Credit Sesame Review — Free Credit Score, Free Credit Report & Free Identity Protection. Yes, Really!

Being financially independent and successful means truly understanding your entire financial picture. Knowing your net worth, having a solid financial plan and retirement accounts, and maintaining a budget are all part of that picture. But one element often overlooked is knowing your complete credit profile by actively monitoring your credit report and ensuring your best financial foot is put forward.
With a solid credit score, you will receive the best interest rates from auto and home loans lenders and lower annual percentage yields on credit cards. But staying on top of your credit profile is also a way to spot fraudulent activity and identity theft, to which 1 in 15 people — more than 14.4 million — fell in 2019 alone.
One company is working to make it easier for you to stay on top of your credit profile: Credit Sesame. This Credit Sesame review shows just how.

What is Credit Sesame?

Launched in 2010 out of Mountain View, California, Credit Sesame offers free credit scoring and credit reporting through monthly credit score updates and various perks. The company is partnered with TransUnion, one of the three credit bureaus that report on your credit.

How does Credit Sesame work?

To enroll in the free service, you will need to create an account and provide detailed information — they are reviewing your credit, after all. They do a great job explaining why they need the information.
Credit Sesame 1
You will not be asked for your social security number, just the last four digits. You will have to answer three questions confirming your background, which I cannot show as it reveals my information. Still, it included student loan payments, employer, and state where your social security card was issued.
Then you are ready. But first, Credit Sesame will attempt to get you to enroll in its bank (more on that later). You can skip it.
Credit Sesame 2
Immediately, I can see my credit score and my potential score, with suggestions on how I can reach it. I can see what impacts my credit score and a debt analysis with my debt to income ratio.
I have to enroll in Credit Sesame's Advanced or Premium accounts to see my full credit report.
Credit Sesame 4

How much does Credit Sesame cost?

PlanMonthly cost
BasicFree
Advanced$9.95
Platinum$19.95
Credit Sesame is absolutely 100% free, even in providing you $50,000 in identity theft insurance. There are no hidden fees or traps to get a view of your free credit report. Free membership is so impressive that when it shows advanced features that may cost something, they are entirely legit and make me want to enroll.
The Advanced service features a daily credit score update, monthly three-bureau (TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian) credit score update, and monthly three-bureau full credit report for $9.95 per month.
The Platinum Protection service is available with 24/7 live experts available to help in the case your wallet is lost or stolen. This premium service conducts black market website monitoring, public records monitoring, social security number monitoring to alert you of suspicious activity before it becomes an issue. This platform is $19.95 per month and comes with up to $1 million in identity theft insurance.

Credit Sesame features

Free credit score

Credit Sesame will pull your information using TransUnion to check your credit. This free service will explain in a way that is easy to understand just what factors affect your credit score, so you know what to work on to improve it in its credit report card.

Free credit monitoring

Credit monitoring services provide real-time alerts that affect your credit, from changes in your credit score to credit checks to spot errors that may appear on your credit report.

Free identity theft protection

The company's identity theft protection is identity theft insurance that covers you for up to $50,000 — free. If someone steals your identity, you will be protected and have Credit Sesame's support restoring your credit.

Savings recommendations

Credit Sesame works to help you spend and save, as well. Reviewing your credit and debt will customize and recommend credit cards or loans best-suited for you to help you save.

Sesame Cash

Credit Sesame is also a financial institution offering a digital checking account that will reward you with cash for improving your credit score. Transfer funds into your online bank, and if your score jumps 10 to 99 points in one month, you'll receive $10 into your account, up to $100, to help you save money while improving your credit.
There are no monthly service fees, no minimum balances required, no foreign transaction fees, and free access to more than 55,000 ATM locations worldwide. The bank is FDIC insured through Community Federal Savings Bank, making Credit Sesame safe for banking.
If you sync your paycheck to your Sesame bank account, you can also access your paycheck two days early.

Manage your finances in one place

By pulling your TransUnion VantageScore every month and connecting to your debts, you'll have all of your finances available for review in one platform to help you manage your finances. You can use your linked bank account to schedule and pay credit card bills and other debts. (This is why you may want to store credit card information on your platform.)

Cash back offers

Using your Sesame Cash debit Mastercard, you can earn cashback when you shop online or at participating stores, helping you save while you shop. Deals include 10% cashback at Nike or 5% cash back at Circle K.
You can use your debit card on a mobile app and works with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.

Mobile protection

It's not clear why a credit monitoring/bank offers mobile device protection, but why argue a good thing? You're covered up to $500 per year from theft and certain types of damage.

Pros & cons

Pros
  • Free credit score. Credit Sesame does exactly what it advertises: it provides you with your credit score for free in less than 90 seconds.
  • Free credit reporting. In that review, you'll also see where you need to work on things to improve your credit score.
Cons
  • Cannot access full report without paying. Considering all three credit bureaus provide one free full report each year to people who ask, paying to see the full report on Credit Sesame isn't worth it unless you want the additional features that come with the monthly charge.

BRAND vs. competitors

Credit ScoreCredit ReportCredit MonitoringIdentity theft protectionCost
Credit SesameTrans UnionTrans UnionYesYes with $50,000-$1 million coverageFree-$19.99/mo
Credit KarmaTrans Union, ExperianTrans Union, ExperianYesYesFree
myScoreIQTrans Union, Equifax, ExperianTrans Union, Equifax, ExperianYesYes with $1 million coverage$34.99/month
AnnualCreditReport.comTrans Union, Equifax, ExperianTrans Union, Equifax, ExperianNoNoFree
Privacy GuardTrans Union, Equifax, ExperianTrans Union, Equifax, ExperianYesYes with $1 million coverage$19.99-$24.99/mo

Credit Karma

Like Credit Sesame, Credit Karma is a free credit monitoring service; in fact, it's the largest as Intuit owns it. It, too, makes its money by suggesting credit cards and loans suited to you based on its algorithms. It also provides a bank account, a high-yield savings account, and both TransUnion and Equifax provide their credit report.
The extras Credit Karma provides are tax preparation and filing, reviewing your car's value, being aware of any recalls, and providing an unclaimed money finder.

myScoreIQ

Get credit reports and FICO scores with daily monitoring and alerts from myScoreIQ. Working with all three bureaus, the platform offers FICO Scores simulators and trackers to help you get back on track.
The company also offers identity theft monitoring along with dark web monitoring and fraud restoration services with up to $1 million in theft insurance available.
But this is not a free report. While the company provides a 7-day free trial, it will cost $34.99 a month for its services.

Annual Credit Report

This is government-approved for providing you with your free credit report, as all citizens are allowed to obtain one free report from each of the three bureaus every 12 months. Many lookalike companies are using "Annual Credit Report" so be sure to go directly to the site using www.annualcreditreport.com.
There are no additional products offered; this is simply a way to obtain your annual credit report for free.

Privacy Guard

See all three credit scores and report that you can review and monitor monthly with VantageScore 3.0 with Privacy Guard. The platform also provides identity protection to receive texts and email alerts and offers secure browser and keyboard technology.
You can find Credit Protection $19.99, including monthly reports, scores and tracking, and daily crediting monitoring. Or, select the Total Protection for $24.99 to get public and dark web scanning, as well as a dedicated ID fraud resolution agent.

FAQs

How often can I check my credit score?
With Credit Sesame, your score will be checked once a month for free, or you can select the premium services to see for daily credit checks.
What is the difference between VantageScore and FICO score?
The FICO score was developed in 1989 and reviews a minimum of six months of credit history and accounts reported to one of the three bureaus in the last six months. VantageScore 3.0 appeared in the last decade and needs just one month's history and one account reported in the previous two years to provide the same credit ranges as FICO. Both review payment history on your creditors, how long you have had credit, the types of accounts you have, your credit limits and balances, and the number of credit inquiries. FICO may be most often used to secure a mortgage and loans, but VantageScore's monthly history can help someone who hasn't earned good credit history on FICO.
Does checking my score affect my credit?
When you request a credit score from any of the three credit bureaus, you conduct a hard check of your credit history. The more times you check within a year, the more your credit score will drop. If you have your credit checked for loans, the same goes. Credit Sesame's credit checks are soft and will not negatively affect your credit score.

The bottom line

There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't know your credit score if asked today. Free credit reports are available even though your credit card companies these days. But staying on top of your credit report and monitoring it closely can save you time and money in the long run, which is why Credit Sesame's free service is a must-have in your financial portfolio of apps.
Disclaimer: At Joy Wallet, our purpose is to help you and other readers who browse our website attain more financial clarity. We believe that armed with the right information, advice, tools, and tips, the average person can establish a more clear picture of her finances. To that end, we work tirelessly to provide you with the most up-to-date, fairly reviewed, and accurate information. And while we always aim to provide you with the most reliable data available to us, we can never guarantee the correctness of our information since many financial and economic factors can invariably change. Core to our brand thesis is the spirit of transparency and being honest with our readers about how we monetize our website. The short answer is that our brand partners compensate us if you become a prospect or customer of theirs (either as a lead, purchase, app installation, or some other form of a valuable event to them). We exercise a very selective process to curate our partnerships and work with only the best-in-class brands that we believe can make a positive impact in your life. In fact, we reject working with brand partners that we wouldn’t use in our own daily lives. In addition to our strict brand selection process, we work to ensure that 100% of the recommendations and advice we give are free of commercial bias. The reviews we provide on-site are based on countless hours of analysis by our team of writers and cannot be monetarily influenced by our partners.
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