Many readers have asked me about Credit Sesame and whether I’d recommend their service to readers. Meanwhile, I haven’t reviewed a financial product in ages (apologies), so I decided to sign up for their free service about 2 months ago in order to test it out and give you all a Credit Sesame review.
At its core, Credit Sesame is a free credit service that offers a free credit report, free credit monitoring, and even free identity theft insurance.
Is Credit Sesame really free? Is it a scam? Is it safe to use? What are the benefits? I set out to answers these questions and more…
Is Credit Sesame Free?
Yes, the basic Credit Sesame account is free. There are a lot of “gotchas” in the free credit services space, but not with Credit Sesame. During the sign up process, I did not have to provide a credit card or any form of payment.
The basic account offers a free TransUnion credit score, TransUnion credit report, free credit monitoring, and even $1 million of identity protection insurance for free.
If you decide to opt in to upgrade your account, there are varying levels of service that provide access to all 3 credit bureau scores, 3 credit bureau credit reports, expanded identity theft insurance, and more – for a monthly fee. However, you are not obligated to provide a credit card to get the basic account for free. For this review, I only have tested the basic free account services.
What is Credit Sesame? And How Can it Benefit Me?
Credit Sesame is a free and expanded credit service company. For the basic Credit Sesame account, the free benefits include:
- free TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 credit score
- helpful tips on what factors impact your credit score
- free TransUnion credit report
- free credit monitoring
- $1 million in free identity theft protection
- no-fee digital banking (optional)
TransUnion is one of the three major credit bureaus (along with Experian and Equifax). The TransUnion score is similar to a FICO score. And TransUnion has collaborated with Experian and Equifax to offer a competitor to FICO, which is called VantageScore. Your experience may vary, but I compared my TransUnion and FICO scores and they were within 1 point of each other (823 TransUnion, 824 FICO).
Credit Sesame Free Identity Theft Insurance
Free credit monitoring is an extremely helpful benefit, as it alerts you to any suspicious behavior, new accounts, credit inquiries, or other red flags.
The $1 million (recently increased from $50K) in free identity theft protection is interesting to me and what makes Credit Sesame stand apart from other free credit services, as I haven’t seen any other offer this benefit. Here is what Credit Sesame has to say about this perk:
Credit Sesame members automatically get $1 million ID theft insurance protection for free. This insurance will reimburse you for expenses and legal costs incurred if you are the victim of identity theft.
Looking into it further, here is what is included in the coverage, per the Credit Sesame site:
We will reimburse the member for expenses and legal costs incurred by the member, up to the Aggregate Limit of Liability as shown on the Limits of Insurance section of their participating identity protection membership program fulfillment materials from the direct result of the following:
- Fraud or Embezzlement
- Data Breach
- Stolen Identity Event
as defined in the Identity Fraud Insurance Terms and Conditions.
Free Credit Score and Analysis
In the free account, there is an abundance of free reporting such as ongoing credit score monitoring:
I really liked abundance of helpful information in the “credit score factors” section, which allows you to drill down into each of the major areas that impact your credit score:
In it, you can see how you are rated in each of the 5 different rating categories that determine your overall credit score, how much of an impact each category has on your score, and your metrics in each category. Super helpful information for anyone looking to maintain or improve their credit score and history.
One area for improvement for Credit Sesame is they offer 1 free credit reports as part of their free service. However, there is a way to get 3 free credit reports annually elsewhere.
As mentioned previously, there are other “premium” services, such as access to all 3 credit bureau scores, credit reports from all 3 credit bureaus, black market website monitoring, Social Security Number monitoring, change of address monitoring, expanded identity theft insurance, and more – for a monthly fee. Many of these features are similar to what you will see from LifeLock (check out my LifeLock review for more info). These features might come in handy if you have an incident that you are worried about. After resolving, you could go back to the basic account.
Is Credit Sesame Safe and Secure?
Any time you are talking about your credit, there are naturally concerns about if the service is safe to use and your information is secured.
While I truly believe that no institution is 100% bullet-proof from hacks, Credit Sesame is about as close as they come. For starters, they are considered secure by Norton, McAfee, and ETrust, and are BBB accredited (and have a good rating and customer responses on the BBB site).
During the signup process, you are not asked for your full Social Security Number – only the last 4 digits to confirm your identity:
The signup process goes through a series of multiple choice questions to make sure you are who you really say you are. You are asked for the following:
- To choose a login and password
- Your email address
- Your full legal name
- Your address
- Phone number
- Your date of birth
- Whether you own or rent your residence
- If you have lived at your current address for at least 6 months (if not, you must enter previous address so Credit Sesame can pull your credit history – typical of all credit reporting agencies)
- The last 4 digits of your Social Security number
Additionally, you can set up 2-factor authentication to protect your account from security breaches.
Is Credit Sesame a Scam?
Credit Sesame is not a scam. They are a legit credit service company with all of the appropriate accreditations and safety measures that you could hope for. They make money through offering premium account upgrades to users and through advertising financial products that its members might be interested in (e.g. credit cards and loans).
Credit Sesame is headquartered in Mountain View, CA and has been around since 2010, with a lot of awards and recognition for their service. They have amassed over 8 million member signups for their service and they have received millions in funding from investors – so they are legit and will be around for a while.
Final Thoughts on Credit Sesame
All-in-all, Credit Sesame is a free and useful credit service that I feel really good about adding to my credit monitoring and protection tool set. They are the only one that offers free identity theft insurance that I am aware of. Additionally, their reporting analysis features are excellent.
If you’re interested, you can sign up for a free Credit Sesame account here.
Have you used Credit Sesame? What’s your take?
Note: As a Credit Sesame user, I have asked them if I can be a part of their affiliate program, which means if you sign up for their free service, I may receive a small commission. Credit Sesame did not ask me to review their service or pay me for posting this review.