Credit scores play a crucial role in our financial lives, affecting everything from loan approvals to interest rates. Credit Sesame is a credit monitoring tool designed to help you better understand and manage your credit score.
In this extensive review, we’ll examine Credit Sesame’s features, benefits, and costs in detail to help you decide if it’s the right choice for your needs.
What is Credit Sesame?
Credit Sesame is a free credit monitoring service, offering free credit scores and credit management tools. Launched in 2010, Credit Sesame has grown to become a popular alternative to other credit monitoring services such as Credit Karma.
The platform offers various services, including free credit scores, credit report summaries, and credit monitoring. It also provides personalized financial recommendations, resources, identity theft protection, and premium paid services for those seeking additional benefits.
Brief History of Credit Sesame
Credit Sesame was founded with the goal of making credit information accessible and understandable to everyone. Its services aim to empower users to improve their credit, make informed financial decisions, and save money. Over the years, Credit Sesame has expanded its offerings to include a digital bank account called Sesame Cash and various financial tools and resources.
Credit Sesame Services
Credit Sesame offers a range of services to help you manage your credit and personal finances:
- Free credit score and credit report summaries
- Credit monitoring and alerts
- Identity monitoring
- Personalized loan and credit card offers
- Financial tools, resources, and educational articles
- Premium plans with enhanced features and benefits
- Sesame Cash prepaid debit card
Credit Sesame vs. Credit Karma
While both Credit Sesame and Credit Karma offer free credit monitoring services and scores, there are some differences between the two platforms:
- Credit Sesame focuses more on credit score improvement and personalized financial recommendations, while Credit Karma provides more comprehensive credit reports and a wider range of financial tools and resources.
- Credit Karma provides your credit score from two credit bureaus (TransUnion and Equifax), whereas Credit Sesame provides scores from TransUnion only.
How to Sign Up for Credit Sesame
Signing up for a Credit Sesame account is simple and straightforward. You’ll need to provide your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number. The site uses robust security measures, including encryption and multi-factor authentication, to keep your information safe.
Is Credit Sesame safe?
Yes, Credit Sesame is safe to use. It employs bank-level encryption and security measures to protect your personal information. Additionally, using Credit Sesame to check your free credit report and scores will not hurt your credit.
Features and Benefits of Credit Sesame
Free Credit Score Updates
Credit Sesame offers updates of your credit score from TransUnion, one of the three major credit reporting agencies. Your credit score is updated monthly, allowing you to track your progress and stay informed about changes to your credit history. In addition, you can access a credit report summary that highlights key information from your TransUnion credit report.
Credit Report Card
The credit report card is a unique feature that breaks down your credit report into five main factors: payment history, credit usage, credit age, account mix, and credit inquiries. The report card provides insight into each factor and offers personalized recommendations for improving your credit score. By following these suggestions, you can work toward building a stronger credit profile and potentially save money on loans and credit products.
Credit Monitoring and Alerts
Credit Sesame notifies you of significant changes to your credit report, such as new accounts, credit inquiries, or potential identity theft. This helps you stay on top of your credit and quickly address any issues that may arise. By catching fraudulent activity early, you can minimize the damage to your credit and finances.
Identity Theft Protection
With Credit Sesame, you’ll receive $50,000 in free identity theft insurance, providing financial support in case your identity is stolen. The site also offers premium plans with enhanced protection against identity theft, such as dark web monitoring and Social Security number tracking. This comprehensive protection can help you safeguard your personal information and financial well-being.
Financial Tools and Resources
Credit Sesame provides personalized loan and credit card offers based on your credit profile, helping you find the best deals and get the lowest rates. You’ll also have access to budgeting and debt management tools, as well as educational resources and articles. By using these tools, you can create a solid financial plan and work toward achieving your financial goals.
Sesame Cash Account
In addition to credit monitoring services, Credit Sesame offers a prepaid debit card issued by Community Federal Savings Bank called Sesame Cash. This no-fee account comes with several features that can help you manage your finances and improve your credit score.
No Monthly Service Fees or Minimum Balance Requirements
The Sesame Cash debit card has no minimum balance requirements, making it a cost-effective option for managing your finances. This can be especially helpful for those looking to cut costs and avoid unnecessary fees.
Debit Card with Cash Rewards
Sesame Cash includes a debit card that offers cash rewards on eligible purchases. By using this card, you can earn rewards and potentially save money on your everyday spending.
Direct Deposit and Mobile Check Deposit
The Sesame Cash account allows you to set up direct deposit for your paychecks and deposit checks through the mobile app. These convenient features make it easy to manage your money on the go.
Credit Builder Account (Optional)
Credit Sesame offers a Credit Builder Account to help users with limited or damaged credit histories. You’ll receive a virtual secured credit card, which differs from traditional secured cards requiring a security deposit.
With this card, your Sesame Cash debit account funds set the credit limit, and specific purchases help build your credit history. By consistently making on-time payments, you demonstrate responsible credit behavior and potentially improve your credit score.
Mobile App Experience
The Credit Sesame app is available for both iOS and Android devices. The app offers a user-friendly interface, making it easy to access your credit score, financial tools, and Sesame Cash account. With the app, you can monitor your credit, track your spending, and manage your finances on the go.
Credit Sesame Premium Plans
Credit Sesame offers three premium plans with additional features and benefits, including daily credit score updates, full credit report access, and enhanced identity monitoring. These plans vary in cost, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.
Credit Sesame Cost
A free account with Credit Sesame includes access to basic features such as monthly credit score updates and credit monitoring. The premium plans come with additional benefits and range in price from $9.95 to $19.95 per month.
Overview of Premium Plan Options
- Advanced Credit: This plan costs $9.95 per month and includes daily updates to your credit score, full credit report access, and $1 million in identity theft insurance.
- Pro Credit: Priced at $15.95 per month, the Pro Credit plan offers everything in the Advanced Credit plan, plus monthly updates from all three credit bureaus and 24/7 access to live customer support.
- Platinum Protection: For $19.95 per month, the Platinum Protection plan provides all the features of the Pro Credit plan, along with enhanced identity theft protection features such as dark web monitoring and Social Security number tracking.
Cost Comparisons and Recommendations Based on User Needs
Depending on your financial goals and needs, you can choose the plan that best fits your situation:
- For basic credit monitoring and score updates, the free plan may be sufficient.
- To access more frequent updates, full credit report, and extra identity theft insurance, consider the Advanced Credit plan.
- The Pro Credit plan is ideal for updates from all three credit bureaus and live customer support.
- For the most comprehensive identity theft and credit monitoring features, the Platinum Protection plan may be worthwhile.
By evaluating your individual needs and financial goals, you can select the Credit Sesame plan that offers the best value for your situation.
Comparing Credit Sesame to Other Credit Monitoring Services
To help you make an informed decision, we’ll compare Credit Sesame to other popular options, such as Credit Karma, Experian, IdentityForce, and LifeLock.
Credit Karma offers complimentary access to your credit score from both TransUnion and Equifax, along with more detailed credit reports than Credit Sesame. On the other hand, Credit Sesame provides more customized financial guidance and emphasizes enhancing your credit standing.
If having access to data from multiple bureaus and a broader set of financial tools is important to you, Credit Karma could be the preferable choice. However, if your main focus is on bettering your credit standing and obtaining personalized recommendations, Credit Sesame may be a more fitting option.
Experian provides access to free credit reports and scores, as well as premium plans offering extra features. Although Experian’s offerings are similar to Credit Sesame’s, their premium plans are generally pricier. Both options are reliable, but if you’re weighing the benefits of a premium plan, Credit Sesame might deliver a better bang for your buck.
IdentityForce is an established provider of proactive identity, privacy, and credit protection. It offers robust security features, such as dark web monitoring and bank account alerts. While IdentityForce provides comprehensive protection, its services can be more expensive than Credit Sesame’s.
If preventing identity theft is your top priority, IdentityForce may be worth considering. However, if you’re primarily interested in improving your credit, Credit Sesame may be a more cost-effective choice.
LifeLock is well-known for its identity theft protection services, offering a range of plans with varying levels of protection. While LifeLock provides credit monitoring, its primary focus is on identity theft prevention.
If you’re seeking a comprehensive defense against identity theft and are willing to pay for it, LifeLock might be the right choice. However, if repairing your credit is your main concern, Credit Sesame could be a better fit.
User Reviews and Testimonials
Overview of User Satisfaction
Overall, Credit Sesame receives positive reviews from users who appreciate the free services, personalized recommendations, and user-friendly interface. Some common criticisms include limited customer support options and the potential for promotional emails. However, these concerns are generally outweighed by the benefits and value provided by the service.
Highlights from Positive Reviews
Many users praise Credit Sesame for its easy-to-use platform, helpful credit score improvement suggestions, and the convenience of the Sesame Cash account. Users also appreciate the extensive financial resources and educational content available on the site.
Addressing Common Criticisms
Some users express dissatisfaction with Credit Sesame’s customer support, which is primarily available through email. While this may not be ideal for those who prefer phone or live chat support, it’s important to consider the value provided by the free services. Additionally, users can opt out of promotional emails if they find them bothersome.
Success Stories and Case Studies
Several users have reported significant credit score improvements after using Credit Sesame. By following the personalized recommendations and utilizing the financial tools provided, users have been able to build stronger credit profiles and secure better loan terms, lower interest rates, and improved financial opportunities.
Credit Sesame is a valuable tool for those looking to monitor and improve their credit. Its free service offers a range of useful features, while premium plans provide additional benefits for a cost. By comparing Credit Sesame to similar services and considering your unique needs, you can decide if it’s the right choice for your financial journey.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Credit Sesame free?
Yes, Credit Sesame offers a free account that includes access to credit monitoring and identity theft insurance. For added benefits, they also provide premium plans at different price points.
Is Credit Sesame accurate?
Credit Sesame can be very effective for gaining regular access to your credit history at no cost. However, if you’re about to apply for credit, you certainly don’t want to depend on your credit score from Credit Sesame 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.
Which credit score does Credit Sesame use?
Credit Sesame doesn’t provide access to your FICO score. This means the number displayed upon signing up may not precisely match the credit score most lenders view during loan applications. Instead, your score from Credit Sesame is based on the VantageScore 3.0 scoring model and is provided by TransUnion.
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 easily compare the numbers.
While there may be a fair degree of difference between your FICO credit score and VantageScore, getting a credit score from TransUnion can help you monitor your credit, 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 Credit Sesame hurt my credit?
No, Credit Sesame pulls your credit on your behalf for educational purposes. It’s not a loan request. So, you can rest easy knowing that it will not impact your credit.
How often does Credit Sesame update my credit score?
With a free membership, your credit score is updated monthly. Premium plans offer daily updates of your credit score.
How does Credit Sesame make money?
Credit Sesame makes money through its premium plans and by earning a commission when users sign up for financial products recommended on the site.