If you take advantage of AnnualCreditReport.com you can pull your credit report once a year from each of the three credit bureaus for free.
Your credit report is important to see what accounts you have open, to check the status of your accounts, and to make sure there are no mistakes on your reports.
But your credit report is different from your credit score.
For the most part, you have to pay to get the score that lenders use to determine your creditworthiness. If you intend to pull your score frequently, perhaps because you are in the market for a house and would like the highest possible credit score to get the best interest rate on your home loan, then give Credit Karma a look, where you can get a credit score and track your score over time with no fees or obligations.
Let’s take a look at what it’s all about in this Credit Karma review.
What Is Credit Karma?
In addition to showing you your credit score, they also show how your score ranks in comparison to millions of other Americans and then they guide you to the best offers for credit cards and banks based on the strength of your credit score.
The best part is that you can pull your credit score for free as often as you would like.
You can also get your Vantage Score and your Auto Insurance Score.
Credit Karma App
Credit Karma also offers up an app for your iPhone. Now you can check your credit score from virtually anywhere. Even better, you get on-the-go credit monitoring. Find out if something changes on your credit report (this is great to make sure there are no incorrect charges that could result from identity theft or fraud).
Off course their app is free!
Other Services Offered By Credit Karma
Credit Karma doesn’t just give you your credit score. They have a number of other useful services which are also free.
Credit Report Card
The Credit Report Card from Credit Karma gives you a snapshot of your credit report as well as a grades showing you how the different parts of your credit report affect your credit score. This is a great tool to help show you the areas you may need to fix if you are looking to raise your credit score.
My Credit Simulator
This informative tool will simulate what certain financial transactions will do to your credit score. This is a pretty cool tool and can be very powerful in either improving your credit score or making sure you maintain your score. It will look at factors such as opening a new credit card, adding a new loan, adding credit inquiries, increasing your credit line on one credit card, increasing or decreasing your credit card balances, the effect of past due credit card balances, and more.
How does this tool help you?
Certain financial moves, like getting a new credit card, have an effect on your credit score. With this tool, you can predict how your score will change before you make the financial move. This way, you see whether you will help or hurt your credit score, or not affect it at all.
A few points difference in a credit score can mean the difference of thousands (or tens of thousands) or more in the life of a mortgage. It could also determine whether or not you get a loan.
This tool will compare your credit score against others in the Credit Karma community. You can see how you rank based on the overall Credit Karma community, by state, by age percentile, and email domain.
I find this tool to be more interesting than of real credit use. It’s relative to other Credit Karma users so the comparison is limited to what the scores of other users are. Still, it’s nice to see how your score falls in the range of scores pulled through Credit Karma.
Tools & Calculators
Credit Karma has several different calculators include amortization, home affordability and debt repayment calculators.
Credit Karma has an active community. You can ask for credit advice such as “How do I improve my credit score?” or you can choose to answer others’ questions.
So, What Is the Catch?
As unbelievable as it is, there is no catch.
Credit Karma offers all of their services for free.
They stay profitable through the advertising they offer on their site. In addition, you do give them your e-mail address, and if you choose not to opt out during registration, they may occasionally send you offers from their “partners” whom they feel may be a good match for you based on your profile (in part on your credit score, though they never sell your personal information nor divulge just your credit score to their partners).
The Downside of Credit Karma
Credit Karma must have your social security number to access your credit score. That may make some people leery. However, Credit Karma states they simply use your social security number to access your TransUnion credit report; they do not store your social security number anywhere on their server. If you feel comfortable sharing your information on Mint, you will probably feel comfortable sharing it with Credit Karma.
Best of all, because all of their services are free, there is no trial period, and you don’t have to cancel your account within a certain time frame to avoid being charged. In fact, Credit Karma never asks for your credit card information.
The other potential downside is the credit score you receive isn’t your FICO score, which is the most popular score lenders use. Odds are the TransUnion score you get through Credit Karma will not exactly match your FICO score. Still, credit scores work off of essentially the same data from your credit report and your score from Credit Karma will be a good approximation of what your FICO score would be.
Credit Karma offers up a great service for those wanting to check in on their credit score or keep track of how their score changes without having to pay a monthly fee like most service require. On top of your credit score you get a number of useful tools and calculators to help you better understand your credit score as well as help with loans.
Though you aren’t getting your FICO score from the three credit bureaus, you are getting a score that will be a close approximation from one of the credit bureaus (TransUnion). Unless you need to know your FICO score, getting your score from Credit Karma is a great way to see your score frequently as well as see how you can improve your score without having to pay a fee (in other words FREE).
Have you used Credit Karma? What has been your experience with them?