What to Look for in a Credit Monitoring Service

It’s an unfortunate side effect of the rapid evolution of technology that criminals have many opportunities to steal credit card information and identities. We all want to protect ourselves against identity theft, but you may be wondering how to accomplish that.

One option is to enroll in a credit monitoring service. These services offer consumers some comfort. They can’t prevent somebody from trying to steal your identity, but they do offer the peace of mind knowing you’ll be alerted if there are unusual charges on your account.

Of course, not all credit monitoring services are created equal. Here are some things to look for as you shop for the service that best suits your needs.

Credit Report Checks

Since the goal of monitoring your credit is to protect it, it should come as no surprise that the first thing to look for is a service that will routinely check your credit report and advise you of changes. Monitoring your credit report will allow you to keep on top of anything unexpected or unusual.

You can get one free credit report from each of the credit bureaus per year, but a credit monitoring service can and should provide you with ongoing information.

Credit Applications

If someone has stolen your identity, the first indication of the theft may be an application for credit in your name. For example, a thief might apply for a new credit card or loan using information they stole from you.

Many credit monitoring services track credit applications and will notify you when a new application is made in your name. That way, you can act immediately to protect your identity if there’s a problem. Not all monitoring services offer this protection, so make sure to ask.

Customizable Notifications

The next thing to look for is whether the company you’re considering will allow you to customize notifications. Many companies do and it’s a good way to be confident that you’re getting the information you need.

Here are some examples of notifications you might want to get:

  • Purchases over a certain dollar amount
  • Purchases made online
  • Purchases made overseas
  • New credit applications in your name
  • Changes in your credit score
  • Public filings (these include tax liens and judgments)

Ideally, you’ll be able to pick the notifications you want. That way, you’ll be notified of anything unusual, so you can take the measures necessary to protect yourself.

Coverage Limits

This isn’t common, but sometimes credit monitoring services offer reimbursement for costs associated with identity theft and credit card fraud. For example, some may provide up to a million dollars in reimbursement, making the coverage a form of insurance, as well.

However, what you should keep in mind is that if you notify your credit card issuer of the problem, you’ll sometimes only be liable for $50 of unauthorized charges. That’s not much, and in some cases monitoring services may offer that impressive-sounding limit to justify the high cost of their service.

The Essential Credit Card Fraud Prevention and Detection Guide


Credit monitoring services aren’t free. At the low end of the scale, you can expect to pay $10 or $15 per month for protection. Some services may charge significantly more than that.

If you add family members or additional services, you may pay as much as $25 per month. That’s $400 per year – not an insignificant amount of money.

Some services offer a discount if you pay for a whole year of monitoring up front. It’s a good idea to make some cost comparisons before you commit to a service.

What Credit Monitoring Services Can’t Do

To finish, let’s talk about what credit monitoring services can’t do. While they do offer some protection and the peace of mind knowing you’ll be notified of unusual activity, they can’t do any of these things.

  • They can’t prevent thieves from stealing your credit card information – they’ll only notify you after the fact.
  • They can’t prevent people from sending you fraudulent (phishing) emails or prevent you from opening them.
  • They can’t correct mistakes on your credit report.
  • They can’t prevent someone from applying for credit in your name.
  • They can’t restore your identity after it’s been stolen.

Monitoring services are a tool you can use to stay on top of your credit and be notified immediately of fraud or identity theft. They’re not a preventive measure, but they do offer comfort and a feeling of security for some people.

Credit monitoring services can be useful, but it’s important to remember that you can monitor your credit without their help. Many card issuers, including Addition Financial, offer some protection that can help ease your worries about identity theft.

All of Addition Financial’s Visa credit cards are secured with Visa’s Zero Liability fraud protection as well as Visa purchase alerts. You’ll get real-time alerts whenever a purchase meets the criteria you selected during enrollment – whether that’s reaching a purchase amount threshold, international purchases or purchases made on the internet or over the phone. Learn more about the security measures of our Visa credit cards and how to apply here.

The content provided here is not legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. Please consult with legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific needs or questions you may have. We do not make any guarantees as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not support any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability or legal obligations for your use of this information.


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