Credit monitoring services can provide you with an easy way to track your personal information (including your credit card and social security numbers) so you can know if it’s been compromised. Many of these services also keep you up-to-date on changes to your credit score. But most only track one type of score, when in reality there are dozens you might want to know about.
That’s why FICO credit monitoring stands out. Customers receive access to 28 versions of their FICO Score, which means they can know the most accurate scores before applying for a credit card, auto loan and/or mortgage.
FICO offers three programs: Basic, Advanced and Premier. These services range from $19.95 to $39.95 per month, but the expense can be worthwhile for the protection and perks you receive.
Here’s a comparison of what each FICO plan has to offer, so you can decide what amount of coverage is best for you.
Information about FICO® Basic, Advanced and Premier plans have been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the company prior to publication.
$19.95 to $39.95 per month
Experian for Basic plan or Experian, Equifax and TransUnion for Advanced and Premier plans
Yes, for Advanced and Premier plans
What FICO credit monitoring services offer
FICO Basic, Advanced and Premier services all alert you of potential fraud, such as someone opening a new loan in your name or a spike in your credit card balance. The plans also offer access to 28 versions of your credit score, which is great for gauging which financial products you may qualify for.
The main differences between the plans are the cost, number of credit reports monitored and identity theft alerts.
Here’s how the three services compare across four key factors: cost, the number of credit bureaus monitored, identity theft insurance and identity monitoring alerts.
While there are free credit monitoring services available, FICO charges for each of its plans. Here are the costs:
- Basic: $19.95 per month
- Advanced: $29.95 per month
- Premier: $39.95 per month
Winner: The Basic plan is the best low-cost option, but if you want more comprehensive coverage, you should consider Advanced or Premier.
Number of credit bureaus monitored
When you’re comparing services, it’s key to review which credit bureaus are monitored. Triple-bureau protection is the best option because you can review your information at all three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
Here’s a breakdown of the number of the credit bureaus each plan monitors:
- Basic: Experian
- Advanced: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion
- Premier: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion
Basic and Premier provide credit report updates every month, while Advanced updates your credit report quarterly.
Winner: Premier is the winner since it offers triple-bureau protection and a monthly updated credit report.
Identity theft insurance
Identity theft insurance is a hallmark of paid credit monitoring services, providing you with reimbursement for eligible expenses when your identity is compromised as a result of data breaches, fraud, theft, forgery and stolen identity.
All FICO plans offer the standard coverage of up to $1 million to help you recoup expenses and legal costs associated with recovering your identity.
Winner: Tie, since all plans offer up to $1 million in identity theft insurance.
Identity monitoring alerts
While you can manage monitoring your credit file on your own, it’s more difficult to scan the dark web for your personal information. To make things easier, the Advanced and Premier plans monitor your identity by scanning thousands of websites, chat rooms and other online databases for the buying, selling or trading of your personal information.
These plans also review public records for additional signs of identity theft, such as new names or addresses connected with your social security number. If your information is found on any of these places, you’ll receive an alert.
The Basic plan doesn’t offer identity monitoring alerts.
Winner: Tie between the Advanced and Premier, since both services offer identity monitoring.
If you’re in the market for a well-rounded credit monitoring plan, FICO Advanced is your best choice. The mid-tier plan comes with triple-bureau credit monitoring, identity theft alerts, up to $1 million in identity theft insurance and access to 28 FICO Scores. Plus this plan has a more manageable cost than the Premier plan, and offers nearly all of the same coverage. The only drawback is that you get credit report updates once every three months, rather than once a month.
If you want to receive monthly credit reports updates, FICO Premier is the plan for you. However, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion are now offering free credit reports to all Americans on a weekly basis through April 2021 via AnnualCreditReport.com.
The FICO Basic plan is a decent choice if you want a cheaper service that offers identity theft insurance.
But if you don’t want to pay roughly $20 or more a month, consider opting for a free credit monitoring service like CreditWise®. You’ll receive dark web surveillance and social security number alerts, plus alerts for changes to your TransUnion and Experian credit reports.
Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.