If you’re looking for a free way to find out your credit score, look no further than these three websites – Quizzle.com, CreditKarma.com, and CreditSesame.com. Although they offer similar services, each site has its own nuances and unique perks.
But before we get into an analysis of each service, it’s important to understand that the credit score you receive from free credit score services is not based on the FICO scoring model. Instead, you’ll receive a credit score based on models developed by the credit reporting agencies. In my experience, these scores are very similar to your FICO score. The benefit of these services, as you’ll see, is that they help you improve your score at no cost.
With that information in mind, let’s take a look at all three free credit monitoring services.
Like Quizzle and Credit Karma, Credit Sesame provides you with free credit monitoring without the need for a credit card on file. Similar to Quizzle, Credit Sesame provides single bureau credit monitoring. However, the site offers you a free credit score on a monthly basis and tools that can help you monitor your credit. You can also sign up for daily monitoring alerts that inform you of daily changes to your score or credit profile.
The credit score you’ll get through Credit Sesame is called the Experian National Equivalency Score. Unlike the VantageScore, the National Equivalency Score is not commonly used by lenders, though it is available to them. Scores offered through this method vary from 360 to 840, compared to 300 to 850 for FICO scores.
In addition to offering a free credit score, Credit Sesame also offers suggestions and advice that could help you improve your score over time.
Here are some of the other benefits offered for free through Credit Sesame:
- Free Identity Theft Protection – When you sign up for the site, you get $50,000 in identity theft insurance and fraud resolution assistance.
- Mobile Apps – Credit Sesame offers a mobile app that allow you to access the same information and tools that are available on the website using your iPhone or Android mobile device.
- The Best Rates Available – Credit Sesame will help you find the best rates available on personal loans, investment accounts, and auto insurance policies.
- Credit Card Suggestions – Using information provided in your credit profile, Credit Sesame is able to suggest balance transfer and rewards offers that might benefit you.
Quizzle gives you a free credit report every six months, and they don’t even require you to put a credit card on file. Along with your free credit report, Quizzle also provides you with a free credit score.
Unlike other sites, however, Quizzle provides provides you with a VantageScore – a credit scoring process that was developed jointly by Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, and is widely used by lenders. There are differences in how the two models calculate scores.
For example, VantageScore uses a different numeric score range, from 501 to 990, compared to 300 to 850 used by FICO. VantageScore also requires a much shorter credit history than FICO, making it more likely to generate a score for people with very little credit. Furthermore, VantageScore assigns a hierarchy to late payments while FICO treats them all the same. For example, with VantageScore, a late mortgage payment will hurt you more than a late credit card payment.
In addition to the free credit report and credit score, Quizzle also provides the following Credit Builder tools:
- Credit Comparison – This feature helps you understand the factors that cause your credit score to change.
- Credit Timeline – This feature uses charts and graphs to illustrate how your credit score fluctuates over time.
- Credit Trending – This tool tracks the direction of your credit; that can include the direction of your credit score, credit utilization, and your available credit.
- Score Analysis – This feature analyzes your credit score and suggests ways to improve it.
If you want to pay for their services, Quizzle also offers packages with wider benefits. The Quizzle Pro Plan, for example, provides you with a monthly credit report, credit score update, and 24/7 monitoring for $8 per month.
Meanwhile, Quizzle Pro+ offers everything that the Pro version has in addition to public records monitoring, sex offender monitoring, lost wallet protection, and tri-bureau dispute resolution for an extra $15 per month.
Under ordinary circumstances, the free version will probably meet your needs quite well. However, if you are trying to build your credit or want to monitor changes to your credit more closely, you may want to consider one of their paid services.
Credit Karma offers a free credit monitoring service that makes it easy to access your scores and credit reports at any time. In addition to a free estimated credit score, you can also sign up for free automatic credit alerts, email alerts when important changes occur, and identity theft tracking and protection.
The following features are also offered through your free Credit Karma membership:
- A Home Affordability Calculator
- A Debt Repayment Calculator
- A Simple Loan Calculator
- An Amortization Calculator
- A Credit Score Simulator
Unlike Quizzle, Credit Karma tracks your credit using information from two of the three credit reporting agencies, TransUnion and Equifax. Once again, Credit Karma does not provide your actual FICO score. The site doesn’t say which score they use, but a search of other sites suggests that they use either VantageScore or TransUnion’s New Account score. As of early 2015, they also added a score from Equifax.
Which Credit Monitoring Service is Best?
If you’re trying to decide which site to use for your free credit score, you should know that you don’t have to pick just one. If you want all of the perks that these services offer, you can easily sign up for all three.
The most important thing to remember is that your credit score matters. Whether you use just one site or all three, it’s crucial that you stay on top of your score. Since all three of these sites offer this important information for free, you have no excuse not to sign up for at least one of them.
What’s your opinion? Have you used any of these three free credit monitoring services? If so, which would you recommend?