Years ago, I signed up for a paid service offered through my credit card company and found it pretty convenient. It was a load off my mind to have the company tell me each month that my credit reports looked fine and there weren’t any signs of suspicious activity. Lulled into complacency by the lack of activity, I dropped the service, but now that I’ve heard about free credit monitoring services, it’s time to look around again.
Best Online Credit Report Services With Free Trials
So how do you go about getting your free credit report and score? Let’s take a look at credit monitoring services that are available with free trials. It may be worth assessing if a service like this is something that you’d like to try, especially if you’re in the market to apply for a loan somewhere in the near future. They’re also a good idea if you want the peace of mind of having your credit in good standing. So where can we evaluate such services?
Check Out the Credit Bureaus
The major credit bureaus are a great source for free credit monitoring. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are the bureaus that maintain our credit reports and offer varying services with free trials.
Experian has a Triple Advantage plan that will let me look over my Experian credit report and score. It can also keep tabs on my other credit reports online and can send me alerts if any key changes appear. The trial lasts seven days; after that, the service is $14.95 a month.
During a thirty-day free trial, TransUnion offers 3-Bureau Credit Monitoring with access to all three credit reports, twenty-four hour notification of changes to the reports and up to $25,000 of identity theft insurance, plus more benefits. After the trial, the service costs $14.95 a month.
Now if you’re interested in checking out your Equifax credit report and score, then here’s where you can go for more information. Equifax has many credit products that can help you track your credit closely.
Check Out 3rd Party Services
Along with products from the 3 major credit bureaus, there are also quite a good number of 3rd party credit monitoring services that can offer you credit reports, credit scores, identity theft protection and more. Here’s a list of such services you can check out.
As you can see, these services offer free trial periods.
Ask at the Bank
You could also get free credit monitoring at a local bank. Bank of America offers Privacy Assist Premier for a thirty-day free trial. With it, you can gain access to your credit scores and files online; an online credit analyzer tool; Internet Surveillance; identity theft insurance; and more. After the trial, it’s $12.99 a month.
Citibank has a similar service called Citi IdentityMonitor. It can send you alerts when new accounts are opened in your name, it gives you 24/7 access to your credit reports scores, and analysis, ID Theft Expense Reimbursement Coverage, and more. During the 30-day trial, the service is free. After that, it’s $12.95 a month.
A one month trial would give you long enough to evaluate these services and decide if you can get enough value from the service to pay for it or not.
Read the News & the Fine Print
Unfortunately, sometimes we’re offered credit monitoring because of a security failure at an establishment we trust or because of a class action lawsuit. CNN details one such settlement that TransUnion made in 2008. (Its deadline passed in September 2008). The Department of Veteran Affairs also pledged to provide credit monitoring after a data loss, according to the New York Times.
If you’ve been notified of an identity theft problem or other instance where you’re offered free credit monitoring, be sure to study the details. For instance, if the free offer only lasts for one year, will you have to pick up the tab for continued monitoring? Make a note in your calendar before the free monitoring ends in case you want to cancel it or need to add the amount to your check register.
DIY Can Be Free, Too
There’s a way to get free credit monitoring, according to Bankrate.com. Among the strategies: visit AnnualCreditReport.com to get your free annual credit reports; get your report free when you’re job hunting or have been denied credit; and you should check your credit card statements for errors and fix them before they hit your credit reports.
Spend a few minutes searching and you’ll find plenty of offers for free credit monitoring. However, before you sign up for one of them, you should read the service agreement. See how long the free coverage lasts, if your credit card will be billed automatically when the free period ends, and how much you’ll be charged each month. Also, you should find out ahead of time if there any penalties for canceling the service.
In addition, you might want to see if the credit monitoring company is run by one of the credit bureaus or another parent company. That way, you can do some price comparisons before you lock yourself into a service.