American Express Credit Secure – Review of Amex Credit Monitoring, Alerts and Assistance

American Express Credit Secure vs. Credit Karma – What should you be paying for credit monitoring, alerts, and assistance?

What is American Express Credit Secure?

American Express CreditSecure provides ‘convenient credit monitoring, alerts, assistance and more’.

It’s $1 for the first 30 days, and you pay a monthly fee of $14.99 (plus tax) after that. Customers get online access to their credit reports from all three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

You will be alerted of any changes to your credit from daily monitoring of your credit file, and receive assistance in the case of losing a credit card or if you suspect fraud.

What are the key features of American Express Credit Secure?

Here’s what you get:

Credit reports from the three major bureaus

You can request up to two reports each from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion every 30 days. The reports are not sent to you automatically. You need to log in and request the information.

PLUS scores

An estimated FICO score (credit score) as determined by American Express Credit Secure.

Lenders (mortgage, car loans, business loans) look at you FICO score (credit score) to determine your creditworthiness and ability to pay back a loan. Credit score numbers range from 330 (the lowest score) to 850 (the highest score).

The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to get a loan with favorable loan rates. Higher credit scores indicate lower credit risk (the risk of defaulting on a loan). Lower credit scores indicate a higher risk to the lender. If your credit score is too low, you will be denied credit.

The Amex PLUS Score is only an estimate of what your FICO score is. PLUS Scores are not used by lenders. Your PLUS Score will give you an estimate of what your FICO score might be.

The PLUS Score is a number that is designed to represent your overall credit risk. You should receive three PLUS Scores. Each PLUS Score is a credit score calculated based on information in the individual credit report provided by one of the 3 Major Bureaus. While PLUS Scores may approximate credit scores used by lenders, PLUS Scores are not used by lenders and your PLUS Scores may not match credit scores used by lenders. Thus, you should not rely only on PLUS Scores to understand how lenders will view your creditworthiness. Lenders use several different credit scoring models.

Credit monitoring

CreditSecure includes daily monitoring of credit reports from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You have access to this information at any time.  Discover if monitoring your credit is really secure.

Credit report alert

You can receive email alerts of any key changes to your credit reports. These include:

  • inquiries
  • negative information
  • new accounts opened
  • address changes
  • public record changes

These notifications can help you identify if you could potentially be a victim of identity theft.

Get your free credit report today to help prevent someone from stealing your identity.

Fraud resolution

If you lose your credit cards, or they get stolen you can request to speak with a fraud resolution specialist. The specialist will help assist you on phone calls to resolve any issues. Note you will still need to be on the call – they will not do the work for you.

What are the additional features of American Express Credit Secure?

Introductory rate of $1

A $1 teaser rate gives you the chance to try the service out for 30 days.

Cons – The $13.99 you save from the one-month teaser rate doesn’t amount to anything over your lifetime.

When you see an introductory teaser rate for products, often the intent is to get you to sign up and forget about the service, so you keep paying for it month after month.

Annual billing

Annual billing for Credit Secure is $143.99. That’s $11.99 per month compared to $14.99 per month.

Cons – It’s $100+ more expensive than applying a security freeze to your credit reports. It’s also $143.99 more expensive than CreditKarma.

Free additional tools

CreditSecure customers get some additional goodies for signing up:

  • financial calculators
  • articles on credit education
  • simulators on what impacts your credit score

Cons: You can get free financial calculators and information about credit and credit management anywhere on the Internet.

Identity theft insurance

CreditSecure provides you access to identity theft insurance. The insurance covers reimbursable expenses resulting from fraudulent activity. Reimbursable expenses may include out­of­pocket fraudulent charges, costs of amending or rectifying records, up to $1,500 per week in lost wages for up to five weeks, and investigative and legal costs.

Cons: By law, credit card issuers cannot hold you liable for more than $50 in fraudulent charges on your credit card. Most of the time you don’t pay anything if you report suspicious activity and dispute transactions.

I had to dispute $800 worth of bogus charges on my card in June 2015. I didn’t pay one cent..

Lost wallet assistance

If you lose your wallet and your credit cards a CreditSecure representative will help you call all of your credit card issuers (not just American Express) and help you cancel or replace your lost or stolen cards.

Cons: The service requires you to remain on the phone with the assistant. Some credit card issuers will not allow the assistant to be on the phone with you. You have to make the phone call yourself anyway to cancel or request a new card..

Again, when I had my card number stolen all I had to do was call the credit card company and request a new card. They canceled my current card, verified the charges that were and were not fraudulent, and put a new card in the mail (FedEx overnight). The biggest hassle was going back and changing all those auto-pays I had setup. No assistant is going to help you with that.*

What else do you need to know about American Express Credit Secure?

CreditSecure is a credit monitoring and alert service. The single best way to prevent identity theft is to put a security freeze on your credit files.

CreditSecure cannot improve your credit score or repair your credit or credit history. CreditSecure cannot remove a bankruptcy from your credit file. The service monitors your credit reports and alerts you to suspicious activity for $14.99 month or $143.99 per year.

You can use a free service like Credit Karma to monitor your credit for free.

What is Credit Karma?

Credit Karma is a free credit service that provides weekly updated credit scores and credit reports from national credit bureaus TransUnion and Equifax, alongside daily credit monitoring from TransUnion.

Credit Karma provides free credit monitoring ($0/month, $0/year). Compare that price to Credit Secure.

What about my credit score?

Credit Karma provides their own version of a FICO score to let you know how your credit is doing. It’s called the Vantage Score, and it’s similar to the CreditSecure PLUS Score.

What is Credit Karma’s Vantage Score?

The VantageScore is similar to CreditSecure’s PLUS Score. It’s Credit Karma’s version of your FICO score.

The American Express CreditSecure PLUS Score and Credit Karma’s VantageScore will not match each other, and neither will match your FICO score.

The Plus Score and VantageScore each have their own algorithms to try to estimate your FICO score.

Is Credit Secure or Credit Karma better for me?

The best way to prevent identity theft is to freeze your credit, not by paying a costly monthly service that serves as a warning system.

If you want to monitor your credit, consider trying the free service provided by Credit Karma. You can get monitoring and alerts of any weirdness going on in your credit for free.

Question: What do you think – Credit Secure or Credit Karma? Please leave a comment below.