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Credit Sesame now offers its own branded checking account, Sesame Cash, which is designed to help you build credit using only a debit card. Credit Sesame does all the work in the background, creating your tradeline information and reporting it to the credit bureaus.

Sesame Cash allows you to build credit with a debit card. You set aside a part of your balance as a deposit, set your credit utilization, and Sesame Cash will choose purchases that fit your credit utilization and report them to the three major credit bureaus. There’s no cost.

Sesame Cash

3.9 out of 5

If you have bad credit or a thin credit profile that prevents you from obtaining traditional unsecured credit cards and loans, then Sesame Cash could be a useful resource for helping you repair or establish your credit. It’s free to use so you’ve got nothing to lose.

Cost
5 out of 5
Effectiveness
4 out of 5
Support
3.5 out of 5
Ease of Use
3 out of 5

Pros

It's Free.

Reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.

Pre-set credit utilization rate.

No late payments.

Cash incentives for improving your credit.

Cons

Some users report setup problems or delays with cash transfers into their accounts.

You must contact customer service to remove your deposit.

What is Sesame Cash?

Sesame Cash is a relatively new service offered by Credit Sesame, a credit monitoring company that has been around since 2011.

The Sesame Cash account marries Credit Sesame’s credit monitoring service with a checking account that builds credit in much the same way that a secured credit card would. Unlike a secured credit card, there is no credit check and no security deposit. 

You can even pre-set your own credit utilization rate, assuring that you will keep this key part of your credit score at an optimal level.

Credit Sesame does all the work in gathering and compiling information to report to the credit bureau. The account will appear as a revolving credit tradeline on your credit report.

Sesame Cash gives you access to your credit score and offers unique cash incentives for improving your credit score. 

Sesame Cash home page

⚠️ As with other credit-building products, the impact that Sesame Cash will have on your credit score will depend on what else is in your credit history. Credit Sesame offers no guarantee that this account will have a positive impact on your score and there are no consumer reviews quoting specific credit score increases. 

How Does Sesame Cash Work?

Sesame Cash works a bit like a credit card, but one where you make most of the decisions. You will set your own credit limit and credit utilization. You can’t run up large debts and you won’t pay interest. 

How To Setup A Sesame Cash Account

  1. You will first need to download the app and set up a Credit Sesame account. This includes filling out basic information to prove your identity. 
  2. Once set up you’ll need to enroll in Sesame Cash and fund your account. You can transfer as little as $1 into the account and you can even have your paycheck directly deposited into your account. 
  3. You’ll need to allocate cash towards your credit line. This cash becomes a refundable security deposit.
  4. Then you’ll need to set your preferred utilization rate. The ideal credit utilization rate is less than 10%

That’s it. There is no credit check.

How to Use A Sesame Cash Account

Once your account is set up you can begin using your debit card as you normally would. You can swipe for purchases anywhere that Mastercard is accepted. 

Credit Sesame looks through the purchases you make each month and gathers a group together that adds up to less than your utilization rate.

👉 For Example

If you have set your credit limit of $500 and your utilization rate at 10%, Credit Sesame would look for small purchases that together total up to $50 or less.

This becomes your balance for the month.

Since your purchases are already paid for using your debit card, Credit Sesame reports them as paid, building your payment history.

This payment history, balance, and credit limit are reported to the three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – each month. 

How to Close A Sesame Cash Account

To close your Sesame Cash account, you’ll need to withdraw your security deposit (the money you allocated for your credit limit). 

While you can add cash to your security deposit at any time through the app or website, you’ll need to call customer service to initiate a withdrawal, even if you’re only withdrawing part of your money. 

Withdrawing your security deposits closes the credit building part of this account, but your checking account will remain open. 

Additional Sesame Cash Features

The Sesame Cash account is geared towards building credit but it has a whole host of other features.

  • Refreshed credit score daily – daily refresh of your TransUnion VantageScore 3.0. This can help you keep track of changes to your credit profile and how each change impacts your credit score. You must make a minimum deposit every 30 days to maintain this feature.
  • Earn money for improving your credit score – Sesame Cash currently offers $10 a month for a credit score increase of 10+ points and $100 for a credit score increase of 100+ points in a 30-day cycle. This offer is temporary and could be removed at any time.
  • Earn cash back at select merchants – select cashback offers from a revolving list of stores and brands.
  • Get your paycheck sooner – There are no fees or processing delays, so you could receive your paycheck up to 2 days sooner.

Overall, Sesame Cash offers much of the convenience of a credit card without the risks or the need for a credit check when you apply.

Sesame Cash cash back merchants

How Much Does Sesame Cash Cost?

Sesame Cash is 100% free. You will never be charged any kind of monthly maintenance fee, foreign transaction fee, etc. You can draw cash out of your account for free at one of over 55,000 ATMs worldwide. 

The only time you might encounter fees would be for using an out-of-network ATM.

To use the credit reporting feature you will need to put up a security deposit. The amount is up to you and will determine your credit limit. 

☝️ Credit Sesame is able to offer this feature for free as they earn money from their credit monitoring subscription service and through credit product referrals (i.e. credit card recommendations). 

Sesame Cash Customer Reviews 

Credit Sesame offers multiple services in addition to Sesame Cash, such as credit monitoring, free credit scores, credit card recommendations, and more. 

Their overall rating for all of these services is pretty high. They have a 4.8 out of 5 on the Apple app store and a 4.4 out of 5 on the Consumer Affairs website. 

The reviews specifically for the Sesame Cash feature are much more mixed. 

Users generally seem to see the setup process for the account as simple and easy, as this review from Consumer Affairs reflects. 

Sesame Cash positive user review

But while account setup appears to be easy, many individuals have encountered issues transferring or direct depositing money into their Sesame Cash accounts. 

Here is an example from Consumer Affairs.

And here is another one from the Android App store. 

Sesame Cash user review complaining about a blocked account

Even those who have been able to successfully use the account have concerns about the delays with transfers and deposits. 

Sesame Cash mixed user review

Looking at these reviews as a whole it seems like the Sesame Cash account is easy to set up, and can work, but there might be a few kinks for Credit Sesame to work out on their still relatively new credit building checking account. 

Sesame Cash Alternatives

If you are looking to build credit, but either can’t qualify for a traditional unsecured credit card or prefer to stick to using cash/debit for all of your purchases, there are other products/services out there that can help you build credit. 

From checking accounts with credit building features to debit cards that work like credit cards, you have options. 

Below are 3 of these products along with a summary of their features, fees, and eligibility requirements.

Chime Credit Builder GrainExtra
RequirementsRequires Chime checking accountLinked bank accountLinked bank account
Unique FeaturesDoesn’t report credit utilizationUse your existing debit cardEarn rewards
FeesNone15% + APR and 1% transfer fee$12 – $16 a month
Security DepositNoneDepends on credit limit, not required for most costumersNone
Ease of ApprovalNo credit checkNo credit checkNo credit check
Reports toExperian, Equifax, TransUnionExperian, Equifax, TransUnionEquifax, Experian
Read ReviewRead ReviewRead Review

Before applying, be aware that not all of these products build credit in the same way. Some products don’t report utilization. That means you can put as much spending as you want through them, but they may have less impact on your score. 

Also, not all products report to all three credit bureaus, so be on the lookout for this as well. 

Is Sesame Cash Worth It?

Sesame Cash won’t be a good fit for everyone. 

If you have bad credit or a thin credit profile that prevents you from obtaining traditional unsecured credit cards and loans, then Sesame Cash could be a useful resource for helping you repair or establish your credit. 

And the credit score updates, credit building incentives, and cashback earning potential are all pretty big bonuses. 

There are two ideal candidates for this account.

  • Someone with poor credit and a high revolving credit utilization rate. In this case, the tool for setting your own credit limit and utilization rate could be very beneficial to your credit score. 
  • Someone with no credit score or a very thin credit file. The account is available with no credit check and will place a revolving credit tradeline on your credit record.

What makes Sesame Cash stand out is that there’s no cost, beyond tying up some of your money as a refundable deposit, and very little risk. You can’t make late payments, run your credit utilization too high, or run up high-interest debt. 

The impact of a Sesame Cash account on your credit is hard to predict, but there’s not much to lose from trying.

💡 If you qualify for an unsecured credit card and you have the discipline to manage it effectively, you can get the same positive impact without a deposit, which for many people would be a better option.

👉 Remember that building credit takes time, and many people will need to use more than one credit-building method. If you’re starting with a revolving credit account like a Sesame Cash account, consider adding to your credit mix with a credit-builder loan, or another installment loan.

How We Rated Sesame Cash

We rate credit-building products by comparing their key features with those of similar products. These products are rarely identical, so you’ll need to compare closely to determine what best fits your needs.

These are the criteria we used here.

Effectiveness

It’s never possible to accurately predict the impact of a new account on your credit score. A person with a thin credit file will see a greater impact than a person with an extensive credit record.

We ranked Sesame Cash as relatively effective because it reports to all three credit bureaus, maintains credit utilization at your desired rate, and eliminates the possibility of late payments. 

Ease of Use

Different users often have different experiences with a product. New products may have glitches that mar some users’ experiences. Some other users may have difficulty with products they don’t fully understand. We rank ease of use with an assessment of procedures and a cross-section of reported user reviews.

We dropped a point for Sesame Cash for the requirement that you contact customer service to withdraw your deposit. 

Cost

Credit Sesame is free, and may even reward you for improving your credit. You can’t get cheaper than that!

Support

Nothing works perfectly all the time, and when things go wrong you want to know you can get them made right. Support scores are based on reported user experiences.