Credit Karma Review

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.

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Credit Report Card

In the past I’ve joked about how your FICO credit score has become the new report card for your life. Instead of letter grades, we now get a three digit grade in the form of a credit score. As much as you may hate it, that’s how life works and your credit score has become just that, a grade.

I don’t know if Credit Karma heard me or it’s just a strange coincidence, but they put out a credit report card tool that takes your TransUnion data (all of Credit Karma’s information is based on TransUnion data) and gives you grades on a litany of factors (seven to be exact):

  • Credit Card Utilization
  • Percent of On-Time Payments
  • Average Age of Open Credit Lines
  • Total Accounts
  • Credit Inquiries
  • Total Debt
  • Debt to Income Ratio

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10 Smart Student Credit Rules

I applied for my first credit card as a freshman in college, it was an AT&T branded Citi card that gave me free long distance phone minutes and a few rewards points. I was fortunate to have started building up my credit at the age of eighteen, which would prove to be crucial later on. I was even more fortunate never to have fallen down the credit card debt hole so many college students slip into, in part because I know my mom would’ve been furious. 🙂

To help all the rising freshmen, or perhaps the parents of rising freshmen, I offer up these ten rules for smart credit. Some of these are credit card rules and some are simply credit rules, hopefully all of them are helpful. Here are ten tips for students looking to build credit but not credit card debt:
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Credit Reports 101 on ABC News’ Money Matters

Money MattersThis week I had the great pleasure of being on ABC News’ Money Matter television program. For nearly seven minutes of LIVE television, I discussed credit reports with host Tanya Rivero. We discussed how often I check my credit reports, the different types of credit inquiries, what’s in your credit report, and how damaging late payments can be on your credit worthiness and credit score.

Click here to watch!

Being on live television was certainly a treat, a bit nerve-wracking, but I think I did alright for my first foray into live television right?

Right? 🙂

Please let me know what you think!

 Angel's Advocate 

Don’t Check Your Score Every Day

Angels Advocate Logo
This is a Angel's Advocate post.

The conventional wisdom is that you should check your credit reports at least once a year and your score only when you need it. This morning, I argued in a Devil’s Advocate post that services make it easy (and free, in some cases) to check your score all the time so you might as well do it.

This is part two of a two part Devil’s Advocate, Angel’s Advocate article in which I argue both sides of an issue. This is the Angel’s Advocate post, here is the Devil’s Advocate post where I argue you should be monitoring your credit score all the time!

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 Devil's Advocate 

Monitor Your Credit Score All The Time

Devils Advocate Logo
This is a Devil's Advocate post.

The conventional wisdom is that you should check your credit reports at least once a year and your score only when you need it. However, with services like MyFICO and Credit Karma, checking your credit score “all the time” has become just as cheap as checking it infrequently once a year.

Credit Karma is 100% free and they give you a TransUnion credit score using TransUnion data. It’s not technically a FICO score but it’s free and good enough for the reasons I give for monitoring your score all the time. You will have to provide sensitive personal information, since they will be accessing your actual TransUnion credit report, but you’ll never need to pull out your credit card.

MyFICO is run by Fair Isaac Corporation, the creator of the FICO score, and it costs money, about $9 a month. You get an Equifax FICO score every week, among other services. I don’t think it’s important to get an official FICO score all the time if you can get a credit score from one of the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion).

This is part one of a two part Devil’s Advocate, Angel’s Advocate article in which I argue both sides of an issue. This is the Devil’s Advocate post, here is the Angel’s Advocate post arguing why monitoring your credit score all the time is a bad idea.

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 Your Take 

Your Take: How Often Do You Check Your Credit Score?

Red LED ScoreboardI’m a numbers guy. I love seeing numbers, trying to find trends, and playing with statistics. That’s probably one of the reasons why credit scores fascinate me so much, they are able to distill a bunch of actions you take as a person and package it up into this convenient three digit number that lenders go nuts over. I’m not saying the system is good or bad, but it’s the system and you have to play by the rules of the game.

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How to Review Your Equifax Credit Report

Equifax LogoIt’s very important that you regularly review your credit history to catch errors and inaccuracies early. Errors can take months to remedy and it’s not something you want to worry about when you are trying to get a mortgage or car loan. So, I recommend that every four months you request a credit report through, the only website you should use to get your annual free credit report as mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

This week, I requested my credit report from Equifax and will take you briefly through the report to explain what the sections are and what to look out for. Each of the three bureaus structures their reports slightly differently, so I’m hoping this guide and walkthrough will help illuminated anything that looks strange.

As with every bureaus, Equifax gives you online access to your report for thirty days. During those thirty days, any changes will not appear on your history, your report is accurate as of the day you requested it. Let’s take a look at my Equifax report.

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