Credit Karma claims to provide a completely free credit score and report, but what’s the catch? Before you sign up for CreditKarma.com, here’s everything you need to know.
You’ve probably seen Credit Karma commercials on late-night television. Get your credit score and report for free, no strings attached!
But is it really legit? What’s the catch?
Yes, Credit Karma is a legitimate free website that offers your credit score and report. It truly is free, and you do not need to enter your credit card information or remember to cancel your free trial. Users of Credit Karma also have access to their TransUnion credit report, as well as TransUnion and Equifax credit scores.
Although you can always get free copies of your three credit reports from annualcreditreport.com, you can only view each report once a year. With Credit Karma’s new service, you can get your free TransUnion credit report and receive updates as frequently as once a week. (It’s still a good idea to get your other two reports—from Experian and Equifax—once a year from annualcreditreport.com to ensure they’re accurate.)
How Does Credit Karma Make Money?
How does CreditKarma provide a free credit score when other services charge $20 or more per month?
The solution is advertising. Specifically, advertising that is highly targeted based on your financial habits. For example, if you have excellent credit, banks are willing to pay large sums of money to target you with their best loans and credit cards because it is ultimately less expensive for them than running generic ads to millions of people who may never qualify for their products.
If Credit Karma has a drawback, it’s that they do, in fact, use your personal credit data to advertise to you. It’s similar to Facebook using your likes to serve ads based on your preferences. However, I agree that the financial information adds a personal touch.
Should You Use Credit Karma?
Finally, Credit Karma is secure. I’ve been a client for more than five years. Furthermore, while they may use personal information to serve advertisements, they do not share it with third parties (to my knowledge). Finally, Credit Karma provides extremely useful insights into your credit health.
Whether you like it or not, your credit score has a significant impact on your financial health. As a result, it’s critical to understand your credit score and monitor how it changes over time.
While most services charge upwards of $15-20 to view your own credit score, Credit Karma allows you to check and track your score without a credit card, free trial, or any other strings attached.
Credit Karma conducts a “soft” inquiry on your credit reports, which means it will not appear on your reports as a credit pull and will not affect your credit score in any way.
To verify your identity and pull your credit, you’ll need to create an account and provide your personal information… including your social security number, but unlike other so-called “free credit score” sites, there is NO CREDIT CARD or any purchase required.
What Else Does Credit Karma Provide?
Credit Karma impressed me with how simple—and quick—it was to obtain my credit score, but the service also offers:
A timeline graph of your credit score
Comparing your credit score to others’ by state, income, and age
A credit report card that displays the impact of many aspects on your credit score, such as your payment history and debt utilization
You can use tools to model how debt repayment or credit application will affect your score.
Weekly updates to your free credit report are available.
I have utilized Credit Karma for over five years. It’s still my go-to resource for keeping track of my credit score, and I’ve found the comparison and simulation features essential for determining how certain decisions (such as obtaining a new credit card or reducing my average credit card usage) may affect my score.