Credit Sesame Review: Free Credit Scores and Other Helpful Financial Tools

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Credit Sesame
Image Credit: Credit Sesame

Credit Sesame is a website and app that promises free access to your credit score any time you want it. However, there is a little more to it than that.

We explored what Credit Sesame has to offer to help you decide if it might be a good fit for you.

How to Use Credit Sesame for Free Credit Scores and More

Credit Sesame is 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.”

Money expert Clark Howard is a fan of the service. In fact, it is one of two sites (Credit Karma is the other) he recommends everyone use to monitor credit scores.

Let’s take a closer look…

Table of Contents: Credit Sesame Review

Signing Up for Credit Sesame

The first thing you’ll want to do if you’re not already a Credit Sesame member is to sign up for the service. This is a three-step process that involves:

  • Creating an account
  • Providing some information about yourself
  • Confirming your identity

The information you’re required to share in order to join is:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • The last four digits of your Social Security Number

This data is required in order for Credit Sesame to access your credit report from TransUnion, which is necessary to provide you with your free credit score.

Note: If you have taken Clark’s advice and frozen your credit with the three major credit bureaus, you will need to unfreeze it with TransUnion in order to use Credit Sesame. You can freeze your credit again after you sign up and the service will work going forward.

The last step of the sign-up process is to confirm your identity. In order to do this, Credit Sesame will ask you a series of questions about former addresses and various credit or banking accounts.

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If you are able to answer these questions, you’ll be successfully signed up for the service.

Using Credit Sesame to Check Your Credit Score

Once you’re logged in, the first thing you’re probably going to want to do is check your credit score. This is what Credit Sesame is primarily known for. As such, that number is featured prominently on your home page.

Credit Sesame Credit Score

Like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame calculates your score using VantageScore 3.0, which they explain like this:

“Credit scores are 3 digit scores derived from the contents of your credit report to determine how much risk you present to a prospective lender. Credit scores do not take into account your income, employment, or assets. Free members at Credit Sesame receive their Transunion Vantage 3.0 score free every month. These scores fall within a range of 300-850.”

From the score overview page, you can dig deeper into your score by clicking the “See Credit Analysis” button.

Credit Sesame Credit Analysis

There you can see how you’re faring when it comes to the various factors that make up your credit score, including:

  • Payment history
  • Credit usage
  • Credit age
  • Account mix
  • Credit inquiries

Credit Sesame Credit Analysis Page

Does Credit Sesame Offer Free Credit Reports?

Knowing your credit score is great, but in order to fully understand your financial situation, Clark says you really need to check your credit report at least once per year somewhere like AnnualCreditReport.com.

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Unfortunately, Credit Sesame is not one of a handful of places that lets you do that for free.

Credit Sesame does offer access to your TransUnion credit report for a one-time fee of $9.95 or access to reports from all three credit bureaus for $15.95 a month. However, Clark does not recommend paying for these services since there are ways to view your credit reports without paying anything.

Other Free Products and Services

So what else can you get for free from Credit Sesame?

  • Credit monitoring: Get alerts when there’s a change in the information on your credit report. You must turn on credit monitoring in the My Account section in order to take advantage of it.

Credit Sesame credit monitoring

  • Debt analysis tool: This tool shows you all of your current debtors and how much of your monthly income goes toward paying down debt.
  • Identity theft insurance: Credit Sesame offers up to $50,000 in free coverage for certain expenses and legal costs that result from:
    • Fraud or Embezzlement
    • Theft
    • Forgery
    • Data Breach
    • Stolen Identity Event

The site will also make recommendations for credit cards and other loan products for you based on your credit profile and income. This is one way the site makes money (in addition to subscription fees).

If you are approved for one of these credit cards or loans, Credit Sesame gets money from the company you sign up with in exchange for facilitating the connection.

What Do You Get With Credit Sesame’s Premium Subscriptions?

In addition to the free subscription, Credit Sesame offers three levels of paid subscriptions. Here’s what you get at each level:

Credit Sesame paid subscriptions

As you can see, all three premium levels offer:

  • One bureau (TransUnion) daily credit score updates
  • Three bureau monthly credit score updates
  • Three bureau monthly full credit reports

But again, Clark does not recommend signing up for a premium membership because there are other ways to access these reports for free.

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Final Thought

While Credit Sesame isn’t nearly as robust as Credit Karma — which offers free tax preparation, a high yield savings account and more — it is a perfectly reasonable place to access your free credit score.

Just remember Clark’s advice against signing up for premium services, since most of what’s available with them can be done for free other places.

More Credit Stories on Clark.com:

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