Credit Monitoring Services: A Waste or Worth It?

August 7, 2013

Photo by i am real estate photographer, via flickr

Those of you who followed my posts about leasing or buying a car know that I ended up buying a newer model used car. During this process, I was curious about my credit score because I was aware that the financing rate I would get would be based on my credit worthiness.

Your credit history is compiled and monitored throughout your life and affects your ability to get a loan as well as the interest rate you’ll pay if you are deemed credit worthy and are successful in getting money from a lender.

There are three major credit bureaus:

Federal law states that you can request your credit report for free once a year from all three of the credit bureaus. You should do this and review the information on the reports carefully because this data is used to establish your credit score. Check out this secured website to request your reports.

OK, now you’ve reviewed your reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. If everything is accurate, great! But if you spot something that doesn’t look right, there are steps you can take to correct your information. You’ll need patience, but it can be done by contacting the bureau and the company associated with the inaccurate information. (More information on how to dispute information in your credit report may be found on this federal government-sponsored webpage.)

The annual credit reports are free, but your credit score is not. Your credit score is a numerical ranking and sometimes includes a letter grade from A to F. The three major credit bureaus each have their own ranges for credit scores. For details on the score ranges of the different bureaus, see this CNNMoney post.

The cost of getting your score varies: Equifax, $15.95; Experian, $14.95; TransUnion, $16.95 per month credit monitoring option with free credit score (comes with a free 7-Day Trial).

All of the bureaus offer a package of credit monitoring services and access to your credit score. These additional services, like TransUnion’s offer above, have a monthly fee that is charged to your credit card. A credit monitoring package may include features such as secure 24/7 access to your credit reports and scores, newsletters, alerts when your reports are updated, and some provide insurance coverage to assist in repairing your credit if your identity is stolen.

I signed up for one of the credit bureau’s monthly monitoring system several months ago. Now I get a monthly newsletter e-mailed to me with updates on whether or not my credit reports were accessed or changed in a way that would negatively impact my credit score. For me, the cost (less than $20 a month) is worth the peace of mind I get knowing that if my credit was compromised, I’d at least be aware of it sooner rather than later.

I’d like to hear from you. Do you use a credit monitoring service and do you think it’s a worthwhile investment?

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