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Best Credit Monitoring Services

Credit monitoring services can provide you with early notice of potential fraud on your credit report, so you can take steps to protect your personal information. While these services can't actually prevent identity theft, they can inform you so you can take action if you notice something amiss.

Many services scan the dark web for your information and monitor your public records, which is not easy for individuals to do on their own.

There are two types of credit monitoring services: basic and premium. Basic services are free to use and don't require you to enter a credit card when you sign up, while premium services cost anywhere from $8.99 to $39.95 per month. When choosing between free and paid credit monitoring services, it's a trade-off between choosing a free service with limited coverage or a premium service with comprehensive protection.

Before you pay for a service, consider whether you qualify for a free credit monitoring program. As a result of a number of high-profile data breach settlements, including Equifax in 2017 and Capital One in 2019, millions of Americans have access to free credit monitoring services. If you've been affected by a data breach, you can file a free credit monitoring request through the company's settlement website.

Here's what to consider before signing up for a credit monitoring service:

Cost: These services are usually paid monthly.

How many credit bureaus are monitored: Best Services monitors all three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. This is also called triple desk protection.

Which form of credit scoring is used: FICO Score vs. VantageScore. It's worth noting that FICO is used in most loan decisions.

Dark Web Scanning: These services will search the dark web for your name, social security number, address, and other personal information.

Identity Theft Insurance: This insurance covers the eligible costs associated with resolving identity theft and restoring your identity if it has been compromised.

To determine the best credit monitoring services, CNBC Select analyzed and compared 12 services that offer a variety of free and premium plans that offer different levels of credit protection based on the above features. (Learn more about our methodology.)

While these services can alert you to changes in your credit profile and help you fix any mistakes, it's important to understand what you can and can't do with credit monitoring. You still need to be proactive in taking steps to prevent identity theft.

Below, select reviews of the six best credit monitoring services that can help you monitor your credit and receive alerts about potential fraud.

Best free credit monitoring services

Best Overall Free Service: CreditWise® by Capital One

Runner-up: Free credit monitoring from Experian

Best paid credit monitoring services

Best Paid Service Overall: IdentityForce®

Description: Privacy Guard™

Best for families: Experian IdentityWorks℠

Best for the most accurate credit score: FICO® Advanced

Best free credit monitoring services

If you are not willing to pay money for a credit monitoring service, you can consider one of these free options. While there are many benefits to subscribing to a free service, including regular credit score updates, you won't have access to the triple credit monitoring system and identity theft insurance, among other premium benefits.

The best free all-in-one service

CreditWise® by Capital One

CreditWise® by Capital One

learn more

CreditWise information was collected independently by Select and was not reviewed or provided by Capital One prior to publication.


for free

Credit bureau monitoring

TransUnion and Experian

A form of credit account used


Dark web scanning


identity insurance


See our methodology, conditions apply.

Who is this for? CreditWise® by Capital One is a free credit monitoring service that doesn't require you to enter a credit card number to sign up and offers a wide variety of features.

Plus it's open to anyone—whether you're a Capital One cardholder or not. If you're a Capital One customer, CreditWise features are built into the Capital One mobile app, so you also don't need to download the CreditWise app.

Consumers receive an updated TransUnion credit score every week and real-time updates on their TransUnion and Experian credit reports. Unlike other free services, CreditWise features dark web scanning and social media tracking.