The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Credit Cards With Free Credit Monitoring in 2021

Credit Cards With Free Credit Monitoring

credit card advice

Eric Bank
By: Eric Bank
Posted: April 8, 2021
Advertiser Disclosure

Credit cards with free credit monitoring are a big assistance to consumers interested in building, rebuilding, or maintaining their credit scores.

These cards let you stay on top of changes to your credit score and are often augmented with credit alerts for factors that can impact your score. When choosing one of these cards, make sure you understand exactly which free credit score is being monitored and what other information you will receive for free.

Cash Back | Travel | Students | Bad Credit
FAQs

Best Cash Back Cards With Free Credit Monitoring

For fans of cash back rewards, the following four cards offer free credit monitoring and several other benefits. Any one of these cards will do an excellent job keeping you informed about changes to your credit score and other important news about your credit account.

  • One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 14.99%-24.99% variable APR after that
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
14.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card works with CreditWise, a free tool that monitors your VantageScore® 3.0 credit scores from your TransUnion credit report. You can check the weekly updates to your scores online or via the Capital One mobile app as often as you like.

You’ll get personalized information on factors that may be affecting your score, as well as alerts when a meaningful change occurs to your credit file from any credit bureau. You’ll also receive dark web surveillance of your Social Security number and access to a credit simulator to test the impact of various financial decisions.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • #1 Most Trusted Credit Card according to Investor’s Business Daily.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR
$0
Good/Excellent

The Discover it® Cash Back card offers free viewing of your FICO credit score online on your monthly statements and via the Discover mobile app. You can look at a 12-month history of your credit score and the factors that impact your score. Your free credit score comes from TransUnion, and you can choose to opt out of receiving your score if you wish.

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
N/A
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card gives you access to Chase Credit Journey, where you can check your VantageScore 3.0 credit score from your Experian credit report for free. Additionally, you can check the factors affecting your score and receive credit alerts for items like credit limit increases, new credit inquiry hard pulls, and new accounts. Credit Journey also reports your credit utilization ratio and helps with fraud alert and identity restoration.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Enjoy a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Introductory 0% APR for your first 15 billing cycles for purchases and balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening (balance transfer fee applies), then a variable APR applies
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 billing cycles
0% for 15 billing cycles
13.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card provides free monthly updates to your TransUnion credit report and FICO Score via the bank’s mobile app or online. You can track recent monthly scores and compare them to national averages. You’ll also be able to see the key factors affecting your score and learn more about credit scores through BoA Better Money Habits® from this financial institution.

Best Travel Cards With Free Credit Monitoring

Travel cards reward you with points or miles for your eligible purchases. These four cards offer free credit monitoring, but they are also highly rated for their rewards and benefits.

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get our best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card gives you free access to your TransUnion VantageScore® 3.0 credit scores via Capital One CreditWise. The score is updated weekly, but you can check it whenever you like. You also can view factors affecting your score, changes to free credit reports at a credit reporting agency, and the results of Dark Web surveillance of your email address and Social Security number.

Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles.  There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
  • Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.
  • Redeem Miles to pay any part of your monthly bill, including your minimum payment.
  • Turn Miles into cash in any amount, any time. Or redeem as a statement credit for travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more with no blackout dates. However you redeem, Miles keep the same value. And Miles never expire.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 14 months
10.99% Intro APR for 14 months
11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR
$0
Good/Excellent

The Discover it® Miles card gives you multiple ways to view your TransUnion FICO credit score for free — on its website, monthly statements, and mobile app. In fact, its Credit Scorecard lets you look up your last 12 scores. You can also check the factors affecting your score as well as other valuable information about your credit.

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Backâ , your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card card is your passport to Chase Credit Journey and a wealth of information about your credit. You get free access to your VantageScore 3.0 credit score from your Experian credit report, a score separate and distinct from FICO scores. Other useful information includes your current credit utilization ratio, recent account alerts, and warnings stemming from fraud monitoring.

American Express® Green Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new card in your first 6 months of card membership
  • Earn 3X points on restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and 3X points on transit and travel — all other purchases earn 1X point per $1 spent
  • Receive up to $100 per calendar year in statement credits, when you pay for your CLEAR membership with the American Express® Green Card
  • Use the American Express® Green Card to purchase lounge access through LoungeBuddy and receive up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $150 Annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A (Charge Card)
$150
N/A

The American Express® Green Card provides you with your TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 through MyCredit Guide. It also reports late payments, opened accounts, credit check inquiries, length of credit history, available credit, and current balances. Additionally, you can use Score Goals to help you boost your credit score and a simulator to show how various financial decisions can impact your score.

Best Student Cards With Free Credit Monitoring

Many students are new to the world of credit, making credit monitoring all the more valuable. Free credit monitoring from the following four cards can teach students about credit, including how to improve different credit scores and threats that can harm their finances.

Discover it® Student Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a statement credit each time you refer a friend and they’re approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends' recommendations.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR
$0
Fair/New to Credit

The Discover it® Student Cash Back card, through its Free Credit Scorecard, provides you with your FICO credit score from TransUnion. You can view up to one year of previous scores as well as key factors affecting your score. Your score is also reported on your monthly account statements, and you can access the Free Credit Scorecard online and through the Discover mobile app.

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.2/5.0
  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Earn $5 per month for 12 months on Select Streaming Subscriptions when you pay on time. *Exclusions Apply
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • You can help build your credit with responsible use of a card like this
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One uses CreditWise, which is free for everyone, to provide VantageScore® 3.0 credit scores from TransUnion. CreditWise also reveals the factors impacting your score and alerts you to credit bureau report updates. Cardmembers can also use the free Eno app to check their card balance and recent transactions.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 0% Introductory APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 15 billing cycles (balance transfer fee applies), then a variable APR applies
  • Optional overdraft protection option helps prevent declined purchases, returned checks or other overdrafts when you link your eligible Bank of America® checking account to your credit card. Transfer fees may apply.
  • $0 Annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 billing cycles
0% for 15 billing cycles
13.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
None/Limited

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students gives you free online and mobile access to your TransUnion FICO Score. You can also receive information about the key factors impacting your score and how your score compares to national averages. The BoA Better Money Habits® website offers personalized financial solutions based on your priorities.

12. Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card

This card is currently not available.

Student Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

The Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card provides both your FICO credit score and your personalized Wells Fargo credit rating via Wells Fargo Online®. You can also check your account balances and verify recent transactions online or through the Wells Fargo Mobile® app. In addition, you can set up alerts to monitor your account for deposits, due payments, and low balances.

(The information related to Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card has been collected by CardRates.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.)

Best Cards For Bad Credit With Free Credit Monitoring

Free credit monitoring is especially useful when you are trying to rebuild good credit. These four cards are designed for consumers that don’t have good credit and who want to stay on top of their credit without extra fees.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Building your credit? Using the Capital One Platinum Secured card responsibly could help
  • Put down a refundable security deposit starting at $49 to get a $200 initial credit line
  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card works with Capital One CreditWise to give you free access to your TransUnion VantageScore® 3.0 credit scores. CreditWise also alerts you to changes in any free credit report at a credit reporting agency and to factors that influence your credit score. You can check your score as often as you like without hurting your credit.

Surge Mastercard® Review

at Celtic Bank'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.1/5.0
  • Up to $1,000 credit limit doubles up to $2,000! (Simply make your first 6 monthly minimum payments on time)
  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From Experian* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Initial Credit Limit of $300 – $1,000* (subject to available credit)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
See website for Details
N/A
24.99% – 29.99% (Variable)
See website for Details
Bad, Poor Credit

The Surge Mastercard® from Celtic Bank allows you to receive your credit score on a monthly basis for free. To participate, you must choose to receive your monthly statements electronically rather than on paper. You can also monitor online your recent transactions, card balance, payment history, and other important information.

Reflex Mastercard® Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.4

OVERALL RATING

3.9/5.0
  • Up to $1,000 credit limit doubles up to $2,000! (Simply make your first 6 monthly minimum payments on time)
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified with no impact to your credit score
  • All credit types welcome to apply
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score from Experian* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Initial Credit Limit of $300 – $1,000* (subject to available credit)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.99% - 29.99% (Variable)
See Terms
Bad, Fair, or No Credit

Utah’s Celtic Bank issues the Reflex Mastercard®, which reports your credit score for free on your monthly e-statement. Free score reporting lets you see how your creditworthy behavior impacts your score over time. The mobile app and online website also let you check your account activity and status.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.2

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • A minimum refundable security deposit of $300 (maximum of $4,900) is required to open this account
  • Access your FICO® Score updated monthly for free, within your Mobile Banking app or in Online Banking
  • Optional overdraft protection option helps prevent declined purchases, returned checks or other overdrafts when you link your eligible Bank of America® checking account to your credit card. Transfer fees may apply.
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
23.99% Variable
$0
Bad/Limited

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card offers free access to monthly updates of your FICO score via the bank’s website or mobile app. You can use BoA Better Money Habits® to receive information about your finance, including how your score stacks up against national averages and the key factors impacting your score. You can also receive text alerts on your mobile phone or by visiting the online website.

What is Free Credit Monitoring?

Free credit monitoring is a service provided by many credit cards, allowing you to see your credit score without paying any extra fees. The different credit scores may be FICO, VantageScore, or some other product. Some cards provide monthly updates to your score, while others update weekly.

Normally, you can access your free scores on the card’s website. You may also be able to receive your scores on the card’s mobile app and on your monthly statements (electronic or paper). Credit monitoring usually includes information beyond just your score, such as the factors affecting your score, how your score compares to national averages, and fraud alert occurrences.

What Do I Need to Do as a Cardholder to Get Free Credit Monitoring?

The first thing to do is check to see whether the card offers free credit monitoring. If it does, it will usually tell you how to receive your scores. Sometimes, you have to activate free monitoring and specify how you want the scores delivered.

A card issuer may offer free credit monitoring even for those who don’t have any cards from the card issuer. For example, CreditWise from Capital One is open to anyone — all you have to do is sign up at the website.

Which Issuers Offer Free Credit Monitoring?

Several card issuers offer free credit monitoring to anyone who enrolls, not just customers of the card. These generous issuers include Chase, Capital One, Discover, and American Express.

Chase Screenshot

Chase (pictured here), Capital One, Discover, and Amex all offer free credit scores to noncustomers.

Other credit card issuers require you to be a cardholder to receive free credit monitoring. These include Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Celtic Bank (issuer for Surge and Reflex credit cards). Many credit unions and online banks also offer free credit monitoring — check your financial institution for availability.

Some issuers, such as Citi, offer free credit monitoring only on select cards. Citi happens to offer free FICO score monitoring on its better cards.

While TransUnion appears to be the most popular source of credit monitoring alerts, other credit cards may use an Experian or Equifax credit report as their sources. Note that, while they have different formats, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax credit reports will all provide the same basic information.

What is the Best Free Credit Monitoring Service?

We think all credit monitoring services are valuable, especially because they are free. We especially like the services that provide monitoring even if you aren’t a credit card customer:

We think the Discover Credit Scorecard stands out from the other services because it reports the score from the FICO credit scoring model. The others monitor your VantageScore 3.0, which is not generally used by lenders to make credit decisions.

Discover Scorecard on Mobile

Discover Scorecard provides you with a free FICO Score 8 based on TransUnion data.

If you want the most meaningful score, you want the FICO credit scoring model.

However, we’ve found that FICO and VantageScore provide similar results. Each monitoring service offers features that can help you determine which is best for you.

Most of these services summarize and rate you on the factors that contribute to your score. However, we feel that the American Express MyCredit Guide offers the most powerful tools, including Score Goals for customized recommendations to improve your credit and the Credit Score Simulator, which lets you see how different actions will impact your score.

Capital One CreditWise also offers a Credit Simulator that lets you see how specific credit choices could impact your score. You can simulate the effects of opening a new credit card, increasing your credit limit, borrowing money from a lender, and transferring balances, among other options.

Chase Credit Journey walks you through an eight-question survey but doesn’t make any recommendations based on your answers. There is a summary of the factors comprising your credit score and ideas for improving these factors.

How Does a FICO Score Differ From Other Types of Credit Scores?

FICO scores are used in the real world by 90% of lender organizations to evaluate your credit risk. Your FICO score is based on a 300 to 850 scale.

Your credit score plays a key role in lending decisions, but creditors often interpret a person’s score within the historical context that credit file reports provide.

VantageScore (VS) 3.0 is FICO’s closest competitor. It uses the same scale as FICO (300 to 850), although it weighs the factors comprising the VS score differently. You can use your VS score to get a general feeling of your credit profile, but don’t expect it to match FICO.

Here is a comparison of the score ranges for FICO and VantageScore:

FICO vs VantageScore

FICO scoring depends on five weighted factors:

  1. Payment history (35%): Your record of payments, including late payments, collections, and defaults. Only on-time payments are positive.
  2. Amounts owed (30%): Your debts, including your credit utilization ratio for credit card debt. The less you owe, the better.
  3. Credit history age (15%): The age of each account, including oldest, newest, and average. The older, the better.
  4. New credit (10%): Recent hard credit inquiry pulls of your credit report. The less credit check activity, the better.
  5. Credit mix (10%): The different types of debt you use currently and in the past. The more varied, the better.

Other scoring systems may calculate credit scores differently. When you sign up for free credit monitoring, make sure you understand which credit score you’re getting. If it’s not FICO, it may not be used by lenders to make credit decisions.

Will Credit Monitoring Protect Me From Identity Theft?

Thousands of consumers become victims of identity theft each year, much of it stemming from stolen credit card accounts. It is virtually impossible to stop all identity theft, but there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure. Credit monitoring alert services can warn you about accounts you didn’t open and charges you didn’t authorize, both of which are red flags for fraudulent activity.

You benefit when credit monitoring services watch out for a wide range of suspicious activity, such as appearances of your Social Security number or email address on the Dark Web. But no amount of credit monitoring will protect you against fraudulent activity if you don’t pay attention to it. It’s important that any alerts you receive about your credit accounts be accepted by your email inbox rather than shunted aside as spam.

Screenshot of Chase Credit Journey Homepage

Programs like Chase Credit Journey can help protect you from identity theft by sending you real-time alerts when there are changes to your credit report.

Most of the free monitoring services provided by credit cards allow you to control the types of alerts you receive. For example, Chase Credit Journey has 14 separate credit monitoring alert settings: five for balance and spending, four for payments, and five for protection and security.

The most important alerts deal with your credit accounts and personal information. You want to know immediately if a new account is established, or the balance of an account significantly changes. You may want to know when your available credit suddenly drops, or your balance suddenly rises.

Because many consumers are concerned about identity theft, several independent services offer identity theft insurance, which provides more comprehensive support if your identity is breached. Look for identity theft insurance that promises to spend a set amount to respond to identity theft on your behalf.

For example, the Petal credit card comes with free Norton LifeLock ID Navigator that includes identity theft protection, credit monitoring, data breach notifications, credit freeze (and reversing a credit freeze) dark web monitoring, restoration assistance, and more.

Free Credit Monitoring Is a Valuable Cardholder Benefit

It isn’t hard to find credit cards with free credit monitoring. We’ve identified several in this article, and you’ll find many on the largest credit card company list that provides this service. When considering a new credit card, free credit monitoring should definitely be on your list of required perks if you are at all concerned about suspicious activity alerts, identity theft protection, personal information security, and credit card fraud.

Having gone to the trouble of obtaining a credit card with free credit monitoring, make sure you sign up for alerts and pay attention to them when they appear in your email. It’s also a good idea to periodically change the passwords to your credit card websites and to add security to your mobile phone to protect credit card apps.

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