MyFICO Premier: Specs
Frequency of credit reports: Monthly
Frequency of credit scores: Monthly
Credit-improvement simulator: Yes
Address-change monitoring: No
Data breach alerts: No
Investment account monitoring: No
Medical records monitoring: No
Payday loan monitoring: No
Sex offender alert: No
Security software: None
Title-change alerts: No
Two-factor authentication: No
MyFICO Premier offers the best credit monitoring of any service we’ve tested. But it’s not primarily an identity-theft-protection service, and in fact offers only the basics of identity monitoring and fraud detection. Instead, it’s best for customers who want to concentrate on their credit scores.
What MyFICO does give you is monthly access to credit reports and the FICO credit scores derived from them, as well as how those scores are calculated and what you can do to change them.
FICO scores are used by most lenders to determine your creditworthiness for loans, credit cards and mortgages. Other services show you credit scores that try to match FICO scores, but MyFICO gives you the real deal.
In terms of identity theft protection, MyFICO is solid but not the best. It monitors your bank accounts, court records and the “dark web,” but it can’t catch address changes, home-title theft or data breaches and offers no protection from malware or phishing.
We’d give MyFICO Premier a higher rating as an identity-theft-protection service if it had a few more of those abilities. As a credit-monitoring service, it can’t be beat.
For the best identity-theft protection, try IdentityForce or LifeLock. But if you care more about your actual FICO credit scores than anything else, then MyFICO will deliver.
Read on for the rest of our MyFICO review.
MyFICO: Costs and what’s covered
An adjunct of Fair Isaac Corp (aka FICO), the originator of modern American credit scores, MyFICO focuses on FICO credit scores and ignores some of the mainstays of identity protection. That makes it good if you want data pertinent to taking out a loan, but bad if you want a full suite of identity-theft-protection services.
MyFICO has three service plans, starting with the $20-a-month Basic plan. It includes access to 10 different FICO credit scores, including those used for mortgages, car loans and credit cards. You get monthly credit reports from Experian as well as monthly FICO credit scores and alerts if there are any changes.
The Basic plan includes $1 million of insurance to restore your credit and identity if it is stolen while on MyFICO’s watch. However, it lacks any monitoring of identity data, such as whether some of your data is being offered for sale in “dark web” marketplaces.
MyFICO’s Advanced plan costs $30 a month. It includes full credit reports from the big three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — as well as the 28 most used FICO indicators. The credit reports arrive quarterly, and the service also includes monitoring of your personal data on the open and dark web.
That frequency of credit reports and scores is unusually generous for a mid-priced plan in this category. But IdentityForce’s top-end plan gives you similar credit monitoring plus more identity-theft-protection features for $24 a month.
There’s also a Family version of the MyFICO Advanced plan that covers two adults and as many as 10 children up to age 18 for $50 a month. By contrast, Identity Force’s unlimited family plan costs $14 less.
The Premier plan is MyFICO’s most expensive plan.,At $40 a month, it costs more than any other credit-monitoring or identity-theft-protection plan we’ve reviewed. MyFICO Premier ups the frequency of credit reports from quarterly to monthly but otherwise matches the Advanced plan.
All of the MyFICO plans get sales tax added to the advertised price, in my case 8.25%. There’s no discount for paying for a year at once, and as a result, MyFICO Premier will run you $480 per year. LifeLock Ultimate Plus, which includes the full Norton 360 Deluxe security suite and has many more identity-monitoring tools, although far less credit monitoring, goes for an annual $350.
MyFICO has an A+ rating from the non-profit Better Business Bureau. When we last looked, there were 27 complaints, most of which had detailed responses from the company. MyFICO rated a 3.25 out of 5 from ConsumerAffairs, which is paid by some of the companies whose products it reviews.
|MyFICO Basic||MyFICO Advanced||MyFICO Premier|
|Family plan||None||$50, 2 adults & up to 10 kids||None|
|Credit reports provided||Experian||Equifax, Experian, TransUnion||Equifax, Experian, TransUnion|
|Credit bureaus monitored||Experian||Equifax, Experian, TransUnion||Equifax, Experian, TransUnion|
|Frequency of credit reports & scores||Monthly||Every three months||Monthly|
|Type of credit score||FICO||FICO||FICO|
|Credit-improvement simulator or advice||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Bank, card accounts monitored||No||Yes||Yes|
|Black-market (“dark web”) monitoring||No||Yes||Yes|
|Lost wallet assistance||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Court record monitoring||No||Yes||Yes|
|Max. ID-theft coverage||$1 million||$1 million||$1 million|
MyFICO: How we tested
In the late summer of 2020, I signed up with five of the biggest identity-theft-protection services, including the MyFICO Premier service plan. All were paid for by me and reimbursed by Tom’s Guide.
After I installed the MyFICO mobile app on my Samsung Galaxy Note 20, I logged on most days over the course of three months. In addition to checking on Premier’s alerts, notifications and changes to my credit and identity, I checked my credit scores.
I used the credit simulators and utilities, but as MyFICO doesn’t include antivirus or security software on any of its plans, I couldn’t evaluate those. Finally, I checked in with each company’s support staff and recorded how long it took them to respond. At the end, I canceled the service.
MyFICO: Credit scores and monitoring
The MyFICO services focus sharply on FICO credit scores and monitoring. Few other identity-theft-protection or credit-monitoring service provides your actual FICO scores, which most banks and other lenders use to determine your creditworthiness. FICO scores are accessed millions of times a day and are key indicators for 90% of U.S. lending decisions.
Most identity-theft-protection services instead use the VantageScore 3.0 credit scores, issued by a company jointly owned by the Big Three credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. VantageScore 3.0 scores only approximate FICO scores but are sometimes used by lenders.
Because FICO provides more than two dozen credit scores, it can be a bit much for the uninitiated. For example, the FICO 2, 4 and 5 scores use data from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, respectively, for banks to determine creditworthiness for a mortgage.
The FICO 8 score uses data from all three credit bureaus and is for car loans and credit cards. The FICO 9 score is new and is growing in popularity. MyFICO shows you all these and other FICO scores.
With the MyFICO Premier plan, you get access to the full credit reports from all three credit bureaus every month. Most identity-theft-protection services provide credit reports only annually or quarterly. MyFICO also lets you buy instant reports — $16 for a single bureau’s report or $48 for all three.
Most identity-protection service have a credit-score tracker that graphs your credit ratings over time, but MyFICO adds a twist. It provides an appraisal of the ingredients that go into each FICO score to provide more insight into how the scores are formed. These factors can include payment history, debt load, length of credit history and the mix of credit sources.
The MyFICO Advanced and Premier plans keep an eye out for instances of your personal data showing up online and on the dark Web. They monitor public records, such state and federal court proceedings, and can spot sudden changes in your credit-card balances as well as new accounts created in your name. But they don’t track deed or title changes for your home and can’t see if someone has changed your address with the U.S. Postal Service or filed tax returns in your name.
MyFICO: Insurance and services
Like many of its peers, MyFICO seeks to help you with lawyers, investigators and experts to get your identity and credit back in case your identity is stolen under its watch. It also has a $1 million insurance policy, underwritten by American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida, that can be usedto recover lost funds that a bank or credit card company won’t cover.
The insurance policy can also reimburse you for expenses for travel, document notarization and loss of wages related to your case. MyFICO will pay you for your entire actual lost revenue up to the policy limit.
MyFICO: Notifications and alerts
MyFICO posts alerts for you in its desktop-browser interface and its mobile apps, but also sends SMS text-message alerts to your cellphone number as well as emails. However, it plans to phase the texted alerts out due to low demand, which is a shame because those kept me focused on the alerts. The service’s notifications were the most detailed of the five identity-theft-protection services we’ve recently reviewed.
Be warned — the alerts can be overwhelming. Over my three-month test period, I received dozens of notices from MyFICO that my credit-card balance was rising while my bank account was falling. The alerts generally came in batches of three — one from each credit bureau.
Unfortunately, MyFICO’s default setting is to send out an alert if any account balance changes by $1. Once I figured this out, I adjusted the threshold and was less frequently bothered.
MyFICO also has a hidden bonus quirk that might help anyone considering refinancing a mortgage. Its Custom Alerts section can be set to send an alert when your FICO score changes to qualify you for a lower interest rate.
Overall, I received 54 alerts from MyFICO via the online interface, texts and the mobile app over the course of three months, by far the most alerts of any of the five identity-theft-protection services I recently reviewed. All the alerts from MyFICO were specific, although some were puzzling at first. Setting up a mortgage yielded credit inquiries from Factual Data, a company that works as a data broker for the credit agencies, but the alert made no mention of the words “mortgage” or “loan”. There’s a link in the MyFICO alert notifications to dispute a change.
Getting started with MyFICO was generally efficient, but a couple of glitches got in my way and the entire setup process took more than an hour. After I went to the MyFICO site and picked the Premier plan, I needed to enter an email address and password for the account. If you don’t want to receive promotional and marketing material from MyFICO, be sure to click the opt-out box.
I then needed to fill in my personal information, but the MyFICO site balked at letting me enter the town and state I live in; it took two tries to finally get it to work. The site wanted payment information from a credit card or PayPal account, and I filled in my data.
Unfortunately, the payment information got caught in a processing loop and I gave up after 15 minutes. I sent MyFICO’s tech-support people an email and got a reply that the payment was not complete and to try again. I did and two minutes later, it was accepted.
I now had to prove my identity by answering four questions about my life, including queries about past and present addresses, mortgages and credit cards. I passed and was sent to the service’s Dashboard, which showed me my FICO scores for all three bureaus. The whole process took 1 hour and 15 minutes, although my problems might have been unique.
The good news is that, according to MyFICO, all my personal data was transported back and forth and saved in encrypted form. The company promises to wipe all your information after cancellation, but it lacks two-factor authentication to protect your account in case someone steals your password.
MyFICOs has identity-restoration experts on call 24/7, but its general customer-support crew is available only Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Pacific time) and Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The site has informational videos about the MyFICO the service, including one about how the FICO score is generated.
There’s a direct link from the MyFICO browser interface to the support site and a quick way to send customer support an email. On the other hand, the customer-support phone number is particularly well hidden on the website, and it took customer support 3.5 hours to respond to a pricing problem I had.
MyFICO: Interface and utilities
MyFICO combines a thorough online interface with a good mobile app, and both provide similar information. The app requires the use of a PIN, a fingerprint or facial recognition to use, while the online version requires a full log in with the account’s username and password.
That said, MyFICO’s browser-based interface needs to be zoomed out to 50% or scrolled up and down a lot to see all the information presented. The main Dashboard page lists your FICO 8 scores along with the data they’re based on. Below that is access to other FICO scores. Click on any of them and you’ll find a nice tracker and overall appraisal of your creditworthiness. The Dashboard also lists recent alerts and credit reports.
MyFICO’s killer feature is its FICO Score Simulator. Other identity-protection services can only guess about the secret sauce that’s used to turn raw credit data into a real FICO score, but MyFICO knows the exact algorithms.
In other words, MyFICO can accurately model changes to predict your resulting credit score more closely and also proactively give you tips. For instance, rather than waiting for me to submit possible changes and then telling me what my credit score might be afterward, the MyFICO simulator suggested that I lower my credit-card balance by $338 to raise my credit score by 30 points.
The FICO Resilience Index is used by lenders to help predict how resilient a person’s credit may be in the event of an economic downturn. It showed two red flags about my credit that might affect my score.
On the downside, MyFICO lacks extra security software like LifeLock’s Norton 360 antivirus suite or Identity Guard’s browser extensions. If you’re happy with your existing security software, then this will be fine, but those extras provide an additional layer of protection, often at a discount, to anyone who doesn’t already have them.
MyFICO’s Android and iOS apps squeeze a lot into a small screen. Along the top of their front pages are the three credit-bureau FICO scores along with their last updates, followed by access to the different FICO scores for everything from getting a mortgage to a car loan.
The loan and mortgage calculators that use estimated rates based on your credit scores are available in both the apps and the online browser interface.
As the leader in credit scoring, Fair Isaac has a large Education section on the MyFICO site. The section has a Q&A section to explain FICO scoring and lots of information about how to improve credit scores and how to correct errors. My favorite part was the glossary that defined many key credit terms most people have never heard of.
Getting free of MyFICO can be done by calling its hotline or using the My Subscriptions portion of the interface. At the bottom right of the front page is a spot to cancel your subscription, but be ready for an ominous warning about the grave consequences of your decision.
I got an on-screen confirmation of my MyFICO cancellation as well as an emailed confirmation, but the cancellation didn’t take effect until the end of the current billing cycle.
MyFICO review: Bottom line
MyFICO Premier’s ability to provide the exact criteria used by banks and credit-card companies to determine your credit scores is refreshing and useful, but the 28 different FICO scores you see can be too much.
The service also lacks many of the mainstays of identity-theft-protection, such as alerts about address changes and data breaches. For those, we recommend IdentityForce UltraSecure + Credit or LifeLock Ultimate Plus. And while MyFICO’s family plan lets you cover a lot of children, so do other services that cost much less.
But if you want to stay laser-focused on your FICO credit scores, how they’re used and how to make them better, then MyFICO is for you.