Credit Sesame is a smaller company which bills itself as a free service for helping people to master their credit health. This review explores the value of their free membership as well as their Pro Credit Service for those seeking to monitor their credit.
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Rank Chart
Price
Reports Available
Our Score
#1
$19.95 - 29.95
3/3
8.3
#2
Free
2/3
7.4
#3
$19.95
Up to 3/3
7.2
#5
CreditSesame-thumbnail
$0 - 19.95
0 - 3/3
6.9

The Good

Free Membership

Credit Sesame provides a fully-featured free membership level (no credit card required), which allows users to get a good taste of what their credit health is like by providing them with an overview of their credit from TransUnion along with a VantageScore credit score.

Naturally, Credit Sesame offers the free service to give users idea of how the service works and entice them into upgrading to the Pro Credit membership, but the free membership is perfectly functional on its own.

Three-Bureau Monitoring and Reports – Monthly Refreshes

Impressively enough, in the opinion of our reviewers, the best value from Credit Sesame may not even be in the free service, but in the Pro Credit membership which provides full credit reports from all three credit bureaus and refreshes all three reports every month.

If you do the math, on their Pro Credit plan, Credit Sesame provides more 3-bureau credit reports for less money than any of their competitors.

Debt-to-Income

Although most services are able to pull current loan payments and financial obligations, credit card balances, etc, Credit Sesame is unique in that it pulled a surprisingly accurate estimate of my income, which our team had never seen before.

Pulling a user’s estimated income (which users can modify if inaccurate) lets Credit Sesame pull a few tricks that are unique to it – namely, providing users with their debt-to-income ratio, something many lenders take into account when extending credit, especially for mortgages.

Home Buying Power

Building upon the debt-to-income ratio, Credit Sesame puts your monthly credit obligations against your current income, estimates the interest rate you’ll receive based on your credit score before showing you an estimate of how big of a mortgage you qualify for.

One of our reviewers is a former mortgage loan officer and he was impressed at how fast Credit Sesame was able to assemble all of the moving pieces associated with figuring out the maximum mortgage loan size.

Although it is possible to get these numbers through other services, none of them make it as easy and fast as Credit Sesame.

Mobile Apps

It’s important for any credit monitoring service in this day and age to provide access to key information on the go, and Credit Sesame delivers by offering mobile apps for both Android and Apple devices (including the Apple watch). We sampled the mobile app offerings and encountered no issues in accessing the full site functionality through these apps.

Free ID Theft Monitoring and Insurance

Credit Sesame is one of the only services we’ve monitored that actually provides some (admittedly very limited) ID theft monitoring for free as part of its basic membership.

While the free features are limited, they become more robust as one upgrades their membership, and we appreciate the effort to include even minimal ID monitoring as part of the free product.

No Full Social Security Number Required

Since the free service doesn’t actually pull a full credit report, they don’t require you to put in your full SSN, only the last 4 digits. This certainly limits the exposure of free members in the event of a data breach and should help mitigate concerns anyone might have over handing over too much personal information.

The Bad

No Credit Report on Free Service

Although the free service earns high marks for not requiring a credit card and provides plenty of functionality, it doesn’t actually pull a full credit report for the user, just an estimate based on TransUnion data. For those looking to have full access to their credit reports at no cost, there are better options out there.

If one is looking for a comprehensive monitoring solution, the free service here is not going to deliver.

No FICO Score

We had to dig a little bit before we were able to find out what score Credit Sesame provides, they utilize VantageScore 3.0, which is better than some of the algorithms out there, but it isn’t the same score that most lenders actually look at.

This could result in some users believing themselves to be more or less creditworthy than they actually are.

Lots of Ads

Although free credit monitoring services that rely on ad revenue to stay in business are not unheard of, our review team found the ads on Credit Sesame and its mobile app to be slightly more intrusive and “in-your-face” than those offered by some of its competitors.

Lackluster Education Center

Credit Sesame provides its members with lots of pointed advice on how to improve their credit based on their current situation, but it lacks a full education center. While they do offer a support center which has frequently asked questions and answers, it is poorly laid out, cluttered, and far from comprehensive.

As a result, it becomes clear that Credit Sesame’s educational offerings are mostly geared towards pushing its members towards purchasing or applying for various financial instruments, such as credit cards, mortgages, and auto loans, rather than understanding all of the factors that could potentially impact their credit score.

Smaller and Newer

New, disruptive companies are always exciting to watch as they shake up an industry, but they also come with their share of risks. Being smaller and less well-funded than competitors means a greater risk of problems due to cash flow issues that might not be as big of an issue for more robust companies with a longer track record and deeper pockets.

The Bottom Line

In spite of its limitations, we feel very comfortable recommending Credit Sesame’s free service – no credit card is required, nor do you need to provide a full social security number, making it one of the safest, if not the safest, free option we have reviewed. Additionally, the free service provides tools that simply are not found anywhere else at this time.

We also recommend the Pro Credit service IF and only if, you are not concerned about knowing your true FICO scores. If you want access to regular credit reports from each credit bureau for the lowest possible cost, no other company offers monthly three-bureau credit reports at such a low price.

Although smaller than many of its rivals, Credit Sesame is taking steps to differentiate itself from competitors by providing unique tools that bring real value to the table.

Price Range
  • Free Plan
    • 100% free and no credit card or social security number required (just the last four digits)
    • Includes access to TransUnion Credit Overview and VantageScore
    • Fraud Resolution Assistance
    • $50,000 in ID theft insurance
  • Pro Credit – $15.95/mnth and provides all of the above features plus:
    • Credit reports from all three major credit bureaus, along with VantageScore for each report
    • Reports updated monthly
    • Live Credit Dispute Experts available 24/7
  • Platinum Protection Service – $19.95/mnth and includes the following additional features:
    • $1 million ID theft insurance
    • 24/7 Lost wallet Protection experts
    • Full-service identity restoration services
    • Black market monitoring
    • Public Record Monitoring
    • Social Security Number monitoring
Error Dispute

Credit Sesame does not offer assistance in disputing errors on a member’s credit report beyond helping detect errors via providing their TransUnion credit report and sharing the basic information in how to report errors.

Monitoring

Credit Sesame offers real-time scanning and monitors their customers’ credit reports daily.  Some customers found that negative items fall through the cracks, especially for free memberships (which only monitor one of the three bureaus), but the majority of independent reports about Credit Sesame suggest that they are monitoring as promised, especially on the Pro Credit membership level.

Data Security

Credit Sesame offers their members peace of mind with a secure website which is certified by McAfee, Norton and TRUSTe.  Additionally, we could find no reference to any data or privacy breaches, thus we conclude that members’ information is safe and secure.

Alert Options

Credit Sesame offers real-time access to credit scores and alerts via email or a push notification with their easy-to-use and secure mobile app.  Credit Sesame boasts real-time monitoring and alerts for their members.

Time in Business

Credit Sesame was founded in 2010.

Contact Information

Credit Sesame Headquarters

607 W Dana St

Mountain View, CA 94041-1301

(800) 881-6590

Are there any inaccuracies in this review? We take our accuracy very seriously and would love your feedback. Give feedback here.

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2 Credit Sesame Reviews

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  1. User Score

    7

    September 15th, 2014 Sioux City, IA

    It was quick and basically the same rating as credit karma

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  2. User Score

    4

    June 5th, 2014 Liberty, MO

    It gives an idea of how you’re doing, but the numbers are always higher than the mortgage companies will get when they pull your score from FICO. So, if you’re on the edge of “acceptable”, do not assume you will get approved for a mortgage. I wouldn’t have applied for a mortgage had I known they were not the same. I got a denied a mortgage and it put a “query” on my report. Which can lower your score. So, not too happy.

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