myFICO credit monitoring service — Is it worth the money?

May 15, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

These days, there are a lot of products online claiming to help you monitor (and sometimes even improve) your credit score. While some of these paid services are a scam, there are a few that provide a real service to individuals who want a deeper look at their credit report and identity theft insurance.

But are these plans worth it? If you have a credit card, it’s likely that you have access to a credit monitoring service through your issuer where you can check your credit score. If so, what’s the real benefit to using a paid service like this? Today I’m running through the subscription options for myFICO to determine just that.

Want more personal finance tips and advice? Make sure to sign up for the TPG newsletter

In This Post

What is myFICO credit monitoring?

MyFico is the consumer division of FICO®, the Fair Isaac Corporation. The FICO credit score model is the most common credit score used by lenders in deciding your creditworthiness for a new account.

The site offers three levels of subscription-based credit report monitoring, from basic to premier. Here is a rundown of each level and the services each provides.

Basic – $19.95 per month

  • Experian credit reporting
  • Monthly updates
  • FICO Scores
  • Scores for mortgages, auto loans and more
  • Credit reports
  • Score and credit monitoring
  • $1 million identity theft insurance
  • 24/7 identity restoration services

Advanced – $29.95 per month

  • Complete 3-bureau coverage
  • Quarterly updates
  • FICO scores
  • Scores for mortgages, auto loans and more
  • Credit reports
  • Score and credit monitoring
  • $1 million identity theft insurance
  • 24/7 identity restoration services
  • Identity monitoring

Premier – $39.95

  • Complete 3-bureau coverage
  • Monthly updates
  • FICO scores
  • Scores for mortgages, auto loans and more
  • Credit reports
  • Score and credit monitoring
  • $1 million identity theft insurance
  • 24/7 identity restoration services
  • Identity monitoring

Each plan also provides a unique analysis of your FICO score. You’ll see where you stand compared to those with top scores in the 785+ range. You’ll see how your score could impact things like loan rates, monthly payments and more. And you can run simulations on what certain activities (such as opening a new credit card) may do for your score.

If you don’t want to pay for a subscription, you can also pay for a one-time report from one or all three of the major credit bureau.

Someone checking their credit score on a smart phone
myFICO provides a more in-depth look at your credit report and accompanying FICO scores from each of the major three bureaus. (Photo by cnythzl/Getty Images)

Advantages of using the service

The primary advantage of using myFICO as opposed to your credit card’s free credit score tool is that you’re getting a more in-depth, full picture of your credit health.

Fun fact: There is more than one type of credit score. Different types of lenders look at different criteria when deciding approval terms. Typically, a credit card issuer or third-party service may provide you with a scoring related to credit card applications. But with a service like myFICO, you’ll also be given your true FICO scores for mortgages, auto loans and more from all three major bureaus.

In my opinion, this service is most valuable for those who are about to make a huge financial decision such as buying a house, refinancing a major loan or buying a new car. The application process involved for mortgages can be especially in-depth and strenuous, and having an inside look at your credit reports ahead of time can help you prepare.

A personalized analysis of your credit score can help you understand where you stand, as well as help you determine the steps you need to take in order to put your best foot forward going into a new credit application.

The FICO Score Simulator can also help you make game plan for improving and or maintaining your FICO scores. For example, you can see how opening a new credit card or paying down debt may impact your scores across the three major bureaus.

Lastly, the identity theft insurance and identity monitoring services offered are nice-to-haves. While I wouldn’t say they are defining features of the myFICO service but it provides peace of mind in the same way credit card trip insurance does. You never know how valuable it really is until you find yourself using it after an unfortunate turn of events.

Related: How credit scores work

POTOMAC FALLS, VA - FEBRUARY 16: Townhouses in the Great Falls Chase neighborhood of Potomac Falls, Virginia on Sunday, February 16, 2020. (Photo by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
These services are most valuable to those preparing to make a major financial change such as applying for a mortgage. (Photo by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Is myFICO a necessary cost?

This depends on your goals and what you hope to get out of the program. If you just want to monitor your credit score, there are plenty of free ways to do so. Even if you’re only after a credit report for annual error checks, keep in mind that you are entitled to one free report from each bureau every year. In those instances, myFICO isn’t worth the cost.

However, those who are looking to make major financial moves in the coming months could find real value out of this service. The level of depth provided by the reporting and insights given around how different factors affect your score specifically can help you position yourself for success going into a mortgage application or refinancing discussions.

Related: Which credit reporting agencies banks use to pull your credit score

Bottom line

If you are going to pay for a credit monitoring service, myFICO is a great option. It’s not what I consider a cheap service (especially since there isn’t a free trial available for users to test it out), but it is a trusted company that will provide you a real, in-depth look at your credit reports and assorted FICO scores.

However, before you hit subscribe, make sure that you need this level of service. Are you just looking to stay on top of your credit score to ensure you’re likely to be approved for that new credit card? There are great free resources out there for that. Are you looking for a way to check your credit reports for errors? Bureaus are required to give you a full report once per year at no cost. But if you want a detailed look at your FICO scores and an analysis of how you can get the most favorable terms on an upcoming major credit line application (such as a mortgage), I’d say that the service is worth looking into.

Featured image by Johner Images/Getty Images

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.