Credit monitoring services such as Credit Karma and Credit Sesame enjoy widespread popularity these days, but which one is better?
If you’re in debt and working to pull yourself out of it or if you’re concerned about identity theft, choosing the best site to monitor your credit is an important part of your financial journey.
We’ve spent a lot of time with both Credit Karma and Credit Sesame. Here’s what we’ve learned.
Credit Karma vs. Credit Sesame Comparison: What’s the Difference?
Credit Karma and Credit Sesame are the two most popular free credit monitoring services out there. The sites have similar offerings, but they’re not identical.
About Credit Karma
Credit Karma launched in San Francisco in 2007, and Intuit purchased the company in 2020. With more than 100 million subscribers, Credit Karma is the largest free credit monitoring service in the United States.
The primary draw of Credit Karma is that it’s free to access your credit score any time you want to see it. However, there is so much more to the site than that: resources for your car, tax preparation and even a high-yield savings account.
About Credit Sesame
Credit Sesame is also free to join, and the company says it has “already helped millions of users improve their credit scores, increase their approval odds, lower the cost of credit and save money.”
Credit Sesame’s membership totals around 17 million according to the company’s website. The Mountain View, California-based company launched in 2010.
Both Credit Sesame and Credit Karma offer you unlimited free access to your credit scores whenever you like, but there are some differences between the two.
What Are the Differences Between Credit Karma and Credit Sesame?
Neither site requires a credit card to sign up, although Credit Sesame offers premium membership levels that charge monthly for some features (more on that later).
Since they offer credit scores for free, you might be wondering how these sites make money. Both sites get paid by their advertising partners.
Using an algorithm based on your credit profile and income, they make credit card, loan and insurance recommendations to members. If someone follows through and signs up for one, the site makes money.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of free services offered by Credit Karma and Credit Sesame:
|Credit Karma||Credit Sesame|
|Credit scores from TransUnion & Equifax||Credit score from TransUnion|
|Credit reports from TransUnion & Equifax||Credit report card from TransUnion|
|Credit monitoring||Credit monitoring|
|Identity monitoring||Identity theft protection & insurance|
|High-yield savings account and fee-free checking account||Fee-free checking account|
|Auto value, DMV and auto recall information|
|Unclaimed money finder|
As you can see, Credit Karma offers a much more comprehensive suite of products, including:
- Auto value, recall info and more: Through the site’s Auto Hub, you can:
- See the balance on an auto loan you may have
- Check to see if refinancing your auto loan could save you money
- See the current estimated value of your vehicle
- See any current recalls for your car
- Check auto insurance rates for someone with your profile
- Unclaimed money finder: Credit Karma provides a resource for people to find unclaimed money. (Clark.com also provides help with this.)
Credit Karma vs. Credit Sesame: Is One Free Service Better Than the Other?
Unlike Credit Karma, Credit Sesame offers a paid premium membership for $15.99 per month.
Here’s a look at what the company’s website says paying for Premium will get you.
Money expert Clark Howard does not recommend signing up for a premium membership, because in most cases, there are other ways to access these reports for free.
Clark’s Take: Credit Karma and Credit Sesame
Clark is a big fan of both Credit Karma and Credit Sesame, but gives the nod to the more robust offerings of Credit Karma.
“What’s fantastic about Credit Karma is their entire suite of free services,” he says. “You’re able to monitor your score, monitor your credit and know — before you even apply — the likelihood of you being approved for a loan.”
Another valuable protection Clark lives by is a credit freeze. He suggests that you sign up for free credit monitoring with either Credit Karma or Credit Sesame (or both) before you freeze your credit, as you may not be able to use those services without unfreezing your credit.
See Clark’s Credit Freeze (and Thaw) Guide for step-by-step instructions.