Credit Sesame Review: Free VantageScores From TransUnion
It should come as no surprise that, as the stratospheric rise in the cost of housing, health care, and education exceeds wage growth, interest in managing one’s credit health would soar as well. After all, our credit scores play a huge role in determining our access to the credit we need just to keep ourselves afloat. Of course, we’d prefer not to have to pay money just to keep track of our own credit score.
This is where services like Credit Sesame come in.
Describing itself as “a fast-growing credit and loan management platform,” Credit Sesame offers four primary credit management services. When you sign up for a free Credit Sesame account, you’ll get access to the following:
- Your credit score
- Your credit report
- Credit monitoring
- Identity theft protection
How does Credit Sesame work? Is it safe? And is it genuinely free? Read on to discover the answer to these questions and more!
Table of Contents
What Is Credit Sesame?
Credit Sesame was founded by Adrian Nazari in 2010. Since then, the company has grown to the point where it now employs 119 people. Millions of users now subscribe to Credit Sesame, though the company doesn’t give an exact number. Some sources claim the site has six million members, others say eight million, while others say 12 million.
A free Credit Sesame account offers the following:
- Access to your TransUnion (one of the big three credit bureaus) credit score once per month
- Daily credit monitoring with an alerting system that alerts you when your TransUnion credit score changes
- Up to $50,000 in identity theft insurance
Is Credit Sesame Always Free?
If you’re satisfied with the services you get access to with a free Credit Sesame membership, you can use Credit Sesame forever without having to pay a cent. However, Credit Sesame does offer paid services in addition to the free services. These services are offered in the form of three different subscription plans: Advanced Credit, Pro Credit, and Platinum Protection. Here’s what you’ll get with each of these plans:
- Daily credit score updates from TransUnion
- Monthly credit score updates from all three major credit bureaus
- Full credit reports each month from all three credit bureaus
- All of the above, plus:
- Full identity protection
- Credit monitoring with alerts for all three credit bureaus
- 24/7 access to live experts to help solve credit report inaccuracies
- All of the above, plus:
- 24/7 access to live experts for stolen/lost wallet protection
- Black market website monitoring
- Public records monitoring
- Social Security Number monitoring
Is Credit Sesame Safe?
I have seen nothing to indicate that Credit Sesame is unsafe at all. You don’t need to give them any credit card information, and you only have to enter the last four digits of your SSN to establish an account.
No data breaches or any other loss of private user information associated with Credit Sesame have ever been reported. If you sign up with Credit Sesame, I wouldn’t worry about the safety of your personal information.
Credit Scores & Reports Offered By Credit Sesame
Credit Sesame shows you your credit score from TransUnion, one of the three major consumer credit bureaus. This score is calculated using the VantageScore formula, which means that the score you’ll see is not your FICO credit score. VantageScore is a different, newer credit-scoring model than FICO, and while your creditors may be assessing you based on your FICO score, your VantageScore shouldn’t be that far removed from your FICO score (learn about the differences in our complete guide to VantageScore VS FICO scores). Additionally, as VantageScore is the newer scoring model, it has become increasingly utilized by potential creditors with time. Your score will be updated by Credit Sesame once a month.
Your VantageScore credit score from TransUnion takes your credit information and history into account, giving you a picture of your overall credit health. It’s a nice feature to have for free, though I will note that competitor Credit Karma gives you free access to your VantageScore from both TransUnion and Equifax (another one of the big three credit bureaus).
Along with your credit score, Credit Sesame will show you five data points from your TransUnion credit report to show you how these factors affect your score: Payment history, credit usage, credit age, account mix (this refers to how many different types of open accounts you have — credit cards, auto loans, etc.), and the number of recent credit inquiries you’ve had.
You’ll also get access to information about any debts you have (including what percentage of your monthly income goes toward debt payments), along with credit monitoring, which means you’ll be alerted to any new activity that appears on your TransUnion credit report.
Note that while you’ll see selected data pulled from your credit report, you won’t have access to your full credit report with just a free site membership. You’ll need an Advanced Credit subscription ($9.95/month) for that. With an Advanced Credit subscription, you can get your full credit report each month from all three credit bureaus, not just TransUnion. Alternately, you can make a single standalone purchase of your TransUnion credit report for a one-time payment of $9.95.
With an Advanced Credit subscription, your TransUnion credit score will be updated daily, not just monthly. You’ll get monthly credit score updates from the other two major credit bureaus (Experian and Equifax) as well — something you can’t see for free.
Other Services Offered By Credit Sesame
I’ve touched on Credit Sesame’s other services, but let’s now delve into what the site has to offer beyond credit scores and reports.
A free Credit Sesame account will get you credit monitoring for your TransUnion credit report. You’ll get alerts whenever new activity appears on your TransUnion report. However, to get credit monitoring/alerts for all three of your credit reports — TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax — you’ll need a Pro subscription ($15.95/month)
Identity Theft Insurance
Most credit score sites don’t give you free access to identity theft insurance, so Credit Sesame stands out in this regard. You’ll get $50K in insurance coverage for identity theft, fraud, and other financial crimes. Hey, it’s free insurance! And if you want more coverage, sign up for a Pro Credit subscription and get $1 million in identity insurance.
Along with identity theft insurance, you’ll get some identity restoration tools. These come in the form of documents showing you how to report fraud to government agencies, sample letters to credit bureaus, and the like.
Credit Card Recommendations
Credit Sesame will recommend credit cards to you according to your likelihood of approval (based on your credit score). These offers also show you how much credit you’re likely to gain access to in the event that you’re approved. You can also check to see if you pre-qualify for any personal loans. You can even search for mortgage lenders.
Credit Sesame’s free tools let you check and monitor your credit score as well as determine just what aspects of your credit profile are dragging down your score (or boosting it, as the case may be). What’s more, $50K of free identity theft insurance is nothing to scoff at!
However, if you want full access to your credit reports, full identity protection, and such bonuses as full Social Security Number monitoring, you’ll need a paid subscription. What you get for free is of considerable value, though.
Should you use Credit Sesame’s credit score services?
This service might be a good option if…
- You want to know your TransUnion credit score for free
- You want free identity theft insurance
- You want free credit monitoring
- You’re willing to pay for a higher degree of credit management help
You might want to use a different service if…
- You specifically want to know your FICO score
- You want free access to both your TransUnion and Equifax credit scores (Credit Karma has this)
- You want to use debt/loan calculators to help you formulate your credit building strategy (some competitors have this)
Want more tools to help you boost your credit score? Check out these articles!