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Is Credit Karma a Scam?

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Credit KarmaYou know the old maxim – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Does Credit Karma sound too good to be true? You can see your TransUnion credit score for free? You can get absolutely free credit monitoring? These are services that people pay good money for and Credit Karma, a company that isn’t affiliated with any of the credit bureaus, is giving it away for free. It does sound too good to be true.

That begs the question – is Credit Karma a Scam?

Is Credit Karma a Scam?

While you can never say so with 100% certainty, I don’t think they are a scam. I don’t think they are a scam because I understand the business model and you can make more money legitimately than illegitimately, plus they’ve been at it for a long time. While none of these are absolute indicators of them not being a scam, I’d find it difficult to believe that this is an elaborate ruse designed to steal personal information. :)

For more information about their service, here’s my Credit Karma review and video walkthrough.

How does Credit Karma Make Money?

I don’t know for sure but my guess is that they make money when someone signs up for an offer on their site. When you visit the site, you’re frequently shown banking, credit card, and other financial offers that are probably better than whatever you’re using. When I logged in, I was shown an offer for the Citi Platinum Select MasterCard and estimates that I could save $342 over a year. Since I carry no balance, I know that savings estimate is wrong but for someone who does carry a balance, $342 is good savings. If I sign up, Credit Karma may be paid for that.

What About Other Free Credit Scores?

For almost every other free credit score offer, you get your credit score in return for signing up for a credit monitoring membership service. That credit monitoring service comes with a monthly fee after the trial period and the company is betting that you’ll continue with the service, either by choice or because you forget to cancel. They aren’t scams because they tell you this up front but Credit Karma doesn’t sign you up for anything you will eventually pay for.

You will have to make your own determination as to whether Credit Karma is a scam. I’ve been using them for over a year with great results, they’re the cornerstone of my do it yourself identity theft protection system and it’s been working out so far.

{ 430 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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430 Responses to “Is Credit Karma a Scam?”

  1. Goflya says:

    I have had Credit Karma for 6 months and “update” my credit score once a month. I also use thier tips on how to make my score better. I have never been charged a dime, never had been asked to give my card numbers or anything. I love it and would reccomend it to anyone.

    • Elizabeth Bopp says:

      I was asked for my credit card info and I see this as a scam for poor slobs who do not realize what they are getting into. And then Bam! They are charged $29.95 on their credit card each month. Some recognize it within two months, but too late to do anything about it. Guys, there is no free lunch!

      • Charlie says:

        This isn’t true. Anyone who starts a profile on creditkarma.com can see for themselves that this isn’t true. I have a profile on here, and my wife does as well. We have never been charged anything. What Elizabeth is saying is true for most other credit monitoring sites. She probably got confused.

        • Dillan says:

          Completely agree with you Charlie, I’ve never been asked for a credit card statement for anything. It’s a great site and very useful

      • Jake says:

        I’ve had an account for 2 years, have been very active and am aware of each of my bank and credit accounts. I have never beed charged. I’m not going to flat out call you a liar, but your information seems misplaced.

      • Tony says:

        I’ve been with them for about 4 years and they have never asked for my credit card number.

      • Wil says:

        Elizabeth is WRONG.
        I’ve been using Credit Karma FREE OF CHARGE for over 1year now. I’m curious to know if Elizabeth was actually charged a fee or if she THINKS she will be charged a fee. I haven’t been charged a fee up to this point at least.

  2. AJ says:

    I have been using Credit karma for almost 9 months now. This website has helped me a lot build my credit score. Being an international student here in US i did not know how the credit score worked and what is to be done to maintain it. But Credit Karma has a section called “Credit Report Card” which is the best help understand how much you score, where you stand when compared to others and what is to be done to increase your score.

    Credit Karma claims to use TransUnion score which can be true. But i call it the CreditKarma score which if not as same as TransUnion but could be average or a little up or down to it.

    My credit score was in mid 600′s when i started an i was being denied for chase freedom. I followed this website waited for like 6months and then i started seeing my mailbox flooded with mails to apply for new cards. To my surprise i applied for chase again 2 days back i got INSTANT APPROVAL for $6000. I was shocked and happy.

  3. Marty says:

    Beware – Credit Karma is way more than a scam. Every bit of the information they have recorded for me is incorrect. Most especially my credit score which is higher at all 3 major credit reporting agencies. The site does not look professional – like a 6th grader designed it. Sorry I ever opened the web site, not to mention providing my information – but No Kidding – this is the worst excuse for a credit report I have EVER seen. :/

    • John Madison says:

      I have used Credit Karma for 6 months now and all I ever get is a couple of credit hints monthly. Once in a while they send my credit score. They may not be perfect but they are certainly not a scam.
      I believe it is ultimately a law firm that created the site to draw paying customers. Because in order to really, truly fix ones credit it can be helpful to get assistance. It costs $60. a month if you want the help, which is a bargain considering you are fixing your credit.
      I have not utilized that aspect of the site as I do not need my credit fixed but for all intents and purposes I think this is a good idea.
      It is just like any other business model. Get them in the door by giving something away for free and attempt to have them purchase something later on. The cool thing is they do not push me.
      They are of the mind that there are plenty of people who need assistance with their credit and they will help without being pushy.
      That is just smart business practice because over a long period of time people will prefer them over others and their business will grow.
      Anyhow….I am not a shill for them…just a regular guy with 3 minutes to kill.

    • Billy says:

      Marty
      I have to agree with you on your post the scores are all wrong ,I too am sorry I signed up for it.

  4. Dave says:

    It may not be a scam but you will start getting a lot of spam about credit and loans.

    Don’t sign up!!!

  5. alex says:

    I use credit karma all the time. i have seen the difference in my score going up. yes my score is lower than what is on my actually report. but the info in it is the same. credit karma is good for your trans union score only. the vantage score is the score of all three combined. i used the info this site gave me and my score changed in 2 months. the ideal behind this site is for you to see all the offers from the other credit places and that’s is how they get paid.

  6. Tiffany says:

    I have been using Credit Karma for a few months now. I have never been asked for my credit card info nor anything else. Some credit agencies do not get the credit information directly from the credit bureaus but from other places and this information is usually older. I have worked in the real estate business for many many years so I know this. It may not be perfect but its nice to have for free.

  7. Tiffany says:

    I have been using Credit Karma for a few months now. I have never been asked for my credit card info nor anything else. Some credit agencies do not get the credit information directly from the credit bureaus but from other places and this information is usually older. I have worked in the real estate business for many many years so I know this. It may not be perfect but its nice to have for free.

  8. Mike says:

    Did a 6th grader write this review? How can you start an article saying something might be a scam when you did not do any due diligence. And how can you say I don’t know but I guess I know how they make money. Do some research, or even use some common sense, they refer you to alternate cards, loans etc in return for a finders fee. Its not rocket science.

  9. Botchster says:

    Thinking about signing up for this. I don’t believe my score is high because I payoff my Credit card each month and just don’t borrow money. I’m 62,working, and have a very low living expense,but borrowed a long time ago. My problem is the insurance company puts me in the lowest bracket and it increases the premium. My agent got it increased but could not make it the highest. I’d like to know what to do, but don’t want the credit offers etc. Will it help me and will I get a bunch of crap?

    • Jake says:

      I’ve used credit karma for over 2 years, never been spammed, scammed or charged. The score is not 100% accurate, which is probably why it is free (i.e. they get it from a good source, but for very cheap). I would assume they make their money off of their offers, from which I have applied and got me and my wifes first credit cards. It gives helpful advise. AND lets you know when your credit is affected. That is what keeps me around!

  10. Specialk says:

    i’ve had an accout since 2010. I even forgot about it and have never been charged.

  11. J.B. says:

    It is totally false and a scam. I have one loan and one credit card. I pulled a true credit report right before signing up. Then I signed up and I’ve figured it out. They use scare tactics to get you to apply for credit cards and to try their sponsors. My loan is paid on time and I’ve never been late. My card is always paid off on a monthly basis. Guess what my cc doesn’t even show up on CK. Says I pay my car loan every month on time on CK but it doesn’t even say the right payment amount. Yet look my score goes down almost bi weekly then they tell me I can click this and sign up for this to help make it go away. It says my score is a low 500. Bank says I’m a high 600 and going up. They have to get their money somehow. I will say they have never asked for cc info thou.

    • John Madison says:

      What you are not understanding is they are simply getting your information from the federal reporting database. Not a credit agency. They are just the messengers of bad information. They are a general information website, not a credit reporting agency. There is a difference.

  12. CreditKrunch says:

    I just started using this and was pleasantly surprised. With the name ‘CreditKarma’ I thought it would be some sort of scam, but nope, I actually got 90% of my credit info, free and accurate.

    I was originally unable to pull reports from the official site at all due to having many temp addresses. At the CK site the UI is easier to use and I was able to figure out which address was required. After than, I could go to the official site (which gives you free access only once per year).

    It was slightly less detailed than the full credit reports, but far easier to use than the once-per-year site. You can use CK all you want and pull updates any time — free!

    Yep it’s a venture intended to make money with a ton of ads, links, partner offers and so on, some of which may be sketchy, but to me it seems like a public service. Don’t expect them to be 100% equal to pulling your reports directly from all 3 agencies, but it’s free and far less hassle. They’re providing something for free which costs not trivial money anywhere else… money you can use to pay down your debts instead of paying the CR agency!

  13. bummed says:

    They did not ask for my credit card info. I did click on one of their links to see if I could get a balance transfer. the link thought my chances were good. I had a 707 with no hard inquiries. The simulator showed adding another account would help my overall score, and the potential interest saving of the balance transfer was pretty tempting. I applied and was rejected. So my guess is they can be a bit optimistic about your chances :) maybe they get paid for referrals, and I am sure they get paid for redirects, or bringing customers into credit card sites. Having said that, I find the site very useful and informative. Not their fault I was declined, and I am pretty sure they advice to apply was sound. The numbers they have for me are pretty accurate. I would recommend to a friend. Found the site via clark howard radio show…

  14. Redneck Rod says:

    Been with it for about a year.
    I don’t see any problems.
    They don’t ask for any credit card info.
    Their info is accurate.
    No problems.

  15. Al says:

    I spent a lot of money for monitoring my credit scores by experian, equifax and transunion sights. Even you cancel their service, they still charge you. You have to call back few times to re-mine them. I got Karma for free, I was not asked for any money or credit card. I do not know why it is free, but I love it.

  16. Dan says:

    People, just read the terms before you complain…

    https://beta.creditkarma.com/about/terms

  17. Stevie says:

    I further understand that by submitting this registration form I am authorizing Credit Karma, once it has obtained my credit report(s) and score(s) for me at any time, to retain a copy of such credit report(s) and score(s) in its records along with the other information I am submitting through this registration form (collectively, the “Registration Profile”), to use that Registration Profile to match me with product and services offers from time to time from its marketing partners, which offers it will send to me either by e-mail (based upon my communication preferences) or through the display of advertisements and to further use that Registration Profile to provide statistical analysis, reports and summaries of my Registration Profile in comparison to other users’ Registration Profiles. I understand that Credit Karma will not be sharing my Registration Profile with any of those marketing partners and that it is completely up to me to decide whether I would like to accept any of the offers I receive.

  18. Tee says:

    I’ve been using credit karma for 3 months and it helped me understand my credit alot better. After taking there advice my credit scores went up 16 points across the board. It work for me.

  19. Jim says:

    Definitely a scam! Just try to sign up! Their process is a maze and requires you to ABSOLUTELY do things their way.

  20. nna says:

    I have never had any problems with them. They never asked for any “credit Card ” info and i always check my accounts to make sure there’s never something weird going on. They also never asked me to make a payment for there services. They obviously make money from the credit card offers, etc….. not from People like Elizabeth! lol

  21. Michael Kelly says:

    WQhy does the Credit Karma score NEVER agree with other Trans Union scores the bank obtains. Kredit Karma is always higher Misleading

  22. Anonymous says:

    I have credit karma and I have never been charged a thing. Maybe other credit reporting websites charge but not so with my experience with credit karma.

  23. Diana says:

    Our credit score was the same on credit karma as the score that came up when we purchased a new car. Never been charged by credit karma.

  24. bonzi says:

    Credit Karma has always been the same ratings as the big three, at NO COST> NO credit card charges.
    They have never asked for a credit card .seems to be very accurate as they match the big three ratings exactly the same.

  25. Char says:

    Credit Karma is NOT a scam. They never claim to give you an exact score. They give you an estimate of what your Transunion score is. It can vary from 5 pts in either direction. The point of Credit Karma is to give you an idea of where you are financially so you can make smart financial decision. They make their money on the advertisements and offers. If you click one of the cards they offer then they get a kickback and so on. The site is great if your rebuilding your credit like I am. It also has tips and tricks on ways to improve your score. Credit Karma never asks for money and never charges you. If you did get charged for something it was not Credit Karma. I have been using them for 1 1/2 yrs and it has been a tremendous help. I also recommend it all the time to people that I know. it’s also great because it lets you know when there have been inquiries so it helps stave off identity theft.


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