Credit Karma Review: Simplifying The Credit Score Checking

Credit Karma offers free credit scores and reports from TransUnion and Equifax

There are many important times in your life when you will need to do a credit score checking. These milestones can include applying for a car loan, mortgage, rental property agreement, or simply to gain more awareness of your present financial situation and financial goals.  

Regardless of the reason why you are checking your credit score, you always want the credit score report that you receive to be accurate and cost efficient. Luckily, Credit Karma does both.

Credit Karma is one of my top recommendations for people who are in the process of checking their credit score, and here is why: Credit Karma offers individuals with a credit score checking process that is safe, accurate, and free. 

Who is Credit Karma?

Credit Karma first became available to the public in 2007, and was founded by tech entrepreneur Kenneth Lin.

Credit Karma is an American company based in California.

As of December 2020, Credit Karma is now overseen by Intuit, who also owns TurbTax, Quickbooks, and Mint. 

Credit Karma is an online platform that checks an individual's credit score and provides a credit report for the very low and appealing cost of free.

Credit Karma presently has more than 100 million users. 

In addition to this free credit score checking service, Credit Karma also offers personalized financial tools to help users reach their goals. These extra services include but are not limited to: 

  • Credit monitoring for security alerts about possible personal data breach
  • Credit Karma Tax (which is a free tax preparation service)
  • An overview of your credit score fluctuations over the past four months
  • Individualized educational tools to help you understand and learn more about how to improve your credit score.
  • Financial calculators to help you set your financial goals
  • Recommendations to help you manage your money

Another appealing feature of Credit Karma’s credit score checking service is the personalized offers that are shown to you after you created an account to see your credit score.

Credit Karma uses the data you provide to give you real time offers on a variety of loans and credit card options. This is particularly appealing because you are provided these offers without them showing up on your credit report as “inquiries” like a standard loan application would. 

These personalized loan offers are essentially how Credit Karma makes their money and how they are able to offer credit score checking for free; if you sign up for a product suggested to you by Credit Karma, they then receive some money in return from that product’s bank or lender.

How Can I Know that my Credit Score with Credit Karma is Accurate?

It is important to note that Credit Karma is not a credit bureau, so they are not developing your score on their own by reaching out to your creditors.

Rather, to obtain your credit score Credit Karma reaches out to two of the three major credit bureaus in America, TransUnion and EquiFax.

From that, Credit Karma provides a VantageScore credit score report. This report is accurate and reliable. What does this all mean for the user? VantageScore may be a bit unfamiliar if you have obtained a credit score check from its competitor (and arguably more widely used) FICO (Fair Isaac Corp) in the past. 

However, rest assured that a VantageScore credit score report is as fair and accurate a document. 

VantageScore works in collaboration with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the three main credit bureaus, and provides transparency within their scoring model so that you can have a full understanding of your personal credit score checking process.

As well, VantageScore is known for scoring the credit of individuals who have very little credit history (or “thin credit”, like a student or young person), which can be advantageous for some users. 

In all honesty, there should be little discrepancy between a credit score you pulled from a VantageScore model versus a FICO report because they work so similarly. It is important to realize that your credit score is in fact not a singular number, but rather a range of “credit scores”.

Since it is difficult to know which one of these scores the lenders that you apply to will look at, overall it makes little difference whether you are pulling a score from a FICO or Vantagescore system; they will tell the same story about your finances. 

When you get your VantageScore credit score checked back from Credit Karma, it will display two credit score reports, one from TransUnion and one from EquiFax. These reports might show some differences, which can be confusing at first.

But, rest assured that this is usually normal, since each bureau might receive updated financial information about you at different times, and not all financial institutions report information to all three credit bureaus.

Despite these common differences between your two credit scores, errors can still happen within the credit bureaus reporting. If you are confident that you have noticed an error on your credit score, Credit Karma provides resources to help you correct that error, including their very own Direct Dispute tool. 

How Do I Use Credit Karma?

Interested in free credit score checking and all the additional bonus features Credit Karma has to offer? Signing up for Credit Karma is easy.

To make the registration process fast, have the following information available to you when you sign up for an account with Credit Karma:

  • Your email address
  • A unique password that you will use for your Credit Karma account
  • Your full name
  • The last four digits of your social security number
  • Home address
  • Date of birth

Following this sign up process, there will be a verification quiz with questions unique to your financial history to ensure that you are who you say you all are. All of this personal data corroborates your identity to make sure you are receiving your accurate credit score from Credit Karma.

It is important to know that using credit score checking with Credit Karma will not impact your present credit score. This is because Credit Karma is considered a “soft inquiry” (self initiated credit checking) rather than a “hard inquiry” (a check generated by creditors). The concept that you personally checking your credit score regularly will in turn lower that score is a myth. 

A lot of new users also worry about the security of Credit Karma since the web page asks for personal information.

Rest assured that using Credit Karma is safe and already trusted by millions of users to date. This online credit score checking platform uses 128-bit encryption to data from malicious activity, and Credit Karma promises to keep your personal information protected from third party platforms. 

Another key concept to keep in mind when using Credit Karma is that when you sign up, you will begin to receive offers for personalized loans and other financial products which, as I mentioned earlier, is how the web company makes money.

While these offers may seem very attractive at the moment, remember that these financial products are promotional and that they intended to advertise to you.

Before making any big financial decisions, you should always do your own research and consider speaking with a licensed financial advisor to be educated about which offers, loans, and credit are best for you. 

Do you prefer accessing your financial information on your phone? Credit Karma also has a mobile app that you can use to access your Credit Karma scoring report and other useful financial tools. The Credit Karma app can be found on the App Store or Google Play for iOS and Android users alike. 

As well, depending on the kind of smartphone you have, you can enhance the security features protecting your Credit Karma account by allowing the app to use your password combined with Touch ID or Face ID. 

Credit Karma Review: The Bottom Line

• Free credit score checking service• Enticing financial ads can appeal to users, so be educated about your present financial situation and what is best for you before accepting any new loans through Credit Karma
• Accurate and reliable credit reporting
• Educational tools to help you understand and improve your credit score
• User friendly online platform
• Mobile app for on the go users
• Transparent service
• Ability to research you loan or credit card options

In order to be well aware of your financial situation, it is ideal for the average person to check their credit score either quarterly or even once a month, and then again if you are about to apply for new credit or a loan. 

In all, Credit Karma is a fast, easy, and affordable way to get a regular and accurate credit report that will not impact your overall score. 

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