Credit Sesame, (think more ‘Open Sesame’, less ‘Sesame Street’) is a free online personal finance tool that's like having your own financial planner without the dorky tie, pocket protector, and the fees. On CreditSesame.com, you can securely monitor your credit and receive money saving advice. The site has an analytics engine, invented by smarty-pants Stanford scientists, that automatically reviews your credit score and credit profile, debt, and home loans. It then analyzes these facts and figures to look for alternative mortgages and loans that will help you save money.
In fact, Credit Sesame recently analyzed its users' data and found that homeowners who would qualify for a refinance based on their credit profiles, income and equity in their homes, are overpaying an average of $471.00 per month on their mortgages—that's $5652.00 a year! You can also use Credit Sesame to track your Experian credit score every month for free!
Here's how to get started on this helpful personal finance site:
- Click here to go the landing page.
- Click on the yellow "Sign up" button in the top, right-hand corner of your screen.
- Enter your name, email, and password in the designated boxes and then click on the yellow "Sign up" button. Make sure to use your legal name so the site can access your credit profile. If you have a common name, the site may prompt you to answer identifying questions from your credit report such as your current or previous employer and your current or previous car.
- You will also need to provide sensitive information such as your annual income and Social Security number on the site. But don't worry—the site uses bank safe security approved by VeriSign and McAfee so you can rest assured that your sensitive information will be secure
After a few months of using Credit Sesame, here are the things I’ve liked and disliked about the service, so far.
- The ability to instantly view my credit score and information from Experian (one of the three U.S. credit reporting agencies) for absolutely FREE! This was a welcome change from other "free" credit report companies that are hardly ever 100% free since they often require you to sign up for another paid service to receive your "free" credit score.
- Since I'm a visual person, I liked Credit Sesame's pie-chart representation of my credit to debt ratio. This pie-chart was an easy way for me to get a big picture idea of my financial health.
- Another great feature on the site is the "What if" device. Using this device, you can see what your financial life would be like if you had a better credit score, more equity in your home, or a higher annual income. This nifty little tool can be a great motivator!
- The site did not show my real-time credit balance. Instead, my credit balance was from when my credit card companies reported to the credit agencies at the billing cycle cut-off date.
- The site only shows your credit score from one credit agency (Experian). In order to know your true credit profile, you need to be able to see your credit score from all three credit reporting agencies.
- The financial "advice" offered on the site is pretty limited—after all, it is free. If you want truly custom and comprehensive financial advice, you'll probably have to pay for the services of a financial planner.