Which Credit Monitoring Service Updates Most Frequently?
I am trying to find a credit monitoring service that will give me unlimited daily access to reports and scores from all 3 credit reporting companies. Many do not allow you to get up-to-date information on a daily basis, only monthly or quarterly, or just monitor the three reports. Credit scores can change often and I would like to be able to watch changes regularly.
Thanks for your question Bob. It is valuable to regularly track your credit scores and reports. However, to do that effectively, you will need to have the following information:
You have more than one credit score:
Everyone who has a credit history has at least four main credit scores, and three major credit reports. (You actually have more than that, but the vast majority of lenders use one of the four credit scores and three main credit reports for lending decisions, so we will concentrate on those).
To put it simply, each of the three main credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) keeps a credit report on you, and they have their own credit scoring system. FICO also keeps a credit score for you, but not an individual credit report.
The problem that you are going to run into when you try to track your credit score is simple: Which credit score is the most important for you to track?
Your FICO score is probably the most important score for you to track, but truthfully there are just as many lenders who use credit scores from one of the three credit bureaus when they make lending decisions.
Which credit score to use in a credit check is completely up to the lender. It used to be done by location because the lender would check the credit bureau that was closest to them. However, with the advent of the internet, it became easier and more cost effective to check people’s credit reports at any of the bureaus. So today, it’s really anyone’s guess which credit bureau (or FICO) a lender will check before they issue you a loan.
Whew. So, with all that said, what should you do if you just want to monitor your credit scores and reports? From your question, I understand that you also want to be able to track your scores in real time, or as close to that as you can get.
The bad news is, there are no credit score monitoring services that update hourly, or even daily. There are services that advertise “constant” tracking of your credit score – be careful of those. The ones that I have seen advertised don’t even use one of your four main credit scores, but rather, a replication of them, and they don’t always disclose which credit bureau they get their information from.
Your best bet is to go straight to the source(s) – purchase your monitoring directly from one of the three main credit bureaus or FICO because they will have the most up-to-date information. Be sure that you read the fine print from them too though. Each program offered is different, and updates differently.
If you want the most complete picture of your credit, you should track all three of your credit reports and scores from the three main credit bureaus, plus your FICO score.
To simplify all of the programs out there, and make an individual suggestion for you, I recommend a combination of True Credit from Transunion, and Score Watch from FICO.
Features of True Credit:
True Credit costs about $15 a month, and gives you access to all three credit reports, and all three credit scores. It updates monthly – which unfortunately is about the best you’re going to get in terms of real-time information. The only negative of True Credit (and I have used it personally) is that they frequently show distracting “targeted” advertising along with your scores and reports.
Features of Score Watch from FICO –
Score Watch gives you access to your Equifax credit report (which you will not need if you purchase True Credit – you will have a bit of an overlap.) However, it gives you weekly updates and tracking of your FICO score. It costs around $9 / month.
So, based off of this individual recommendation, for around $24 a month, you can get monthly monitoring of all three credit bureau’s reports and scores, plus weekly monitoring of your FICO score.
That’s the most comprehensive, cheapest option available right now. It is my hope that soon we will be able to have real-time tracking of FICO scores, and our three-credit bureau reports and scores. Right now though, that’s just not available.
Thanks for your question!