Credit Karma Review 2020 | Is It Free and Accurate?

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Updated: 20th Jan 2021
Written by Kim Pinnelli
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November 12, 2020
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In this Article: A Credit Karma Review. Find out why we love this free service.

You’ve probably heard of it before. Credit Karma is a free service giving you daily access to your credit score. Is it legit? Is it worth it?

I uncover all the important details below to help you decide.

What is Credit Karma?

Credit Karma is a free credit monitoring service. Founded in 2008, they’ve been offering consumers free credit scores, credit monitoring, and various other services. You should know that Credit Karma uses the VantageScore 3.0 credit scoring model, so it may not be the exact score lenders see, but it will be close.

Credit Karma started as a service providing free credit score access, but it’s quickly grown into other services including tax preparation, and credit card/loan advisor.

How Does Credit Karma Work?

Credit Karma’s service is simple. You sign up for an account and you’ll receive weekly credit score updates from TransUnion and Equifax.

Based on your information, Credit Karma may send you offers that match your criteria or that they think will be a good fit.

If you sign up for an offer that they send you, Credit Karma earns a small commission, which is how they offer the free credit reporting services.

What Does Credit Karma Offer?

#1. View Credit Reports

You won’t see your full credit report, instead, you’ll see data pulled from your credit report. Credit Karma provides a weekly report that summarizes your credit report. In many cases, it’s a lot easier to read and decipher what your credit report says this way.

Credit Karma does a great job categorizing the data. You’ll see categories such as payment history or available credit. You can view the categories you are most interested in and know where you stand.

#2. Daily Credit Score Updates

Credit Karma is unique because they offer DAILY credit score updates. Most programs only update your credit score monthly. If you want to know your credit score on any day, just log in and check your dashboard.

While you don’t need to check your score daily (and you probably shouldn’t), it’s a good way to catch any errors or identity theft early. If you wait an entire month before finding it, that’s a lot of time for thieves to do serious damage.

Related: How to Read a Credit Report

#3. Credit Score Simulator

If you’ve ever wanted to know what getting a new loan would do to your credit score or what charging a certain amount on a credit card would do, you can with the Credit Score Simulator. You play with your personal finance decisions and Credit Karma shows you the results.

Use the tool before you open a new account, apply for a mortgage, or make large financial decisions. It may change your course a bit, but it will help your score in the end.

#4. Compare Your Credit Score with Others

Have you ever wanted to know how your credit score stacks up against others? Now you can with Credit Karma’s comparison tool.

You won’t see specifically who you’re competing against, but you’ll know how you stack up compared to the others in your age group and area.

#5. Identity Theft Assistance

Credit Karma’s credit monitoring helps you notice identity theft early. But it’s not enough to know someone stole your identity. You must act fast. Fortunately, Credit Karma walks you through those steps too.

Credit Karma Key Features:

This free service offers its users a diverse set of features which make it easy for you track your credit score and make simple financial decisions.

Credit Reports:

The easy to read credit report summaries are easier to use and decipher. You’ll see firsthand how your credit affects your overall financial picture and know how you can fix your credit score if necessary.

Equifax Credit Score:

You’ll have access to your Equifax credit score using the Vantage 3.0 credit scoring model.

TransUnion Credit Score:

You’ll also have access to your TransUnion credit score using the Vantage 3.0 credit score model. Your TransUnion score may differ from your Equifax credit score, as they have a few slight variances.

Track Your Spending Habits:

If you don’t use a budgeting app, Credit Karma can track your spending habits by linking to your bank or credit card accounts. This helps keep you more accountable and aware of your spending.

Credit Score Simulator:

The simulator is a great way to see how your decisions might affect you. It may help you think twice before opening a new credit card or taking on a new personal loan.

Credit Factors:

Credit Karma tells you what factors hurt your credit score. You’ll know where to focus when trying to improve your credit score.

Find Unclaimed Money:

If you have unclaimed money anywhere in the state, Credit Karma can help you find it. Insurance rebates, 401K funds left behind, and store rebates are the most common type of funds left behind that many people don’t think about.

Credit Karma Credit Simulator: What Can Your Simulate?

The Credit Karma credit simulator is like a crystal ball. It tells you how specific actions would affect your credit score. Use it to your advantage so you don’t hurt your credit score with certain personal financial decisions.

Credit Activities You Can Simulate:

What can you simulate? Here are a few common activities:

  • Open a balance transfer credit card
  • Open a new credit card
  • Take out a personal loan
  • Refinance your mortgage
  • Close an old account
  • Ask for a credit line increase
  • Play with monthly payments, which you pay on time and which you don’t
  • See how a collection or judgment would affect your credit score

Credit Karma Review: Financial Calculators Offered

Credit Karma also offers several financial calculators. If you’ve never used one, now is a great time to start. These calculators help you make important financial decisions.

For example, before you take out a loan, you can play with the numbers and see how much a loan may cost you.

You can also use a financial calculator to help you determine how much money you need to pay toward your debt to pay it off in X number of months.

Credit Karma offers the following calculators:

  • Debt Repayment Calculator – Learn how much you should pay to get out of debt in a certain amount of time
  • Amortization Calculator – See how much principal and interest you’ll pay on a loan during its term
  • Home Affordability Calculator – See how much home you can afford before you apply
  • Simple Loan Calculator – See the cost of a basic loan

Pros:

  • It’s free – You don’t pay a penny for your credit score. You aren’t obligated to sign up for any of the offers they send you either.
  • It’s easy to see your credit history – Credit reports can be confusing, but Credit Karma lays the data out in an easy-to-understand format
  • Daily credit score access – You can see your credit score changes daily rather than waiting an entire month
  • Bonus services – Credit Karma offers tax services, helps you find unclaimed money, and matches you with the best financial products (credit cards, personal loans, auto loans, etc.)

Cons:

  • Different credit scores – The credit scores Credit Karma offers aren’t the same scores your lender receives, they use a different scoring model
  • Lots of ads – You’ll receive a lot of ads and emails for offers (that’s how Credit Karma makes money).

Is Credit Karma Free?

Credit Karma is 100% free. You don’t have to give your credit card information. You do have to provide your social security number, but that’s only because they need it to access your credit score information.

Credit Karma Review: How Does Credit Karma Make Money?

Every time you sign up for an offer sent to you by Credit Karma, they make a commission. If the millions of people that use the service sign up even once in a while, they make quite a bit of money, and trust me, they send a lot of offers.

Is Credit Karma Safe?

Credit Karma uses 128-bit encryption and monitors the service 24/7. They don’t store your social security numbers (only the last 4 numbers) and even though they were part of a data breach earlier, they’ve passed all assessments since then.

Bottom Line: Credit Karma Review

Credit Karma is one of the best ways to keep tabs on your credit score. It doesn’t cost you a penny and you’ll know daily what your credit score is and if you’ve been subjected to any hacks or identify theft.

More Resources:

Kim Pinnelli
Kim Pinnelli
Kim is a personal finance expert with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has been freelance writing for 13 years for a number of large publications. Kim thoroughly enjoys helping people take charge of their personal finances.