Does Credit Monitoring Hurt Your Credit Score?

Quick Answer

Credit monitoring has no impact on your credit scores. While credit monitoring can cause soft inquiries to appear on your credit reports, they won’t affect your credit scores.

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Tracking changes to your credit reports and credit scores using an automated service or regular manual checks—also called credit monitoring—does not hurt credit scores. In fact, by reinforcing good credit habits and enabling early detection of potentially fraudulent activity, credit monitoring can benefit your credit scores.

Credit Monitoring Doesn't Affect Credit Scores

While use of an automated credit monitoring service can leave traces on your credit report, it won't affect your credit scores. Requests for credit scores or credit reports made by you, or by any monitoring service you authorize, are logged on credit reports as soft inquiries. Credit scoring systems such as the FICO® Score and VantageScore® use credit report data for their calculations but ignore soft inquiries, which means they have no effect on your credit scores.

In contrast to a soft inquiry, a hard inquiry may appear when a lender checks your credit in connection with a loan or credit card application. A hard inquiry may cause a small, temporary dip in your credit scores.

Which Actions Can Affect Your Credit Score?

Among the factors that affect your credit scores, inquiries and new credit accounts play a relatively small role, contributing to a scoring category that makes up only about 10% of your FICO® Score. Other actions that can negatively affect your credit scores to a much greater degree include:

  • Making a payment more than 30 days after its due date, or missing a payment altogether
  • Running up balances that exceed about 30% of the borrowing limit on one or all of your credit card accounts

Actions that can increase your credit scores include:

How to Monitor Your Credit

Credit monitoring can help you track progress toward credit score improvement, but its main goal is early detection of unusual activity on your credit reports. Spotting anomalies early lets you follow up quickly with creditors or the credit bureaus to set the record straight. Here's how to monitor your credit:

Review Your Credit Reports Regularly

Federal law entitles you to view a free copy of your credit report from each of the three national credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) at Check reports carefully for activity you don't recognize (a potential sign of credit fraud) and for any information you believe to be inaccurate. You have the right to file a dispute with the relevant credit bureau regarding any credit report entries that may not be accurate.

Track Your Credit Scores

Sudden unexplained changes in your credit score can be a sign of unauthorized activity on your credit accounts or other issues, so it's a good idea to check credit scores on a regular basis. It's advisable to get scores based on data from all three national credit bureaus, and you might want to review your VantageScore as well as your FICO® Score.

You can check your FICO® Score based on Experian data for free or upgrade to a paid Experian CreditWorks℠ Premium subscription to get scores from all three national credit bureaus. Many credit card companies, banks and online services also offer free access to FICO® Scores and VantageScores from one or more of the bureaus.

Enroll in a Credit Monitoring Service

Automated credit monitoring notifies you immediately of changes to your credit report, including those that can affect credit scores such as:

  • The opening of new loan or credit card accounts in your name
  • Applications for credit in your name
  • Late payments reported on your accounts

Immediate notification can make you aware of unexpected credit activity faster than even the most diligent manual checking would, so you can respond as quickly as possible.

Free credit monitoring from Experian reports changes to your Experian credit report and upgrading to an IdentityWorks℠ Premium account covers your credit reports at all three national credit bureaus.

The Bottom Line

Credit monitoring has absolutely no downside for your credit scores. It can help you chart your progress toward building up your scores and, if it helps you address fraudulent activity or misreported data, credit monitoring can even help you increase your credit scores. Experian offers credit reports and scores for free as well as free monitoring of your Experian credit report to help you get started.