Best Credit Monitoring Service for 2018
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We tried a number of different credit monitoring services, and we could only find three that were good enough to recommend on this article. We have picked the best credit monitoring service, a second best, and a last resort service. Knowing your credit rating and credit history may help you make better decisions about your credit, but do not get too hung up on your credit rating. It is a little like being on a diet and getting too hung up on counting calories. If you are doing the right things, then you will get the right results. The same is true in credit building, dieting, in wealth building and in business.
The Best Credit Monitoring Service – CreditSesame
CreditSesame allows you to get your credit score and allows you to track your credit rating for free. It is completely free, there is no catch, there is no free trial, and no obligation to buy. They do not ask for silly amounts of personal information or verification either.
It Sounds Too Good To Be True
The deal that CreditSesame is offering is not too good to be true. It is completely true, you get to see your credit rating (credit score), your credit history and a few other details and you get it all for free. You do not have to start paying at any point in order to use the CreditSesame service.
What is the catch? There is no catch. CreditSesame is not making money from its users. It makes money from its affiliates. Don’t be fooled by Credit Sesame’s claims that they think everybody deserves to know their own credit history, the company is making bags of money from their affiliate partners. Credit Sesame are offering free credit monitoring services because they can make money from lending companies.
The CreditSesame website has tools that allow you to search for lending products. You can search for things such as loans, credit cards, insurance, mortgages, and so forth. CreditSesame knows your credit rating in advance, so it is able to match you up with companies that are more likely to lend to you. Each time you lend from a company that CreditSesame suggests, the CreditSesame owners are paid an affiliate fee. CreditSesame has no reason to charge you a subscription because they are being paid by their affiliates.
Why Is CreditSesame So Great?
CreditSesame is the best credit monitoring service because it allows you to sign up easily, check your credit rating, and see the sort of information that creditors see. It doesn’t have all the details that the credit bureaus have, but there are few circumstances where you need all the information that the credit bureaus offer. In most cases, if you are trying to improve your credit rating or are trying to work on your credit score in some way, then the information that CreditSesame offers is all you need.
Run A Soft Search On Your Own Credit
When companies run a soft search on your credit, they are seeing the sort of thing that CreditSesame is giving away. As and when websites run a soft search, it will not hurt your credit rating. When you run a search with CreditSesame, or you sign in to view your credit score and credit history, it will not hurt your credit rating either. As and when you use CreditSesame, it is almost as if you are running your own soft search yourself.
Credit Sesame’s Reports Are Not Generated Automatically
A report is generated if you sign in at least once per month. If you sign in to see your credit rating (credit score) and your credit history, your report is displayed to you. If you go back the day after, your report will look the same. Credit Sesame says they give you reports in real-time, but our experience taught us that this is not the case.
If you log-in, it will update and you will see a new report in about a month. If you use the CreditSesame service every month, then it will generate new reports every month. The only thing that seems to change on a weekly basis is if you have had new credit inquiries on your recent credit history.
If you do not use the website for a few months, aka if you do not sign in for a month or two, then it will stop updating your profile until you start using the service again. This measure saves the company money because what is the point in keeping user’s records updated if they are not signing in and viewing their reports.
CreditSesame – Pros
- CreditSesame has mobile apps, so you don’t even need to be at your computer in order to use the service.
- The CreditSesame website, apps, and its associated services are completely free to use without any time limits or free trial offers.
- Information stored by CreditSesame is safe. It s the same information that creditors use when you run a soft search on their websites.
- Having access to your credit rating and credit history may allow you to work on your credit rating more efficiently.
- CreditSesame has tools that show you which lenders are more likely to lend to you. Knowing your options may help save you money.
- Monitor your credit information over time to see how well your credit building efforts are going.
- Maybe find out what factors are affecting your credit rating. Maybe there is an outstanding debt you are unaware of.
- There is a real-time alerts service with CreditSesame that informs you when different lenders are now more willing to take you on as a customer.
- CreditSesame has a certain level of identity theft protection in that it offers free insurance that pays up to $50,000 in costs to help you reclaim your identity after a theft.
- You will not have to call to cancel your account, and you will not be charged for your account. You will not have to enter your credit card information
CreditSesame – Cons
- CreditSesame claims that they offer up-to-date and real-time reports, but they only refresh based on your use of the website, and in most cases it takes a week for any charges to be visible on your credit report account.
- If you are locked out of your account then you are going to have a hard time getting back in. The company is very slow to reinstate accounts because it is a common avenue of attack by people trying to steal somebody’s identity.
- The customer service department is pretty slow and fairly clueless because they do not receive a great many calls. There is very little to call them about in most cases.
- As we learned from the 2017 hack of Equifax, if companies such as these are hacked, then a great deal of people’s personal information is hoisted out onto the Internet and sold to the highest bidders.
- The CreditSesame website makes a big deal about how you may repair your credit rating, but there is little that the company actually does to help you make repairs other than allowing you to monitor your credit rating.
- CreditSesame doesn’t make money directly from its users, so the stakes are very low for their customer service department. In other words, if you have a serious problem, they will just delete your account and claim they did it for security reasons.
- They need to tone down their ads a little. The website is starting to look cluttered and ugly. They need to stop being so greedy and tone down their adverts a little.
The Best Credit Monitoring Service – Credit Karma
The Credit Karma service allows you to see your credit score and the factors affecting your credit score. You are given your credit rating for free, and are then able to see your credit history. Your credit history allows you to see what may or may not be affecting your credit rating. For example, you may see how many inquiries have been made on your credit during the past few months. It also offers easy-to-use insights. For example, you a see your number of hard inquires, total number of access, and a percentage number that shows your credit card utilization. It shows you simple insights such as these to help you make better decisions about your credit in the long run.
Credit Karma Is Almost Identical To CreditSesame
The best credit monitoring service has a sister, and its name is Credit Karma. It offers the same thing as CreditSesame, and it uses the same business model. Just like CreditSesame, you are able to get a free credit report and see your banking history. Just like CreditSesame, you do not have to give your credit card details, there is no free trial, and no catch.
In the pros and cons section of this article, I have displayed each of the service’s GUIs side-by-side because that is where the biggest differences exist.
Karma – As Doled Out By The Darma
Calling a company Credit Karma seems a little odd. After all, Karma is a fundamental concept of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Yet, none of those religions focus on money or objects. Also, Karma is an ugly topic by any thinking person’s logic. It tells believers that there is no need to punish bad people because the universe will do it for them. It also tells people that the only reason to be a good person is because the universe will punish you if you are not.
Read Most Of What You Read About Credit Sesame And Apply It Here
The fact is that Credit Karma is pretty-much the same as Credit Sesame. The section below explains the few minors differences between the two. Nevertheless, you may apply all of the selling points from Credit Sesame to Credit Karma.
What is most annoying is that there are so many online articles that offer a Credit Sesame vs. Credit Karma comparison. It is annoying how so many try to tell you which is best. What is the point in such comparisons when both are so similar? It is the same as trying to figure out which identical twin is the hottest.
They are both free to use, they both do a very similar thing, and neither of them has a catch or some sort of deception. Why bother comparing both? Why not try both?
In fact, if you are looking for more than your credit rating and your credit history. If you are looking for a loan, credit card, mortgage, or whatever, then you should sign up for both. In a perfect world, both of them will show you the same credit rating and both will offer you the same lending deals. But, the world is not perfect, which is why the world is such a great place to live.
You can sign up for both Credit Karma and Credit Sesame, get a free account, and use both to shop around for the best borrowing/lending products. Get results from both Credit Karma and Credit Sesame, and then you decide which is the best credit monitoring service. Get your results, see what is on offer, and then pick the one with the best rates or the one that is most likely to lend to you.
What Is Different About Credit Karma And Credit Sesame
Credit Karma is a little like a dumbed down version of Credit Sesame. Personally, I do not like the way that the Credit Karma website and mobile apps are set out, but I appear to be in a minority. There are quite a few people who like the way that Credit Karma creates simple visualizations. Others find the settings to be easy to grasp, which in turn makes Credit Karma more of a time saver.
I do agree that you do not need in-depth details about your credit rating in order to improve it. I also agree that a simple snapshot of your current situation is all you need in order to make good decides about your credit. The reason I prefer Credit Sesame is because I can generate my own view of my credit rating and credit history without it being lumped into percentages. I almost feel as if I have more control over the information on Credit Sesame than the information on Credit Karma. Still, I say you should take the advice given earlier and sign up for both.
Pros And Cons Of Credit Karma
They are the same as the pros and cons of Credit Sesame. As I mentioned, the only noticeable differences are the way they present your information, slight differences in the information they give, and the fact that they have slightly different affiliate companies they pass you on to.
Experian – The Only Credit Bureaus Worthy Of Inclusion
To start with, I do not think that Experian is the best credit monitoring service. In fact, if I was sure I could convince you not to use the Experian service, I would spend the rest of this article trying to convince you not to use Experian.
The fact is that Experian is one of the three legitimate credit bureaus, and there may be a time when you need a credit report for whatever reason. In most cases, it is the company you are applying to that runs a credit search, but there are still a few occasions where you need to produce and provide the credit report yourself.
When a company runs a soft search on your credit, they see the same thing you see on CreditSesame and Credit Karma. When companies run a hard search on your credit, (i.e. one that leaves a mark on your credit history), they see information from either Experian, Equifax or TransUnion. Yet, Experian is currently the only one you can trust as a consumer. I use the word “Trust” very loosely in the case, I do not suggest you use this service.
Experian gives you more details than CreditSesame and Credit Karma. I contend that you do not need all the information that Experian gives you. Creditors and lenders may need that information to put into their lending algorithms, but you as the consumer will not need the detailed information that Experian offers in most cases.
Why Is Experian The Only Credit Bureau You Can Trust Right Now As A Consumer?
If you live in the US, then your three credit bureaus are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. However, Equifax has been hacked and TransUnion has been fined for inappropriate business practices. This only leaves Experian as your one remaining credit bureau.
Equifax had a devastating hack in 2017 that resulted in the personal and financial information of thousands of people being released into the public domain. Most of the information was bought on the black market, and the rest has appeared on the net or has disappeared. Even now, we cannot be certain of the full effects of the hack because nobody is taking a poll on how many people are having their identity stolen as a direct result of the hack.
Read more about the hack and how Equifax are trying their best to recover the shattered remains of their company. Here is the link to an article about Equifax.
TransUnion is no better. Both TransUnion and Equifax have been fined for inappropriate business practices. Here is a link to an article all about TransUnion and Equifax being fined $23 million. Both of them have been openly deceiving people about their credit ratings and both have finally been fined for it.
Why I Still Say You Should Stay Away From Experian
Yes, you can get a more detailed credit report from Experian. However, the method by which Experian, Equifax and TransUnion have you sign up for a free trial is very unfair.
All three credit bureaus have a legal obligation to provide you with one free credit report every year if you request it. However, all three of the credit bureaus exploit this by having you sign up to take a free trial of their service. When your free trial is over, they start charging you.
What is horrible is that they make it viciously difficult to get out of your subscription. If you try to get out of your free trial, especially if you try before they have started charging you, you will keep hitting stone walls. You have to call and get out of your subscription, which means you have to call and wait for around an hour on hold. Then, you actually have to convince the staff member to cancel your free trial.
The customer service worker will remind you frequently that you are receiving a free trial and that your trial doesn’t end for another X amount of days. If you manage to convince the customer support worker to cancel your account, you are then told it will take a few days. You have to keep checking back to see if it has been canceled. If your account is still open after a few days, you have to go back and do the whole thing again.
Read online reviews and you will see that all three credit bureaus pull the same trick. There are quite a number of online user reviews that claim it is easier to cancel your credit card than it is to cancel your account. If you are hoping for a free credit report from Experian, then they are going to make it tough for you. If you are looking for a detailed credit report and you are willing to pay for a subscription, then Experian is the one for you.
Experian – Pros
- Experian is not just limited to the US, so you may be able to use it in other countries too.
- If you are going bankrupt or insolvent, then this is the credit bureau you should go to if you live in the USA.
- You get detailed reports from Experian. They offer the details that creditor companies are given when they run a hard search on your credit.
- The interface they use is a little complicated, but it is only made up of drill-down menus and sub-menus that you eventually become accustomed to.
- Of all three North America credit bureaus, it is the only one that has not had legal or security problems in the last five years.
- They do offer a number of identity theft protections, which I add as a “pro,” but my confidence in their ability to protect people’s identities is shaky after what Equifax did.
Experian – Cons
- Experian pulls that same shitty trick where you sign up for a free trial that is viciously difficult to get out of so you end up paying for a subscription that you don’t want.
- They exploit your legal right to one free credit report per year by forcing you to join their free-but-not-so-free trial.
- You cannot use Experian if you do not have a credit card, and you are unable to sign up with another person’s credit card.
- It is easier to cancel your credit card than it is to get out of your Experian subscription. You actually have to convince the support worker to get you out of your subscription.
- The prices they charge just to see your credit rating are too high. They claim a bunch of benefits too, but even they do not justify the cost of a Experian subscription.
- If you have tried the service before and canceled your account, you will not get a free trial again. They will tell you that you are getting a free trial, and they will even take your documents to verify your account. But, a few days after signing up for your free trial you will see a debit taken from your credit card. Call to ask them why, and they will say your account has been reactivated and you have been charged for it.
- Are you trying to go insolvent and need a copy of your credit report on paper? Your insolvency proceeding will have expired by the time you get your paper report. Okay, so I exaggerate a little, but it will take epic amounts of time and nagging them before you will receive it.
- Experian sells your email address to third party companies and spammers. They claim they do not, but that can only mean that they have security leaks because spammers will get your email address. We have tested this and it is true, a brand new email address will receive spam after signing up to Experian.
Visit Experian Here (But Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You)
Conclusion – These Are Your Three Options
None of the suggestions on this article are perfect, but they are the best of a bad bunch. We tried quite a few credit monitoring services, and these three are the only ones we dare suggest you try.
I think Credit Sesame is the best credit monitoring service. I think Credit Karma is the second best. Experian should only be used if you are going insolvent/bankrupt and you need a paper credit report, or if you need a detailed report and you are prepared to pay their monthly fees.
If you are in trouble with your credit rating and you want slightly faster results, then there is CreditRepair.com
if you are not in trouble, but you would like to keep a tighter check on your finances (income, outgoings, taxes, etc.), then Personal Capital (Personal Finance Software) may be helpful.
As a final note, no matter which service you think is the best credit monitoring service, you probably shouldn’t use your main email address to sign up. Most people have a main/primary email address, a work one, and a few backups that they check every now and again. You should sign up with one of your backups that you only check infrequently. I say this because we tested a lot of credit services to find the best credit monitoring service, and each time we used new (free) email addresses that we can burn (close) when we finish. Every time we signed up, we started receiving spam emails on our new email accounts. The sale or theft of email addresses is rife in the credit-monitoring industry, which is why I suggest you do not use your main/primary email address to sign up.