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Credit Karma Review

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Credit KarmaI can’t believe I’ve been using Credit Karma all these months and never wrote up a quick review of the service! I’ve done walkthroughs of their Credit Score Report Card, but never about the entire service. Tsk tsk, what a bad blogger I am.

Credit Karma offers a lot of nice juicy information but the only thing I’m really pumped about is the fact that you get your TransUnion credit score absolutely free. When you sign up, you have to provide a lot of sensitive personal information because it’s needed to pull your credit score from TransUnion. Since the service is free, the only barrier to using it is your comfort level with providing this information to a third party.

Here’s what my dashboard looked like:
Credit Karma Dashboard

There are several reasons why I like Credit Karma:

  • It’s free. When other companies are charging you to look at your own credit score, it’s nice to be able to see it for free. You don’t have to provide a credit card number, there’s no “trial,” and there’s no sneaky catch in there. It’s free and they never ask for a penny. That’s very refreshing.
  • Check as often as you want. Many of the trial services let you check your score once. After that, you need to pay. With Credit Karma, you can check it as often as you’d like. The real limit is once a month because that’s how often various creditors will report data. So you can check daily, but it won’t change unless your report changes.
  • It helps protect against identity theft. Now that the barrier to see your score once a month (or daily if you prefer) has been reduce to $0, it’s possible to use this as part of your do it yourself identity theft protection. If someone opens an account with your credit and the account uses TransUnion to check your score, your score will inexplicably go down. While this doesn’t trump checking your report every year through AnnualCreditReport.com, the fact that it’s free makes it a no brainer for you to check at least once a month, rather than once every twelve.
  • The credit simulator is fun to play with. If you’ve ever been confused about your credit, such as what can hurt or harm it, the credit simulator is a great intuitive way to learn how your actions affect your score. Open a new account? Score falls. Pay off a debt? Score rises.

Here are some reasons why I don’t like it:

  • It’s not a FICO credit score. Credit Karma does not give you a FICO credit score, they give you a TransUnion credit score. TransUnion is one of the three credit bureaus, so it’s a score from a credit bureau; it’s just not one using the FICO credit score equation. If you’re planning on getting a loan, you’ll want a FICO score. If you just want to see what your score is, this score is good enough.
  • It’s a security risk. Giving a third party your sensitive information, even if it is protected and secure, is always a risk. For me, the risk is acceptable but you have to make that determination for yourself. It’s just like the warning I give every time I write about personal finance tools like Mint or Quicken, you take a calculated risk whenever you give your sensitive financial and personal information to at third party. If something happens, ultimately you are responsible.

Overall, I’m very pleased with what they offer. If you’re wondering how they can offer this service for free, it’s because they’re supported by advertising revenue. One thing they have promised never to do is sell your personal information to third parties, which is always one of the concerns whenever you sign up for free services like this. Fortunately they’ve addressed it and put that issue to bed.

I know a lot of Bargaineering readers have signed up for Credit Karma, in part because everyone always gives them a shout in the comments, so I’m curious what you think about the service. If you have any recommendations of what they can or should do, please also share those as well.

{ 153 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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153 Responses to “Credit Karma Review”

  1. C.B. says:

    DO NOT USE THIS SITE. I DID AND NOW I RECIEVE HUNDREDS OF SPAM EMAILS A WEEK. I AM GOING TO SUE THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. RLB says:

    My Credit Union started providing my score using credit karma. They stated that they get the info from Transunion…but I subscribe to a service that gives me my score and details from all 3 major credit bureaus…Credit karma had the wrong info when the info I receive dirctly from Transunion was correct. Also…My big 3 scroe went up significantly at the same time my credit Karma score went down. When I question them on the discrepancy…al I get is a form letter in reply…do not let these people mess with your credit!!!

  3. john says:

    I used KC and they are way off. They said I have 17000$ in credit card debt and that is impossible. I have only one credit card and it has a 2500$ limit.

    • JD says:

      KC is fun to play with but is not accurate by any means. I checked my credit score on KC and it showed 600. I then pulled my score from Transunion and it shows a score of 745 on the same day. KC is such a joke!!

  4. JT Connecticut says:

    I was using this site but not going to any longer. It under-rates my real FICO by 85 points! saying I don’t use my credit cards enough…when I ran my real FICO scores, all agencies had me averaging 85-90 points higher. So now I’m figuring they are just trying to get people to use their ‘partners’ services to ‘improve credit’. My REAL FICO is 805-810…Credit Karma says 720…BIG DIFFERENCE

  5. Colmi says:

    Sorry to burst your bubbles, but I just PAID for my 3 scores at Identityguard.com………CK said trans was 683….
    My paid site said ( 605EQ 669EX 619Trans OMG……also the CK insurance score is way off as well…..said 683. My insurance gave me the score as 469. OMG again..
    I can see a few points difference from CK and other well established credit sites, but come on…….over 60 pts. off with transunion…not accetable.

  6. Anonymous says:

    My CreditKarma score just came back 80 points higher than my FICO….hmmm

  7. Pam says:

    I really love the service, however I am confused with the score. It is not the same as the graph that is beside the score. Really nice to use the simulator to help make financial decisions. Would recommend the service to anyone.

  8. Dave says:

    Credit Karma is a SHAM and a BIG JOKE!!! Don’t waste your time! My credit is stellar and I keep paying off loans early (ABSOLUTELY NO BAD CREDIT EVENTS AT ALL!!!) … and my credit score keeps going DOWN! So I checked with my Credit Union and they did a free REAL credit score check for me and it was over 100 points HIGHER than that sham of a joke Credit Karma Krap!!!

    • melyang says:

      I agree with you. My score from TransUnion is over 800, but my recent Credit Karma is about 730. How can you have such big difference and claim it is useful?

      There is an obvious error. I have 7 credit cards and a mortgage, but the count of payments only increase 3 each month. Don’t I pay the other 5 accounts? I certainly did! Otherwise my credit will plunge!

  9. Dave says:

    I think Credit Karma is just scaring people with bad or mediocre credit to use their partner credit restoration services. Those of us with great credit can see through their scam!!! It’s obvious to us with great credit that their numbers are bogus!!!

  10. Lou Skunht says:

    My score is also not even close…CK says 558 and my real TU is 625. Now they are pushing credit repair companies even harder on the site. They need to focus more on what they promise, rather than get money hungry like they are. I see this site shitting the bed real soon.

  11. Kyle says:

    I’m thinking that some of the complainers are fake. The website is extraordinarily useful and reflects about what my score should be. Keep in mind that the Karma score goes up to 950. “Real” scores go up to 830 or 850. Thats why there is a difference.

  12. Mike says:

    Hey Kyle,
    If the Karma score goes up to 950 and “Real” scores are only 830 or 850, then the Karma score should consistently rate “higher” than the “Real” scores on a simple curve! Think about it, and come up with some other nonsense why these scores are consistenly “lower” than the “Real” scores.

  13. Michael says:

    I signed up for Credit Karma about 3 months ago. It showed my score was 644. More than 6 weeks ago, I paid off one card, established a new credit card with 0 balance (didn’t have a C card before) and got two negative credit entries removed from my credit report. Additionally, one two >30 day late payments rolled older than 12 months. However, my score has not changed, not one point since all this transpired. It makes me suspicious of the accuracy.

  14. Donald says:

    I just pulled the score from My Fico and got a 793. (I’m shopping for a loan) Credit Karma list my score as 791 wow impressive. Only two points off.

  15. likok says:

    credit karma is a scam. they said my credit score 763, experian said 735 on same day.
    credit karma website said with my high score i’d probably be approved for a particular credit card (with great rates)and would know “instantly” so i applied. after applying a chat window appears, person asks me for my address. i resist, saying i jsut entered it when applying for credit card. they say i must re-enter it for verification so i do. then they say they will mail the result of my application in a few days. i said “your website said id get “instant” answer. she/he says “verification requirements have gotten more strict”. well then put that on the website! and now its been more than 2 weeks and i havent heard a word. fucking liars! scammers. porbably stolen id.

    • Ryan says:

      anytime you are denied for a card they do not give an instant answer because it has to be “reviewed.” Also, KC does not look at experian, and yes, all 3 credit bureaus have different scores. Loans and credit cards look at all 3 to determine your approval.

  16. sean says:

    Saturday I signed up for Credit Karma. Monday was the first time in 2 years I was getting chain calls from Collection agencies. Credit Karma is just to collect your information for collection agencies.

  17. Ryan says:

    I love Credit Karma and have been using it for years. It is a wonderful tool to see how your credit is doing and can provide vital information. Of course the score you get when looking for a loan will be different because this is only TransUnion, and loans look at all 3 credit bureaus. Personally, I think it should be illegal to charge for a credit report, it is so critical to everything we do, yet we cannot view it easily…
    One huge think Credit Karma helped me with was my score went from 760 to 540, which of course raised a huge flag, so I looked into it and found out that someone else’s overdue medical bill had gone onto my credit. I was able to remove it and then watch my credit go back up, but if I did not use Credit Karma I would never have known about the issue.

    • Daveswfla53 says:

      Medical bills have a impact but not a drop of 220 points!!!!

      • Al H says:

        @ Ryan – Actually, in most cases when you’re applying for a loan or a lease, the banks DO NOT pull all three bureaus. Many lenders consider one of 2 bureau; TU and EXP – EQUIFAX is relied upon significantly less.

        Usually, the lender will pull JUST ONE bureau on you; TU or EXP. They seem to be the preferred bureaus, although my own bank used EQUIFAX to my surprise. If you score well enough to make a decision, case closed. If, for example, the TU report listed you as a TIER 2 borrower (good credit), they may pull your EXP to see if you score higher, like a TIER 1 (BEST CREDIT). If you score better there, they’ll consider that for their decision.

        If you score low, like a TIER 3 on EXP, they will look at your TU. If that’s really weak also, they may as a last resort look at your EQUIFAX.

        These 3 reporting bureaus DO NOT have all the same info. If you look over your credit report, not all open and closed accounts appear under each bureau. TU may show you with a balance of $65,000, while EXP may show $70,000, and EQUIFAX may only show you with $52,000. That’s the case on mine, as well as different current employers.

        Just thought I’d throw that out there so everyone has an idea of what’s experienced out there, at least from what I’ve seen working in the car business for the last 12 years with lenders including CHASE. Mortgages may do more significant pulling. Ask your lender first on which bureau service they will pull for a decision so you have an opportunity to examine the accuracy and clean up any issues before submitting an application.

  18. Daveswfla53 says:

    I don’t know how accurate Credit Karma really is, when I logged in on Oct 8th they had me at 720 and when I had my credit ran on Oct 11th came back N/A, then logged back into Credit Karma and this time had me down to 607!!!
    Something is wrong here!!!!

  19. iluvtx says:

    I’ve been using credit karma for over 6 months now and was loving it.I pulled a real credit report and my score was 116 points off. The points were in my favor which is good but I could not figure out why my score was always so low.To get a real score don’t go by what Credit Karma says check a real one.

    • Ken Lin says:

      iluvtx.

      Thanks for using the service. But I should clarify that there is no “real” score. Banks decide what score they want to use based on what they think is best and the costs. Just you and I shop for chicken soup banks shop for credit scores. Our scores are real and purchased directly from TransUnion. There is no guarantee that the score you bought from another site is going to be the same that the banks use either.

  20. Leone says:

    I’ve been using Credit Karma for 3 years adn have watched my score rise from 687 to 771 in that time. Time and responsible use of credit makes the difference–always pay on time.

    It does tend to run about 10 points lower the the FICO score you pay for. But it’s an excellent yardstick of credit worthiness and it will alert you to any sudden credit issues.

    It’s updated monthly. Best time to check is the 2nd week of the month when all the credit bureaus have reported in your recent activity. If you check it the first day of the month, you may get a copy of last month’s score. Just a tip.

  21. Leone says:

    I jusrt want to clarify a typo in my last post: Credit Karma runs about 10 points higher than my FICO score. But it still makes a good yardstick to check the general trend on your credit worthiness.

    Truth is,no potential lender is going to accept your credit score alone–either from Credit Karma or FICO–in determining whether to lend to you.

    Still, it’s a bargain serv iceActual creditors have the right to factor in a lot of things that FICO refuses to consider–like income and age and overall net worth.Still, it costs you nothing and gives you useful intelligence on your credit history.

    Like whether there’s been any new lines of credit opened in your name or a rash of hard pull inquiries that you may not have authorized.

  22. Zak says:

    A lender told me all 3 scores are between 670-680, but Credit Karma score is 750+. That’s about 80 point difference. Based on Credit Karma score I will qualify for the best mortgage rate, but the creditor told me I have to pay 1% above the best rate.

  23. Sundi says:

    For everyone wondering why the score on CreditKarma is such a point difference, it’s because all three credit bureaus have different score ranges.
    FICO(Equifax): 300-850
    Transunion: 501 to 990 (also known as your VantageScore)
    Experian: 501-990 (known as VantageScore as well)

    Your FICO score will most likely always be lower than the other two and the FICO score is the one looked at mostly when applying for things. The FICO is the only one I keep up with for two reasons:
    1- it will the lowest (so I known worse case when applying for credit, etc)
    2- this score is used the most
    I pay a credit monitoring service for Equifax that monitors all three. I also pay for a plan on Equifax that gives me an immediate alert when my FICO score changes.
    These have been worth paying for. I have found out that someone opened an account with my knowledge and was able to immediately freeze my credit.
    I am also not giving my personal information to some third party.
    I heard about this site from Clark Howard but I still wouldn’t sign up for this

  24. Sundi says:

    Re:Sundi
    —–
    Sorry-
    On my last comment, I meant that someone attempted to open an account without my knowledge :)
    I was able to close the account immediately and freeze my credit

  25. cody says:

    100 points off!!! I check my score all the time on CreditKarma, turns out my score is 100 points higher! Here I thought I was a low life!


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