Credit Karma vs. Identity Guard: Which ID Theft Plan is Best for You?

By Kevin Mercadante

On the surface, it doesn’t seem to be much of a comparison here between Credit Karma vs. Identity Guard. After all, Credit Karma is a free service, and Identity Guard is a paid one. But both are credit monitoring services, and that’s the essential common ground.

So let’s look at the difference between the two to help you decide which might be better for you.

What Credit Karma Offers

The primary benefit to Credit Karma is that it’s a truly decent credit monitoring service, but one that is completely free of charge. It will provide you with your credit report and credit score, and you’ll never be charged for the service. In fact, Credit Karma doesn’t even request that you provide your credit card.

In addition to your credit score and credit report, the service also provides the following benefits:

  • A Home Affordability Calculator
  • A Debt Repayment Calculator
  • A Simple Loan Calculator
  • An Amortization Calculator
  • Nightly Credit Report Monitoring
  • Email Alerts and Notifications

If Credit Karma has a downside, it’s that the service provides your credit report and credit score from just a single credit bureau - Transunion. That means that you won’t have access to your scores from Experian or Equifax. But if you are just looking to get a general idea of where your score is at, the single credit score will usually get the job done. It will at least let you know in most instances when there is some seriously negative information you will need to tend to.

And that’s plenty of information when you consider that you’re getting at all for free.

What Identity Guard Offers

Identity Guard just might be the most comprehensive credit monitoring service available. Since opening for business in 1996, the company has provided credit monitoring services for more than 36 million customers.

They offer daily 3 bureau (Experian, Equifax and Transunion) credit monitoring, as well as the monthly credit report from Experian. The 3 bureau monitoring will enable you to know exactly what’s going on with your credit across the board. This is important because negative credit items could appear on one credit bureau but not the others. With 3 score monitoring, you’ll be aware of everything all the time.

They also provide public record monitoring, and will alert you to changes in those records. This is important because some of the most important derogatory information in a credit report will come from public records.

There’s a long list of services that Identity Guard provides, so this is just a summary of some of them that are particularly important:

  • Social Security Number Monitoring
  • Account Takeover Alerts
  • Identity Theft Victim Assistance
  • $1 Million Identity Theft Insurance**
  • Address Change Monitoring
  • 1-Bureau Credit Analyzer
  • Online "Black Market" Monitoring
  • Account Access via Mobile app
  • PC Keyboard Encryption Software

Anti-virus software

Online “Black Market” Monitoring rates further discussion. Identity Guard monitors the Internet on a 24/7 basis for personal information. This includes your Social Security number, registered bank account numbers and credit card numbers. They monitor to see any of these are on black-market websites, secret chat rooms, and underground forums, and will notify you if your information does appear. This will provide you with valuable time to take steps to minimize the damage that identity theft can do.

Identity Guard offers a 30-day free trial, as well as several different plan packages, but for $17.99 per month, you can sign-up for a mid-level service that will provide all of the credit monitoring and identity theft protection that you need.

Credit Karma vs. Identity Guard - Which Will Work Best for You?

The Credit Karma vs. Identity Guard debate may be more about which “flavor” you prefer. Credit Karma will give you the ability to generally track your credit, and to do so free of charge. Identity Guard will charge you a monthly fee, but you’ll have virtually everything you need including the ability to monitor all three credit scores, and to protect yourself from identity theft.

What’s more important is that you sign up for some sort of credit monitoring service, before identity theft actually becomes a problem. You can sign up for CreditKarma to at least keep an eye on your credit, or go with Identity Guard to ensure that you have full protection in place.


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