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How does Credit Karma credit score service work?

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This service offers free credit monitoring and access to your score, but reviews suggest your score could be inaccurate.

The three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — offer access to your credit report once a year. If you’re looking for more visibility into your credit, services like Credit Karma offer free access to your score and credit monitoring.

Details

Starting price$0
Credit scoresTransUnion, Equifax, Experian
Credit monitoringYes
Trial periodNo

What is Credit Karma?

Credit Karma is a credit score service founded in 2006 with headquarters in San Francisco, California. It offers its customers free access to their credit scores and reports from TransUnion and Equifax. It also offers credit monitoring, money management calculators and recommendations for loans and credit cards to fit your situation.

What other services does Credit Karma offer?

Besides the ability to access your free credit score, Credit Karma offers other services that include:

  • Credit reports. Credit Karma offers free copies of your credit reports from Equifax and TransUnion.
  • Alerts. Keeps you in the loop if your score changes.
  • Credit monitoring. Stay up to date on significant changes to your score through TransUnion credit bureau.
  • Identity theft protection. Credit Karma’s ID monitoring keeps track of whether your personal information shows up somewhere it shouldn’t.
  • Budgeting tools. Credit Karma offers budgeting tools, including loan and debt repayment calculators.
  • Credit score simulation. Credit Karma’s credit score simulator helps you estimate how new credit cards, loans or balance transfers might affect your credit score.
  • Mobile apps. Keep track of your credit on your phone or tablet.
  • Financial products. Choose from personal, home or auto loans and credit cards to help you build your credit.
    Tax filing. Free federal and state tax filing.

How can I check my credit score with Credit Karma?

Creating an account with Credit Karma gets you access to your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports. You’ll also get weekly credit score updates complete with alerts notifying you of any changes to your TransUnion credit report.

Credit Karma breaks down your credit reports and highlights areas you may need to review, like missing payments or incorrect information.

Reviewing your credit information with Credit Karma won’t harm your credit, as Credit Karma performs a soft pull of your credit history that doesn’t impact your score.

What credit scores do I get?

You’ll get access to both your Equifax and TransUnion credit scores through Credit Karma’s service.

How much does it cost?

Credit Karma’s service is entirely free, and makes its money through advertising and lending partners. This means when you sign up, you’ll be asked to sign up for other services from Credit Karma’s lenders, but you aren’t obligated to accept any offers.

Is there another way to get my credit score for free?

A number of credit cards provide free access to your credit score, including Capital One, Discover, First National Bank and USAA.

Pros and cons

Consider the benefits and fallbacks of signing up for a free credit monitoring service like Credit Karma.

Pros
  • Credit monitoring. If your credit score changes, you’ll be sure to know about it with TransUnion credit monitoring.
  • Credit report breakdown. If you’re not sure how to read your credit reports, Credit Karma breaks down your information into easy-to-understand segments and provides feedback on how to potentially improve your score.
  • Free tax filing. File your federal and state taxes online for free with the help of Credit Karma’s tax software.
Cons
  • Limited customer service. As of this writing, Credit Karma’s customer service is only available by email, meaning you could wait days for a response to sensitive inquiries about your credit.
  • Too many loan and credit card offers. Some Credit Karma customers complain that the repeated offers for credit cards or loans from Credit Karma’s lending partners is a frustrating drawback to the platform.

How do I sign up?

1. To sign up with Credit Karma, go to its site and click See My Scores.
2. Enter your email address to create an account.
3. Enter your personal details and Social Security number, and agree to the terms and conditions.
4. To finish registration, answer several questions to verify your identity.

Credit Karma reviews and complaints

Your credit score is a sensitive piece of personal information, and the service you select should treat your information with integrity and care. As of October 2020, here’s what we found out about Credit Karma’s reputation:

  • Better Business Bureau (BBB). Credit Karma is not accredited with the BBB, but it earns an A+ rating. The BBB cites lengthy response times to its more than 397 customer complaints as the leading issue affecting the score.
  • Trustpilot. Credit Karma receives a TrustScore of 3.1 out of 5 based on its 265 customer reviews. Customers praise the simple and easy to use platform, but would like an easier way to contact customer service.
  • Accuracy of credit score. Some customers complain of discrepancies between the credit score they see on Credit Karma versus the score they get from banks after applying for a loan. On average, these complaints cite a 50-point inflation in the Credit Karma score.
  • Account protection. Credit Karma uses 128-bit encryption with SMS two-factor authentication to keep your personal data safe.

Customer service

Unfortunately, Credit Karma’s customer service is limited to email and requires you to submit a help request through its site. Include your full name, email address, date of birth and a description of your problem or inquiry.

Credit Karma doesn’t guarantee how soon you’ll receive a response, but several online reviews complain that after submitting help requests, they received automated email replies instead of personalized support.

How do I know that Credit Karma is right for me?

If you’re preparing to apply for a loan or a credit card, knowing your credit score ahead of time could help. Every time there’s a hard pull on your credit, it temporarily lowers your score, so knowing your credit score can help you determine if you’ll qualify for the rates and terms you want before you apply.

Credit Karma not only offers free access to your credit score, but includes credit monitoring and ID theft protection. If you’re looking for a free alternative to help managing your credit, this service could help.

Start your credit score journey with these services

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Starting price Trial period Credit scores Credit monitoring Credit reports Update frequency
Experian Credit Report
$19.99
30 days
TransUnion, Equifax, Experian
Yes
TransUnion, Equifax, Experian
Monthly, Annually
Get your credit report and FICO score for just $1 with enrollment in Experian CreditWorks credit monitoring. Cancel anytime.
TransUnion Credit Report
$24.95
No
TransUnion, Equifax, Experian
Yes
TransUnion, Equifax, Experian
Monthly
TransUnion credit score, monitoring and identity theft insurance.
myFICO
$19.95
1 day
TransUnion, Equifax, Experian
Yes
TransUnion, Equifax, Experian
Monthly
Get quarterly access to your most widely used FICO® Scores and a 3-bureau credit report.
Equifax Small Business Credit Reporting
$15.95
No
TransUnion, Equifax, Experian
Yes
TransUnion, Equifax, Experian
Monthly
Monitor your key business relationships to protect your company from losses.
GoFreeCredit.com
$19.95
7 days
TransUnion
Yes
TransUnion
Monthly
$1 for a seven-day trial to get access to your credit score and credit report from TransUnion.
Credit Karma
$0
No
TransUnion, Equifax, Experian
Yes
TransUnion, Equifax, Experian
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Specializes in clearing your credit report of inaccurate items with all three credit bureaus.
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Law firm that offers three tiers of credit repair suited to your situation.
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Phone, Email, Mail
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Professional credit repair service that can help you create a step by step action plan. Cancel anytime.
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C
Phone, Email, Mail
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Professionals work with you to clean up your credit and raise your credit scores. Cancel anytime.
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Bottom line

When you’re applying for a loan or credit card, your credit score makes a big difference in the rates and terms you’re offered. Knowing your credit score before you apply can help you better navigate loans and credit card applications.

Credit Karma offers free access to credit monitoring and your credit reports, but be aware that its customer service is limited, and online reports indicate that the score you see on its site could be inflated.

Explore your options with other providers before you make a decision to choose the right service to fit your needs.

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