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Senior Contributor
Noah_Bodie
Posts: 4,635
Registered: ‎03-11-2007
0

Economical Approach to Staying on Top of Your Credit Scores and Reports

[ Edited ]
[Update April 14, 2010:] Be sure to read llecs Credit Monitoring Service (CMS) Guide for the best comprehensive listing of the CMSs.

 

If you're new to credit or this site, be sure to read Credit Scoring 101.
 
In fact, the FRT thread has a lot of good reading in it.
 
Reasons for being here vary, but most everyone here wants to know more about credit, their scores, what's in their reports, and how to monitor them.
 
There are a number of different Credit Monitoring Services (CMS), or 3 in 1 services. The TU product and TU resellers have starting banning people who pull their reports "too often". Exactly what constitutes "too often" is very unclear, but what's clear is that once banned one cannot easily get back in. The really odd part is that TU was advertising it's product as having the option of getting a new report every day--a very useful feature when you're watching for a balance to update, or reporting to be corrected, in anticipation of applying for a loan.
 
The two services which permit daily pulls and which don't ban you for "overuse" are EX CreditCheckTotal (CCT) and AMEX CreditSecure (CS).
CCT is $30 a month. CS is $12 a month, but you have to be an AMEX cardholder. Yet another reason to apply for an AMEX, and any AMEX will do.
 
I also optionally recommend a month to month subscription to MyFico ScoreWatch (MFSW) so you can keep tabs on your FICOs. However, you may not need this if you already know what's in your CRs. I had MFSW, then let it lapse after I got my house in September. I've signed back up for it as I continue to pursue a HELOC and other credit.
 
Equifax also has a ScoreWatch product. However, I don't use it so I cannot recommend for or against it. I know what you're getting with MFSW, and I recommend that.
 
Before buying MFSW, or any MyFico products, google is your friend.
There are 5, 10 and 20 percent MyFico discount codes. You'll know it's a 20 percent discount because the $8.95 a month charge for MFSW will be discounted down to $7.16. The discount will last for your 12 month subscription, and you will be prompted to see what the monthly charge will be before you confirm your order. A year from now, when it comes time to renew, go searching for another discount code.
 
Through the end of 2007, or Christmas, FICO has been advertising the discount code of HOLIDAY25 which yields a 25% discount.
 
A CMS lets you see all 3 CRs anytime you want--some permit daily pulls and others do not. When your MFSW alerts, the CMS alerts, or anything else prompts you, go and refresh your reports on your CMS.
 
You get alerts, just like MFSW. And just like MFSW, they aren't always timely--albeit better than MFSW alerts, IMHO. However, seeing the reports themselves is what's of real value, even more valuable than your FICO scores.
 
You do get scores with most monitoring services, but they are FAKOs. Your FAKO scores should track close to your FICOs, but results vary. Mine have varied from within 10 points to within 30 points of my FICOs at various times, but others report a 100 point difference between FAKOs and FICOs--up or down. Buying a monitoring service for the FAKO scores is like taking a coach commercial airline flight for the meal.
 
When you sign up for MFSW, you get your EQ score and then updates as your EQ score changes up or down. IMHO, that is adequate for most folks if you are seeing your CRs via a monitoring service. If there's a collection on your EX report, that isn't on your other CRs, and isn't yours, then knowing your EX FICO score isn't going to help any. It ain't yours, you need to dispute it and fight it off, and your EX score is likely suffering a lot because of it. Once it's off, rest assured your FICO score will rebound.
 
With MFSW, you can pull your scores when you need them. They are $15.95 each, $12.76 with a 20 percent discount.
 
I honestly do not see a reason to pull my EQ FICO score when one has SW and a monitoring service. I get the score updates (which I track in an Excel spreadsheet), and I can see my report anytime I like via the monitoring service.
 
My current monthly cost is $37 ($30 for CCT and $7.16 for MFSW). Once I'm back in the AMEX family, my cost will drop to $19 a month with AMEX CS.
 
My EX and TU FICO scores are $12.76 each, when I want them. Because I'm getting EQ FICO score updates as they happen, and because I know what's in my CRs via my CMS, I have a pretty good idea what my EX and TU FICO scores are. As such, I don't have a need to know what my FICO scores are most days. Only time it really becomes necessary is if one is considering a major purchase (car or home) or considering applying for credit.
 
I also get my TU FICO score through my WAMU CC. It's free, and it appears to update at least once a month. It's a decent perk so consider a WAMU CC.



Message Edited by Noah_Bodie on 12-18-2007 01:01 PM

Established Member
fraz
Posts: 54
Registered: ‎05-30-2007
0

Re: Economical Approach to Staying on Top of Your Credit Scores and Reports

Thanks Noah for doing this.  I've been on here for a few weeks now, and this is a very informative recap of what many of you are doing.  I think with the time you've spent in doing this thread, you must be looking for a locked pushpin at the top of the board.:smileywink:
 
Thanks again.
Member
taxman5455
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎08-02-2007
0

Re: Economical Approach to Staying on Top of Your Credit Scores and Reports

Could you tell us or if anyone knows what the time delay between TC increase in scores and a SW
update is? In the last 2 days I have had score increases from both exp and eq web sites and they
reflect on TC but SW has not sent me any alerts.
thanks
 
Senior Contributor
smallfry
Posts: 4,831
Registered: ‎04-20-2007
0

Re: Economical Approach to Staying on Top of Your Credit Scores and Reports



taxman5455 wrote:
Could you tell us or if anyone knows what the time delay between TC increase in scores and a SW
update is? In the last 2 days I have had score increases from both exp and eq web sites and they
reflect on TC but SW has not sent me any alerts.
thanks



Get your scores from FICO. Equifax does provide you with their Equifax FICO but the ones I think you are speaking about are not "real" scores.
Senior Contributor
ilovepizza
Posts: 3,071
Registered: ‎05-17-2007
0

Re: Economical Approach to Staying on Top of Your Credit Scores and Reports

Very good post Noah_Bodie!
If we never set higher goals we would never get as far.
sol, credit 101, acr, abbreviations, calc
Member
taxman5455
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎08-02-2007
0

Re: Economical Approach to Staying on Top of Your Credit Scores and Reports

smallfry;
 
you missed my question.
 
First.,I know that scores at eq and ef are fakos and same at TC but my question is as follows:
What is the time delay from eq/ef/tc updating items that should move credit score (ie, 75% decrease
in CC utilization) and SW actually picking it up? I know I can buy new scores but I subscribe to SW
and from what I understand is that SW is suppose to send me an alert when my score changes
thru my FICO and I should not have to be paying for it again.
Senior Contributor
Noah_Bodie
Posts: 4,635
Registered: ‎03-11-2007
0

Re: Economical Approach to Staying on Top of Your Credit Scores and Reports

Senior Contributor
Noah_Bodie
Posts: 4,635
Registered: ‎03-11-2007
0

Re: Economical Approach to Staying on Top of Your Credit Scores and Reports

Senior Contributor
Noah_Bodie
Posts: 4,635
Registered: ‎03-11-2007
0

Re: Economical Approach to Staying on Top of Your Credit Scores and Reports

Senior Contributor
Noah_Bodie
Posts: 4,635
Registered: ‎03-11-2007
0

Re: Economical Approach to Staying on Top of Your Credit Scores and Reports

[ Edited ]
TrueCredit from TransUnion
  • Trial period: 30 days (for TU report only)
  • What are offered:
    • Unlimited access to all three credit reports and credit scores
    • Notification within 24 hours of critical changes to all 3 reports
    • $25,000 ID Theft Insurance at no additional cost
    • No obligation, cancel anytime.
  • Regular:
    • $14.95 per month
ScoreWatch from Equifax [Affiliate link]
  • Trial period: 30 days free
  • What are offered:
    • Continuous score monitoring and notification when a change in FICO score impacts the interest rate you are likely to receive
    • Daily monitoring of Equifax credit report with email notification of key changes
    • Two Free Score Power reports plus discounts on additional Score Power reports
  • Regular:
    • $8.95 per month
CreditExpert from Experian
  • Trial period: 30 days free
  • What are offered:
    • Daily monitoring of your credit report and alerts of key changes alert you of potential fraudulent activity.
    • Unlimited access to Experian Credit Report and PLUS Score with paid membership.
    • Receive instantly personal credit report and credit score online
  • Regular:
    • $9.95 per month
    • One-time purchase: 3-bureau credit report and a credit score for $34.95, Experian credit report and PLUS Score for $14.50
ScoreWatch from MyFico [Affiliate link]
  • Trial period: 30 days free
  • What are offered:
    • Credit monitors important changes to your FICO score and Equifax credit report
    • Alerts when important changes are detected
  • Regular:
    • $89.95 annual fee
IdentityMonitoring from Citibank
  • Trial period: 30 days free
  • What are offered:
    • Credit Monitoring every business day to keep track of your credit file activity
    • Alerts when there’s certain activity, allowing you to detect fraud
    • Credit report and score free with enrollment
    • 3-in-1 credit Report, score and monitoring access at no additional cost
    • Reimburse up to $25,000 of eligible identity theft recovery expenses
  • Regular:
    • $12.95 per month
CreditKeeper from HSBC
  • Trial period: 30 days free
  • What are offered:
    • Unlimited access to your credit reports and score
    • Daily automated credit monitoring to alert you to changes on your credit reports
  • Regular:
    • $9.95 per month
CreditSecure from American Express
  • Trial period: 30 days free, for AMEX cardmembers only
  • What are offered:
    • Unlimited access to 3-bureau credit report and Credit Scores from all 3 bureaus after the trial period
    • Daily monitoring of all three credit reports with an e-mail alert when critical changes are detected
    • Identity Theft coverage policy for up to $5,000 per occurrence
    • Track your score each month with Experian PLUS Score Trending
  • Regular:
    • $11.99 per month
IdentityGuard from Costco
  • Trial period: None
  • What are offered:
    • 3-in-1 credit report & 3 credit scores
    • 3-bureau credit monitoring & alerts
    • Monthly credit report & score
  • Regular:
    • $9.49 per month for Gold Star members and $7.49 per month for Executive members
PrivacyGuard
  • Trial period: $1 for the first 2 months
  • What are offered:
    • Credit report from 3 credit reporting agencies
    • Credit score instant access from 3 credit reporting agencies
    • Daily monitoring of credit
    • Up to $10,000 reimbursement for certain expenses you incur if your identity is stolen
  • Regular
    • $129.99 annual fee
    • Single-bureau credit report for $9.99, three-bureau $34.99
PrivacyMatters
  • Trial period: 7 days free
  • What are offered:
    • Unlimited to 3-in-1 credit report
    • Triple credit scores, showing all three credit scores from the national credit reporting bureaus
    • Triple bureau credit monitoring with automated e-mail alert whenever new activity that may affect your credit report or credit score occurs
  • Regular:
    • $29.95 per month
    • One-time purchase of 3-bureau credit report for $29.95
  • Trial period: None
  • What are offered:
    • Unlimited access to all three credit reports and credit scores
    • Notification within 24 hours of changes to all 3 reports
    • $10,000 ID Theft Insurance at no additional cost
  • Regular:
    • $11.99 per month
  • Trial period: $1 for first 30 days (not available to New York residents)
  • What are offered:
    • Unlimited access to your individual triple bureau credit report 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
    • Daily online monitoring with weekly activity alerts delivered to your email address from TransUnion -- a mailed option is available
    • Unlimited access to your personal credit score from TransUnion (a FAKO likely)
    • Recovery counseling and identity restoration service
    • Up to $25,000 of Identity Fraud Expense Coverage at no additional cost to you
  • Regular:
    • $8.95 per month or $14.95 per month for you and your spouse


Message Edited by Noah_Bodie on 09-01-2007 11:22 AM

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