Credit Sesame Review for 2021

Credit

Credit Sesame offers free credit scores and credit monitoring through its website and mobile app. You won’t receive your actual FICO score but can use the information to gain better insights into your finances.

Credit Sesame

The site’s basic services are truly free. You won’t be asked for your credit card information, nor is it a free trial. Like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame offers a 100% free tool to track your credit score and see how certain actions you take can influence your number.

There are also upgrade options available for additional services that you pay on a monthly basis.

Here is an in-depth review of Credit Sesame, including what you’ll get with a free account and whether or not it’s right for you.

Features

Once you create an account, you’ll see a dashboard of your financial history and current situation. Read on for a breakdown of everything you have access to with Credit Sesame’s free account.

Free Credit Score

Each month you’ll receive free updates to your TransUnion credit score. While it’s not your actual FICO score, you can track your progress every time it’s updated. This gives you an idea of how much your financial actions are helping to improve your credit score.

Free Credit Monitoring Service

Credit Sesame pulls your TransUnion credit report each and every month.

You’ll find out what kind of information has changed on your credit report, allowing you to pinpoint what factors affect your credit score. You can pay to upgrade to get credit reports from all three credit bureaus if you want a more holistic picture of your credit.

Personalized Credit Report Card

This feature analyzes your credit report in each of the five scoring categories contributing to your credit score: payment history, credit utilization, credit age, account mix, and credit inquiries.

Credit Sesame provides basic insights into what is helping or hurting your credit score. For instance, the report card might tell you that your credit utilization is high or how your credit score compares to your peers.

Debt and Loan Analysis

Credit Sesame helps you analyze your current debt based on your credit report. You’ll also receive personalized recommendations on new personal loans, including car loans and student loans.

This tool can help you compare offers and find the best interest rates when taking out a new loan or refinancing a current one.

Saving Money

Credit Sesame utilizes advanced technology to help you choose the loans and credit cards that will save you the most money in interest payments each month and over time.

Home Value Estimates

Credit Sesame has a tracking tool for users that own their home. You’ll receive updates on your home’s estimated value as well as how much equity you’ve earned based on your current mortgage.

Financial Goal Setting

You can also get help with achieving your financial goals through Credit Sesame. Enter what you’d like to do, such as refinance your mortgage or take out a personal loan, and Credit Sesame will alert you of relevant offers based on your credit profile, with a focus on those that save you the most money in interest.

Identity Protection

Along with your free account, you’ll receive a $50,000 identity theft insurance package along with professional help in restoring your ID.

How do you create an account?

You don’t need to hand over any credit card information to open a free account with Credit Sesame, but you will need an email address, and you’ll have to enter your social security number. You’ll also be prompted to answer some questions related to your finances to verify your identity.

This might include something like entering your monthly payment amount on a specific loan, or when you opened a particular bank account. Once your identity is confirmed, you’ll have access to all of the free features available on Credit Sesame.

Which credit score does Credit Sesame use?

Credit Sesame does NOT use FICO, so the number you see when you sign up will not be the exact credit score that most lenders see when you apply for a loan. Instead, Credit Sesame uses TransUnion’s VantageScore.

While that may seem like it should be spot-on because it comes directly from a credit bureau, the algorithm is not the same as FICO’s. However, the scoring range is identical (300 to 850), so you can compare the numbers more easily.

While there may be a fair degree of difference between your FICO and VantageScore, getting a free credit score from TransUnion can help you monitor your credit score, making it a helpful tool.

If you’re trying to prepare to apply for a loan, you might be better off paying a one-time fee to FICO to check your actual credit score so that you can better gauge where your score truly lies. You can also check out the 13 credit cards that offer free FICO Scores.

Does checking your credit with Credit Sesame hurt your credit scores?

No, checking your credit does not hurt your credit scores because any credit report pull initiated by you only counts as a soft inquiry. Hard inquiries can hurt your credit score between 5 and 10 points for each one and potentially sound an alarm with lenders that you’re strapped for cash.

Credit Sesame pulls your credit on your behalf for educational purposes. It’s not a loan request. So, you can rest easy knowing that your credit scores aren’t getting dinged each month.

How are credit offers decided by Credit Sesame?

Credit Sesame uses a sophisticated engine to determine loan and credit card offers tailored specifically for you.

Since they already have access to your credit history and other financial information, they can automatically crunch numbers, including your credit score, existing loans, home value, debt-to-income ratio, and more.

Credit Sesame can also consider your personal goals, like wanting to move or refinance your home. Then they churn out offers from financial institutions that meet your particular credit profile. This can help you analyze deals and also save time searching for lenders and loan terms that work for you.

What are common complaints against Credit Sesame?

Just like any non-FICO score, the number you receive from Credit Sesame could vary significantly from the number pulled from your lender when it comes time to apply for a loan.

Some people also complain that the analytical tools and advice are limited unless you upgrade to a paid subscription. But for a free website offering free credit score updates each month, it’s a great starting point for monitoring your credit.

What do you get with a paid subscription?

If you’re looking for a bit more financial information and analysis, you can upgrade to three different subscription levels. You can pay month to month or receive a discount by paying for a full year in advance.

Advanced Credit Plan

The first option is the Advanced Credit Plan for $9.95 month-to-month, or $7.95/month if billed annually (totaling $95.40). This option gives you daily credit score updates from one credit bureau, monthly credit score updates, and monitoring from all three credit bureaus, on top of the free services.

Pro Credit Plan

You can enroll in the Pro Credit Plan for $15.95 a month (or $12.95/month billed annually — $155.40). Credit Sesame advertises this plan as its best value option.

You get all the perks mentioned above, plus credit monitoring with alerts from the three credit reporting agencies. You also get 24/7 access to experts who will help solve any inaccuracies on your credit report.

Platinum Protection Plan

Your final paid option is the Platinum Protection Plan, which costs $19.95 month to month, or $15.95/month when you pay a year in advance ($191.40). On top of everything included in the other plans, the Platinum Protection Plan includes identity theft protection and credit monitoring services.

How does Credit Sesame make money?

Credit Sesame makes money in a few different ways. First, they collect revenue from customers purchasing the paid monthly subscriptions. Credit Sesame also earns commission through the targeted ads and products they offer all members based on specific credit profiles.

If you accept a loan or credit card offer through the website, for example, then Credit Sesame receives compensation for that referral. The site also features third-party advertising, which means other companies pay to have their ads placed on Credit Sesame.

Should you use Credit Sesame?

Credit Sesame can be very effective for gaining regular access to your credit information at no cost. If you’re about to apply for credit, you certainly don’t want to depend on your credit score as absolute.

Many users report their actual FICO score being either higher or lower than their Credit Sesame score. But if you’re actively working on repairing your credit, regularly checking your credit report and one version of your credit score can be a good idea.

That being said, the Credit Sesame website is safe and legitimate. So, it doesn’t hurt to try out the free service and see if you get any value from the information and advice offered.

As you start to gain more control over your financial situation, you may wish to add more levels of monitoring and ID theft protection to your Credit Sesame account. There’s plenty of flexibility, and the monthly prices aren’t so outrageous that you can’t test out a plan for a month or two to see how it works for you.

Lauren Ward
Meet the author

Lauren is a Crediful writer whose aim is to give readers the financial tools they need to reach their own goals in life. She has written on personal finance issues for over six years and holds a Bachelor's degree in Japanese from Georgetown University.