Credit Karma vs. Credit Sesame vs. CreditWise: Best Free Credit Monitoring

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Credit Karma vs. Credit Sesame vs. CreditWise

In the wake of data breaches that seem to be happening all the time, credit monitoring services have become extremely popular. Credit monitoring can also help you to keep track of your credit score to work towards pulling yourself out of debt or repairing damaged credit.

However, trying to decide what service fits your exact needs can be a challenge. So, here we’ll compare three of the most popular; Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, and CreditWise.

Whether you just want to see your credit score quickly or whether you are looking for on-going credit monitoring for free, all three have something to offer.

Credit Karma Overview

Credit Karma

Credit Karma is designed to offer credit scores and tools to help you better manage your money. It is an excellent tool to better understand your credit report and score. While the service is free, you will need to be prepared for ads, which is how Credit Karma makes its money.

Credit Karma can be used to track your credit score as it updates monthly, showing the factors that help or hurt your credit score. It provides you with detailed information on your credit report in one place. The website also allows you to benefit from credit card guidance, savings account advice, and other financial resources. However, unlike other credit report sites, there are two differences with Credit Karma; there is no monthly trial membership, it is totally free, and you are given a credit report card. This report outlines your credit report categories based on Equifax and TransUnion data.

Credit Karma offers far more than just a credit score. You will see your TransUnion credit score, your Equifax credit score, credit factors, and credit reports. Credit Karma also allows you to connect your credit cards and bank accounts to track your spending and plan your budget.

Credit Karma also features a credit score simulator tool that helps you to understand how events affect your credit score. For example, you can check how applying for a new credit card will impact your score. This can be handy if you have plans to refinance or apply for another type of loan. You can also search for unclaimed money that may belong to you. You can search by state to conduct your online search.

Sign up for Credit Karma here.

Using Credit Karma

After you log into your Credit Karma account, you will be directed to the personal dashboard that shows an immediate credit summary. This does not provide you with your official FICO score, but does provide scores from Equifax and TransUnion. This will provide you with a good idea of your true FICO score. You can also see differences between the data each bureau receives.

You will also see the factors that affect your credit score, including inquiries, credit use, reported delinquencies, and collections. This will allow you to check for any discrepancies and report them.

There are additional dashboard tabs; there are sections and features with lots of information on savings, loans, credit, and other financial topics.

Get Your Credit Score for Free from Credit Karma Get Your Credit Score for Free from Credit Karma
With a free Credit Karma account, you can see your credit score at any time and you'll also be notified any time there is an important change on your credit report.

Credit Karma Pros:

  • Credit Karma is totally free
  • Easy to use dashboard

Credit Karma Cons

  • No FICO score
  • Uses ads

Sign up for Credit Karma here.

Credit Sesame Overview

Credit Sesame

Credit Sesame focuses on consumer lending and credit, helping their customers to learn more about managing their own credit. When you sign up with Credit Sesame, you have access to a variety of services, including a monthly credit score. This provides you with an idea of your current credit score, and the factors that impact it, so you can check back to see how any changes you make impact your score. Credit Sesame also has an app that allows you to check your credit score on the go.

Credit Sesame will also provide recommendations for different credit-related products, such as credit cards. The system analyzes your financial habits to determine the products that will work well for you. Companies use Credit Sesame to showcase their services and products, and they can be targeted to customers who have the appropriate credit score and financial habits.

There is a recommendations page that breaks down credit cards into categories based on your perceived needs. This may include cashback credit cards or ones offering zero percent interest introductory periods.

The recommendations feature a quick breakdown of each card, explaining the interest rate, fees, and any promotions. Any cards that Credit Sesame thinks that you have a good chance for qualifying will be highlighted. This will help you to find new cards that fit with your habits. You can save time and potential credit score points by avoiding the cards that you won’t qualify for and concentrate on the cards that you have the best chance of getting.

Credit Sesame will also recommend other types of products to match you to lenders, including personal lenders, mortgage lenders, and auto lenders. You can even get guidance on the banks that offer the best interest rates, creating a one-stop shop for your credit-related questions.

You can also upgrade from the basic, free membership, to one of three levels of premium service. Advanced Credit allows daily credit monitoring, and you can check your credit report at all the credit bureaus. Pro Credit provides access to a live expert if you have any queries, while Platinum Protection provides Social Security number monitoring and other services to help identify theft, such as monitoring black market websites and public records.

Sign up for Credit Sesame here.

Using Credit Sesame

Credit Sesame is easy to use with a dashboard to help navigate your account, recommendations, and premium services. All you need to get started is an email address and to answer a short questionnaire. You’ll also be asked some multiple-choice questions to confirm your identity. This is to ensure that you’re not trying to get information on someone else’s credit report. Once you’ve confirmed everything, you will be prompted to create your password and directed to the account dashboard.

The dashboard is where you will see your credit score information. You will see a numerical score on the top of the screen, between 300 and 850. Your credit report will be broken down into your credit usage, payment history, account mix, credit age, and credit inquiries. You can click on each of these areas to check the factors that influence your rating. This can help you to check that all the details of your credit report are accurate. If an incorrect entry shows up or you see someone else’s account, you will know to contact the relevant company or credit bureau.

Credit Sesame Pros:

  • One dashboard allows you to track your finances
  • Protection against identity theft
  • Help to improve your credit score
  • Free credit score check
  • Compatible app to monitor your score on the go

Credit Sesame Cons:

  • Premium membership required for some services

Sign up for Credit Sesame here.

CreditWise Overview


CreditWise is a Capital One credit report monitoring tool. It has been around since 2014. Although many people thought it was exclusively for Capital One customers, this is not the case. In fact, you don’t need a Capital One account; you just need to be over the age of eighteen and have a social security number.

CreditWise will provide you with a copy of your credit report that you can check at your leisure. This does not include the free copies you can obtain through the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This credit report is better organized than many other versions. It will provide you with a full list of your report, but also identify new or changed items. You will also see any negative or disputed items.

If you do see an error, you will need to dispute the error directly with the credit bureau. CreditWise also has an interesting alert system. This can include appearances of your email address on the “Dark Web” or other potential breaches to your identity security.

The CreditWise score simulator helps you to see how your score could change if you took proactive measures such as paying off credit card debt, making payments on time, opening new cards, canceling older cards, transferring balances, or increasing credit limits. You can play around to see how the different factors will impact your score.

CreditWise provides a useful tool to monitor your credit. It is a no brainer if you’re already a Capital One customer, but it can also be helpful if you have no dealings with this financial institution.

Signup for CreditWise here.

Using CreditWise

To gain access to CreditWise, you just need to sign up on the site. If you already have a Capital One account, you can use your account details to register, and it will populate most of the data automatically. However, if you don’t hold an account, you will need to supply your personal information. This does not constitute an offer of credit, as it is a soft pull and won’t impact your credit score.

CreditWise has an attractive dashboard and shows you the biggest credit factors on one screen. This includes on-time payments, oldest credit line, recent inquiries, new accounts, credit used, and available credit. Each of these factors will also have ideas and recommendations to help you make improvements. For example, your oldest account may not be old enough compared to people with a similar credit profile, so you will need to continue to manage your account responsibly and keep the balance as low as possible. These insights can help you to make positive changes

CreditWise Pros

  • Attractive dashboard that is easy to use
  • Allows you to explore the factors that influence your credit rating
  • Can auto-fill your data from your Capital One account

CreditWise Cons

  • Does not provide credit reports of all bureaus

Sign up for CreditWise here.

Which One is Best For You?

Each of these platforms has its own advantages and potential downsides. While Credit Karma is completely free to use, you will need to be prepared to put up with ads. However, it does offer a fairly comprehensive service that includes a credit score simulator that allows you to see the impact of changes on your credit score. For example, you can see if increasing your card limit affects your score. This can be very helpful if you’re planning some big financial decisions in the future, such as refinancing your home. This credit score simulator is not available on all credit monitoring services, but it is a feature on CreditWise and Credit Sesame.

CreditWise is a great tool, but if you don’t already have a Capital One account, you may be reluctant to involve another financial institution. Capital One customers will find that the CreditWise tool will use your account details to automatically prefill much of your financial information, which can save time. However, if you’re not a Capital One customer, you will still need to enter all of your information. Additionally, CreditWise only uses TransUnion credit rating data, so it may not provide a complete picture of your financial situation.

Credit Sesame does offer a more comprehensive service, but you may need to upgrade from the basic free plan to gain access to the features you need. The basic plan does provide you with decent credit monitoring for free, but the upgrades do take this to a superb level. The upgraded plans allow you to check your scores will all the credit bureaus for a more comprehensive picture of your credit. This can also help you to locate any errors to report them and have them removed from your credit report. The top tier Credit Sesame plans also provide greater support to protect against identity theft, which can be very reassuring if you’re concerned about this growing crime trend. This does make Credit Sesame a fantastic tool that will appeal to anyone looking to improve their credit profile.

All three of these tools are free to sign up and use, so you don’t need to struggle with your decision. Signing up does not impact your credit score, as they all use a soft pull to access your credit information. So, it is possible to sign up and try them all to see which one is best suited to your requirements. This can allow you to explore the features and tools to determine whether the platform can help you to make positive changes to your credit score.

READ NEXT: 7 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score Fast

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