Credit Sesame Review – Pros And Cons Of This Service
Being able to track your credit score on your mobile device makes it easy to know where you’re at when it comes to your finances. If you’re seeking a home or auto loan, credit card, or even renting your next apartment, your credit score helps determine if you’re approved.
Credit Sesame is a site that provides free credit scores and credit monitoring on its mobile app and website. This allows you to have more insights into your finances and prevents you from identity theft protection.
With Credit Sesame’s basic package, you can receive free credit monitoring services and view your credit scores. They also offer additional services available for a cost. So, is this service the right fit for your credit monitoring needs? In this Credit Sesame review, we’ll help you determine if you should make the switch to this site.
Ready to learn more? Let’s jump into this complete Credit Sesame review!
What is Credit Sesame?
Credit Sesame offers consumers the ability to receive a free TransUnion credit score, monitoring, and other services. Your free credit score and credit report are updated on a monthly basis. To sign up for its free service, you don’t need to provide a credit card.
Unlike other credit monitoring services, Credit Sesame is free from start to finish. There’s no trial period.
The Credit Sesame “Premium” service provides additional monitoring and protection.
The company was launched by Adrian Nazari in 2010. Venture capital firms funded the startup with over 18 million dollars.
There are several different credit scores out there that use different calculations to calculate a score. Credit Sesame uses TransUnion’s VantageScore.
What this means is that your credit scores will vary by the type that a lender uses when applying for a loan. Many lenders use the FICO credit score in their decisions.
Therefore, you should keep in mind that your credit score will vary depending on the type a lender uses. There’s a difference between your FICO and VantageScore.
Receiving your VantageScore from Credit Sesame will give you some insight into your credit profile. But if you know that a lender uses the FICO score, it might be worth finding out what it is.
Some credit card companies give free access to your FICO score if you’re a cardholder. You can also pay a one-time fee to check it.
What does Credit Sesame Offer?
After signing up for Credit Sesame, you’ll have a dashboard view of your current and past financial history. Here are the features you receive with its services below.
Free Credit Score
You’ll get free monthly updates on your TransUnion credit score. Keep in mind that this is different from your FICO credit score that many lenders and credit card companies use.
You’ll be able to track your progress each time it is updated. This enables you to see how your actions are affecting your credit score.
Credit Monitoring Service
Credit Sesame pulls a monthly update on your TransUnion credit report. You get a look at what information is on your credit report.
Using this information, you can find the factors that are affecting your credit score. For an additional cost, you can upgrade and get all your three credit reports from the three credit bureaus. Viewing the reports from all three credit bureaus can help give you a holistic look at your credit.
Credit Report Card
The five factors that your credit score is calculated with are:
- Credit history
- Credit utilization
- Age of credit accounts
- Account Mix
- Credit inquires
Credit Sesame offers a personalized credit report card that gives insights on what’s helping and hurting your credit score.
Debt and Loan Analysis
Your current debt level will affect your credit score. Credit Sesame will analyze your credit reports for debts.
Additionally, you’ll receive personalized recommendations on new loan products, including personal loans, car loans, and student loans. Using this tool, you can compare offers to find the best interest rate for new and refinancing loan products.
Save Money on Interest
Using Credit Sesame’s technology platform, you can compare loans and credit card offers. Its tool will help you determine which product will save you the most on interest payments.
Estimates on Home Value
Credit Sesame’s tracking tool allows you to keep track of the value of your home. Receive updates on your home’s estimated value and your equity amount based on your current mortgage balance.
To help you achieve your financial goals, Credit Sesame has a feature that can help. Tell it what you want to do, like taking out a personal loan, and it will do the rest.
You’ll receive alerts with relevant offers based on your credit profile. This feature focuses on saving you money on interest.
With your free membership, you get $50,000 of identity theft protection. This also comes with professional help to restore your ID.
Other Credit Sesame Services
Sesame Cash Credit Builder
If you have some blemishes on your credit report that are pulling down your score, it could be hard to build it back up. Or, if you’re new to credit, opening up a credit card isn’t always an option.
Sesame Cash Credit Builder can help build your credit without a credit check. There are only no monthly service fees,
Once you sign up, just move money to your Sesame Cash account. This amount becomes a security deposit.
As you make purchases, it will look for a handful of purchases that don’t go over the credit usage you select. Sesame Cash will automatically pay off those amounts from your bank account.
Each on-time payment is added to your payment history on your credit report. It’s a safer way to build your credit.
Sesame Cash Bank Account
When you open a Sesame Cash account, there’s no need to wait for your debit card to arrive in the mail. Add funds to your account in minutes and use an instant virtual card to pay for purchases and bills online.
- Real-time notifications – Receive alerts for transfers, withdrawals, and deposits
- Access to 55,000 fee-free ATMS across the world – Get free unlimited withdrawals at Allpoint locations
- Freeze and unfreeze your account – If your debit card is lost or misplaced, use the Sesame app to freeze it
- Bill-tracking – Using your Sesame Cash bank account, schedule your payments each month and it’ll send a notification when a payment is due
- Cash back offers – Available for both your Sesame Cash and Credit Sesame app. Get cash back offers from over 20,000 locations nationwide including Nike, Uber, JC Penny, and The Home Depot.
- Early paycheck – By setting up direct deposit, you can get your paycheck up to two days early.
- Mobile device protection – Your mobile device is covered for up to $500 in damages each year
- Price protection – Did you notice that the price on a purchase you’ve made dropped? If the price drop happened within 90 days of purchase, you can get refunded the difference. This protection is available up to four times a year for up to $250.
- No fees – There are no overdraft, monthly maintenance, or foreign transaction fees. You don’t have a minimum balance requirement either.
Credit Sesame Subscriptions
As a Credit Sesame member, you get more financial information and analysis. They offer three different subscription packages. You can pay month to month if you want to try it out for a while. Or if you pay for a full year in advance, you’ll receive a discount.
Advanced Credit Plan
The first subscription plan is the Advanced Credit Plan. You receive daily credit-score updates from one credit bureau, monthly credit score updates, and monitoring from all three bureaus. These services are on top of their free credit services. Prices are:
- $9.95 for the month to month
- $95.40 a year (or $7.95 a month)
Pro Credit Plan
The middle-tier option that Credit Sesame offers is its Pro Credit Plan. You get all the free credit services, and Advanced Credit Plan features.
It adds monitoring with alerts from all three credit reporting agencies and 24/7 access to expert help to solve inaccuracies in your credit report. Prices are:
- $15.95 for the month to month
- $155.40 a year (or $12.95 a month)
Platinum Protection Plan
The third option is Credit Sesame’s Platinum Protection Plan. You get everything that’s included with the other plans, plus identity theft protection and credit monitoring services.
The monitoring includes stolen/lost wallet protection, black market website monitoring, public records monitoring, and Social Security Number monitoring. Prices are:
- $15.95 for the month to month
- $191.40 a year (or $15.95 a month)
How to Sign up for Credit Sesame
It’s straightforward to open up a membership (free or paid) with Credit Sesame. Simple navigate to the Credit Sesame website and click the “Sign Up” button. You don’t need to enter your credit card information even when opening a free account.
You must enter information including your name, address, email address, and last four of your Social Security Number. Credit Sesame asks a few finance-related questions to verify your identity.
For example, they may ask if you opened a certain bank account. When you’ve confirmed your identity, access to the free features is unlocked.
Credit Sesame Dashboard
Credit Sesame’s dashboard prominently displays your credit score at the top of the screen. There’s a graph that shows your credit score has changed over the last six months.
The credit analysis tab grades you based on the factors that go into your credit score. These factors are:
- Credit history – Do you have any late payments in the past?
- Credit Usage – How much credit are using relative to your credit limit? You should keep this at or below 30 percent ideally.
- Credit Age – The length of time your accounts have been open
- Account Mix – having a mix of both revolving (i.e. credit card and installment (student loans)
- Credit inquires – When you apply for credit, a financial institution or lender will check your information at the credit bureaus. This creates a credit inquiry in which lenders don’t like to see that you’ve applied for numerous credit accounts over 12 months.
Credit Sesame Competitors and Alternatives
Credit Sesame isn’t the only service that offers access to your credit score, report, and related services. Below are some of the key competitors out there.
The biggest competitor that Credit Sesame has is Credit Karma. You get access to your credit score from TransUnion and Equifax. These scores are updated daily and monthly, respectfully.
The TransUnion score is Vantage 3.0, and Equifax has its own Equifax credit score. You also get to view your credit report (TransUnion) and get suggestions for improving your score. These service offerings are all free.
Additionally, Credit Karma offers some unique features. For example, you get free state and federal tax filings and can use their search tool to find unclaimed money that’s yours.
LifeLock offers 3 paid tiers called Standard, Advantage, and Ultimate Plus. You can pay monthly or annually (for a discount). The plans include an individual (for one adult), a family plan (two adults), and a family plan that includes two adults and five kids.
Its services include credit scores, monitoring, identity theft insurance, data breach information, and more. The value of LifeLock’s paid services outweighs what Credit Sesame offers.
Credit Sesame Pros and Cons
Pro: Free Credit Score Access
Having access to your credit score, particularly if you don’t have a credit card that offers the service, is important. Even though Credit Sesame provides you access with your TransUnion VantageScore, it’s still beneficial.
Your monthly credit score report will rate your credit standing based on the Vantage scale. It also breaks down how much you owe and the percentage of your income that’s needed to keep your financial wellness in check.
It provides you with a baseline of what your FICO credit score looks like and what behaviors are influencing your score. Best of all, you get it for free.
Pro: Free Credit Reporting
Using your credit report, you can see what information the credit bureau has on you, including credit history. That allows you to verify information like credit inquiries, payment history, and age of credit accounts.
If there’s incorrect information or an unrecognized account (i.e., identity theft), you can contact the bureau to get it fixed.
Pro: User-Friendly Interface
Credit Sesame’s dashboard makes use of colorful visuals to show your score. It divides the score by payment history, credit utilization, credit inquiries, credit age, and your different types of accounts. It’s easy to understand and useful information.
Pro: Free Identity Theft Insurance
Even with a free membership, Credit Sesame offers up to $50,000 in identity theft insurance. That tells you how confident they are with protecting you from fraudulent activities and identity theft.
Pro: Free Credit Monitoring and Alerts
Available at no cost to you are monitoring alerts to track changes to your credit report. If the activity is due to fraud or identity theft, you can take action faster.
Pro: Easy to Use Mobile App
While the desktop version has more features, the app is a nice one to add to your device. It is available for both Apple and Android users. You won’t have any problem learning to use it. Plus, most people are around their mobile phones more than a computer.
Pro: Access information about Your Debt
Using the information on your credit report, Credit Sesame will analyze your current debt levels. This gives you a high-level view of your part of your financial picture that we often ignore.
Pro: Receive Tips on Improving your Credit Score
Many people aren’t sure what to do to improve their scores. Credit Sesame can potentially save you from paying for credit repair services by offering viable suggestions.
Pro: Free Features are Very Useful
The free services that Credit Sesame offers are practical. In fact, the free version will likely meet the needs of most users.
Con: Only get TransUnion Score
The VantageScore 3.0 is useful credit information. But since most lenders use the FICO score, your actual credit score will vary. You might need to pay to get your FICO score if you’re actively shopping for a loan to get a more accurate view.
Con: Product Recommendations are only Partners
Credit Sesame receives compensation from its partner companies for referring you. Therefore the recommendations are biased to those options. So you’ll have to do some additional research outside of their recommended insurance companies, loan providers, and credit card companies.
In fact, there’s a good chance you can find better offers from other products. The recommendations don’t necessarily cater to your spending habits. For example, they may recommend a Walmart rewards credit card, regardless of how much you shop there.
Con: Credit Tips are Basic
Credit Sesame provides advice on how to increase your credit score. But the information is fairly basic. For someone who has a limited understanding of what factors go into a credit score, it’s more useful. But if you’re looking for more advanced strategies or have a unique situation, it is not going to be much help.
Con: Paying for the Credit Sesame Account isn’t worth it
If you upgrade your service, you can get monthly updates to your Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit reports and score. But those reports are available for free at annualcreditreport.com.
These are available for free at least once per year. Since the COVID pandemic, you can receive your free credit report from each bureau with weekly updates. Monthly updates are typically enough for most people, so there’s really no reason to pay Credit Sesame for the service.
Credit Sesame Review Ratings
Price – 5/5
Credit Sesame’s free account gives you what you need to keep track of your credit. The paid features aren’t really worth it, given the other (and free) options out there.
Features – 4/5
With a free account, you can get your TransUnion credit report, a monthly credit score update, and free credit monitoring services. You also get information on your debt so you can work on reducing your debt to income ratio.
Customer Service – 3/5
If you need help or support, there are several ways to get it. There are a little over a dozen FAQ articles on their website. Use the “Help Center” on their website to find answers to questions or help with your account.
You can also send a request using their Member Support web form if you can’t find your answer there. To reach Credit Sesame by mail, send your correspondence to 444 Castro Street, Suite 500, Mountain View, CA 94041.
Ease of Use – 4/5
Signing up and using Credit Sesame is easy for just about anyone. They also have a convenient mobile app available to both Apple and Android users. The app is reviewed highly at both the Apple Store and Google Play stores.
Bottom line: Should You use Credit Sesame?
If you don’t have a credit card issuer that offers free credit scores or reporting, Credit Sesame is a good option.
You can keep track of credit information, such as your credit inquiries, using Credit Sesame’s free service. But if you want your full credit report from all three bureaus, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan.
Credit Sesame provides recommended products and services that focus on interest rates to help save you money. You’ll still have to do your homework, though, since its recommendations are only its partners.
These are the types of tradeoffs you’ll make. But for most people, all you need is the free plan anyway. If nothing else, the $50,000 of free identity insurance is worth the few minutes it takes to sign up.