Costco Complete ID vs Identity Guard: Choosing the Right Identity Protection

By Calvin Fellows

Topic:  ID Theft

March 23, 2022

Costco’s Complete ID identity theft protection is one of the strangest services I’ve ever had to review. Not bad, necessarily, but odd. So, it should be fascinating to try and compare it to Identity Guard, when its approach to many things (especially pricing) is so alien to many of the other services on the market.

Why Should You Trust Us?

Our process is designed to create real, practical results. We task our experts with approaching the service in the exact same way any other user would. We search for the best deals and make note of the difference between prices, and sign up with detailed test information, then use them as normal for a period of time (usually about a month) to gauge not only how the service works when you first sign up, but to see if they maintain or even improve in quality over time.

We then make detailed notes about each service, and separate its performance into six key categories, listed in order of importance:

  1. Monitoring and Alerts
  2. Threat Resolution
  3. Insurance
  4. Ease of use
  5. Cost
  6. Additional Services

These categories are then scored, and the scores are weighted toward the most important categories. The top two are by far the most important, and are where the bulk of the service’s score comes from. Monitoring and threat resolution are by far the most important features for any service, and a failing grade there dooms the service. 

By a similar token, the presence of additional services is not meaningless, but isn’t going to sway the needle that much.

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Is Getting Identity Theft Protection Really That Important?

In a word: yes. Identity theft protection is one of the most important things you can invest in these days in terms of protecting yourself from criminal acts.

Identity fraud is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world, in part because the internet is a target rich environment, and in part because identity theft is relatively easy, lucrative, and involves very little personal risk for the person committing fraud.

Part of this is because people do not, and cannot keep a close enough eye on all their information. It is sold without your permission, legally, by major corporations and private individuals alike, and can be used to further impact your life by taking over accounts (new or old) and gleaning important personal information from them.

Quick Score Guide:

CriteriaIdentity Guard (9/10)Costco Complete ID (/10)
Ease of Use9/106/10
Monitoring and Alerts10/108/10
Threat Resolution8/109/10
Additional Services6/10N/A
Cost8/106/10
Insurance10/108/10

Ease of Use: Winner – Identity Guard

This is an easy win for Identity Guard to start us off. Identity Guard has one of the best website layouts I’ve come across for one of these services, and it’s very satisfying to navigate compared to other options, with a clear layout and a ton of relevant information up front.

Identity Guard dashboard

Costco’s Complete ID service, by contrast, is subpar. Not only is the signup process lengthy and annoying (which we’ll discuss in more depth later), the site layout is terrible. It’s hard to navigate, and there’s a lot of scrolling involved to see everything you need.

Costco CompleteID dashboard

Worse than that, navigating to other parts of the site is slow and very annoying. The nav bar makes it hard to find what you’re looking for, and it’s just “slippery” and obnoxious to boot, with the dropdown bars being rudimentary and outdated.

Costco Complete ID

Overall, I hate the Costco Complete ID site layout, and it really mars the experience.

Monitoring and Alerts: Winner – Identity Guard

Another win for Identity Guard, but Costco puts up a pretty good fight here.

The main issue with Complete ID’s identity monitoring is how limited it is. It’s very barebones, covering just the essentials:

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

That last one is usually what is referred to as “criminal and/or sex offender registry monitoring”, and it’s probably the best of all of these features. The rest are fine, but nothing special. But the level of sheer detail provided by these neighborhood watch alerts is astounding, with actual names, description of appearance, what they were convicted for, and so on.

However, this doesn’t fully make up for the fact that Identity Guard has two huge advantages over Complete ID.

The first: greater breadth. Costco’s Complete ID service offers less than half of the types of monitoring that Identity Guard comes with, at least if you go for its Ultra package.

The second is relevant even if you only want basic protection, and it’s that Identity Guard is simply much faster than Complete ID is. Complete ID takes about a day, sometimes longer, to populate results that identity Guard will send you within instants of detection. This holds true both for when you first sign up and for alerts you might receive later.

So if you want more comprehensive, speedier alerts with a similar level of accuracy, Identity Guard is your best bet.

Threat Resolution Services: Winner – Costco Complete ID

This is a simple category. Both options offer simple, but effective threat resolution: helpful, knowledgeable customer support representatives.

The difference here is availability. Costco Complete ID offers 24/7 customer support if you run into issues.

Identity Guard, by contrast, has limited hours: 8 AM to 11 PM (Monday through Friday) and 9 AM to 6 PM on Saturdays. Identity Guard is unavailable on Sundays.

Identity Guard’s availability is better than average, but you can’t really beat 24/7 customer support.

Insurance: Winner – Identity Guard

This is another really easy one to judge.

While Costco Complete ID has pretty good insurance, it falls into the same pitfall a lot of these smaller services do. They offer $1 million in insurance (which is great!), but that single million is used to cover both lost funds -what Costco refers to as “cash recovery- and expense reimbursement.

Identity Guard, by contrast, offers up to $2 million in total reimbursement; $1 million for lost funds, and another for expenses (eg. legal expenses, childcare, lost wages, etc.).

This is self-evidently better, and so Identity Guard is our winner.

Additional Services: Winner – ???

Let’s take a minute to talk about Costco Complete ID in-depth. Because the part that makes this category a real weird one is that…Complete Id is the additional service.

Costco Complete ID is only available to existing Costco customers, and is completely optional. Everything you get here is a tacked-on budget version of identity theft protection.

Identity Guard is also very lacking in additional content, with the best you can point to being their Risk Management Score system.

This category is impossible to judge because one option isn’t even playing the same game.

Cost: Winner – Identity Guard

An easy, easy win for Identity Guard here, because Costco’s pricing is incredibly deceptive. A quick look at their prices:

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

These prices look pretty good in a vacuum. It’s a little pricey for what it is, but nothing really beyond the pale. And it offers child identity protection for a nominal fee as well.

However, it ignores one important fact: Costco Complete ID is only available to existing Costco members.

This means to both prices above you need to tack on an extra yearly fee. For the Business and Gold Star members, it’s an extra $60, while for the Executive membership it’s $120. This does mean that both services end up at the same final cost: $227.88 a year.

Identity Guard, meanwhile, is a lot more straightforward. What you see is what you get.

Value
Total
Ultra
Price
Individual Monthly
Value
$7.20 /month
$86.40/year
Total
$15.99 /month
$191.88/year
Ultra
$23.99 /month
Individual Annual
Value
$6.67 /month
$80.04/year
Total
$15.99 /month
$159.96/year
Ultra
$20.00 /month
Family Monthly
Value
$11.99 /month
$143.88/year
Total
$23.99 /month
$287.88/year
Ultra
$31.99 /month
Family Annual
Value
$10.00 /month
$120.00/year
Total
$20.00 /month
$240.00/year
Ultra
$26.67 /month

Identity Guard is notably a bit more expensive for its Ultra plan, but cheaper for its Total plan…which offers the same, or perhaps still more than Costco Complete ID does.

The Ultra plan, of course, offers a whole lot more.

This isn’t accounting for the fact that Identity Guard offers family plans, while Costco does not. You’d have to buy a new membership, at which point it’s going to cost more than Identity Guard once again.

The big sticker for me is that I don’t think Costco Complete ID is good enough to justify buying a Costco membership to access it. If you  already have one…it might be worth it, but that’s still a bit questionable.

Overall, Identity Guard is a better value even when it isn’t outright less expensive.

Conclusion:  Identity Guard

  • Better threat resolution
  • Better and more accurate monitoring
  • More thorough customer service
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This was never really a question, for a fairly obvious reason: Costco Complete ID is not a primary focus of the company offering it. It’s a nice little extra, but it was never going to be able to compete with the service to beat for identity theft protection.

Identity Guard is possibly the best, bar none, identity theft protection service on the market, and it’s completely focused on bringing solid performance at a great price.

Complete ID, by contrast, is a service that I think is questionably of value if you’re already a Costco member. It’s not the worst I’ve seen, but it doesn’t compare well to similarly priced options from other companies either. It’s definitely not worth buying a Costco membership just to get access to a service I’d describe as okay at best.

Just give Complete ID a pass.

Other Comparison Articles:

* The score you receive with Identity Guard is provided for educational purposes to help you understand your credit. It is calculated using the information contained in your TransUnion credit file. Lenders use many different credit scoring systems, and the score you receive with Identity Guard is not the same score used by lenders to evaluate your credit.

** Identity Theft Insurance underwritten by insurance company subsidiaries or affiliates of American International Group‚ Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms‚ conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms‚ conditions‚ and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.

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