A credit report is a detailed account of a person’s credit history, as gathered by credit bureaus from sources such as banks, credit card companies, and collection agencies. This information can include an individual’s identity, public records, and existing credit, as well as their employment history, past and present credit agreements, and debts. Credit bureaus then express a person's credit information numerically as a three-digit credit score that determines their creditworthiness.

Since credit reports also reflect how timely an individual’s payments have been, how much is owed, and how long those accounts have been open, they're typically used by financial institutions in order to determine a person’s likelihood of repaying their debts, which can impact their borrowing ability both negatively and positively. There are several ways of obtaining credit reports and scores, such as requesting them from a non-profit credit counselor, through a credit reporting agency, or via credit monitoring services.

Credit reporting services are agencies that monitor a client’s credit report from one or more of the three main bureaus, issue alerts when there are changes, and offer advice and instruction for credit improvement. Some also provide identity theft insurance and assistance. These services are ideal for people who wish to improve or maintain their current credit score. Though every American has been entitled to one free credit report per year since 1970, credit reporting services are good choices for people who would like to be updated more frequently, have continuous access to their credit profile, and receive insight into the mechanics of credit as well as up to the minute alerts on report changes or activity.

When selecting a credit reporting service, it is important to weigh its suite of extra services. These can include identity theft insurance and protection services, lost wallet assistance, official FICO scores, credit repair interventions with bureaus and creditors, customer assistance from credit experts, and mobile apps.

Before confirming the purchase of a credit reporting service plan, make certain you find out the following things. How frequently is one’s credit score updated? Is the FICO or VantageScore credit score model used? How will the user be alerted to fraud detection?

Top 10 Companies

Our Partner
9.2 / 10
  • Our #1 Rated Pick, A+ rating by BBB
  • Experian credit report is completely FREE
  • TRULY: No credit card required
  • Checking your own report doesn’t hurt your credit
  • Report refreshed every 30 days on sign up
Our Partner
9.1 / 10
  • Unlimited TransUnion score and report updates
  • Email updates of critical credit information changes
  • 1-Touch Credit Lock
  • Interactive graph of your score history
  • Personalized credit and debt analysis
  • Up to $1,000,000 in ID Theft Insurance
Our Partner
9.1 / 10
  • Experian is an official credit bureau
  • Get your FICO® score for $1
  • Credit reports from all 3 credit bureaus
  • Daily monitoring, toll-free support & 4.5 stars in Google Play
  • Identity Theft protection available
Our Partner
9.0 / 10
  • 7-day free trial
  • Unlimited access to your TransUnion credit score and report
  • Get instant access from the three major credit reporting bureaus
  • Daily credit monitoring
  • $1 million identity theft insurance
Our Partner
8.9 / 10
  • 3 Bureau credit reports and scores
  • Monthly score tracker
  • Instant alerts
  • $1 million ID theft insurance
  • Quarterly credit reporting
8.7 / 10
  • FICO score based reporting
  • 3 bureau credit score reporting
  • Mobile alerts
  • $1 million ID theft insurance
  • FICO score simulator
Our Partner
8.7 / 10
  • Free credit score with monitoring
  • NO credit card required
  • Upgrade available to monitor & fix ID Theft
  • 24/7 Expert support
  • Credit score monitoring included (Insurance available as a paid upgrade)
Our Partner
8.7 / 10
  • Free tools and insights to build business credit
  • Get started for free without credit card required
  • 24/7 credit monitoring
  • Real-time alerts
  • Vantage 3.0 score
  • Identity Theft Insurance
Our Partner
8.5 / 10
  • Get your credit reports starting at $24.95
  • Monthly credit reports and real-time financial insights
  • Industrial-strength ID protection
  • Real FICO® score tracker
  • US-based credit professionals
  • Credit repair as needed
  • 24/7 customer support via phone, chat, and email
8.1 / 10
  • Get free credit score online
  • Compare national average to your credit score
  • 14-Day trial for only $9.95
  • Monthly membership for as low as $29.94
  • Rated A by the BBB
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How We Compare Credit Reporting

Credit Score & Reports


Having credit reports from the three major credit bureaus is a must for anybody looking into credit reporting services. While everybody is entitled to a free yearly credit report from the three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax), some credit reporting services only provide one or two. We ranked companies who offer reports from all three major credit bureaus highly in our list of credit reporting providers.

Once you receive all three credit reports, read each of them thoroughly and be on the lookout for missing or incorrect information. By checking your reports on a yearly basis, you may be able to detect identity theft, or correct inaccurate details before they damage your credit.

First, make sure your personal information is correct, including name, social security number, date of birth, addresses, employment history, and marital status. Do the same with your public records to ensure that no bankruptcies, tax liens or lawsuits have been incorrectly attributed to you.

Then, go through the account histories section and review all open accounts. Make sure the accounts listed are in fact your own, that there are no accounts missing, and that no closed accounts are listed as open. Also, go through your payment history and verify there are no false late payments.

Lastly, check if any creditors or employers have unlawfully pulled your credit report without your authorization. Remember that hard credit inquiries can adversely affect your credit score if too many of them are requested over a long period of time.

Credit Bureaus Covered

There are 3 major credit bureaus that collect and maintain credit information for individuals. This shows which of these credit bureaus this credit reporting agency uses to generate your credit reports.

Credit Report Frequency

This is how often the credit reporting company will provide you with an updated credit report without requiring a hard inquiry to your credit or an additional cost.

Monitoring & Tools


The three major credit bureaus are legally required to provide a free yearly credit report. A major advantage of credit reporting companies is their ability to allow for increased and more detailed supervision of financial health, by providing reports in a monthly or quarterly fashion. However, credit reporting services are not just meant for sending out credit reports and scores. In fact, the broad other half of what they do revolves around credit monitoring and support tools. Some of these functions are purely informative, such as credit score calculators and interest rate messengers, whereas others delve into security concerns, and send out alerts anytime a change is detected in one's credit.

If a customer determines that an alerted change is incorrect, then the credit reporting service's identity theft protection comes into play. Typical services include not only identity theft monitoring, but also insurance and restoration, as well as credit report error assistance, in order to catch potential identity theft incidents before they take place.

Credit Tools

Credit Score Calculator - some companies offer tools that let you explore how your credit may be affected by certain actions, including making payments, transferring balances, opening or closing accounts, and receiving inquiries (sometimes called ""Credit Analyzer Tool"", ""FICO Score Simulator"", etc.)

Credit Change Alerts - receive alerts, and sometimes updated reports and scores, anytime your credit report changes

Historical Score Tracking - view how your FICO scores have changed over time in graphs and tables

Interest Rate Estimator - see how your FICO scores will affect interest rates you might receive for various types of loans

Social Media Insights - allows you to view which aspects of your online presence is potentially harmful and makes it easy to remove inappropriate or damaging posts

Unclaimed Money Search - allows you to run a search which checks government databases for money owed to you by someone who has been unable to track you down

Security & Protection

Identity Theft Monitoring - the company will monitor multiple sources to ensure your identity is not stolen; this includes activities such as scanning underground networks worldwide to spot exposure and illegal sales of your information and searching for alternate names (aliases) and addresses in public records that are associated with your Social Security number (SSN)

Identity Theft Insurance - if you become a victim of identity theft, this company will reimburse covered restoration expenses including legal fees, lost wages, and more

Identity Restoration Support - offers support representatives to assist you through the necessary steps if you become a victim of identity theft

Lost Wallet Protection - If your wallet is lost or stolen, this company can assist in canceling and replacing missing items

Credit Report Error Assistance - this company protects you from incorrect information on your credit report by helping you to correct the information with the major credit bureaus

Plans and Pricing


Credit reporting services generally have a number of different plans, whose price points depend on the amount of services offered. Many companies also offer trial periods, so potential customers can see the advantages of credit reporting services for themselves. These include not just credit reports, but also benefits such as credit monitoring. Trial services can be cancelled anytime, but failing to do so usually automatically enrolls you in a monthly program.

Entry level plans usually provide limited credit reporting and monitoring, with reports from the three major credit bureaus only available through higher tier plans. The most comprehensive plans can include features such as identity theft insurance for up to one million dollars, credit change alerts, score tracking over time, social media insights into harmful or inappropriate posts, unclaimed money searches of government databases, and interest rate estimators for potential loans. 

Reputation & Support


People generally sign up for credit reporting services once they've encountered a problem. At times of high stress, when your identity has been stolen, or you realize that your credit won't allow you to take out a loan, the quality of support services can make a huge difference. We've found that the most efficient companies employ a combination of dedicated fraud specialists and identity theft insurance, in order to ensure that you're financially covered during the whole process. Another important element to consider is the method by which companies contact their customers- ideally, they should use more than one (email, phone, and text). 

Finally, a company's reputation is a good indicator of their excellence and level of commitment to their customers. In an industry focused on support services, it's especially important to evaluate companies according to their third-party ratings on independent review websites such as TrustPilot and the Better Business Bureau. This shoukd be considered in addition to alert methods, pricing, support tools and services, as well as their actual credit reporting.

Alert Methods

These are the ways that the company can alert you to suspicious activity and potential identity theft. Options include via email, text, phone, or mobile app.

What's important to know about Credit Reporting?

What is a FICO score? How is it different from a credit score?

A FICO score is a rating which lenders may use to assess the risk associated with a borrower. This may manifest in regards to granting or extending credit. FICO is simply one type of credit score. While all indicate financial dependability, other credit scores relate to fields outside credit, such as property or insurance.

What is a good credit score range? What's the highest?

A credit score range refers to the percentile in which a credit score falls. In the case of FICO scores, the percentiles are graded along the spectrum of very poor, fair, good, very good, and exceptional. A good FICO range is between 670 and 739, while the highest possible score is 850.

How often does your credit score update?

The is no set period of time needed for a credit score to update. Depending on the circumstances, changes can occur for some once a week, while others will not see a change for months. Typically, frequent updates are dependent on specific alterations being made to one’s credit information.

What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA, is an enacted piece of federal legislation that aims to protect the accuracy, fairness, and the privacy of consumer information held by consumers reporting entities. It is intended to prevent occurrences in which false consumer information is used against him or her.

What are the three credit reporting agencies?

In the United States, there are three major credit reporting agencies. In order, they are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. In practice, each company aims to cache and update the credit history of every consumer in the country. Although all three may hold information on an individual, one company may have data that another does not.

What should I do if there's a mistake on my credit report?

If a mistake is found within a credit report, the first step should be to report it. With supplied evidence, the credit agency will investigate the claim within thirty days. Since credit histories are held by multiple companies, it is prudent to ensure that the mistake is not redundant by checking with the others.

Why is my FICO Score different from each of the three bureaus?

At Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, FICO scores and credit reports are calculated based cached information. Since one credit agency does not communicate, or compare notes, with another, generated scores and reports can vary greatly. This is due to these companies storing data and information that differs between one another.