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How Accurate is the Credit Sesame Credit Score?

Getting a free credit score [3] without jumping through the hoops of trials is nice, but nearly impossible. Services like Credit Sesame [4] and Credit Karma [5] 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 [6]. 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 [7]. 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:

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!