Credit Sesame vs Credit Karma: Which Free Tool Is Better?
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When I applied for my first mortgage, I had no clue what to expect.
We worked with the broker recommended by our agent because he assured us he could get us a great rate.
I didn’t compare it with other banks or rates because I didn’t know it was an option.
If I’d known then how easy websites like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame make it to find personalized competitive rates, I probably could’ve saved tens of thousands of dollars over the life of my home loan.
Credit Karma vs. Credit Sesame: Overview
Credit Karma and Credit Sesame are websites where you can check your credit score for free, and you don’t have to provide a credit card. Then, they give you insight on how to improve your credit score and show you recommendations for credit cards and loans you may qualify for that might save you money or where you can earn rewards.
Credit Karma is especially focused on helping people learn about and optimize their financial decisions. It has a variety of free tools to help members do this and is committed to keeping them free by earning money from advertisers.
Credit Sesame offers personalized recommendations aimed at helping consumers choose the right credit cards, mortgages, and auto loans. It also has free ID theft insurance to protect members from the effects of fraud.
Each offers unlimited free access to your credit score, and both are committed to helping you understand and improve your score so you have access to the best rates on financial products whenever you need them.
|Credit Karma||Credit Sesame|
|Free credit scores from TransUnion & Equifax||Free credit score from TransUnion|
|Free credit report||Free proprietary Credit Report Card|
|Free credit & ID theft monitoring||Free credit & ID theft monitoring|
|Free tax filing & audit defense||Free Identity theft insurance|
|Additional free personal finance tools such as unclaimed money search, vehicle recall information, and calculators||Paid memberships offering more comprehensive credit reporting and monitoring|
When it comes to free features you can’t go wrong with Credit Karma or Credit Sesame. But the financial changes you’re looking to make might lead you to choose one over the other.
Free Credit Scores
Both websites give you unlimited access to your VantageScore 3.0 from TransUnion, and using both sites at once won’t hurt your credit score. VantageScore is the consumer credit scoring model developed by the three major credit reporting bureaus.
Unfortunately, neither offers access to your FICO score, the score most widely used by banks to decide mortgage rates. If you’re specifically looking for your FICO score, you can get a free Experian credit report and FICO score from FreeCreditReport.com and one credit report per year from each bureau at AnnualCreditReport.com.
VantageScore 3.0 now uses the same credit scoring range as FICO, so the score you see at Credit Karma or Credit Sesame should be very similar.
A study from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau saw that different scoring models placed consumers in the same credit-quality category 73% to 80% of the time.
In addition to your TransUnion credit score, you’ll also get your free credit score from Equifax. Both are updated weekly, and you’ll also get your official credit report from both reporting bureaus for free.
Having your credit score and official credit report from all three major credit reporting bureaus is important because there are often discrepancies in reporting across the bureaus. The Federal Trade Commission found that one in five consumers had an error on at least one of their credit reports.
As an alternative to Credit Karma, Credit Sesame has designed its own “Credit Report Card” to help you improve your score. It’s not your official TransUnion credit report, but it reflects information from it and then makes recommendations on how to improve your credit score. The report card grades the five components of your score:
- Payment history
- Length of credit
- Types of credit
- Credit usage
- Recent inquiries
You’re graded from A to F, and you can see why you’ve received each grade and what you can do to improve it.
Free Credit Monitoring
Both websites offer free credit monitoring and alerts on your TransUnion credit report.
If either notice an important change on your credit report, you’ll receive an email alert so you can check for suspicious activity or errors. You can also download the Credit Karma or Credit Sesame mobile apps for mobile alerts.
Credit Karma recommends freezing or locking your credit if you don’t plan on making any hard inquiries in the near future. It provides links where you can do that for each credit bureau.
If you see any errors on your credit report you can submit a dispute without leaving the Credit Karma website.
While Credit Sesame updates your credit score monthly, it monitors your credit daily and alerts are as timely as you can get.
The best way to prevent identity theft is by freezing your credit. That keeps anyone, even you, from being able to apply for credit with your information. While neither site can protect you from identity theft, they can both notify you early so you can get it resolved quickly. Just be sure to sign up before you freeze your credit so they can access your information.
Credit Karma’s identity monitoring shows if your information has been involved in any data breaches or comes up on the Dark Web. Credit Karma also runs searches for your passwords and tells you if any have been compromised.
Credit Sesame has free resources and ID theft insurance in place for its members who are victims of identity theft. Members compromised by fraud, embezzlement, theft, forgery, a data breach, or stolen identity are eligible for up to $50,000 compensation of expenses and legal costs. Premium members get $1 million.
You also have 24/7 access to restoration specialists to walk you through the process of restoring your identity and can find many of the letter templates and phone numbers you need to submit to restore your identification in your Credit Sesame account.
Both sites show you your financial life’s big picture. You can see your total debt, credit usage, payment history, and more. This helps them recommend credit cards, personal loans, mortgages, home refinancing, auto loans, and auto insurance that are best suited for you.
You can see rates and fees for over 100 credit cards, and Credit Karma analyzes your credit to show you your approval odds for each. If you’re looking for lower rates on car insurance, Credit Karma keeps updated records of your car’s value and any recalls and gives you a score on your insurability. Companies can use the score to set your rate and you can use it to negotiate a lower one.
Credit Karma also recently entered the banking space and has a community forum with member reviews of all the products it recommends (so you can see what other people think about the offer you’re considering signing up for).
Credit Sesame makes it easy to see all your personalized credit card, personal loan, and home loan recommendations. It also shows your approval odds on products by comparing your information to other Credit Sesame members who’ve been approved.
Additional Free Services
Both Credit Karma and Credit Sesame have blogs and educational tools to help you understand credit and other personal finance topics. Everything they offer can help put you in a better financial situation to save money on loans and get better rewards credit cards.
You can file your federal and state taxes for free through Credit Karma Tax, even if you’re using deductions that other tax programs charge for. In comparison, TurboTax and H&R Block both charge for state tax filing, mortgage interest deductions, and student loan interest deductions.
If you’ve filed elsewhere you can sign up for free audit defense. Credit Karma also scans state records to find unclaimed money that might belong to you and offers several free calculators to help you simulate outcomes of financial decisions
Announced in October 2019, you can now open a free high-yield savings account through Credit Karma with no fees or minimums.
The Credit Sesame Mortgage Map lets you simulate a number of variables to decide on the best mortgage for you. Its Scholarship program is available to college students in the U.S. who show a passion for financial literacy.
You can also set goals to improve your credit, buy a home, pay down debt, and more. Credit Sesame will generate a detailed checklist of things to do to get closer to each.
Sometimes your credit monitoring needs are more specialized. If that describes you, there are premium features you can pay for.
Because Credit Karma is committed to keeping its resources free, you won’t find a paid or premium subscription. That’s great if you aren’t monitoring your credit closely or are willing to go elsewhere for your Experian credit report and score. But if you want all your credit reports in one place, you might be interested in Credit Sesame’s premium subscriptions.
Credit Sesame has three tiers of paid subscriptions. The Advanced Credit plan is $9.95 per month and includes a full credit report and VantageScore 3.0 from all three credit reporting bureaus updated monthly.
The Pro Credit plan has all of that along with credit monitoring from all three bureaus and 24/7 live experts to solve credit inaccuracies for $15.95 per month. Its Platinum Protection plan offers that plus stolen/ lost wallet protection, black market website monitoring, and Social Security Number monitoring for $19.95 per month.
The Pro and Platinum plans are valuable for people who travel a lot or who want an expert handling their credit monitoring.
Credit Karma vs. Credit Sesame: Which is Better?
If you’re still trying to determine who’s the winner in Credit Sesame vs Credit Karma, you don’t have to pick one. You’re going to benefit most by signing up for both. For learning about your financial health and taking steps to improve it, Credit Karma has a lot to offer. And $50,000 in identity theft protection from Credit Sesame is a must-have.
While they offer similar services on the surface, each has unique features that help you build your credit score and improve your relationship with debt. So sign up for both and you’ll be the real winner.