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MyFICO and Credit Karma are two of the most popular credit services. Their products both have different strengths and weaknesses.
What is Credit Karma & What Does It Offer?
Established in 2007, Credit Karma offers free credit scores and free credit monitoring to its customers.
Credit Karma pulls information from your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports. And the score they provide you with is your VantageScore 3.0. This score is refreshed weekly.
Credit Karma’s credit monitoring service comes with a variety of features. You will receive alerts and notifications of changes to your credit report as a part of your TransUnion credit monitoring. As Credit Karma puts it, this is a great tool to “help you spot identity theft”.
To further help with identity theft, Credit Karma offers identity monitoring. They will search for your information on the dark web and show you actionable steps to better protect yourself from potential identity theft. Also see our article Experian vs. Credit Karma for more information on the differences between Experian and Credit Karma.
Credit Karma also offers a variety of tools, calculators, and other resources to help you prepare for important financial milestones like buying a home or paying off student loans.
Credit Karma can offer all these services for free because they earn money from banks and lenders through referrals. Each Credit Karma customer will get customized suggestions for credit cards and loans that could help them build their credit history. For a more full review on Credit Karma, check out our article, Credit Karma Reviews.
These are just suggestions, and you are not obligated to apply for any of the offers they recommend.
What is MyFICO & What Does It Offer?
MyFICO offers a subscription-based credit score and credit monitoring service.
MyFICO also has three monthly plans that you can choose from as well as one-time credit report/score options.
As their name suggests, the score MyFICO is providing you with is your FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) score. The bureau pulled depends on your subscription.
If you select a single bureau option, you can choose which of the three major credit bureaus you would like to pull your report and score from: TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian.
If you select a three-bureau option, you will receive scores and reports for all three credit bureaus.
As a bonus, each credit bureau FICO score comes with a series of other industry-specific FICO scores. So, if you choose to receive just your Experian credit report and score, you will also get access to your Experian auto-lending credit scores, bankcard scores, and more.
In addition to the scores and reports, the MyFICO credit monitoring service will inform you when changes appear on your credit report(s), such as credit utilization increase/decrease, late payments, new accounts opening, and more.
There are also various other features that MyFICO provides with each subscription. These features vary slightly depending on the package you choose but can include: identity monitoring, credit score simulator, educational resources, and more. If you’d like to read more about myFICO, check out our MyFICO review.
MyFICO vs. Credit Karma: What’s the Difference?
Credit Karma and MyFICO offer similar services. They both provide consumers with their credit score, credit report, and alerts for changes to their credit (report and score).
But the two companies and the extent of what they provide are vastly different.
One company offers FICO scores, while the other gives you VantageScore credit scores. One provides their service for free, and the other charges you a fee.
Let’s take a look at three of the areas where the services between MyFICO and Credit Karma differ.
Credit Karma is free, and MyFICO charges you a fee.
But how can Credit Karma offer their services for free, and what does MyFICO charge? This is where things get a little more interesting.
MyFICO offers two different modes of obtaining your credit scores:
- Through a monthly subscription plan
- Or via a one-time purchase
Both of these models support a one-bureau option and a three-bureau option.
The one-time purchase of one report will set you back $19.95, while the three-bureau option will cost you $59.85.
The subscription-based service has three tiers:
- $19.95/month for one credit bureau with your score refreshed monthly.
- $29.95/month for three credit bureaus with your scores refreshed once every 3 months.
- $39.95/month for three credit bureaus with your scores refreshed monthly.
On one side, the one-time purchase option is cheaper overall, but the subscription model includes many more features, like updated credit scores, identity theft protection, and more.
In contrast, Credit Karma’s services are free. Instead, they make their money from referrals when a consumer opens a new credit card or loan that Credit Karma suggested for them.
The tradeoff with this free model is that their product suggestions can get a bit pushy or spammy. And if you take all of their new account suggestions, you’ll likely do more harm to your credit score than good.
There are some basic services that both companies, MyFICO and Credit Karma, offer. These include:
- Credit monitoring & alerts
- Identity monitoring
- Score simulator
- Educational resources
- An online community
But some services are unique to each of these companies.
Credit Karma, for instance, will refresh your credit scores weekly, while MyFICO will refresh them once a month (or once every three months).
On the flip side, while both companies offer identity monitoring, MyFICO takes this one step further.
$1 million in identity theft insurance is available for each consumer on one of MyFICO’s subscription plans. This includes identity restoration and lost wallet protection.
It is worth noting that the identity monitoring service is only available on the three-bureau subscription plans.
Another key difference is the number of credit scores each company provides.
Credit Karma offers two VantageScore 3.0 credit scores from TransUnion and Equifax, while MyFICO can provide you with all three of your base credit scores as well as a whole host of industry-specific credit scores.
There are two consumer credit scoring companies out there on the market, VantageScore and FICO. They each offer a different set of scoring models.
VantageScore is newer to the credit scoring scene. They were established in 2006 by the three major credit bureaus. However, while they make their scoring model available to lenders, few lenders or creditors have adopted their model yet.
FICO, on the other hand, has been around since 1956. They have the most widely accepted credit scoring model, FICO Score 8. FICO pretty much has a monopoly on the credit score industry, since 90% of major lenders user their credit scores.
They also offer a whole host of other industry-specific scoring models, like your Bankcard Score used by credit card issuers.
Credit Karma utilizes VantageScore, and more specifically, the VantageScore 3.0 model.
MyFICO utilizes your FICO scores. And not only do they provide you with their most commonly used model, your FICO 8 Score, they also give you access to all of your industry-specific credit scores, including:
- Scores used for auto loans
- Scores used for credit cards
- Scores used for mortgages
These extra scores are included in all of the packages they offer, including the one-time purchase options.
Which One is Better for You?
Why are you checking your credit score?
If you are looking to build credit history or just want to monitor your score better to protect yourself from identity theft, we recommend going with Credit Karma.
Credit Karma offers you all the tools you need to improve your credit. With their credit monitoring service, you can track changes to your score over time, and with their score simulator, you can predict what impact financial changes will have on your credit score.
And the wealth of information available in their blog and online community can help you learn more about credit.
For those just looking to avoid identity theft, Credit Karma’s identity monitoring and credit monitoring services are more than sufficient enough to give you an early warning of any fraudulent activity.
But, if you are checking your credit because you are getting ready to make a large purchase like buying a home or new car, then knowing your FICO score will matter.
Why? Because this is the score that lenders use. And you’ll likely want access to all three credit bureau scores as many lenders will pull all three and average them together.
And in the case of fraud, you can easily freeze your credit and utilize MyFICO’s identity protection and restoration service
Why is My FICO Score Different than Credit Karma?
Credit Karma does not use your FICO score. Instead, they use a VantageScore 3.0.
This FICO alternative, often called a FAKO score, is actually a legitimate credit score.
The key reason for the difference between your FICO vs. Vantage credit scores is the formula used for calculating the score.
VantageScore 3.0, for instance, gives more weight to payment history (40%) than FICO Score 8 (35%), while FICO gives more weight to new credit (10%) than VantageScore (5%).
So even though both scoring models are pulling the same information, they interpret your creditworthiness differently.
Is Credit Karma Higher or Lower than FICO?
Credit Karma’s VantageScore is not inherently higher than a FICO credit score. Both have a range of 300 - 850, although the original VantageScore 1.0 and 2.0 did use a higher range of 501 - 990.
But while the ranges for these two scoring models are now the same, how they weigh information is still different.
If you have several new accounts but an excellent payment history, then you may find that your VantageScore is consistently higher than your FICO score.
Or vice versa; if you have one missed payment but no new credit and an excellent credit mix, then you may find that your FICO score is the one that is always higher.
Why is Credit Karma Not Accurate?
It is not so much that Credit Karma is not accurate; it is simply that the scoring model they use is less widely accepted.
If you are walking into a bank to take out a personal loan with your Credit Karma score in mind, that score will not be accurate because it is not the score that the lender will use to make their lending decisions.
While the exact score might not be accurate, how the score responds to changes in your credit file will be accurate. If, for instance, you miss a payment, you will see a decrease, likely significant, in the score Credit Karma provides.
This same decline will happen with your FICO score, but the exact number of points decreased may differ.
Is the MyFICO Score Accurate?
The scores you receive from MyFICO are your FICO credit scores. They are as accurate as any score can be.
MyFICO pulls the same information and credit score that most lenders do.
The only issue you might find with accuracy is timing.
If, for example, you choose MyFICO’s three-bureau option that only refreshes once every three months, then the credit score you are viewing on MyFICO may not be an accurate representation of your current credit score.
But if you choose a different option that refreshes your score every month, then this would not be a problem with having your current credit score.
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Amanda Garland is a personal finance blogger living in Dallas, TX. 10 years ago she was living paycheck to paycheck and knew nothing about how credit works. She learned some hard lessons in her fight for financial stability. Now she has a friendly competition going with her husband to see who can reach a credit score of 850 first. She is also a poet, having obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing.