Citi Credit Monitoring Service Review for 2013

Posted by CreditCardGuru

credit monitoring bannerWhile I was perusing the transaction history for one of my Citi credit cards, I noticed a banner ad at the bottom touting a credit monitoring service for $8.95/month (30% off their normal price of $12.95).

If you have a Citi card and login to your account, there’s a good chance you will see this promotional offer, too. But is it worth it?

Well, the price of $8.95 is definitely not a ripoff when compared to the $14.99 to $29.95 that some credit monitoring services will charge you.  So I decided to review it for myself.

Part One: Signing Up

After I clicked on that banner I am taking to a page which says this:

Your credit score can affect your finances. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rates could be. See how healthy your credit is with Citi IdentityMonitor. For just $1 for the first 30 days, then only $8.95 a month (30% off the regular monthly price of $12.95), you’ll get all these benefits and more:

  • Stay informed about certain changes to your credit file with alerts that could be potential indicators of fraud or theft so you can stop fraud in its tracks.
  • View your reports and scores on your time with 24/7 access
  • Access to 3-in-1 credit reports, credit scores and monitoring based on data from the three leading credit bureaus
  • Explore how your credit may change based on your credit actions

So the Citi credit monitoring service is actually more than just credit. They claim they’re alert you in the event of fraud, too (we’ll find out in a minute what that means).

Below their pitch is a field to enter your Social Security number and birthday:

info to enroll in service

Then under that are Terms of Service that you have to agree to before clicking submit:

I authorize Intersections, Inc., a service provider of Citi, to obtain my credit files and information from the credit reporting agency(ies) in order to provide my credit report to me and to monitor my credit files for as long as I am enrolled in Citi® IdentityMonitor®. I confirm that I am requesting my own personal information and no other.

Hmm… who is Intersections, Inc? I checked out their website and it looks like they specialize solely in credit monitoring and identity theft.

The own/operate IdentityGuard, which interestingly enough charges $16.99 for their cheapest plan that offers 3 bureau credit scores + monitoring. That’s more than Citi credit monitoring, so I guess it’s cheaper to get the service through Citibank (the plans aren’t identical, but close enough).

By clicking the Enroll Now button, I understand the $1 fee for the first 30 days and then the monthly fee for Citi® IdentityMonitor® – which is only $8.95 – will be automatically billed to this credit card. I may cancel at any time by calling 1-866-279-9637 and my membership will continue until the end of my current paid period.

I can handle one buck. So I agree and click submit.

Part Two: Using The Service

After agreeing to the last page I get redirected to the “Citi Identity Monitor” page where I have to confirm who I am by answering 5 questions such as who I have a loan from, what my middle name is, etc. After that rigmarole, I create a user/pass and then enter my account.

Citi credit monitor screenshot

As you see, the website is pretty basic and no frills, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Part Three: Credit Reports

Citi credit monitoring generates my report – one from each bureau – and the data is displayed side-by-side in 3 columns:

credit report example

I actually really like the way they present the info to you. By having the 3 reports displayed next to each other, you can quickly see discrepancies. If I had to review the 3 credit reports in separate documents, there might be a discrepancy I would otherwise not notice.

You get to view all the info on you credit reports:

  • Public Records
  • Collection Items
  • Consumer Statement (if applicable)
  • Inquiries
  • Personal Information (incl. employment)
  • Creditor Contact Information
  • Account Information

Part Four: Credit Scores

Now in this section, Citi doesn’t do a very good job explaining what you’re getting. Will you be getting a credit score generated using data from each of the 3 credit bureaus? Yes. But will this score be a FICO? No.

Citi credit score

Citibank gives you a score that runs on a 350 to 850 scale (FICO is 300 to 850). So what type of score are we getting? Well if you look in the fine print at the bottom of the page you will get the answer: “CreditXpert Credit Score”

fine print about Credit Xpert

For me, these 3 “CreditXpert” scores did correlate relatively close to my real FICOs – within 10 to 15 points. But just because it correlated closely for me doesn’t mean you will necessarily experience the same thing. Remember they’re using a different credit score type, with a different formula than FICO.

So how useful are these scores? Well if you just want a good idea of where you stand, then credit monitoring from Citi might be useful. However, if you actually need to know your credit score because you’re about to apply for a mortgage/loan, then you really should be getting your true FICO instead since that’s what will be used in the lending decision.

Part Five: Credit Monitoring & Alerts

When I clicked the tab for Citibank credit monitoring I was shown this:

credit alerts through Citi

So apparently, you are enrolled in alerts for all of these things by default. And what if you don’t want to be alerted about everything? Too bad, because it appears Citi’s credit monitor service doesn’t let you customize the alerting.

How good does it work? That I cannot say, since I didn’t have any activity during my trial that would have triggered one of these monitoring alerts.

Part Six: Credit Analyzer

To be honest I didn’t fool around with this feature much, so I don’t know how useful it is. They describe it as a tool that let’s you estimate the potential impact on your credit score by doing things like paying down debt, increasing debt, paying on time, and about a dozen other scenarios.

Aspects of this will be useful for some, but I really don’t think you need to use a simulation tool to say, find out that paying your accounts on time will increase your credit score.

Part Seven: Identity Theft Expense Reimbursement Insurance

This benefit provides up to:

  • No coverage for FL
  • $10,000 in coverage if you’re in AK, HI, NY, OH, PA and WA
  • $25,000 in coverage for other states

You can read the details of the insurance policy here. In a nutshell this coverage pays for the time/expense involved in correcting identity theft. It does not reimburse you for any money that was stolen from you.

Verdict?

Is Citi Identity Monitor worth it or not?

Well $12.95 (the normal price) means you would be paying $155.40 per year. For the $8.95 price tag that equals $107.40 annually. Both of those amounts are obviously not a small chunk of change. So you will have to review the pro/cons to determine whether it’s worth it.

For me personally, I only signed up for Citi’s credit monitoring services for research and writing this review. I called and cancelled during the 30 day trial, so it only ended up costing me $1.

Unfortunately you can’t cancel Citi Identity Monitor online. You will have to call 1-866-279-9637. It’s not a 24 hour line; 8 am to 11 pm M-F and 9 am to 6 pm (all times EST).

When I called on a Saturday to cancel after a woman answered after a brief hold. She said my account couldn’t be cancelled because it was less than 72 hours old and I would have to call back.

So I call back about a week later to cancel. As a last ditch effort for me not to cancel Identity Monitor, they offer me $50 worth of prepaid gift cards. However, this wasn’t a straightforward offer as they said you can only use one per month for 5 months. I didn’t want to hassle with this so I turned it down, but if you bite the bait I suppose that will make your monitoring subscription the equivalent of being free or close to it for the first 6 months (30 days for $1 + $10 gift card per month).

With all said and done, this appears to be a good service with a straight forward cancellation process and reasonable pricing. The only drawback of course is that the scores are not FICO.


-----
Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

12 comments... read them below or add your own

  1. Keith April 25, 2014 at 5:57PM

    Some inaccuracies about lender scores (FICO is not the only scoring model used by lenders) but a good review

  2. Big Gamble April 7, 2014 at 2:06PM

    Used this service for a couple years and enjoyed the cheap ($4.95 a month, through an old promotion)access to information, but I decided to cancel to save a bit of money anyways. After reading this I steeled myself for an annoying downsell. Surprisingly the phone call took 2 or 3 minutes, tops, with no downsell or excessive phone-tree hoops to jump through. Annoying that you can’t cancel online, but as customer service phone calls go it was great. We’ll see if the charges actually stop. If so their Utah representatives were polite and efficient.

  3. Deshon February 21, 2014 at 6:02PM

    I found this article looking to reinstate the identity monitoring service. I changed debit cards and the representative says theres nothing they can do because the account had been closed already. What happened to loyal customers who been using the service for a while.

  4. Charles Stilwell December 13, 2013 at 8:01AM

    I have been very happy with the credit monitoring for the past several years-I receive an alert any time a credit inquiry is made.

    Customer service does stink: I had to cancel the credit card that Citi uses for its monthly charge because of fraud, so Citi sent me a letter stating it was unable to make its monthly charge. Date on the letter was Dec. 2nd, and I responded on Dec. 13th (I was on vacation)with a new credit card, and I was informed that my account had been canceled and there is no way to reinstate the account. Really strange to chase away long-time customers.

    • Gina January 13, 2014 at 12:04PM

      Charles, the same thing happened to me! Very similar to your situation, with my card # changing, and I called to update it (too late). The representative told me the same thing, my account was cancelled and that they couldn’t reinstate me. I’ve been with them since 2008! I actually found this webpage through a Google search on trying to re-enroll. I really did like the service. I can’t find that banner anywhere on my Citi credit card site that the above article mentions :(

      • Michael February 14, 2014 at 1:47PM

        Guys/Gals,
        I’ve been using this service since 2005. I had a similar instance where my account was closed. I ultimately had to open a new account with a new username. Just put an “underscore #” at the end of your old username “_2″. Then you can go back to enjoying the service. This is what worked for me.

      • joe February 14, 2014 at 2:18PM

        That happened to me too, just today. I’d been a member for 2 years and they wouldn’t help me. So I’ll find another. Not good business sense,unless there is some underlying issue.

  5. Alex October 8, 2013 at 1:41PM

    A good credit monitoring service makes all the difference in the world. Citi credit monitoring is is a solid service and they have done very well for me in the past. I have also found that Scoredriven is another excellent service. Credit monitoring is not for everyone, but it does work very well for a lot of people.

  6. stan smith April 24, 2013 at 8:58PM

    I have been using the service for maybe 5 years, and so has my son and daughter. Its a good service as the review says. Well worth the money. I work in the area of economic analysis of damages and know well the nightmare that folks suffer with identity theft, so this service or others is important, check monthly is my advice, and while there are other services, I think this one is as good as any and priced decently. Well worth it.

  7. Scott October 17, 2012 at 8:55AM

    I was a former Citi Identity customer and recently tried to use the service again when I found that my debit card had been skimmed and the bank notified me of that fact.

    Citi Identity monitor has possibly the worst customer service in the world, and I do mean the world. Your first contact with them will be a call center in India, but the people in India can never do anything for you and you have to go on hold and wait.

    To make a long story short, you can’t just use the service when you sign up. They want all sorts of personal information from you via fax. Your license, your SS card, your insurance and utility bills. I faxed all of these things to them, then they come back and want more. Send the back side of your SS card, sign your card and your bills, your license is too dark on the fax, lighten and send again. Send us a different utility bill we can’t see your address. 1 week of this and they tell me that all is okay and the service will be activated. Wait 2 days and still no go. Call back and they want something else faxed.

    When I had enough of that I tried to cancel. First India, then verification again, then someone in Utah. I asked for a cancellation number and was told they don’t use those but my name is “such and such”.

    From other reviews it appears that they won’t close your account under any circumstance, and you have to change your credit card number to get the charges stopped.

    Stay very, very far away from this “service”.

    • Jim July 5, 2013 at 1:18AM

      I was not asked for any such documents when I joined. I would never fax my SSN card. Yikes!

      I did get a harsh hard sell from a rep when I called to cancel. Well, heck, cutover retention is the man’s job, after all. I’m very good at cutting the the chase, especially if it means interrupting the boilerplate spiel. Result: he lowered my rate a lot and I kept my account with them. Win/win.

      I also always ask where there call center is located. Sure, they might be trained to lie, but so far I trust that the reps have all been domestic.

      As for the product… yup, the scores do not reflect true FICO, but they are close and probably lower. I learned this when buying a new car and the FICO score the Finance guy showed me was 30 points higher than the three calculated by Citi. Better that Citi err on the side of caution and one knows the real deal is actually a bit higher.

      The reason I stay: The credit reports are dead on, and the alerts are accurate and fast. THAT makes it worth the price.

  8. Philip March 29, 2012 at 2:17PM

    From Citi menu after logging in:

    Tools & Services > View Special Offers > Click this banner: “Higher credit scores could mean lower rates. Do you know your score?”

Leave a Comment

*