Credit Karma – How to Monitor Your Credit Score For Free

Credit Karma Scores
Credit Karma Scores

Credit Karma is an international personal financial company based in the United States that was created in 2007. It has been a brand of Intuit since December 2020.

Credit Karma is abbreviated as CK.

It is most known as a free credit and financial management platform, but it also includes unclaimed property database monitoring and a tool for identifying and disputing credit report inaccuracies.

The business is active in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Consumers can use all of Credit Karma’s services for free.

Revenue from targeted financial product adverts covers the costs of its free products and services.

Credit Karma makes money from lenders who pay the company when Credit Karma effectively refers customers to them.

What Is Credit Karma?

Credit Karma is well recognized for providing free credit scores and reports.

It does, however, position itself more generally as a website that provides its users with “the opportunity to build a better financial future.”

To use CK you must provide basic personal information to the company, which is usually only your name and the last four digits of your Social Security number.

CK then accesses your credit records with your consent, produces a VantageScore, and makes it available to you.

Key Takeaway
  • In exchange for information about your spending habits, Credit Karma provides you with a free credit score and credit report. It then charges businesses to deliver you personalized adverts.
  • Credit Karma gets its scores and credit report information from TransUnion and Equifax, two of the three major credit agencies, and uses that information to calculate its own VantageScore.
  • Your CK score should be the same as or similar to your FICO score, which is likely to be checked by any prospective lender.
  • The range of your credit score (such as “excellent” or “very good”) is more essential than the exact figure, which varies by source and fluctuates frequently.
History

Kenneth Lin, who previously developed Multilytics Marketing and worked for E-Loan and Upromise, co-founded Credit Karma with Ryan Graciano and Nichole Mustard in 2007.

In February 2008, the website went live.

Chris Larson, CEO of Prosper, and Mark Lefanowicz, former president of E-Loan, were among the early investors.

CK raised $2.5 million in Series A fundraising in November 2009, led by QED Investors, with participation from SV Angel, Felicis Ventures, and Founders Fund.

CK raised $30 million in Series B fundraising in 2013, led by Ribbit Capital and Susquehanna Growth Equity.

CK raised $85 million in Series C funding in March 2014, headed by CapitalG, with participation from Tiger Global Management and current investors.

In September 2014, the company received $75 million in follow-on capital from CapitalG, Tiger Global Management, and Susquehanna Growth Equity.

Credit Karma paid an undisclosed sum for mobile alerts app developer Snowball on December 30, 2015.

CK had raised $368.5 million in funding with a valuation of $3.5 billion as of 2015.

CK bought the money-recovery firm Claimdog in 2016.

CK bought AFJC Corporation, the owner of OnePriceTaxes.com, on December 7, 2016, to speed its entry into the tax preparation market. In conjunction with the introduction of tax preparation services, the company expanded its employees and added offices in Los Angeles and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Credit Karma debuted Unclaimed Money in seven states on May 9, 2017. The product’s goal is to assist consumers in locating unclaimed monies, such as unclaimed refunds and insurance payouts.

CK purchased personal finance business Penny for an unknown sum on March 14, 2018. Credit Karma paid an unknown sum for mortgage platform Approved on August 16.

Customers of the Noddle credit reporting service in the United Kingdom were acquired from TransUnion in May 2019.

Intuit will pay around $7.1 billion for Credit Karma in December 2020.

The acquisition was initially delayed owing to a DOJ antitrust action, but it was allowed after the firm agreed to relinquish its free tax preparation service, Credit Karma Tax, which competed directly with Intuit’s TurboTax product.

Credit Karma inked an agreement with NBA franchise Houston Rockets in August 2021 to have the company’s name appear on the team’s jerseys beginning with the 2021 season.

Products and services

CK offers free credit scores and credit reports from national credit agencies TransUnion and Equifax in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, as well as daily credit monitoring from TransUnion.

CK also offers identity theft protection and credit tools such as a Credit Score Simulator, which simulates the impact of prospective financial activities on a user’s credit score;[26] as well as personalised suggestions for credit cards and personal loans.

Credit Karma Tax, a free tax filing service in the United States, was unveiled in December 2016.

Credit Karma Tax is not a member of the Free File Alliance and hence is not bound by its criteria to limit free filing eligibility.

TaxAct, TurboTax, and H&R Block are the company’s main competitors in this market.

Square, Inc. announced in November 2020 that it will acquire Credit Karma Tax for $50 million and integrate it into its Cash App segment.

Credit Karma guarantees that you will receive your credit score and credit report for free.

But how precise and trustworthy is this data?

Is Credit Karma providing you with the same information that a lender would if you applied for a mortgage or a vehicle loan?

Is it providing you with anything you can’t obtain elsewhere?

With that said you should understand what Credit Karma is and what it accomplishes, as well as how its VantageScore differs from the more famous FICO score.

VantageScore or FICO: Does It Matter?

FICO is not VantageScore.

FICO stands for Fair Isaac Corporation, the largest competitor in the field of developing scoring algorithms used to assess customer creditworthiness.

To make matters more complicated, both models are updated on a regular basis, and lenders utilize various versions with somewhat varied findings.

You do not have a single credit score.

You have a number of credit scores, each generated by a lender using one of several models or variants of models.

The crucial point is that they all fall into the same category, such as “excellent” or “very good.”

On either model, your score should be nearly the same.

Unpaid medical debt may be given slightly higher weight in one model.

A loan application may take longer to record.

However, if your credit score is “excellent” or “very good” in one system, it should be the same in the other.

Other Services Provided by Credit Karma

Credit Karma will obtain information on your credit history from TransUnion and Equifax, two of the three major consumer credit reporting companies. (Experian is the third.) Based on VantageScore, it will generate its own independent rating. You will then be given your current VantageScore rating as well as the more extensive credit reports that go with it.

In addition to this free service, Credit Karma offers other relevant services such as security monitoring and warnings when someone performs a credit check on you.

CK is not alone in offering such notifications and services: several of the best credit monitoring firms do as well.

When you submit your personal information with CK you can search for customised offers for a credit card, a car loan, or a home loan, and your search will not appear on Credit Karma or anywhere else in your credit report.

“Inquiries” is a common feature of credit reports that lists requests for your report from lenders to whom you’ve applied for a loan.

You can limit the number of inquiries you make using Credit Karma.

Credit Karma also provides tailored money management advice.

(For instance: “Your automobile loan interest rate is 16%. You could be overpaying! “)

Who Runs Credit Karma?

Kenneth Lin, Ryan Graciano, and Nichole Mustard launched Credit Karma, an international corporation, in 2007.

Lin is now the CEO, Graciano is the Chief Technology Officer, and Mustard is the Chief Revenue Officer.

Intuit, the firm behind TurboTax, completed the acquisition of Credit Karma in December 2020 for a total consideration of roughly $3.4 billion in cash and 13.3 million shares of Intuit stock and equity awards worth $4.7 billion.

Credit Karma claims to have 100 million users worldwide.

How Does Credit Karma Make Money?

The business concept is not entirely altruistic.

It is a for-profit company that generates revenue by providing you with a free credit score in exchange for learning more about your spending habits and charging firms to give you customized adverts.

CK displays adverts to its users in the hopes that they will respond by clicking on them.

Many of these advertisers are lenders, and CK may receive a commission if you apply using one of their links.

Advertisers value your personal information and will pay extra to target it.

With over 100 million members, Credit Karma has a healthy business strategy.

How to Sign-in to Credit Karma

If you already have a Credit Karma account, signing in is simple.

Simply visit www.creditkarma.com, select the login icon, then enter your email address and password in the upper right corner of the screen.

Finally, click the login button to be taken to your profile page.

That simple and straightforward.

You will be logged into your credit karma account if you try it now.

If you lost your password, go to the sign-in page and click “Forgot your Password?” To reset your password, enter your email address and answer the security question.

How to Find and Access Credit Karma Accounts

If you have a CK account, you’ll be greeted with your dashboard when you login in.

This is the homepage for all of your accounts.

The sign-in link is located in the top right corner of the screen, immediately below your profile photo.

To continue using Credit Karma, click on it and input your login credentials.

Creating a new Credit Karma account is simple and takes only a few minutes.

You must first create an account if you haven’t previously done so before continue with the instructions in this article.

Viewing and Updating Credit Scores

You must link your existing social media accounts for verification in order to view and change your credit scores.

Follow these steps to move an account from a different device, such as a laptop or desktop:

  • In the top right-hand corner of the screen, click the “Login” button.
  • Click “Continue” under “Transfer your account from another device.”
  • Fill out the form with your email address, password, and security code.
  • Select “I don’t see this message on my account.”
How to Keep Financial and Debt Records

If you’ve never utilized Credit Karma before, now is the moment.

Credit Karma monitors your credit score, provides financial advice, and even makes personalized suggestions for goods such as a credit card or mortgage.

You can also use the Debt Reduction Planner to track your debt and set objectives for yourself.

The Debt Reduction Planner is an interactive tool that will coach you through the next stages to help you pay off debt more quickly and wisely. You may also utilize the Credit Card Marketplace to find the finest credit cards for your specific requirements!

How to Sign Out of Your Account

It is simple to log out of your CK account.

Simply navigate to the account menu in the upper-right corner of your screen and select “Log Out.”

You will be required to input your password before being logged out.

Simply log in from the same location to regain access to your account.

How to Update Your Email Address?

To change your email address, go to your Credit Karma account settings.

Locate the “Email Address” section by clicking on the “Your Profile” page.

In this section, enter your new email address and click “Save.”

You must first check in to your existing Credit Karma account.

In the upper-right corner of the screen, click the “Account” button.

Then select “Account Settings.”

From here, select “Your Profile” from the menu on the left.

Finally, enter your new email address and click “Save.”

Resetting Your Credit Karma Password

When you sign up for a CK account, you will be given a customized dashboard.

You will then be able to create a password that you will use to login.

Using a password to protect your credit and financial information on your Credit Karma account is an important security measure.

However, if you have forgotten your password or need to reset it, this article will show you how.

To begin, navigate to the CK homepage.

Then, in the upper right corner of the page, click “Sign In.”

Click “Forgot Password?” on the left side of the page.

Fill out all of the required fields onscreen, then click “Reset Password.”

When you do this, an email with a new password will be sent to your registered email address.

How to Add Credit Card to Your Credit Karma Account

Linking your existing credit card to Credit Karma is a terrific method to keep track of your spending and get alerts if there are any issues with your credit cards.

All you have to do is head to your account’s profile section and click on “Add New Card.”

After clicking “Add New Card,” you may enter all of the relevant information about your card, such as the account number, card name, expiration date, billing address, and more.

You can also specify which cards should receive alerts.

If there is a problem with the card that requires care or if something changes (such as a new expiration date), you will be notified via the CK app or email.

How to Get the Credit Karma App

The app is free to download, but you must first sign up as a member to utilize it.

The registration is free and does not require any credit card or payment information.

Signing up and downloading the app will have no effect on your credit, and Credit Karma prioritizes security.

Once you’re a member, you can use a compatible device to download the CK mobile app.

We’ll go into iOS and Android device requirements later, but it’s worth noting that the CK app isn’t currently compatible with Windows phones, tablets, or some high-resolution phones.

How to Get the Credit Karma iOS App
  1. Go to the App Store and check to see if your smartphone is compatible with the Credit Karma app.

The software requires iOS 11.0 or later as of June 2020 and is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

  • To download, click the symbol.
  • After installing the app, log in using your credentials.
How to get the Credit Karma app for Android
  1. Go to the Google Play store and check to see if your smartphone is compatible with the Credit Karma app.

If you’re having problems with your Android device, you can get help from Credit Karma’s member support staff.

  • Select the “Install” option.
  • After installing the app, log in using your credentials.

Now that you’ve downloaded the app, let’s go through some of the features and tools that make it worthwhile to have it on your phone.

Features unique to the Credit Karma app

Even if you already have a Credit Karma account, you may be missing out on important services if you just use the desktop or mobile site.

Here are some features that are only available in the Credit Karma app.

Is Your Credit Karma Report Correct?

Investopedia contacted Credit Karma to inquire why consumers should trust Credit Karma to deliver an accurate assessment of their creditworthiness.

“The scores and credit report information on Credit Karma come from TransUnion and Equifax, two of the three main credit agencies,” said Bethy Hardeman, former chief consumer advocate at Credit Karma.”

“VantageScore credit scores are provided independently from both credit bureaus.

VantageScore was chosen by Credit Karma because it is a partnership of the three major credit bureaus and a transparent scoring mechanism that can assist consumers better comprehend changes to their credit score.”

CK is not a credit bureau, which means it does not collect information from creditors.

CK’s credit scores and reports represent your credit information as reported by TransUnion and Equifax, two of the major consumer credit bureaus.

Because these scores are not approximations of your credit score, they are accurate and reliable.

What Is VantageScore?

Though the FICO score is undoubtedly the most well-known credit score (and the one that nearly every personal financial expert recommends tracking), many individuals are unaware that FICO does not actually gather information.

FICO is a formula that generates a credit score by analyzing your data from the three major credit reporting bureaus.

VantageScore uses a similar process, except that its rating model was developed by credit bureaus.

Although VantageScore is less well-known, it claims to have scored 30 million more people than any other model.

One advantage is that it can score those who have limited credit history, also known as having a “thin” credit file.

If you’re young or have recently moved to the United States, this could be a significant consideration.

Which Is Better, FICO or VantageScore?

VantageScore and FICO are both credit rating software tools that use consumers’ purchasing and payment history to produce credit scores.

FICO is the older and more well-known model, having debuted in 1989.

VantageScore was created in 2006 by the three major consumer credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

Because they are two different models, your VantageScore will invariably differ from your FICO score.

In fact, depending on whether the source employs a particular form of FICO or the most often used basic model and which of its many versions is used, you may receive a different FICO score at any given time.

The crucial point is that your score on any or all of those models should be in the same ballpark.

You should have a “fair” FICO score and a “excellent” VantageScore.

The Differences

The differences are relatively minor:

  • VantageScore is intended to monitor new or infrequent credit users.

This can be advantageous for young individuals or anyone who has fallen off the consumer radar for any reason.

  • When you apply for a new loan, the lender will look at your credit history.

Multiple applications must be regarded as one query under consumer protection rules to avoid being penalized multiple times for comparison shopping.

Because the two rivals handle these questions differently, VantageScore may penalize you more than FICO.

  • Both generate a credit score at the time the loan is requested.

The FICO system is based on current information reported to credit bureaus.

The VantageScore algorithm takes into account your spending habits over the last two years.

The Most Significant Similarity

FICO and VantageScore both have the same simple goal: to forecast the possibility of a consumer defaulting on a debt during the following 24 months.

That is why you should not be concerned about the differences.

Your credit ratings should all be in the same ballpark, but they will never be identical.

Different lenders utilize various scores.

Because you can’t foresee which score they’ll choose, it doesn’t matter if you rely on FICO or VantageScore.

There are numerous additional scoring models, and there is no practical way to keep track of or access them all.

Which Should You Check Often?

Hardeman advised choosing one and sticking with it.

“It can be astonishing to learn that there could be hundreds of credit ratings,” she said.

“However, credit scores are strongly related.

That is, if you scored ‘good’ in one scoring model, you almost certainly have a ‘good’ credit rating in all others.

Whether you’re starting from nothing, recovering from a setback, or simply maintaining your credit, I recommend keeping track of one score for changes over time.”

Credit Karma Restrictions/Limitations

The first question is if you require Credit Karma’s complimentary services.

And it may be determined by how urgently you require precise information about your credit condition.

  • Every 12 months, you have the legal right to a copy of your credit score and report from each of the three credit bureaus.
  • Many banks and lenders provide account holders with access to their credit ratings on demand.

For example, if you have an American Express card, you may examine your FICO score and history by clicking on Account Services.

Most of the time, that’s enough for most of us.

If you’re preparing to apply for a mortgage, striving to improve your credit, or interested in the other services Credit Karma provides, you may desire this access to your credit report and the other services the firm provides.

Your FICO Score May Vary

Credit Karma rates your creditworthiness using two of the three major credit agencies and the commonly used (although not as widely used as FICO) VantageScore system.

Your credit score should be in the same range as it is with the major credit bureaus and its numerous competitors.

Some customers have stated that their Credit Karma score is significantly higher than their FICO score on the customer review site ConsumerAffairs.

It is unknown whether these posts are reliable, but they are worth mentioning.

If your Credit Karma score is incorrect, the issue is most likely elsewhere.

That instance, one of the agencies made a mistake or left out information.

Alternatively, the information could have been reported to one bureau but not to others.

Credit Karma will not harm your credit score. Your search is a self-initiated inquiry, which is a “soft” credit inquiry rather than a “hard” credit investigation.

Your Credit Karma Score Could Be Insufficient

On Credit Karma, your credit ratings might alter on a daily basis. It is mostly determined by when your lenders report to credit agencies. Credit Karma now allows you to view your daily TransUnion credit score.

VantageScore’s system is accurate, however it is not industry standard. Credit Karma is adequate for the average consumer, but companies who approve or deny your application are more likely to consider your FICO score.

Borrowing May Be Encouraged by Credit Karma

The business concept of Credit Karma is to collect advertising money and commissions from loans obtained through the site.

Despite its status as a trusted advisor, the site is incentivized to sign you up for new loans.

Use CK to track your credit score rather than to obtain advise on whether you should take on more debt.

FAQs

Is Credit Karma 100% free?

Yes. You will not be charged any fees by Credit Karma.

If you apply for a loan through the website, the company will charge you a fee.

How Frequently Does Credit Karma Refresh the VantageScore?

Your TransUnion and Equifax scores can be refreshed as frequently as daily and weekly, respectively, with a limited number of members receiving daily Equifax score checks at this time.

What Is the Score Range for the Credit Karma Credit Score?

CK credit score range is between 300 and 850. Their credit ratings are classified into three types:

  • Poor: 300s to 600s
  • Good to fair: low 600s to mid 700s
  • Very good and excellent/exceptional: higher than the mid 700s

Is FICO used by Credit Karma?

No. However, the credit score provided by Credit Karma will be similar to your FICO score. TransUnion and Equifax, two of the three major credit agencies, provide the scores and credit report information on Credit Karma.

Is Credit Karma Safe to Use?

Yes. Credit Karma protects its data transmission with 128-bit encryption, which is regarded nearly impossible to hack. It also promises not to sell your personal information to third parties.

Is Credit Karma Bad for Your Credit?

No. Using Credit Karma will not harm your credit score. When you use Credit Karma to view your information, it counts as a “soft” enquiry that is not reported to the credit bureaus. A “hard” inquiry, such as a credit check performed by a lender when you ask for a loan, is reported.

How Many Points Does Credit Karma Deduct?

If any, the only conceivable answer is a few points. Your credit score can change based on whether the VantageScore or FICO model, or another scoring model, is utilized, and even which version of a model is used.

The crucial point is that this number appears in the same pie chart slice as “poor,” “fair,” “excellent,” “very good,” or “outstanding.”

(The text on the pie chart may also vary somewhat.)

What Is the Difference Between My Credit Karma and FICO Scores?

In the credit rating industry, the two main competitors are VantageScore and FICO. VantageScore is used by Credit Karma. Their models differ slightly in the importance they place on different aspects of your spending and borrowing history.

Conclusion

Credit Karma is used by millions of people to track their credit ratings. The organization is extremely transparent and offers its services via VantageScore. As a result, it provides a reliable it can also help you find errors in your credit report.