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Do Cardholders Need Payment Protection and Credit Monitoring?

Most cardholders would be better off financially by focusing on paying down their credit card balances. Instead of paying the monthly fee, add that amount to your monthly payment to pay down your balance faster.

Credit monitoring service
Credit monitoring services are provided by a variety of businesses, from credit card issuers to credit agencies. The service typically costs $13 to $15 per month, or $160 to $180 per year. This monthly fee covers daily credit report monitoring, sending alerts and fraud resolution insurance.

Consumers are typically better off saving that money and taking easy steps to monitor their own accounts.

Here are ways to protect your own credit:

  • A credit freeze is the best way to protect your credit score and prevent someone else from opening an account in your name. Only you can place a credit freeze or remove it.
  • Credit cards offer free protection against fraud. As soon as you discover the fraud, contact your credit card issuer. Once you report the loss or theft, you have no further responsibility for unauthorized charges. Your maximum liability under federal law is $50 per card.
  • Get free annual credit reports from the three major bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com.
  • Check your credit card often to verify the charges and look for unauthorized activity.
  • Set up text alerts for account activity.

Some credit card issuers have ended their credit monitoring services, such as Chase (JPM) Identity Protection.

Bill Hardekopf is chief executive of LowCards.com, which compares and rates more than 1,000 credit cards. He is the co-author of "The Credit Card Guidebook."
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