Aura Vs. Costco Complete ID

This is one of the more lopsided matchups I’ve looked at in a while. Being perfectly honest with you, this is a comparison between what is hands down the best identity theft protection service on the market right now (Aura), and a service that underperforms in nearly every category compared to almost every other service I’ve reviewed; it’s the third worst in my opinion out of everything on the market I’ve looked at.

So this is less a question of “which is better?” (the answer is Aura) and more “why is Aura so much better?”.

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Why Should You Trust Us?

identity theft protection

We field a team of experts to review each service that look at things in the most practical way possible. We test each service the same way a normal person would use it; hunt for the best deals, sign up, and then live our lives (or the life of our test information) as normal, with varying degrees of care and caution to produce real, believable results, and test how the service reacts, how quickly it alerts us, and so on.

After testing the service for about a month, or sometimes longer, we give each service a grade in all of the six major categories that define one of these identity theft protection categories:

  1. Monitoring and alerts
  2. Threat resolution
  3. Insurance
  4. Ease of use 
  5. Cost
  6. Additional services

These categories are listed in order of importance, and weighted accordingly. If a service scores high on the top three features, it’s guaranteed at least a positive score, as these are the things that really matter. How well it monitors for threats, how well the tools it gives you to resolve said threats work, and the level of monetary compensation involved that helps soften or eliminate the sting of a fraud event.

The bottom three categories can be considered more “tiebreakers”, as the results on the final score are minimal, and mostly there to show what might recommend one service over another if all the important factors are equal. Nice little extras and a lower cost are nice, but they aren’t actually very important compared to raw performance metrics.

Do You Really Need Identity Theft Protection?

The answer to that is a resounding “YES!”. Identity theft has fast become one of the most common types of crime, and at the current rate of growth identity theft and fraud might become the premier type of crime going into the future.

Everyone uses the internet these days, in varying amounts. When it was just for entertainment and education, fraud was present, but fairly quaint by today’s standards. Easily avoided scams like the classic “Nigerian Prince Scam” were common, but easily avoided by those with a healthy wariness of things too good to be true.

But with the commodification of the internet, and how much true business takes place there now? It’s a whole different picture.

Identity fraud is relatively risk-free compared to other crime, and can be just as lucrative, or more. Theft of cryptocurrency in particular has netted enterprising criminals millions in ill-gotten gains, and while they are usually swiftly caught…they aren’t always, and the nature of these types of transactions can make it difficult to get your money returned in any case.

Having identity theft protection is just good sense, the same as having theft insurance of any kind, a home security system , or even just a car alarm. Early warning and threat mitigation hand in hand with emergency compensation goes a long way toward securing peace of mind.

Quick Score Guide:

CriteriaAura (9.5/10)Complete ID (6/10)
Ease of Use7/106/10
Monitoring and Alerts10/107/10
Threat Resolution9/109/10
Additional Services8/10N/A
Cost9/104/10
Insurance10/108/10

Ease of Use: Winner – Aura 

Aura takes a slight edge here, but both services are very middling on the ease of use front.

Aura’s primary sin is that a lot of its dashboard is just entirely wasted.

Aura's dashboard

Of the seven options on this front page, only two of them serve any urgent purpose. The rest are things you’ll activate once and then probably never need to touch again. I’m also not a fan of how alerts get mixed in with other notifications up in the top right corner of the screen, though that’s a smaller gripe.

Costco Complete ID is marginally worse, and in a more annoying way.

Costco CompleteID dashboard

I just hate how it’s laid out, in one long page you have to scroll up and down constantly to find anything, instead of having a sensible tab-based layout. Even worse, there’s all this blank space on the side that could have been used to at least double up columns and make it easier to navigate…but no, everything is in one cumbersome, annoying column that makes it a pain to find any specific thing if you’re in a hurry.

Neither is great, but Aura is better where it counts. You can at least find everything you need pretty easily.

Monitoring and Alerts: Winner – Aura

Costco Complete ID is one of the most bizarre services on the market when it comes to marketing, as it takes a very strange “quality over quantity” approach. It offers very little in terms of monitoring breadth, barely covering the basics, and arguably not even that.

Complete ID offers:

  • Dark web and data breach monitoring
  • Payday loan monitoring
  • Social security number monitoring
  • Bank account monitoring
  • “Neighborhood watch alerts”

The last being what is usually referred to as sex offender and criminal registry monitoring, that notifies you of known criminals in your area and their details.

The level of detail on each of these, especially the neighborhood watch alerts, is staggering, far more on the latter than anything else I’ve looked at.

However, it fails to cover some very important bases you want your identity theft protection service to be monitoring. In addition to everything above, Aura offers:

  • USPS address change monitoring
  • Social media insights
  • 401(k) and investment monitoring
  • Home title monitoring
  • And more!

These may seem like minor features at first glance, but they’re all very important, with home title monitoring being the most deceptively critical of them all. While only offered by their top tier service plan, that one especially is something every homeowner needs, as home title fraud is actually one of the most common and unsurprisingly most devastating types of identity fraud, as it can leave you homeless, in massive debt…or both.

Combined with Aura’s superior speed and accuracy, and you just have a service that provides more bang for your buck where it counts.

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Threat Resolution Services: Winner – Tie

Both offer essentially the same service here: 24/7 access to their customer service teams.

I could give an edge to Aura, for having on average more experienced customer service representatives (as each stays on staff for about 7 years on average), but I’ve had no particular issues with either option.

Insurance: Winner – Aura

When it comes to insurance, more is, in fact, more.

Costco’s insurance plan isn’t bad, actually, offering up to $1 million in expenses and lost funds reimbursement (referred to by them as cash recovery, unlike every alternatives to Aura ID theft protection on the market). However, like many smaller services, Costco rolls this into one big pool. You only get up to $1 million in coverage for expenses and lost funds combined.

Meanwhile, Identity Guard provides $1 million in coverage for each to every one of their service tiers. Additionally, those who buy the Ultra plan become “Executive” members and gain access to a pool of $5 million in lost funds reimbursement (not expenses) that applies to every adult on a  family plan.

That is, simply put, a lot more than what Costco provides.

Additional Services: Winner – Aura

Aura provides additional services, and Costco doesn’t, so it wins by default. Sort of.

Costco has its own weirdness which we’ll talk about in detail when we discuss price, but suffice to say that as an identity theft protection service alone, Costco offers nothing besides the basic service, but Aura gives you a VPN and antivirus service on top of their already more robust protection package.

While neither is great, they’re a whole lot better than nothing, and could save you some money (especially the antivirus).

Cost: Winner – Aura

This is absolutely no contest.

Costco Complete ID has a pricing structure I can only describe as “wacky”, and it’s the main thing that prevents me from recommending it as a small, budget option compared to other services.

Take a look at this:

Business and Gold Star
Executive
Price
Individual Monthly
Business and Gold Star
$13.99 /month
$167.88/year
Executive
$8.99 /month
$107.88/year
Child Identity Monitoring
Business and Gold Star
$3.99 /month
$47.88/year
Executive
$2.99 /month
$35.88/year

Now, that seems awfully reasonable, doesn’t it? A very low price for what you get, and it would be one of the most budget friendly identity theft protection services on the market…if these prices weren’t so deceptive.

You see, Costco Complete ID is only available to existing Costco members. This means you’re paying an additional $60 per year (for Business and Gold Star members) or $120 a year (for Executive members), which brings that pricing in line to the exact same number: $227.88 per year.

Now, this does come with all of the usual benefits of a Costco membership, so it’s not a complete waste, but it doesn’t really factor into taking the service itself at its own value.

Complete ID also does not have proper family plans; to cover another adult you’ll need to shell out the full monthly price again.

Contrast Aura’s pricing:

Value
Total
Ultra
Price
Month to Month (Individual)
Value
$9.00 /month
$108.00/year
Total
$16.00 /month
$192.00/year
Ultra
$24.00 /month
$288.00/year
Annual(Individual)
Value
$7.00 /month
$84.00/year
Total
$13.00 /month
$156.00/year
Ultra
$20.00 /month
$240.00/year
Month to Month (Family Plan)
Value
$15.00 /month
$180.00/year
Total
$22.00 /month
$264.00/year
Ultra
$30.00 /month
$360.00/year
Annual (Family Plan)
Value
$12.00 /month
$144.00/year
Total
$18.00 /month
$216.00/year
Ultra
$25.00 /month
$300.00/year

So in the grand scheme of things, assuming you use our affiliate code for access to the above prices, even Aura’s Ultra membership doesn’t cost much more. It’s also significantly better in every conceivable regard and, here’s the kicker, has one of the best family plans on the market.

As you can see, Aura’s family plan costs an additional $6 extra over the individual plan.

For that $6, you can have up to 10 more accounts, in any combination of adults and children. Yes, that does mean you can have 10 adult plans for the average cost of $3 per month split between you. You could alternatively have fewer adults and more children (so long as they are under the legal guardianship of the primary account holder) as well, but even then it’s still a great value.

It’s pretty much impossible to compete with that, and Costco’s Complete ID service doesn’t even come close.

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Conclusion: Winner – Aura

Aura identity guard

As I said at the start of this, this is essentially a comparison between the best service on the market and one of the worst. Costco Complete ID has some merits, and if you’re already a Costco member might very well be worth checking out, but the fact of the matter is that even compared to other budget options it’s not really that much less expensive, and it’s overall lack of performance makes it hard to recommend.

Even compared to Aura specifically, Aura’s bottom tier Value plan, which normally I would say is a poor value compared to the Ultra plan, performs better at a much lower price than Costco Complete ID even if you do have a Costco membership already.There is really no reason to take Complete ID over Aura, and quite frankly there is very little reason to take Costco Complete ID over almost any other service on the market right now, unless you can get it on one of its very rare discounts, while you’re already paying for a Costco membership.

It’s just too niche of a circumstance under which to recommend the service, to really entertain as a true possibility.

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