One of the most heavily-advertised credit score and report sites, FreeCreditScore.com is a familiar name for a lot of consumers when they first start looking into credit monitoring services. But how does the site actually stack up to other credit monitoring services? We've put them head to head with our favorite service, Identity Guard Total Protection, to get an idea of what sets the two apart.

Which Credit Scores and Reports Will I Get?

There are three major credit reporting bureaus in the United States: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Not every credit company reports to all three bureaus, and depending on the organization or person who checks your credit when you apply for a loan, apartment, or credit card, they may check all three or any one credit bureau. This means that it is important to know what's on all three of your credit reports, since a few missing facts can influence your score up or down. As a subsidiary of Experian, FreeCreditScore.com's biggest limitation is that it only offers credit scores, reports, and monitoring for the Experian credit reporting bureau.

Identity Guard, on the other hand, offers 3-bureau credit reports, scores, and monitoring, so you'll know what all of the credit bureaus (including Experian!) have on file, not just one. This also means that even if someone attempts to open a line of credit with a company that doesn't report to Experian, you'll get a chance to stop the fraud before damage is incurred, since Identity Guard's 3-bureau credit monitoring will notify you when the company reports the new account.

How Often Do I Get to See Reports and Scores?

With FreeCreditScore.com, you get to see your Experian credit score and report when you sign up, and then if you keep the service after the free trial ends, you can see updates to your score and report twice a month.

A subscription to Identity Guard includes access to your Experian, Equifax and TransUnion credit reports and scores when you sign up and then quarterly updates after that.

Do I Get Anything Else?

In the unfortunate event that you experience identity theft while you belong to FreeCreditScore.com, the site gives you access to a fraud resolution specialist who will help you resolve the problem. You are also covered under a $50,000 identity theft insurance policy which may help defray some of the costs associated with identity theft.

Extra services are where Identity Guard really starts to shine. The company has a particularly complete identity theft prevention service, including proactive monitoring of your personal information on the Internet black market to protect your credit information, Social Security Number, and other private information from misuse. You also get access to the free Zone Alarm Internet Security Suite. This security software includes anti-virus, firewall, anti-phishing and anti-spam software with hourly security updates and can be purchased separately for $49.99, but is included free in your Identity Guard plan. You'll also get mobile security software and lost wallet protection, which can help you replace your cards if you lose your wallet. Finally, if you experience identity theft, the company will work to help you restore your accounts and offers a $1 million identity theft insurance policy.

What Do They Cost?

FreeCreditScore.com offers a free 7-day trial, and after that it costs $14.95/mo.

Identity Guard has a 30-day free trial, and after that it costs $14.99/mo (after our 25% discount, regularly $19.99/mo)

So Which One Should I Get?

Honestly, this isn't much of a contest. With a price just four cents per month higher, you get a lot more features and services for your money from Identity Guard than you do from FreeCreditScore.com. Even if you just want to see your credit scores and reports one time, the 30-day free trial from Identity Guard will give you 3-bureau reports and scores as well as three extra weeks of coverage to try it out, compared to FreeCreditScore.com's single bureau reports and one-week trial.

Credit Report Monitoring, FreeCreditReport.com, Identity Guard, Identity Theft Protection