for a tank car firm. From there, it expanded into credit reporting to become one of the leading three best free credit report services.
By 1988, the firm had complete coverage and consumer data on every market-active adult in the United States. It now has a database of over 1 billion consumers from over 30 countries.
Suppose you’re concerned that you’ve been or might be a victim of identity theft. In that case, you can place a freeze on your TransUnion credit report. The best credit report service of TransUnion will alert the other two credit reporting agencies. A monthly credit monitoring subscription is also available from this best free credit report service.
Which credit report is most important?
There is no quick reply as to which credit report is more important. However, a clear favorite for lenders is the best free credit report services that offer FICO scores. These scores are used in over 90% of lending decisions, which is why they make for the best credit report service consumer reports.
While this can help you narrow things down by checking your credit score, you must still consider why you’re checking your credit score in the first place. For example, if you want to keep track of your money, a widely-used base score like FICO Score 8 will suffice. This edition can also assist you in determining for which credit cards you are eligible.
If you’re planning to make a particular purchase, you might want to investigate a credit report with a score for that industry. FICO provides FICO lists of specialized scores for various financial products. For example, FICO Auto Scores are perfect if you want to finance a vehicle, but FICO Scores 2, 5, and 4 are the better option if you’re going to buy a house. Use credit report monitoring that provides these report breakdowns if possible.
What are signs that you are misusing credit?
Are you impulsively spending on your credit card but dreading checking your account monthly to see how much you owe? If so, there’s a good chance you’re misusing your credit card.
If you want secure and instant access to cash or a credit card, they are convenient and rewarding. However, if you are not careful with your spending, you may find yourself in an unnecessary financial situation.
There are five red flags that you may be abusing your credit card:
- Feeling bad after spending indicates that you are buying things you don’t need. Otherwise, you are buying without considering your budget or know you shouldn’t be making the purchase but do so anyway because you can.
- Can’t afford to pay more on your credit card debt? If you can’t afford to pay more than the required minimum monthly payment, you may be in trouble and need to keep a close eye on your spending.
- An innovative debt management approach means knowing your present financial situation and putting measures in place to manage your spending. Rather take this approach than get a shock when you see your statement. Instead, keep track of your spending regularly to avoid getting yourself into financial trouble.
- Using several credit cards to pay off debt or having multiple credit cards and paying off debt can place you in significant financial trouble. You should avoid getting yourself into this kind of trouble at all costs.
- Not saving because of debt causes money problems, especially when coping with unforeseen situations. In addition, being overstretched financially to the point that you are living off your credit card and cannot afford to save also leads to money problems.
If any of these points are familiar, you’re probably already in trouble. Your solution is to sign up with one of the best credit report services free.
The next move is to make a list of all your debts. Spend wisely and only when you need something rather than when you want an item. Stick to a reasonable budget. Finally, every month, strive to pay a little extra towards your credit card debt.
What is the 20/10 rule for credit cards?
The 20/10 rule establishes rules for how much of your annual and monthly take-home pay should go toward debt repayment. This rule might help you determine whether you’re overpaying on your debts and how much additional debt you’re willing to take on.
The 20/10 rule is:
- Twenty percent of annual income: This is the percentage of your annual income that should go toward debt repayment. When taking your entire consumer debt into account, your borrowing should not exceed 20% of your annual net income after taxes.
- Ten percent of your monthly income: The second part of this ratio discusses how much of your monthly income you should pay toward debt repayment. Payments on consumer debt should amount to no more than 10% of your monthly net income.
To determine the best credit report serviceand which one offers the most benefits to consumers, always analyze and compare features in the paid and unpaid services.
In terms of unpaid features–consider the extent of monitoring by bureaus, the credit score model they use, and whether they scan the dark web.
Regarding paid features–look at whether the company provides the free features mentioned above. Also, consider the cost and whether they provide identity theft insurance.
Understand that the best credit monitoring services can only inform you of changes to your credit file, not correct or prevent any problems.
Paul Martinez is the founder of BendingDestiny.com. He is an expert in the areas of finance, real estate, and eCommerce.
Join him on BendingDestiny.com to learn how to improve your financial life and excel in these areas. Before starting this blog, Paul built from scratch and managed two multi-million dollar companies. One in the real estate sector and one in the eCommerce sector.