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Credit Karma is a great service for anyone wanting to start their credit journey. This truly free service gives you access to free credit scores and credit reports, allows you to monitor your credit, do your taxes for free and more.
Digital Honey rated Credit Karma as the “Best Credit Monitoring App”. Read on below to see why.
Credit Karma Features
Free Credit Score and Credit Reports
While there are many free credit score apps and platforms out there, Credit Karma is perhaps one of the best known. When it comes to offering free credit scores and credit reports, Credit Karma has made a name for themselves and it is easy to see why.
When you become a Credit Karma member you will be able to see your TransUnion credit score and Equifax credit score along with your credit reports.
Not only are your credit scores provided, but you can easily look at the different factors that impact your credit scores and how your credit history compares.
For example, in the platform different factors such as payment history, derogatory marks, and credit age are assigned either a high, medium, or low impact and you can view the details on each to better understand the factors and what may be hurting or helping your scores.
You can also view your two credit scores over time to see how your actions have impacted your scores. This is particularly helpful if you are trying to improve your credit score and want to see how things have changed.
Credit Monitoring and Credit Check Alerts
Credit Karma gives you free credit scores and reports, and also helps you monitor your credit. It sends you alerts when there are changes to your credit report or to accounts that appear on your credit reports.
You can turn these alerts on or off by going into your Credit Karma Profile & Settings. Within that section, you can also choose how you want to be notified.
Keeping an eye on your credit reports is extremely important. If there is incorrect information on one of your credit reports it can affect your credit score and in turn your ability to access financing. The sooner you catch mistakes, dispute them, and resolve them the better,
There is no time limit on how long you have to dispute a mistake on your credit reports, but wrong information may affect your credit scores, so you want to correct them as soon as possible.
Credit Cards and Loans
Credit cards and loans– including personal loans, auto loans, and home mortgages– are a big part of the Credit Karma platform as they make money from loan issuers and credit card lenders when users accept one of their offers.
As credit cards and loans make the company money, they try to use user profile information to provide the best offers to customers. These targeted offers can be helpful if you aren’t sure what cards are a good fit for you, but they can also lead to borrowing when you don’t need to.
Outside of credit card and loan offers, Credit Karma can also help you understand whether refinancing your mortgage or auto loan makes sense, and how a new credit card or loan could impact you and your credit scores.
Whether you are shopping for a credit card or loan, or just want to better understand your refinancing options, or how a new credit card or loan will affect your scores, Credit Karma has great resources.
Other Features and Perks
As a Credit Karma user there are additional features and perks you will have access to, all for free. These include:
- Identity monitoring and tips on how to protect yourself from identity theft
- Credit Karma Tax: now known as Cash App Taxes
- A free way to file your taxes
- Credit Karma Money
- A free savings account
- The Credit Karma savings account is through MVB Bank, Inc and offers a .5% APY along with no fees.
- Credit Karma Money Spend
- A free checking account and a debit card
- If you get their debit card and use it you could win Instant Karma when you use the card and have a chance to be reimbursed with Credit Karma Money.
- Credit Score Simulator
- See how certain actions could impact your credit scores
- Help you find unclaimed money
- Calculators for auto loans, personal loans, mortgages, credit cards, and more
- Insights and articles on a range of financial topics
If I’m Getting My Credit Report And Credit Score For Free, How Does Credit Karma Make Its Money?
Credit Karma makes its money through offers to Credit Karma users. While Credit Karma doesn’t sell your information to third parties they do use your data and information to make personalized recommendations.
If you click through and accept one of these recommendations, such as a credit card or loan, Credit Karma will usually receive money from the company whose offer you have accepted.
Credit Karma tries to find financial partners that align with their values and will help Credit Karma members, all while also using your information to make recommendations in the hopes that you will pursue one.
Is Your Credit Karma Score Accurate?
Your Credit Karma score will be accurate if the information in your credit report is accurate. Credit Karma uses VantageScore and only pulls your TransUnion and Equifax credit scores.
VantageScore is one of the two main companies that creates credit scores. FICO is the other.
If you noticed differences between these scores and other credit scores, such as your Experian FICO credit score it can be due to the credit report being used and the difference in scoring models.
Overall, the credit scores you get from Credit Karma should be in the same general range as other scores from the same bureau.
This doesn’t mean that one of your scores isn’t accurate. If there is a large discrepancy between your scores from one source to another, you should review your full credit reports to see if there are mistakes you need to dispute.
Remember, your activity will impact your credit scores. So, if your score drops a few points don’t panic. That’s normal. Just keep an eye on your credit scores and continue exercising best practices when it comes to managing your credit cards and loans.
FICO vs. VantageScore: Which Is Better?
FICO and VantageScore essentially work the same. Each one pulls information from a major credit bureau, assigns a weight to it, and uses their formula to create a credit score. This credit score is credit bureau specific.
With that being said, FICO is better because it is used by lenders more often. Most lenders won’t check your Vantagescore when you are applying for a loan or credit card.
On a day-to-day basis, your VantageScore should be pretty close to your FICO score. So it gives you a general idea of how good your credit is.
However, if you are looking to apply for a major loan, like a house or car, then you should probably check your FICO scores first. VantageScores can be 30 points different from FICO scores – which is significant.
The real difference between the two, outside of how they are viewed by lenders, is in how they weight information.
Factors that are in both scores include:
- Payment history
- Amounts owed
- Credit history length
- New credit
- Credit mix
FICO and VantageScore have different versions, and each may weigh factors a little bit differently, but for the most part, those are the factors you are going to see.
Where Credit Karma Falls Short
You Don’t See Your FICO Score
The credit scores you see in the platform are your TransUnion VantageScore and your Equifax VantageScore.
Some lenders will use FICO scores and that means the score you see elsewhere may be somewhat different than the score you see in your Credit Karma account.
Generally, that’s not a problem unless you are trying to get a mortgage. In that case, lenders almost always use FICO scores.
That’s why it is important to look at your FICO score and check your Experian credit score as well as the credit scores shown in Credit Karma.
Your Credit Karma Score Doesn’t Show The Whole Picture
Since Credit Karma doesn’t show you an Experian credit score, there could be additional information that you’re missing.
For example, a lender may check your Experian credit score as the result of a fraudulent application, and unless you are monitoring your credit with Experian you wouldn’t know.
Also it doesn’t show a FICO score and that is often the score that a lender or financial institution is going to look at to make an important decision such as giving you a mortgage or auto loan.
Due to the fact that you are only seeing your TransUnion and Equifax credit scores on Credit Karma, you may think you don’t qualify for a particular loan when in fact your FICO score is high enough (or vice versa).
Make sure you monitor your credit scores with all three credit bureaus so you have a complete picture.
Credit Karma May Encourage Borrowing
Perhaps the greatest negative of Credit Karma is its financial structure. While they do not sell your personal information, they do use it to make targeted suggestions. Some suggest this targeted model encourages unnecessary borrowing.
It is hard to know if unnecessary borrowing is happening as a result of this service. But it is important to remember that you should never get a credit card or loan without a specific purpose. You should also make sure you:
- Know the interest rate
- Can afford the payments
- Will make payments on time
Credit Karma is a great, free way to monitor your credit score and changes on your credit reports.
Like any service, Credit Karma does have its limitations, so you may need to supplement it with other services to make sure you have a complete understanding of your credit reports and your different credit scores.
Is It Safe To Use Credit Karma?
Yes, Credit Karma is safe. Here is why:
• They have 128-bit encryption
• Two-factor authentication available
• They don’t permanently store your data
• They don’t sell your data or personal information to third parties
• They don’t require a credit card
• You only input the last four of your social security number
Is It Bad To Check Credit Karma Often?
No. Credit Karma uses soft credit inquiries to show you your credit reports, which means it won’t show up on credit reports used by lenders.
Outside of getting a free credit report there isn’t much on Credit Karma that would show up on your credit report, besides a credit card or a loan.
Does Credit Karma Ruin Your Credit?
No. The only way that you could ruin your credit score is if you use it to abuse credit cards or loans.
If you take out lots of credit cards and loans or even a single credit card or loan and do not make your payments you will hurt your credit score.
Is Credit Karma Worth Using?
Yes. Credit Karma is definitely worth using.
They offer lots of tools to help you monitor your credit for free, they don’t sell Credit Karma user data, and their services won’t hurt your credit scores, unless you abuse the credit cards or loans you get through them.
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Sydney Englund is a horse crazy girl who loves to travel. After graduating with a degree in Finance and Economics she decided to put the two together and pursue a Masters degree abroad in Financial Economics. When not outdoors she loves to bargain hunt and find ways to make her money go further.