Credit Karma vs. Credit Sesame: Is One Better Than the Other?

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Credit Monitoring Services: Credit Karma vs. Credit Sesame
Image Credit: Clark.com

Credit monitoring services like Credit Sesame and Credit Karma enjoy widespread popularity these days in the wake of numerous data breaches, but which one is better?

If you’re worried about identity theft or are in debt and working to pull yourself out of it, choosing the best site to monitor your credit and credit score is an important part of your financial journey.

We’ve spent a lot of time with both Credit Karma and Credit Sesame. Here’s what we’ve learned…

Credit Karma vs. Credit Sesame Comparison: What’s the Difference?

Credit Karma and Credit Sesame are the two most popular free credit monitoring services out there. The sites have similar offerings, but they are not identical.

Let’s get into some vital information about both Credit Sesame and Credit Karma.

About Credit Karma

Credit Karma screenshot

Credit Karma launched in San Francisco in 2007. With more than 100 million subscribers, Credit Karma is the largest free credit monitoring service in the United States.

The primary draw of Credit Karma is free access to your credit score any time you want to see it. However, there is so much more to it than that, including resources for your car, tax preparation and even a high yield savings account offering.

About Credit Sesame

Credit Sesame screenshot

Credit Sesame is also free to sign up for and the company says they have “already helped millions of users improve their credit scores, increase their approval odds, lower the cost of credit and save money.”

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Credit Sesame’s membership totals around 9 million, according to the latest figures available online. The Mountain View, California-based company launched in 2010.

Both Credit Sesame and Credit Karma offer you unlimited free access to your credit scores whenever you like, but there are some differences between the two.

What Are the Differences Between Credit Karma and Credit Sesame?

Neither site requires a credit card to sign up, although Credit Sesame offers premium membership levels that charge monthly for some features, but more on that later.

Since they offer credit scores for free, you might be wondering how the sites make money. Both sites get paid by their advertising partners.

Using an algorithm based on your credit profile and income, they make credit card, loan and insurance recommendations to members. If someone follows through and signs up for one, the sites make money.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of free services offered by Credit Karma and Credit Sesame:

Credit Karma vs. Credit Sesame: Comparing Free Services

Credit Karma Credit Sesame
Credit scores from TransUnion & Equifax Credit score from TransUnion
Credit reports from TransUnion & Equifax Credit monitoring
Credit monitoring Identity theft protection & insurance
Identity monitoring
Free tax preparation and filing
Auto value, DMV and auto recall information
Unclaimed money finder
High Yield Savings Account

As you can see, Credit Karma offers a much more comprehensive suite of products that can empower the consumer to take control of their financial life, including:

  • Auto value, recall info and more: Through the site’s Auto Hub, you can:
    • See the balance on an auto loan you may have
    • Check to see if refinancing your auto loan could save you money
    • See the current estimated value of your vehicle
    • See any current recalls for your car
    • Check auto insurance rates for someone with your profile
  • Unclaimed money finder: Credit Karma also provides a resource for people to find unclaimed money owed to them in states they used to live in or where they currently reside.
  • Identity monitoring: Credit Karma began offering ID monitoring in early 2018, promising to alert you to any changes to your credit file
  • Tax preparation and filing: If pricing is a concern, there’s no better service than Credit Karma’s free tax-filing feature. Along with free federal tax filing, Credit Karma doesn’t charge for filing your state taxes either. Both Turbo Tax and H&R Block charge for filing your state taxes. Feedback from users highlights the fact that Credit Karma doesn’t offer any professional support for this service, but that’s to be expected with a free service.
  • High Yield Savings Account: Credit Karma Savings is a free High Yield Savings Account which is currently paying around 18x the national average. Credit Karma partners with MVB Bank to offer these FDIC insured accounts

Credit Karma vs. Credit Sesame: Is One Free Service Better Than the Other?

Unlike Credit Karma, Credit Sesame offers three membership tiers beyond “free”: Advanced ($9.95), Pro Credit ($15.95) and Platinum Protection ($19.95).

Here’s a look at what paying for those additional membership tiers will get you:

Credit Sesame paid tiers

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Money expert Clark Howard does not recommend signing up for a premium membership because in most cases there are other ways to access these reports for free.

One major difference from Credit Karma is that Credit Sesame’s free service offers $50,000 of identity theft insurance, so that alone may make it worth signing up for the the free membership.

Clark’s Take: Credit Karma and Credit Sesame

Clark is a big fan of both Credit Karma and Credit Sesame, but gives the nod to the more robust offerings of Credit Karma.

“What’s fantastic about Credit Karma is their entire suite of free services,” he says. “You’re able to monitor your score, monitor your credit and know — before you even apply — the likelihood of you being approved for a loan.”

Another valuable protection Clark lives by is a credit freeze. He suggests that you sign up for free credit monitoring with either Credit Karma or Credit Sesame (or both) before you freeze your credit — otherwise you may not be able to use those services without unfreezing your credit.

See Clark’s Credit Freeze Guide for step-by-step instructions.

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