Is a Free Credit Score Legit or a Scam? [Credit Karma Review]

When it comes to getting your finances in order, your credit score serves as an important tool. There are a few ways to get a free credit score but none of them give you the depth of information provided by Credit Karma.

As you’ll see from the Credit Karma review below, it’s a legit way to get a free credit score as well as additional tools for improving your credit.

Knowing your credit score and taking steps to improve it are critical for your financial health. Having good credit can help you get better home and auto insurance rates, lower loan interest rates, better credit card approval rates, and much more.

The Credit Karma review below offers some insights into how it works and answers some commonly asked questions.

What is Credit Karma?

Credit Karma is a free credit monitoring website that provides you with a free credit score and a free credit report.

There’s no need to provide a credit card or cancel a free trial. It’s a legitimate, free way to get credit scores, credit monitoring, and all necessary tools to make educated decisions about your credit. In addition to all of the tools mentioned, you’ll also get credit card recommendations based on your score.

Get started at CreditKarma.com.

Is Credit Karma Safe to Use?

Any time you have to provide personal information to get your credit score or report, you want to make sure that your privacy is safe and secure. Credit Karma is indeed safe and secure, using 128-bit encryption to secure the transmission of information. If they suspect any suspicious activity, they promise to alert you as soon as possible.

Additionally, Credit Karma offers a two-factor identification option via SMS.

Get a Free Credit Score

Credit Karma

If you’re reading this Credit Karma review to determine what kind of free credit score you get with the service, here’s the scoop. When you sign up, you’ll get three different scores:

  • TransRisk Score: This is your credit score as provided by TransUnion.
  • Auto Insurance Score: This is a special score derived from your information at TransUnion.
  • VantageScore: This is the new scoring model put together by the three credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.

As with any personal finance score, it matters less what your score actually is, and more what direction your score is headed. Thankfully, you can log back into Credit Karma at any time and see the progress of your scores.

Related: The Best Free Credit Score and Monitoring

It’s important to note that most financial institutions use your FICO score as the “gold standard” to determine your creditworthiness, which is slightly different than the score you receive through Credit Karma. With that said, the two scores should be very close.

To see your free credit score, visit www.CreditKarma.com.

Free Credit Monitoring

Staying on top of your credit is important for identifying fraud activity.

If Credit Karma notices any suspicious activity on your TransUnion or Equifax credit reports, they’ll send you an alert so you can check it out. Errors on your credit report are more common than you think and can have a detrimental effect on your credit score.

Credit Karma offers tools such as the Credit Score Simulator, which helps you figure out how to improve your credit score. When you run it, it’ll display several moves that may trigger a change in your credit score, like past due accounts, credit limit increases, or getting a new loan. Click on each one to get a prediction of your new credit score based on the information that you provide.

You’ll also get free tips and information to help you understand what’s influencing your credit score and how to make it work for you.

Building good financial habits starts with keeping an eye on your money and knowing how you’re doing financially. Improving your credit score will pay dividends over time, snagging you lower interest rates and better financial products.

Related: The Dangers of Being Careless with Your Credit Score

Credit Karma App

In addition to the online tools, Credit Karma also offers an Android app and an iOS app. While the app version lacks some of the extras such as online calculators and resources, it offers quick access to your credit report and score. It can also help you comparison shop for a new credit card or other financial products.

The app will help you keep track of your credit score and your credit report so you can stay on top of your finances. The built-in identity theft feature alerts you when your information has been compromised by another company’s public data breach and also tells you what to do to keep your information safe.

Additionally, you can use it to file your federal and state tax returns for free, no matter how complex your tax situation. You’ll also get money-saving recommendations and credit tips matched to your profile.

Start improving your score today with Credit Karma.

What is Good Credit?

Credit Karma

The folks at Credit Karma understand that it's important to help you improve your credit score. That's why they created their Credit Report Card. This is really where their service shines. They break down your score into the various factors that contribute to it and give you a rating on each.

Credit Utilization

This is the percentage of your available credit that you are using. For instance, if you have three credit cards and they total up to $20,000 in available credit (i.e. credit limits), and you are carrying balances of $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000, respectively, then you have a utilization percentage of 80 percent ($16,000/$20,000).

Credit Karma uses your credit file to provide this information and then they suggest ways to improve it such as paying off your debt. They also offer more advanced strategies like taking advantage of peer lending or a balance transfer credit card.

On-time Payment Percentage

Have you been paying your bills on time? If so, Credit Karma will show you a high score in this area. If it's low, then all you can do is start doing better going forward. Set up reminders or automatic payments to ensure your bills get paid on time.

Average Age of Open Credit Lines

This has a lot to do with how old you are, of course. This number will be pretty low if you're just getting started with your credit history. Mine is hovering around five years (average) because of my recent refinance and a car loan that we took out in 2009. To improve this number, be sure to hang on to older credit cards and occasionally use the accounts.

Total Accounts

Your credit score is affected by number and mix of credit accounts you have. If you don't have a credit card, consider getting at least a good cash back credit card to improve your credit score. Likewise, a car loan and a mortgage will both increase your credit score.

Remember that having credit and using it responsibly are two separate deals. Always treat your accounts with respect, live within your means, and pay off your revolving credit lines each month.

Hard Credit Inquiries

I have two of these affecting my score right now. I know what they are: the refinances I applied for over the past two years.

Hard credit inquiries are not the same as checking your credit score just to see the number (like with Credit Karma), nor are they the same as the soft credit pulls that checking accounts and cell phone companies make. Hard credit inquiries are for actual loan considerations: personal loans, car loans, mortgages, refinances, etc.

To improve this part of your score, don't apply for any loans unless you absolutely are ready to use them.

Derogatory Marks

These are things like bankruptcy, accounts in collections, civil judgments, etc. Most of these items take seven years to fall off of your credit file. If you have them on your report, make sure they are legitimate and then just ride them out till they drop off.

This credit report card is the perfect tool to help you really take action on your credit score and what your report is showing. It offers you the appropriate tools and information to get you on the right track and help you raise your credit score.

Related: Build Your Credit and Savings at the Same Time with Self Lender [It’s Legit!]

Credit Card and Loan Recommendations

This Credit Karma review wouldn't be complete without noting how the company makes money. One of the main ways is through credit card and loan applications.

When you set up your account, you’ll get a list of recommendations based on your credit scores, odds of approval, and the money they earn for each application. The recommendations can be filtered by category to make it easier to review the information.

Additionally, Credit Karma will show you the odds of approval for a particular credit card as well as user reviews. The latter can be a gold mine of information on credit approval tips, reward redemption tricks, customer service experience, credit score requirements, and applicants’ experience with the application process.

Credit Karma also offers recommendations for personal, home, student, auto, and business loans. This can be a good way to compare interest rates and may save you a trip to the bank to apply for a loan.

Get started with Credit Karma today.

Pros and Cons of Credit Karma

Credit Karma offers a wealth of information about your credit history and score–all for free. Overall, it’s a great tool for staying on top of your finances and for considering additional credit card and loan options. Below is a quick overview of the pros and cons of using Credit Karma.

Pros

  • Free credit score and credit report
  • Free tax filing
  • Mobile app to stay on top of your information
  • Credit card and loan product recommendations
  • Tools and tips to improve your credit

Cons

  • You’ll get a Vantage score instead of a FICO score
  • You can’t access your actual credit report

Final Thoughts on Credit Karma Review

It’s easy to see why there are 60 million people are using Credit Karma. Getting a free credit score and a free credit report are important tools for staying on top of your finances. It would be nice if you can get a FICO score instead of a Vantage score since that’s the gold standards but in this case, the Vantage score is a good alternative.

Credit Karma offers resources such as the free tax filing and identity theft alerts that help you keep track of your finances. If you’re in the market for a new loan or a credit card, Credit Karma’s recommendation tools can come quite in handy for doing research and narrowing down your options.

Finally, you’ll get tips to help you improve your credit score, which is quite valuable. Many of these tools are something that you’ll normally pay for so getting it for free though Credit Karma is a no-brainer.

While there are other ways to get a free credit score or a free credit report, Credit Karma’s combination of tools and services make it easy to access the information and improve your creditworthiness.

Get your free credit score (and start improving it) today.

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Comments

  1. fergusonsarah says:

    Credit Karma sure has a great features.. This will surely come in handy.. 🙂