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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Credit Sesame Headquarters
607 W Dana St
Mountain View, CA 94041-1301