Free Credit Scores From All 3 Major Credit Bureaus + Free Credit Monitoring Alerts + $50k in Free ID Theft Insurance
Updated for 2021. When I last applied for a credit card, I received multiple e-mails within minutes alerting me that someone had checked my credit report. This was reassuring, and yet I don’t pay any money to a credit monitoring service. This is my custom-made “suite” of free credit monitoring that covers all three major credit bureaus.
The government requires the credit bureaus to provide you a free credit report at least once every 12 months. However, the services listed below provide you a free credit score updated throughout the year either daily, weekly, or monthly. The best ones also offer free daily credit monitoring and/or free identity protection services. As of 2021, all three major credit bureaus are covered: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.
None of the services below require a trial or credit card number to sign up, so you don’t have to worry about any surprise charges. These are either ad-supported (they will pitch you stuff) and/or they are “freemium” services with a paid upgrade option (but you can stay on the free tier forever). Each of them offers something unique, and together form a comprehensive daily monitoring of your credit.
CreditKarma.com offers you two free credit scores, based on your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports and updated weekly (VantageScore). Score range is 300-850. They only require the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number. No trial or credit card required. The best part about Credit Karma is that you get two credit bureaus covered in one service.
Free credit monitoring. Credit Karma also offers free e-mail credit monitoring alerts of your TransUnion data.
Free identity theft monitoring. Credit Karma uses your email address to search and notify you of breached accounts and threats to your identity.
CreditSesame.com offers a free credit score every month, based on your TransUnion credit report (VantageScore 3.0). Score range is 300-850. They only require the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number. No trial or credit card required. The best part about Credit Sesame is that they include free $50,000 in ID theft insurance and live assistance.
Free daily credit monitoring. Credit Sesame offers free daily credit monitoring of your TransUnion data, with alerts coming via e-mail, text, or smartphone app.
Free identity protection and restoration services. Credit Sesame also includes $50,000 in identity theft insurance and live access to talk to identity restoration specialists in their free membership level.
FreeCreditScore.com offers a free credit score every month, based on your Experian credit report (FICO 08). Score range is 300-850. They require your full Social Security Number. No trial or credit card required. They don’t have ads, but instead bug you every single login to upgrade to their paid tier. The best part about FreeCreditScore.com is that they are a rare free option to track changes to your Experian report, which rounds out the two above. Separately, you can also opt-in to Experian Boost to improve your score (see below).
Free credit monitoring. They also offer free e-mail credit monitoring alerts of your Experian data.
Improve your credit score by adding utility payments. See that “Boosted” icon on the top left of the credit score screenshot? Experian Boost is a free option that can potentially improve your Experian-based credit score by adding on-time utility and phone bill payments. See my Experian Boost review.
WalletHub.com offers a free credit score based on your TransUnion credit report (VantageScore), updated daily. Score range is 300-850. They only require the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number. No trial or credit card required. The best part about WalletHub is that they offer daily access to your full TransUnion credit report, if for some reason you want to check your full report that often (actively repairing credit, ID theft restoration, etc).
Note that some of the scores above are not FICO scores because Fair Isaac charges more money in licensing fees and these companies may not be able to cover those costs with their advertising. If you really want a FICO number, nearly every major credit card issuer now includes a monthly FICO score with their cards: Chase, Citi, Bank of America, Discover, Barclaycard, and American Express.
However, these services are best at alerting you to changes in your credit history. I enjoy getting an email if a credit card balance is paid in full, if there is a new credit inquiry, or if my credit balance-to-limit utilization ratio gets too high on a specific credit line. This is also a great way to get early warning of any fraudulent activity.
Bottom line. Used in combination, I use the services above to keep track of changes to my credit reports across all three credit bureaus for free. None of them require my credit card number, and they quickly alert me to things like new accounts, new credit check inquiries, and high credit line usage.
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