What Is Three-Bureau Credit Monitoring?
Credit monitoring is an essential tool for tracking changes to your credit score and spotting the signs of fraud early. But not all credit monitoring services offer the same level of accuracy or speed of alerts — and this could put your finances at risk.
Three-bureau credit monitoring tracks and alerts you to changes on your credit reports at all three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Without three-bureau monitoring, you could miss changes or new accounts that were only reported to one of your credit reports.
Even worse, some services wait for the bureaus to inform them of changes — sometimes days or weeks after the change happened. This delay leaves you vulnerable to damages to your good credit, financial fraud, and even identity theft.
In this guide, we’ll cover what three-bureau credit monitoring does, how to choose the right service, and five of the best options available in 2023.
By the end, you’ll have everything you need to choose the credit monitoring and identity fraud protection service that’s best for you.
The Top 5 Three-Bureau Credit Monitoring Apps of 2023
Three-bureau credit monitoring services monitor your credit reports at all three major bureaus and alert you of any changes or suspicious activity.
However, these tools differ in what they report (all changes to your credit report vs. major changes), the speed at which they alert you, and the additional support they offer if you become the victim of identity theft and fraud.
That’s why most people choose to go with an identity theft protection service that includes 3-bureau credit monitoring.
Identity theft protection often costs about the same (or less) than standalone credit monitoring services. Plus, modern identity theft protection services don’t just monitor and alert you to signs of fraud on your personal information and financial account — many proactively help prevent identity theft with powerful digital security and scam protection tools.
And in the case of fraud or identity theft, you get White Glove Fraud Resolution support and up to $1 million in ID theft insurance.
Here are our top choices for the best identity theft protection and 3-bureau credit monitoring services.
1. Aura: Award-winning protection with the fastest fraud alerts
While Aura is a relatively new company, its all-in-one digital security solution has already won awards from Money.com, Security.org, Identity Theft Protection Review, and more.
Every Aura plan includes three-bureau credit monitoring, as well as more services to protect your finances and identity, including:
- Fraud alerts that are more reliable and faster than competing services. A 2022 mystery shopper study conducted by ath Power Consulting reported that Aura discovered more credit report changes (such as new accounts, inaccuracies in your credit information, and hard inquires) and alerted consumers up to 250x faster than other services.
- Free credit scores with monthly and annual trends. Aura helps you keep on top of your credit profile with monthly scores (and trends) using the VantageScore scoring model.
- One-click Experian credit lock to protect you against scammers. Lock and unlock your Experian credit file with a single click to stop lenders from seeing your credit history and scammers from opening new accounts or taking out loans in your name.
- Bank account, investment account, and transaction monitoring. Aura can also monitor your other financial accounts and send you notifications of any suspicious activity — such as a large withdrawal from your credit or debit card or new student loans or PayDay loans in your name.
- Easy-to-use mobile app to track your credit from anywhere. All of Aura’s features and alerts are available either through a desktop or mobile app.
- Award-winning identity theft protection. Aura also monitors your most sensitive personal information — such as your Social Security number (SSN), passport and other ID, and more — across public records, the internet, and even the Dark Web.
- Powerful digital security tools to prevent fraud and identity theft. Every Aura account includes tools that protect your data, devices, and network from hackers and scammers. This includes a secure password manager, virtual private network (VPN), Vault to store your sensitive data, and more.
- 24/7 U.S.-based Fraud Resolution specialists. If you need help, Aura’s support team is available 24/7 to help you understand every line of your credit report, secure your accounts against fraudsters, and even deal with credit agencies, banks, and credit card companies in the event that your identity is stolen.
- Up to $1,000,000 in identity theft insurance. Every adult member on an Aura plan is covered for up to $1,000,000 in eligible losses due to identity theft — including lost wages, lawyer fees, childcare, and more.
- 14-day free trial and a 60-day money-back guarantee. You can try Aura risk-free with either a 14-day trial or a 60-day money-back guarantee on annual plans.
What does a 3-bureau credit alert from Aura look like?
Three-bureau credit monitoring protects you by alerting you to changes or suspicious activity on your credit report. But not all services provide enough information about the activity to help you know what to do.
Every Aura alert includes in-depth information on the change, including the creditor, type of business, amount, credit bureau where it was reported, date, and how to contact the creditor. You’ll also get details on why you’re getting this alert, how to resolve it yourself, and how to contact Aura to help.
Every second counts when it comes to mitigating the damages of financial fraud. That’s why it pays to choose a service like Aura that provides fast, in-depth, and detailed fraud alerts.
Aura plans and pricing
Aura offers simple and transparent pricing. All plans include the same features —the only difference is the number of people you want to protect — yourself, you and a partner or spouse, or your whole family.
- Individual Plan: $12 per month (billed annually)
- Couple Plan (2 members): $22 per month (billed annually)
- Family Plan (5 adults and unlimited children): $37 per month (billed annually)
Aura’s Family Plan also includes additional features such as parental controls, Safe Gaming tools to protect against predators and cyberbullies, and child identity monitoring.
🥇 Special offer: Save 50% on Aura when you sign up today! All annual memberships come with a 60-day money-back guarantee.
What do real customers say about using Aura?
Aura currently has a 4.8-star rating on Trustpilot [*] (a third-party review site).
Here’s what real customers had to say about Aura’s service and features:
- Fast fraud alerts that saved me money: “Aura caught several fraud attempts early on and were able to mitigate the damage almost immediately. I will not be without this service. It is a very wise investment!”
- Customer service went above and beyond: “Service is over and beyond what I expected. After I reached out, my Aura rep called each creditor and checked my credit reports and offered great follow-up advice. If you want peace of mind, you need Aura.”
- Held my hand through the entire identity recovery process: “When my identity was stolen I felt violated, scared, and unprotected. I called Aura and was put in touch with a member of their White Glove team. They explained what we needed to do together. They didn’t say here’s a number and this is what you do. Anyone who goes through this needs the kind of protection and kindness that Aura provides.”
2. Identity Guard: Household name trusted by millions
Identity Guard is an industry veteran in the identity theft space. Since launching more than 25 years ago, Identity Guard has helped protect over 38 million people against identity theft and fraud. Identity Guard and Aura recently joined forces to provide modern identity theft protection to more Americans.
Identity Guard includes 3-bureau credit monitoring on two of its plan options: Total and Ultra. (Note: the Value plan doesn’t include 3-bureau credit monitoring).
Identity Guard pros and cons:
Identity Guard plans and pricing
Here are Identity Guard’s pricing plans as of April 2023:
- Value Plan: $8.99 per month (individual) and $14.99 (family)
- Total Plan: $19.99 per month (individual) and $29.99 (family)
- Ultra Plan: $29.99 per month (individual) and $39.99 (family)
The bottom line on Identity Guard
Identity Guard currently has a 4.6-star rating on TrustPilot [*] making it another solid option for comprehensive protection including three-bureau credit monitoring. However, Aura offers more credit protection and monitoring services at a lower price for individuals.
3. IdentityForce: Popular (but expensive) choice for credit protection
IdentityForce is the identity theft protection solution offered by TransUnion (one of the three major credit reporting agencies).
IdentityForce is well known for its credit protection. However, full credit protection is only offered with the highest priced plan: UltraSecure +Credit. Additionally, they will only help you freeze your credit; IdentityForce does not offer credit locks.
IdentityForce pros and cons:
IdentityForce plans and pricing
Here are IdentityForce’s pricing plans as of April 2023:
- UltraSecure (individual): $17.99/month or $179.50 billed annually
- UltraSecure+Credit (individual): $23.95/month or $239.50 billed annually
The bottom line on IdentityForce
IdentityForce is a popular choice for comprehensive credit protection — but only on its most expensive plan. It’s also missing a few key features, such as credit lock and more comprehensive digital security.
⛳️ Related: Aura vs. LifeLock – 2023 Comparison and Showdown →
4. PrivacyGuard: Flexible credit and identity theft protection
PrivacyGuard lets you choose between credit protection, identity protection, or total protection (which includes both credit and identity protection). Here’s the difference:
The credit protection includes three-bureau credit monitoring, a financial calculator suite to manage your personal finances, and a few other types of credit protection.
The identity protection plan includes identity restoration services and $1 million in identity theft insurance. There’s no overlap between the credit and identity protection plans.
While PrivacyGuard’s credit protection is fairly comparable to other services, its identity theft protection is lacking a few key features such as 24/7 customer support and a password manager.
PrivacyGuard pros and cons:
PrivacyGuard plans and pricing
Here are PrivacyGuard’s pricing plans as of April 2023:
- Identity Protection. Starts from $9.99/month — only offers basic identity protection.
- Credit Protection. Starts from $19.99/month — includes monthly three-bureau credit scores.
- Total Protection. Starts from $24.99/month — offers everything in both plans.
The bottom line on PrivacyGuard
PrivacyGuard is an attractive option if you’re only looking for credit monitoring, but is still more expensive than other services that offer more features. Plus, its Total Protection plan is lacking when compared to other services (such as Aura and Identity Guard).
5. myFICO: Good for FICO credit score monitoring
myFICO is the credit score monitoring app offered by FICO®. Although it focuses on monitoring your FICO® score, myFico does offer a few monitoring features. For example, Dark Web surveillance, three-bureau credit monitoring, and bank and credit monitoring. However, all of these features are only included in the Advanced and Premier plans.
myFICO’s Basic plan provides one-bureau credit monitoring, monthly credit score tracking, monthly scores for mortgages and auto loans, identity restoration services, and identity theft insurance.
Like many credit score apps, myFICO doesn’t offer any digital or online protection with any plan.
myFICO pros and cons:
myFICO plans and pricing
Here are myFICO’s pricing plans as of April 2023:
- Basic plan (FICO scores and monitoring only): Free
- Advanced plan: $29.95 per month
- Premier plan: $39.95 per month
- One-bureau credit report (one-off): $19.95
- Three-bureau credit report (one-off): $59.85
The bottom line on myFICO
myFICO can be useful for credit score updates and credit monitoring. However, it’s not a full service identity theft protection solution.
⛳️ Related: 7 Best Credit Monitoring Apps (with Recommendations) →
Bonus: Credit Karma: Two-bureau monitoring (with added features)
Credit Karma is a good option if you’re shopping around for loans (rather than looking to protect yourself against identity theft and fraud).
Credit Karma’s main feature is its loan application simulator. Based on information from two of your credit files, it will recommend credit cards, loans, and more.
Unfortunately, Credit Karma only monitors your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports. This means you’ll miss out on any changes or signs of fraud on your Experian credit file.
⛳️ Related: Is Credit Monitoring Worth It? How To Decide →
Do You Need To Pay for a Credit Monitoring Service?
The truth is that no, you don’t have to pay for credit monitoring services.
Everyone is entitled to one free credit report per year from all three major credit bureaus at annualcreditreport.com. If you want to, you can check your own credit reports for unrecognized new accounts or incorrect information.
But there are two main problems with this method.
First, any additional credit reports come at a cost. This means that you could have to pay a significant amount to make sure you’re not the victim of fraud.
And second, who has the time to check their credit reports every week?
Instead, credit protection and identity theft protection services monitor your credit reports around the clock and alert you to suspicious activity. If you want to stay safe from fraudsters and cybercriminals, credit monitoring is essential.
⛳️ Related: How To Read Your Credit Reports (and Dispute Errors) →
Final Verdict: Get Affordable and Comprehensive Protection
It’s important to note that not all credit protection services are the same. Even paid credit monitoring apps often run into one of these serious issues:
- Lack of coverage. They only offer one- or two-bureau credit monitoring. This leaves you in the dark when it comes to potential fraud. Most free credit monitoring services only monitor one bureau.
- Too expensive. Many providers only offer three-bureau credit monitoring as part of their highest pricing plan. For more affordable options or free services, you only get one- or two-bureau monitoring.
- No proactive alerts. They only send you alerts for major changes, instead of all changes. This means you could miss red flags indicating that your credit was damaged or your identity has been compromised.
- Delays between fraud events and when you get an alert. Many credit monitoring providers wait for credit bureaus to notify them of changes before sending you an alert. This means there’s a delay (of several hours or longer) between when the fraud happens and when you know about it.
With Aura, you get three-bureau credit monitoring with the industry’s fastest and most reliable fraud alerts on every plan. Plus, every account includes award-winning identity theft protection, powerful digital security tools, 24/7 White Glove Fraud Resolution specialists, and up to $1 million in identity theft insurance.