Credit Sesame Review – 24% of Credit Scores are Wrong
Finding a website that gives your credit score to you for free can be fairly difficult. Credit Sesame is one of the few websites that does not require credit card information for your “free” credit score. There are some places that offer $1 week-long trial offers that go into much more depth than Credit Sesame, but if you’re just looking for a regular baseline credit score, it’s pretty hard to beat.
The fact of the matter is that about a quarter of credit reports have some sort of error on them which affects your credit score. Keeping a close eye on your credit score and credit report can keep you from having a financial mess on your hands.
Credit Sesame Review
Their website is pretty easy to navigate, mainly because they really want you to make an account to check your score. Like the few other no-credit card credit score sites, Credit Sesame makes their money by showing you offers they think you might be interested in, such as credit cards, loans, etc. You never need to buy anything, they just show you what they think might interest you below your credit score.
Clicking the orange “Get started now” button or the “Sign up” button on the top of the screen takes you to the same page – here:
They ask for your email and a password. It takes the better part of 15 seconds to fill out (notice how they say you can do it all in 90 seconds) but it’s pretty straightforward. Once you do that, you’ll be taken to this screen:
Here, you’ll enter your name, date of birth, address (as well as previous addresses if you have any) and the last 4 digits of your social security number. It’s important to note here that the site is safe, they’ve been around since 2010 and they are headquartered in California, one of the states with the strongest consumer protection laws. They ask for the last 4 of your SSN in order to pull your credit report. This will be a soft pull, meaning it won’t count against your credit score.
At the very bottom, you’ll have to check the box that says “I agree, get my data”. When you do this, it’s going to automatically check the box below it offering you free credit monitoring and identity protection. I personally don’t want this and as I only want to see my credit score. If you don’t want it as well (most of you won’t want it), uncheck the bottom box. After it’s all filled out, click “Get My Data”. That is going to take you to this screen, used to verify your identity:
The verification questions that came up for me asked about a current/former street name, what state issued my social security number (state where I was born) and the monthly payment on a student loan. These will usually be fairly obvious to you, but they may try to trick you just to make sure that you are who you say you are. In the above example, I don’t even have a student loan, so I clicked the bottom button which is “NONE OF THE ABOVE” on that question.
Another popular question might include “You opened a home loan in or around 2012 (or any year), what is your monthly payment on this loan?” Yet you’ve never had a mortgage in your life. This doesn’t mean you are the victim of identity theft, they just want to make sure you answer “NONE OF THE ABOVE” because a real identity thief might take a guess at what your non-existent mortgage payment might be.
Once you click “Verify Identity”, you will be taken through a couple of loading screens as your information is pulled from the credit bureau. After 30 seconds of waiting, you will finally get to see your credit score:
The area with the red circle is where your credit score is going to appear. I’ve blocked mine out for this review but yours will show up within that space.
Credit Analysis is something that you won’t find with most other credit score providers that don’t require a credit card. You can see that it is currently set on payment history, it shows up in this order:
- Payment History – Perhaps the most important factor for your credit score, having a high percentage of on-time payments (ideally 100%) will have a positive effect on your credit score.
- Credit Usage – What percentage of your available credit lines you are currently using. Anything under 10% is optimal while the closer you get to 100% (having balances approaching or as much as your credit lines will allow) the worse this score will be. This also have a very heavy impact on your credit score, but it is one of the easiest factors to improve, as it gets better immediately after paying off your debt.
- Credit Age – The longer your accounts are open, the better this is going to look. Both your oldest account and the average age of all of your accounts counts somewhat towards your credit score, but they don’t affect your score as much as the payment history or credit utilization.
- Account Mix – If you only have one type of account (in my case I only have a credit card account), you will take a hit in this area. Different types of accounts include credit cards, auto loans, personal loans, mortgages, student loans, etc. The more you have, the better the effect on your score will be. This isn’t a major factor in determining a credit score, though it does play a minor role.
- Number of Inquiries – This is the number of hard pulls conducted within the last 12 months. Shopping around for the best rate on a car or home loan will not affect your credit immediately, but you will probably see a small drop within the next month. Over time, the effects of older inquiries gradually fade away, while they drop off of your score completely within one year for this credit score, while others keep them for two years.
Feel free to play around with the dashboard a little bit, or look at the offers they have below your score. It does update once a month so signing in regularly will keep your score current, without hurting your credit.
They do say that it only takes 90 seconds to get your score but it took me closer to 3 minutes. Still, not terrible by any means and the fact that you don’t need a credit card makes it that much better than any of the hundreds of other websites out there if you just want a basic idea of what your credit score looks like.
Try out the Credit Sesame tool to see what your credit score looks like, but I will stress again that if you don’t want the optional identity protection, uncheck the box on the second signup page. You’ll get a lot of emails if you don’t.