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Is Credit Sesame a Scam?

Is there such thing as a free lunch?

I think part of our brains is conditioned to be on edge whenever we can get something we normally expect to pay money for. Most of the free credit score offers require you to sign up for some trial program that will charge you $19.95 a month unless you cancel. Canceling is usually a pain in the butt, so we’re used to associated a free credit score with either getting ripped off or paying for a service we don’t want.

That’s why one of the most popular posts on the site is one that discusses whether Credit Karma is a scam [3]? (it’s not)

Credit Sesame [4] is just like Credit Karma [5] except instead of a credit score from TransUnion, you get a credit score from Experian.

Much like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame relies on a mixture of advertising and lead generation to pay for the services it offers for free. It analyzes your credit report for areas in which you could optimize your financial situation. For example, if you click on the current debt tab, you may get offers to refinance your mortgage loan, if you have one. You may get credit card offers that would lower your monthly payment, if you carried a balance. All of these offers generate revenue for the service. So the lunch isn’t free, someone else, someone taking advantage of the offers, is paying for it. In the end, everyone (except the more expensive mortgage lender or the more expensive credit card company) wins.

There are three significant differences, that I can see, between Credit Sesame and Credit Karma. First, Credit Sesame is powered by Experian data and Credit Karma is powered by TransUnion data. Second, Credit Sesame includes your home details if they apply. It’ll calculate how much equity you have, local sales, and other pertinent home related information. All that information comes from a service called DataQuick.

Finally, Credit Karma has been around longer and so their features have been built out more. For example, you can get alerts whenever something changes on your TransUnion account. With Credit Sesame, you can have the system alert you when your score changes (which is close enough), but it won’t be able to tell you why (at least based on what I can tell).

In the end, I think Credit Sesame has a good service going and it’s a great way to add another step to the DIY identity theft monitoring process [6] to keep tabs on my Experian credit report.