One of the biggest tools you have in your financial portfolio is your credit score. Whether you’re applying for a car loan, looking to open a new credit card account, or even trying to rent an apartment, your credit score can – and most likely will – play a role in whether you get the loan you want or are rejected.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act, passed in 2004, gives consumers a legal route to monitor and make corrections to their credit reports. Over the years, there have been plenty of companies that promise to give you this information for free. (Are you humming the jingle yet?) And yes, while a trial membership to many of these websites can get you the free service, you will be charged – either on a monthly or annual basis – once the trial period is over.

Credit Sesame

A friend of mine recently recommended I check out Credit Sesame. Featured in The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, and The Today Show, Credit Sesame is an absolutely free service. Yes, I said free and I meant free. It took me a full 20 minutes to do so, but I read all the fine print on the site’s terms of use and privacy policy. When you sign up for a Credit Sesame account, the site promises not to release or sell your information to a third party. Likewise, the site does not store your Social Security number – which you will need to provide if you want to obtain your Experian credit score – on any of its servers. I was also pleased with the steps the site takes to ensure information like your name and contact information are protected, including routine server maintenance, enhanced encryption, and background checks for its employees.

Credit Sesame partners with different lenders and credit card companies to offer you products and services specifically tailored to your wants and lifestyle. It’s these partnerships that allow Credit Sesame to provide its services at no cost to you. The site does require that you sign up for one financial “goal” – something like refinancing a house, applying for a car loan, or a new mortgage – but since my husband and I are in the house hunting process anyway, I was more than happy to let Credit Sesame do some of the loan legwork for me. You can unsubscribe at any time, either on the Credit Sesame website or by emailing the company.

My Credit Score

Of course, the main reason I signed up with Credit Sesame was to find my credit score. After supplying my personal information – and answering several personal questions pertaining to my credit history – I was able to view my Experian credit score in under five minutes. The result? 794! Since anything over 750 is considered excellent, I was thrilled to know that going into the mortgage loan application process that lenders would see that I’m a good candidate for a loan. I was so pleased with my experience on Credit Sesame that I had my husband sign up for an account. His credit score of 778 is a nice complement to my own, ensuring that together we’ve got what it takes to ultimately be approved for a home loan at a low interest rate.

From here on out, Credit Sesame will provide me with free monthly updates of my Experian credit score. Now, if you know much about credit scores, you know that Experian is one of just three credit bureaus – Equifax and TransUnion being the other two. Usually, these scores are sympatico, but not always; although my Experian score is nice and high, problems on either of my other credit reports could derail my mortgage application.

Reader, which service or services do you use to track your credit score?

Libby Balke

Libby Balke