Is Credit Monitoring Worth the Cost?
Only a third of Americans typically check their credit scores each year, but it’s important to know yours even if you’re not currently planning to apply for a loan, mortgage or credit card. That’s because your credit report is of interest to more than just lenders. Fraudsters and identity thieves thrive on dormant or unattended credit reports. Find out why credit monitoring is worth the cost, and how to get the most out of this valuable service.
How Credit Monitoring Works
The task of compiling credit reports falls to three agencies only in the U.S. — TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Every time you apply for a mortgage, personal loan, credit card, store card or car loan, the lender will request your credit score from one or all of these bureaus. You are entitled to one free credit report from these agencies per year, giving you an annual snapshot of any changes in your credit score or soft and hard inquiries on your report.
For a more in-depth overview of your credit score, there’s the option of using a credit monitoring service such as SmartCredit, which usually carries a monthly fee. The advantage is that you gain more insight into the factors that contribute to your credit score and will be alerted to any changes in your profile — notably, hard searches by lenders could impact your score. Credit monitoring is worth the cost if you want to take a more proactive approach to achieving your best possible credit score.
Are Free Credit Monitoring Services Enough?
Alongside the annual report from the three main credit bureaus, you can also find free credit monitoring services online. While few of us would quibble with a free service, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to lose. For a start, free credit monitoring services won’t usually pull data from all three credit bureaus, leaving you with an incomplete picture. More importantly, these services offer limited identity theft protection. The stark reality is that fraudsters are relentless and persistent, and they can slip easily undetected through anything but the most robust defences.
The Value-Added Services to Look Out for in Credit Monitoring
An annual credit report will tell you where you are now, but achieving your best possible credit score starts with learning more about your patterns and behavior. The best credit monitoring services provide insightful tools to help you manage your money, as well as actionable advice on developing sound financial behavior. They also offer the full picture.
With SmartCredit monitoring, you have access to a complete 3B report and scores. Fraud protection is another powerful feature. While no credit monitoring service can prevent fraud, SmartCredit’s $1 million ID Fraud Insurance benefit limits your exposure if the worst were to happen.
Key Benefits of Credit Monitoring
Given that 14.4 million Americans were victims of identity fraud in 2018, there’s a compelling reason to go onto the offensive against fraudsters. With regular, thorough credit monitoring, you can block access to your credit report if your identity has been compromised and stop unauthorized credit checks through a credit freeze. Sometimes, it doesn’t even need a malicious attack to impact your credit score. According to the Federal Trade commission, some 25 percent of consumers identified errors in their credit reports. The time to discover errors in your report is not when you are applying for an important loan or mortgage.
With regular credit monitoring, you can better manage your score and pursue sound financial planning. SmartCredit offers an industry-leading suite of credit monitoring services to help give you full transparency and control over your credit report. To find out more, start here.
Forbes – Credit Monitoring: Is It Worth Paying for?
Investopedia – The 5 Best Credit Monitoring Services of 2021
Fox Business – Is it worth paying for credit monitoring?
CBC – Keeping private information private: Are credit monitoring systems worth the cost?