How we rank for
We assume that some users will choose to purchase their credit reports a la carte, while others will sign up for a long-term ongoing subscription service that provides reports on a regular basis. As a result, we evaluate price based on a proprietary formula of Blended Report Cost or BRC. Basically, we look at how much a company charges for access to individual credit reports across all of their subscription and purchase options to determine who is providing the best price.
22% Bureaus Reported
This criteria evaluates how many of the “big three” credit bureaus are included in both one-time report purchases and in any monitoring services this company offers, as well as how much information is provided from each bureau.
Companies that regularly provide customers with full credit reports (and scores) from multiple credit bureaus as a part of their service will score higher here than companies that only show you one credit report while merely “alerting” you to some changes on the other two.
Why this Matters So Much
Because there are three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), and each bureau maintains a separate credit report on you, any comprehensive credit-monitoring strategy needs to keep an eye on all three bureaus. If you’re only watching your Equifax report, you’ll never know if there are errors on your TransUnion or Experian reports, and your clean Equifax report won’t do you any good if a lender, landlord, or cell phone company pulls one of the other two reports instead.
17% Scoring Model
Not all credit scores are made equal–the vast majority of lenders, mortgage brokers, banks, auto dealers utilize some form of FICO® Scoring algorithms. Unfortunately, we have found that many credit monitoring companies do not provide this score to their customers. There is a reason for this.
Everyone, even Credit Bureaus, have to pay a fee to Fair Isaac Corporation (the company that maintains the FICO® model) every time they get a FICO score. Companies will try to cut costs by coming up with less accurate models for scoring. As a result, there are a lot of knockoff credit scores (colloquially referred to as FAKO scores) that have emerged in recent years that aren’t going to provide you an accurate measure of the score lenders will see when they run your credit. Sometimes these scores can be off by 10, 20, or more than 100 points from what a lender will see, making them all but useless.
This criteria ranks companies by the quality of the scoring model they use. Companies that provide “true” FICO® scores will rank much higher than those using other scoring models, since they provide the most accurate representation of your actual credit health.
6% Identity Theft Protection
Identity theft protection can be an important piece to credit monitoring, and should be considered when choosing a company to work with. Companies who offer identity theft protection score higher because they recognize the danger and damage identity theft can cause a customer’s credit.
15% Refresh Rate
If the company provides credit reports and scores as part of a subscription service, how often do they update those reports? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? Annually? The more often a company provides up-to-date credit reports for its customers, the higher they will score in this category. Companies that merely offer to “alert” the customer of “important changes” to their credit reports without actually showing them the revised report or score will do less well here than a company that provides frequent and accurate credit reports and scores to its users.
10% Stability Score
We look at the legal history and financial stability of each company. This metric takes into consideration any bankruptcies, class action lawsuits, government lawsuits, or government investigations a company has had in the last five years.
15% User Score
Authentic user reviews are critical to what we’re doing at BestCompany.com. Because customer service is an important reflection of a company overall, nobody can provide better insights about a company’s performance than actual customers. Consequently, every company’s overall score is influenced, at least in part, by reviews submitted by customers.
For more information on how we moderate user reviews submitted to our site, you may refer to our Review Guidelines page.