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About Credit Sesame

Credit Sesame has a simple goal in mind: offer a free platform to help people take control of their credit and save money with smarter loans. Credit Sesame looks for better loans and credit options, so that you never miss an opportunity to save, while helping you easily understand, manage and im...

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  • paul's Profile Image

    By paul, Aug 13th 2012

    Editor Rating

    Credit Sesame is a free web-based tool that is designed to help consumers manage their credit and save money on loans.

    The service offers a free copy of your credit report (actually, it’s a representation of your actual score. It’s called the Experian National Equivalency Score. It’s not the exact same as your FICO score, but it’s close enough.)

    The company claims to use specialized, bank-like analytics to find the best loan and credit-card deals for individual consumers.

    We were pleased with our free credit report and with the updates Credit Sesame sent when something in our report changed. But we were less-than-pleased with the offers the service sent our way.

    Most importantly, Credit Sesame did not provide us with information on how likely we were to get approval for one of their loans. Nor did Credit Sesame offer us details on how accepting new loans would affect our credit score. Both of those features are offered by rival Credit Karma.

    Credit Sesame’s most impressive feature may be its home-loan tool, which is designed to find the best available mortgages for consumers. It’s worth noting however that Credit Sesame’s home-loan tool powers the home-loan function in Mint.com. Consumers would likely get more use of out a Mint account.

    Bottom line: It’s unclear to us who would benefit from Credit Sesame. Certainly people with credit and debt problems should look instead to sites like SpringCoin. And people with fair to good credit who wish to raise their scores and/or apply for new credit may be better served by Credit Karma.

    Pros Cons
    iPhone and Android No credit-impact simulator
    Home-loan tool Lack of up-to-date information
    Free Intrusive ads

    Accessibility

    Credit Sesame offers a simple log-in process. No credit card is required. Enter some basic information and Credit Sesame will pull data from your credit report.

    However, since the credit-card balances and other information in Credit Sesame comes from your credit report, rather than coming directly from credit-card issuers, recent transactions are not visible and balances are sometimes not accurate.

    Credit Sesame offers apps for both iPhone and Android.

    Functionality/UX

    Credit Sesame does not function as a personal-finance-management tool. Its emphasis is on borrowing, rather than managing existing finances. Consumers would be hard-pressed to use the site for anything other than its core purpose -- to find and apply for credit products. The dashboard and section pages are clear and easily understood. But ads are prevalent, bordering on intrusive.

    Breadth

    Credit Sesame’s claim to fame is its use of bank-like analytics. The system pulls data from a consumer’s Experian credit report, creates a profile based on that data, and then targets advertisements based on what’s in the report.

    The system seems to work as advertised. If your credit is poor, Credit Sesame won’t show any mortgage loans, for example. If your credit is good, you’ll get a variety of offers.

    But Credit Sesame has the same limits as any bank, i.e., it cannot see all of your financial data. Credit Sesame doesn’t collect information on cash accounts, commodity holdings, etc.

    Guidance/Credit counseling

    Credit Sesame is a free service that makes its money through lead-generation. In other words, if you buy a product from one of their partners, Credit Sesame gets paid. There’s nothing wrong with a lead-generation model. But we were disappointed in the products that Credit Sesame pointed us toward.

    For example, we tested Credit Sesame using a consumer with a poor credit rating. Credit Sesame responded with some questionable advice. In particular, Credit Sesame served up advertisements from Lexington Law, a credit-repair service. As a general rule, we’re not crazy about credit-repair services, although Lexington Law has one of the better reputations in the business.

    More troubling was that Credit Sesame consistently pushed us toward expensive offers for new credit cards (see below.) And althought Credit Sesame has a deal with Lending Club for P2P loans, the service clearly preferred to push us toward high-interest cards from traditional lenders.

    Education

    We were perplexed by Credit Sesame’s recommendations. We tested Credit Sesame using a consumer with a “poor” credit rating and a high “utillization” rate for their existing credit. After pulling our data and crunching the numbers, Credit Sesame recommended that we apply for a Capital One Secured Credit Card. But that card doesn’t allow for balance transfers and comes with a shockingly high 22.9% APY.

    In addition, Credit Sesame prompted us repeatedly to buy a full credit report (for a cost of $9.) It was unclear to us why Credit Sesame would push us so often to buy a product that closely tracks what Credit Sesame already offers us for free. More disconcerting was that Credit Sesame didn’t mention consumer’s existing right to access credit reports through a government-supported Web site.

    You can find other reviews of Credit Sesame here and here.

    The Breakdown

    Accessibility
    1
    2
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    4
    5
    Functionality
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    Breadth
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    Guidance
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    Education
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5

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