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How Accurate is the Credit Sesame Credit Score?

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Credit SesameGetting a free credit score without jumping through the hoops of trials is nice, but nearly impossible. Services like Credit Sesame and Credit Karma are great for getting a credit score, even if it’s not the celebrated FICO credit score. The one knock against those scores is that, while free, they aren’t “FICO” so they aren’t useful. I have to disagree.

Personally, I think that closely monitoring your FICO score for no reason is a waste of time. If you plan on buying a car or home in the near future, knowing your score is very important. If you aren’t, getting your Experian score (Credit Sesame) or your TransUnion score (Credit Karma) is going to be good enough.

That said, I wondered how close those scores were to FICO and it turns out they’re pretty close, according to an informal survey done by the members of CreditBoards.com. Credit Sesame offers Experian’s National Equivalency Score, which is the same score they sell to lenders, and everyone was asked to self-report their FICO scores compared to their Experian NES.

Here’s the bar chart of the accuracy:
Credit Sesame vs. FICO score

Here’s the data behind that chart, (Difference is FICO – CS):

Difference Frequency
-100 0
-90 2
-80 0
-70 0
-60 0
-50 4
-40 0
-30 5
-20 5
-10 17
0 12
10 20
20 17
30 9
40 4
50 11
60 4
70 5
80 2
90 1
100 1
More 1

The total number of respondents was small, around fifty, but the scores appear “close” with a slightly bias to the upside. Experian NES scores tended to be slightly higher, based on this population, than the official FICO score. I would not read into it too much other than to say that the scores are close, as the majority of Credit Sesame scores were within 20 points of the official FICO score.

So, if you were curious how close Credit Sesame scores/Experian NES scores are to FICO, now you kinda know. :)

Many thanks to Credit Board user BobWang (no relation!) for collecting the data!

{ 19 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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19 Responses to “How Accurate is the Credit Sesame Credit Score?”

  1. Martha says:

    Is Credit Sesame free? And how about Credit Karma?

  2. Michael says:

    Yes both are free.

  3. I recommend ignoring your credit score. For sure, monitor your credit reports and take action to have any negative, inaccurate information removed. Then Google, download, and read a FICO publication called “Understanding Your FICO Credit Score,” which explains clearly how consumers can improve their FICO score. After that, your score ‘is what it is,’ and I’m not curious enough to have ever bothered to obtain mine. I certainly would never pay for it!

    • Matt says:

      You say ignore it, and then you say monitor it and take steps to improve your credit score. And if you want to buy a house you better know your credit score.

      • Matt–I’m differentiating between credit SCORE and credit REPORT. I ignore my score, but yes I monitor my report (which I get for free three times per year–once annually from each Bureau) to be sure it’s accurate. And I follow the guidance in the FICO publication I recommended above to maximize my credit rating, or score if you wish–whatever it is!

    • Jim says:

      I like to use these scores as a passive way to “monitor” my report, because an unexpected change in my score is indicative of an unexpected change in my report.

  4. Emily D says:

    I was recently very discouraged when I got denied an auto loan. The lender, who used Experian, came up with a credit score 43 points lower than my score on Credit Sesame, which also uses Experian. And I had been feeling modestly optimistic because, since I started tracking my credit with Credit Sesame after the new year, my score had gone up a point each month. I now understand that, though different banks/lenders may base the score on the same report, they each have their own secret formula for figuring it out. So frustrating!!!

  5. govenar says:

    Do any lenders actually use this Experian National Equivalency Score, vs. using the FICO score?

  6. Shorebreak says:

    Credit bureau scores are not the only scores used. Many lenders use their own credit scores, which often will include the FICO score as well as other information about you.

  7. eric says:

    I am a CK user but haven’t gotten around to trying CS. Even with Credit Karma, I keep forgetting to update my score.

  8. becky says:

    ummm i pulled my fico and credit sesame score the same day and it was 52 points different. Then the leder told me he saw a 104 points different. He said lenders see a different score then consumers.

  9. Olivia says:

    Credit Sesame and Credit Karma are both free, no credit card required. However, for some reason the score on Credit Sesame is much lower. I don’t know why except they get their info from Experian and Credit Karma pulls from Trans union. I checked all my info and everything was correct on both. Does anyone know why my score would be 50 points lower on Credit Sesame???

    • Vsia says:

      Same here, BUT conversely. Credit Karma has 50 point lower than Credit Sesame. Don’t even know which score to trust….

    • Ryan says:

      The reason for this is because they both get your score from two different reports. You have 3, my highest is almost a 700 and my lowest is within the mid 500s. Different delinquencies report to different reports sometimes. The best way to bring them all up that I have found is get credit when needed but be sure that they report to all 3 major credit companies. I went and got a credit card that reports to all 3 and both my credit sesame and credit karma scores have gone up. Also I have not seen anyone mention quizle which is also free and does not require a credit card but they only give you so many months of monitoring free after that they want you to pay or they will not update.

  10. cathy l says:

    is there a free website for Equifax ,,,u can view ???

  11. Helped in my research – thank you

  12. Victoria says:

    My scores were approximately 10 points off from when the credit Union pulled my credit report. They were 10 points lower than what both Karma & Sesame had them. Now I have cleaned some items off of my report, and it is being reflected on Karma, but I have yet to see the +31 points reflect on Sesame. Go figure, but I do realize they both update at different times. One thing I want to say in addition to this, is that when I was sending items in to all 3 bureaus; that Transunion was quicker and more on point to remove items, and update, where Experian would seen to take what was like forever to change and update.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Free is good.there was about 20 point different from my actual fico score.but credit karma was the was close enough with fico score . remember its free.


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