Credit Sesame Review 2014: Is It Safe, Legit and Accurate?

Posted by CreditCardGuru

With so many “free” credit score offers being peddled these days, it’s not always easy to know which ones are legit and safe… and which ones are scams. How does CreditSesame.com measure up?

What is Credit Sesame?

Launched back in 2010, they’re a venture-capital backed website that is touted as a free tool for managing credit. You register by filling out your personal information and Social Security number. Once you do that, they come back and provide some info about your creditworthiness (I’ll discuss that in a moment).

Is Credit Sesame really free? Yep… You won’t have to provide your credit card number or pay anything to use the service. But be warned because the score provided to you is NOT a real FICO score. It is an imitation that is not used by lenders. If you want to see your authentic FICO score for free, you can do so with the following:How Credit Sesame makes money is that they provide you sponsored offers for mortgage refinancing, credit cards, loans, etc. After filling out the forms on their website, I was taken to a page with some basic information:

Credit Sesame report

Note: The reason I blocked out the numbers is because payment amounts are actually used as security questions to verify your identity when checking your credit.

Obviously the first thing I noticed is the credit score of 771. Is that accurate or not?

Being that I recently checked my score yet again on MyFICO.com I know exactly what it is… a 790 FICO. So why is Credit Sesame telling me it’s 771?

Because Credit Sesame does not use FICO scores!

Credit Sesame vs. FICO and other scoresInstead, it uses the Experian National Equivalency Score.

So you are getting an imitator to FICO, not the real thing.

The Experian National Equivalency Score runs on a 360 to 840 range, rather than the 300 to 850 range for FICO. However beyond the number differences, it’s important to remember that we are talking about two different scoring models, which means the various components are counted differently in each. Plus, while educational scores (like the Experian National Equivalency score) can be useful to get a ballpark idea of where you are creditwise and track your progress, lenders don’t use these scores. So, if you’re about to apply for a major loan, pull your FICOs.

And what else does it do?

I was actually looking forward to doing this review of Credit Sesame, because I was hoping I would discover a robust tool chest of free tools to use.

However, the information they give you is limited. Now in their defense, the service is free, so there isn’t much reason to complain. But I don’t think this would help me much with managing my credit and here’s why…

Unless you pay $9.95 a month for the “Advanced” service, you’re left with the bare minimum when it comes to credit analysis. Here’s what the site gave me, as far as credit analysis goes:

Credit Sesame - Overview

That’s all good to know, but it doesn’t tell me much. You can see your utilization ratio in a bit more detail by clicking the “Credit Usage” tab:

Credit Sesame - Utilization

Credit Sesame offers a monthly Experian credit report — but only if you’ve bought the $9.95/month Advanced package. Credit Karma’s free service, meanwhile lets you zoom in on your credit way more, allowing you to view the number of inquiries on your report and the length of your credit history. It also gives you the ability to simulate the effect of future actions on your credit. Capital One’s Credit Tracker has similar features.

And the final verdict?

Is Credit Sesame really free? Yes, and for that reason my complaints are all relative. Since you are not spending any money, Credit Sesame is safe – it can’t be a scam or rip-off, since you’re not spending a dime.

But is it actually useful? That’s the question to consider.

If you don’t know what your creditworthiness is – then yes – this service is a useful way to check for free how you measure up. Plus, because Credit Karma and Capital One’s Credit Tracker both use TransUnion, Credit Sesame is a good way to see how Experian is ranking you.

However, it’s not as detailed as the other free credit scoring services out there. And if you want to know your true FICO score (not a FAKO), Credit Sesame falls short — as do all free credit scoring services.

I probably won’t do another Credit Sesame review until [if] they make it a more robust platform. If they ever add more features like telling the number of credit inquiries, average age of accounts and other useful info, then I would be interested.

Updated April 15, 2014.


-----
Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

54 comments... read them below or add your own

  1. Pat G July 21, 2014 at 8:08AM

    Although I read this article and the robust endorsement of Credit Karma I beg to differ. Karma was so off on mine that when I had the bank pull the score I was over 100 points higher and Sesame was 4 points lower than the bank. What does this mean? Sesame was 97% more accurate that Karma!

  2. Sam July 17, 2014 at 11:45AM

    I have:
    664 Credit Karma
    769 Credit Sesame
    787 Vantage Score?
    I wonder what this is all about?

  3. Brooke June 25, 2014 at 9:47PM

    Many lenders use their own calculations for credit scores based on what’s important to them. That is why you all see different scores with different lenders. Some lenders use the FICO site but not all of them.

  4. Ann Reed June 22, 2014 at 8:50PM

    Are you honestly suggesting we should check our FICO scores for free by applying for a credit card?

  5. Ann Reed June 22, 2014 at 8:49PM

    Are you honestly suggesting we should check our FICO

  6. bgalakazam April 20, 2014 at 9:09PM

    For me, Credit Sesame has been much much more accurate than CreditKarma. I was tired of the name confusions CK kept making to the point that I closed it.

  7. Jess April 11, 2014 at 9:13AM

    I tried to sign up for Credit Sesame but when I entered my SSN it said it could not find it. I know I typed it in correctly but the website cannot find it, should I be worried?

    • Pabs April 13, 2014 at 7:21AM

      Had the same problem, must be an issue with the server.

  8. carlos March 20, 2014 at 6:00AM

    Good unbiased review.
    I’ve been struggling with credit issues since 2001.
    As I rebuilt my credit, again we had a financial crisis in 2007.
    Now’s getting better again.
    This forces me to check on my credit report every month
    and do disputes when inaccuracies.
    Can anyone suggest a good site to check all three scores that’s around ten bucks a month with reports, disputes etc? “”Free”Creditreport.com wants $32 every month for a full 3 bureau update.

    • OnlyHmn May 3, 2014 at 3:40PM

      Yes, actually Experian offers another site for $24.95/mo, but if you call and ask for a disc, they will reduce it to 1/2 off and you get 3 bureau reports monthly when you order them, and yes, they are included in monthly fee. Experian reports are also available updated free once daily when you order online thru membership. Hope that helps.

      • OnlyHmn May 3, 2014 at 3:41PM

        SORRY, that site is…creditreport.com ;)

    • Sade May 21, 2014 at 12:01PM

      Carlos,

      A great site to use is myfico.com My lender told me about it and it has been nothing but accureate for me. She pulled my report and the numbers where dead on. They have reporting service for EQ and TU, there are some changes to EX so they are not providing that one right now. I pay about $15 a month for the other 2 or I cna just pay $5 for EQ.

      • Pat G July 21, 2014 at 8:12AM

        I tried myfico.com and found it so inaccurate that I almost didn’t go to the bank to buy a new car. When the bank pulled my bureaus they showed over 140 higher than myfico. I had 11 positive and paid off accounts and only 1 30 day late payment 4 years ago. FICO showed 625, bank 765!

    • Brooke June 25, 2014 at 9:43PM

      Yes, Score Sense provides all 3 reports, scores, monitoring, alerts, dispute center,.and ID theft protection. Sign up for free trial and then call right away to have the price lowered. It’s a little more than $10 but not by much.

      Just go to scoresense.com

  9. Lee March 6, 2014 at 9:24AM

    Regarding accuracy of scores. Sesame says mine is 740, and when I checked with Quicken loan a few minutes later regarding a possible consolation loan, when he checked it came back as a 762, so it was in the ballpark. For a free no-hassle way to get ballpark scores, I am fine with Credit Sesame.

  10. D Huff February 16, 2014 at 8:43AM

    I guess since my FICO is 831, I should not worry about these sideline ventures!!!

    • frederick April 5, 2014 at 2:42PM

      welcome to the club. i am 833.

    • Pat G July 21, 2014 at 8:13AM

      why are you even on the site?

  11. Tracy February 9, 2014 at 11:04PM

    So my score with ck is 587..but with my walmart card at credit monitoring sight free with card..says it is 675..can there be that much difference?? Another ?…on ck I did score simulator..I said if I paid off all credit cards($6300) not closed accounts but just paid off..and had timely payments for 8 months..it said my score would drop 10 points!!! Please help..I am looking for a mortgage soon and am trying to get and stay on the right track!!

  12. Pat G February 3, 2014 at 3:43AM

    I find Credit Karma not half as accurate as Credit Sesame. Karma showed me at 560 and Sesame at 600 and when the bank ran it over 645. This indicated which was more accurate and what I needed to do to bring it up.

  13. Edward January 17, 2014 at 12:22PM

    In my opinion Credit Sesame is not nearly as good as Credit Karma. I paid off all of my credit cards mid december, 2013 and they have still have not updated it. I also have Credit Karma and it was updated within 10 days on their site. My credit score is almost 100 points higher on CK than CS. I guess Experian, the credit service that backs Credit Sesame has just dropped the ball.

    • Leigh May 28, 2014 at 11:02PM

      Your score with Credit Sesame or Credit Karma will depend on where your creditors report to. If your credit card reports only to Transunion, and your auto loan to Experian, and you are on time with your credit card, but have a late or two with your auto loan, your Credit Sesame estimated score will be higher, your Credit Karma score lower. If they all were dealing with the same information, the scores would be much closer.

  14. Lillian January 13, 2014 at 8:18PM

    Thanks for the review. I have 703 with credit karma and 771 with credit sesame. I think this is a big jump,and I am not complaining. It does let me know just kinda where I stand. So I am always checking to see how far I am. Its also free for me.

    • Cindi March 9, 2014 at 10:36AM

      Credit Karma uses Trans Union, Credit Sesame uses Experian. Experian scores tend to run higher than Trans Union, explained king the “jump”. Creditors usually use your middle score which is often supplied by Equifax.

      • Pat G July 21, 2014 at 8:15AM

        Correct, but Trans Union is the slowest reporting of the bunch. If you find an error it take Trans Union 3-4 months longer to clear it up.

  15. Bill January 6, 2014 at 1:09PM

    Great review. I was considering opening an account, but after considering the shortcomings of Credit Sesame, coupled with the inherent risks (no matter how small, it’s still a risk) of forking over all my personal info, I think I’ll pass for now. Thanks for providing such helpful information! :-)

  16. JT November 14, 2013 at 11:50AM

    I went to Experian and paid for my FICO today and Credit Sesasame had the same FICO score as Experian, I wanted to see how accurate it is. I was impressed!!

  17. Teri September 30, 2013 at 11:28AM

    They also need to add the ability to add multiple homes to the asset section. As it is now, they automatically pull in all of the mortgages that you have, but don’t allow you to add additional assets for any additional properties. Because of this, it looks like I owe $320,000 on a home valued at $192,000. That is 4 mortgages levied against one property’s value. So, it is shorting my assets by about $400,000. And, my FICO score is about 100 points too low, so not very accurate at all. Not sure if the debt/asset bit is causing that or not.

  18. Wes September 21, 2013 at 7:53AM

    I have been reviewing my Credit Sesame status for a couple of months. It is helpful but there are many caveats.

    Credit card information is very often inaccurate so be sure to change it on each review. Read all the details carefully. In one case they had a “HELOC” account listed as a credit card account but I was able to change it on the “CR” site.

    On another “HELOC” account the interest rate shown is almost double that of the actual rate. I could not change it on there site; I emailed them and the response I got was I MAY be able find out that Experian is reporting it erroneously.

    Credit Sesame offers credit reports for $9.00 dollars and encourages everyone to get one. They do not mention that all of us may obtain credit reports free every year as provided by law. Full disclosure?

    Very often “CR” has recommended that I open another CREDIT CARD account to pay down other “higher interest” credit card accounts. That recommendation, in my opinion, is the worst possible advice. Why not a bank HELOC etc. Is it possible that if you go through their site to apply as they advised it will result as a source of revenue for Credit Sesame.???

    In one phone conversation I had with a Credit Sesame representative I was told that the source of their data is directly taken from the Experian Credit Bureau. He was unable to explain some of my questions but I would here from them within 24 hours. That was 10 days ago!

    In other reviews I just read on this web site there more issues listed and I agree with them.

    THE BOTTOM LINE:-

    For me Credit Sesame is useful. I can see a positive or negative trend in my credit score when ever I sign in. Also, I can check my list of creditors and my balances each time and change them as necessary. As for the issue concerning the interest rate error I am still working that one off.

    MOST IMPORTANTLY PLEASE ALLOW MY BEST PERSONAL ADVICE:-

    Get on the internet and request a free credit report from the three major credit agencies if you have not done so in the past 12 months. You can print them immediately from their individual websites and after you have time to review them you can call and request changes as need to make corrections. It is fast, easy, safe, and you get the data directly from the sources providing your credit worthiness whenever you make an application.

    • Pat G July 21, 2014 at 8:17AM

      The reason for the deviation in credit card figures is purely that the credit card companies report on different days and Sesame only pulls full reports once a month. I have 5 cards and none are close to the same day.

  19. Scott September 19, 2013 at 9:08PM

    Good review. FAKO credit score is right! I didn’t realize that they didn’t use FICO and went to apply for a mortgage. FICO was 50 points lower. So the mortgage is out. I won’t go into how bogus FICO and all of the credit bureaus are. But until lenders stop using FICO , the credit score they show is next to worthless

  20. Patrick September 4, 2013 at 7:46AM

    SIgning up for Credit Sesame has become one of the options to get additional credit in some of the Facebook online games. It was great to check out what it was all about before signing up.

  21. mph August 17, 2013 at 9:56AM

    As per credit sesame, I was leery at 1st but did it anyway and it has saved me big time. I just refinanced my auto loan thru Blue Harbor that solicited me thru their site and saved 6% on rate, where as Wells Fargo did not do me justice.

  22. Wendy July 2, 2013 at 10:31AM

    I appreciate this personal account of your experience. One note to make is that there are thousands of credit scoring models, including numerous FICO models that create various scores based on the information used. Credit Sesame is based on the Experian National Equivalency Score (ENES), as you stated, and is used by specific creditors over other scores. For example, if you’re concerned about your credit messing up your chances of renting an apartment, you may be more interested in your ENES than FICO, since property management uses ENES and not FICO. It all depends on what credit you need in the near future.

  23. Salman Al-Farisi May 23, 2013 at 5:08PM

    I’ve been with them for only a few months but they keep telling me that my credit usage is too high, this can’t be, I keep my usage at 30% or below. I just like to see my score once in a while, I am about to get one or more student loans.

    • JJ2007 July 7, 2013 at 9:42AM

      Just a suggestion: Why don’t you try out the CreditKarma website. It’s very informative, easy to maneuver through, and yes, it is totally FREE, also. I like to compare my results from both websites–to really get a distinct perspective, as to how well I’m doing, overall. I hope that this idea helps you, as well.

  24. Roy March 21, 2013 at 5:07AM

    Thanks so much everyone on your comments. I’m looking for a credit monitoring tool. This just might work.

  25. Deb February 4, 2013 at 10:36AM

    One concern I didn’t see addressed is, is it advisable to give your legal name and SS# to a third party? And once you have given them this identifying information, is it wise to then disclose the exact amount due on your mortgage, credit cards and vehicles? To me it sounds like too much disclosure on a site that makes its money through marketers.
    Thanks for the informative review
    Deb

  26. Octavius S. January 1, 2013 at 12:34PM

    Very informative, thank you! I’ll pass on Credit Sesame!

  27. Karen December 20, 2012 at 11:41AM

    Credit Sesame are bastards. Don’t deal with them.

    • Jayne Kerret July 21, 2013 at 6:48PM

      Useless comment unless you tell us WHY.

  28. Redeye Dog December 1, 2012 at 8:05AM

    Thanks for doing the review. I was about to sign up and see whether Credit Sesame would be useful or not but after reading your review, I’m confident that I should pass and wait for better features as well. I have excellent credit and I need specifics to manage raising it even further.

  29. Chris September 27, 2012 at 8:26AM

    credit sesame is no where near close to a real score.

    I know for a fact I have absolutely no score as I have not used credit in over a decade , and it gave me a 685 and it showed me a lil behind my peers . I can tell you from experience the average score is not in 700′s.

    I did auto finance and mortgages for years. I pulled lender scores 10 -30 times a day .

    • Deb February 4, 2013 at 10:40AM

      A decade is nothing in the credit score world. I recently had my credit scores run for a new mortgage and there were creditors on my report that were under my maiden name, and I have been married 25 years. My credit has always been around 800, so it wasn’t because of something like bankruptcy. It went back to my student loans from 1986.

    • Teri September 30, 2013 at 11:45AM

      I agree. They show me at 729 on here, but my scores with all 3 bureaus are over 800.

  30. marilyn July 31, 2012 at 12:54PM

    Credit sesame was totally inaccurate for me. Said 696 as a score but when I was issued a card by chase with a $1300 cl, they pulled experian and reported a score of fico 638! A 58 point difference! Credit sesame, imho, is not good to go by.

  31. PF Pro July 23, 2012 at 1:35PM

    This is a good review of credit sesame. Credit Karma sounds like exactly what you’re looking for and they provide free credit monitoring(invaluable!). But I use Credit Sesame to stay on top of my Experian report. The score won’t be exactly spot on, but it won’t be that far off as you and I have noted in the past. Sites like CS and CK give you a range of what your score may be in, and that is really all you need.

    Your credit habits are what determine your score. I think my other comment got spammed.

  32. janice June 13, 2012 at 4:27PM

    I have checked my credit worthiness on credit sesame and it remains the same. Even though a couple of items have been removed. Why is that?

  33. JUNE June 4, 2012 at 9:25AM

    I love the fact I dont have to pay monthly service fees for a Fico / Fako score update. With most Americans in debt, I do believe most will appreciate the user friendly application, along with helpful suggestions to increase the score.

  34. Nikki May 21, 2012 at 8:41AM

    I liked your review, I just want to point out something. On your number 3 reason for not having higher credit I believe the issue is that you yourself said you have a lot of credit cards. Though you don’t always carry a balance on all of them the fact is that you could if you wanted to.

    When factoring whether you could pay a certain amount for a mortgage for example they factor in credit limits you already have extended. If you have 10 cards and they all have $1000 limit for example, you have the ability to rack up $10,000 in credit card debt without even having to apply for another loan or run a credit check. Banks take that into account as a real possibility that someday you may have some kind of crisis and max them all out and then you would not have the ability to pay all your cards plus a mortgage or a car or whatever you are applying for.

    • Stgcret July 4, 2012 at 10:00AM

      What you have explained was true 20 years ago. Not so much today.

      What lenders look at today is “utilization rate/ratio” To use your example; 10 cards at $1000 limit each and you owe a total of $7500, would equal a 75% Utilization Rate out of 100% max available, which would be considered very high, making new credit very expensive or denied all together.

      So,in the case where one would have a lot of Credit available,(I’ll use mine); 6 credit cards with a total limit of $104,500 and owe $10,600, my Credit Utilization Ratio would be $10,600/10,450=10.1% of max limit. Most creditors like to see 30-39% or less (less the better).

      Don’t mistake Utilization Rate with Debt to Income. The D/I is your total debt, includes car & home and any other bank loans. Taking my same personal example I will add my home loan payment of $1058 + $147 in Card Pymts for $1205/$44,000= 27.3% Debt to Income. I hope this helps.

      • Chris September 27, 2012 at 8:11AM

        Less the better on utilization is not totally true.

        Most Lenders ,If you have lets say 100K limit in potential borrowing and you only have 1-3% , see that as a risk. Reason being is that if you have one bad month or something bad happen you are you are capable of going deep into debt very fast. !0-20 I think is what they like to see, been awhile since all those classes , can remember exact numbers.

  35. Kara April 17, 2012 at 10:25PM

    Thank you for the review. That really helped. I was weary of spreading my social to some site especially one that I know will be throwing offers at me left and right. I basically wanted to know what this “credit worthy” thing was all about.

    Also, REALLY glad you clarified the credit score bit up. Thanks again!

  36. Jessica March 15, 2012 at 3:53AM

    Thanks so much for explaining how Credit Sesame worked, as I didn’t understand it at first!

Leave a Comment

*