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Home » Best of, Credit, Reviews

Credit Karma Review

Last updated by on February 2, 2016

Ever since I first brought up Credit Karma in my 10 free financial services post (yes, you can get a free Credit Karma account), I’ve had a ton of curious friends and readers ask me questions. That prompted me to write this Credit Karma review. I’ve now been a Credit Karma user for over 4 years, and update this review every few months to reflect my experience. The most common questions I receive about Credit Karma are:

– Is Credit Karma free?

– How does Credit Karma make money?

credit karma review– Is Credit Karma safe?

– Is Credit Karma a scam?

– What are the benefits of using Credit Karma?

– How accurate is Credit Karma?

I had all of those questions myself. And I did some research. So what follows is a review that hopefully answers these questions about the service, benefits, and whether or not I’d recommend creating an account.

Is Credit Karma Free?

Is Credit Karma really 100% free? Yes it is. This was a big question that I had going in. You’ll notice with most “free credit score” companies, when you sign up for their service, they ask for your credit card. And then, a month later, you’ll unsuspectingly get charged. After going back to read the fine print, you’ll notice that free was really only free for the first month, and if you didn’t cancel your subscription, you’ll get a monthly charge. That’s why they asked for your credit card.

Not at Credit Karma. In their FAQ’s they state:

Q: Is Credit Karma really free?

A: Credit Karma is always 100% free.

Q: Does Credit Karma require a credit card to sign up?

A: No, and we never will. Credit Karma will never ask you for your credit card number during the registration process or at any other time.

I can confirm. There’s really no way to get screwed on unsuspecting charges with them.

How Does Credit Karma Make Money?

You’re probably wondering how Credit Karma makes money if they don’t charge you for their service. It’s a legit question to ask. From everything I’ve seen, they have almost an identical business model to Mint.com. If you’ve signed up for Mint’s service, you’ll periodically get Mint partner offers that could potentially save you money. It’s a form of advertising. Credit Karma has the exact same model: ad-based offers from partners.

You can elect whether or not you actually want to receive these offers right on the sign-up page under communication preferences (and you are even opted out by default). I appreciate the transparency and that I didn’t have to find some secret unsubscribe link hidden deep in the site somewhere.

credit karma communication preferences

Is Credit Karma Safe?

Any time you are dealing with your credit, you want to make sure your privacy is safe and secure. Is Credit Karma safe and secure? Without a doubt – Credit Karma is extremely safe.

is credit karma safeWith any credit service, you must be identified via your Social Security number. It is first worth noting that you do not provide your actual full Social Security number to Credit Karma when you create an account – only the last 4 digits (see image). And this is only for first time retrieval – it is not stored on their servers. That is less than my doctor’s office asks of me – and they aren’t offering me credit services.

To keep your privacy safe, Credit Karma also boasts the following privacy, safety, and security measures:

  • Credit Karma uses 128-bit encryption to secure the transmission of information to our site (note the “https” in the address bar).
  • Our privacy policy has been verified by TRUSTe and our security precautions are independently assessed by third parties on a regular basis.
  • We won’t sell or rent your personal information to third parties for any purpose and will never share your credit report or credit score with third parties.
  • Accounts are read only – you can’t execute any transactions.

I wish my health insurer – Anthem – had the same security measures.

Is Credit Karma a Scam?

I was wondering whether Credit Karma was a scam. After researching and using them myself, I can tell you Credit Karma is definitely not a scam. I did a lot of research before signing up. They are a legit company with a legit business model that has been around for years now.

is credit karma a scamCredit Karma is a TRUSTe certified company. They are also a BBB (Better Business Bureau) Accredited company and have a strong history of responses and complaint resolutions to customers. That is reassuring.

Power in numbers is reassuring as well. Credit Karma surpassed 50 million members in January of 2016.

Also, they recently received additional funding of $175 million from investors – which brings their total funding up to $368.5 million. They are well funded now and into the future to keep offering excellent services at no cost to users.

What are the Benefits of Using Credit Karma?

Here’s a rundown of all the free you get from your Credit Karma account:

  • Credit KarmaTransUnion Credit Score: It is continuously updated so you can see how it changes as you make a change that will impact your credit score. And it charts out over time, as seen in my screen shot above. You can also see how that score compares nationally, and you get an overall grade.
  • Equifax Credit Score: In January of 2015, Credit Karma started offering Equifax credit scores, in addition to TransUnion credit scores. That makes free scores for 2 out of the 3 major credit bureaus.
  • TransUnion Credit Report: Credit Karma has free credit report access too! Access is to your complete TransUnion credit report and you can check it any time (it updates weekly). This gives you more consistent access to credit reporting throughout the year (versus just once via annualcreditreport.com), allowing you to frequently monitor your credit report and correct any errors or discrepancies.
  • Equifax Credit Report: TransUnion credit reports were added in late 2014, and shortly afterward (January, 2015), free Equifax credit reports were added as well.
  • Free Credit Monitoring: Credit Karma has now even started offering free credit monitoring in addition to their other free services.
  • TransUnion Auto Insurance Score: Many insurers are now factoring in an auto insurance score, which is based on your credit history. This lets you know how you stack up against others.
  • TransUnion Home Insurance Score: similar to your auto insurance score, but used for home insurance.
  • Your VantageScore: This is a cumulative, consistent score across all three credit bureaus.
  • Credit Report Card: This is definitely a nice feature. You get to see a grade on each of the factors that go into making up your credit report: credit utilization rate, payment history, age of accounts, derogatory remarks, total accounts, and credit inquiries. Good stuff to know if you are looking to improve your credit score.
  • Credit Score Simulator: This is probably the most useful feature on Credit Karma. You get to simulate how taking certain actions (i.e. closing a credit card, opening a new one, increasing your credit line, etc.) would likely impact your score. I was surprised to see how little of an impact opening or closing a credit card account would have. Definitely good to know.

How Accurate is Credit Karma?

A lot of people want to know if the scores you receive from Credit Karma are accurate. By “accurate”, I’m assuming they want to compare the Credit Karma credit scores to a FICO score (which is commonly used by lenders to judge your credit). I crosschecked. Your experience may vary, the but scores that I have received from TransUnion and Equifax through Credit Karma are usually with 1-2 points of my FICO score. That’s less than a 1% differential – which is basically no difference when you are judged for a credit approval. The credit rating companies have gone out of their way to have similar rating models, and FICO uses TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian data to arrive at their scores.

Final Thoughts on Credit Karma

The only Credit Karma complaint I have is that there are a lot of offers in the interface when you log in to your account. It’s a minor annoyance, but this is how Credit Karma makes money, so I’ll take that trade-off vs. having to pay for the service.

All-in-all, it is a super useful service that I feel really good about. You’re basically getting for free what many other services like Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian are charging $15 or more per month for. And having used TransUnion’s credit score reporting service in the past, the nice graphical interfaces, report card, and Simulator tool make Credit Karma much more useful. I highly recommended their service to anyone. Please share your Credit Karma reviews.

Get a free Credit Karma account here.


About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 7,500+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.


50 Comments »
  • Bob says:

    I started using Credit Karma last week. It was great to see my credit scores for free. My credit looked great and within four days it climbed higher when I clicked the update tab. However .. over the weekend I was hit with 5 expired, pass the statute of limitations, negative collection accounts I aquired from my prior divorce thirteen years ago… this action brought my score down below six hundred. I also received a collection letter from Bureau of Collections Recover today for a credit card that was closed twelve years ago. I now wish I haven’t signed up for Credit Karma, because it has opened up a can of worms for me; and that will use up my time and patience to correct. Hope this is just a fluke and has nothing to do with Credit Karma.

    • Denise says:

      Are you saying that you have never checked your credit report in all this years and when you finally did with Credit Karma, that opened up a new can of worms?
      I don’t see how that could have happen unless creditors get your new info when you inquire about your accounts, idk maybe that’s how it worked.

      that sucks though but honestly ,don’t blame CK, this was bound to happen anyways, it’s like we all need to face up to our responsibilities at one point and maybe the same thing would have happen if you were to get a new car or something.

      Wish you all the luck though, I would like to use CK to help build up my credit since they have a nice credit repair feature, i hope this works.

    • Bob says:

      If it’s over 7 years old, contact the credit reporting agency and tell them it’s over 7 years old and needs to be removed. Actually this should be automatic. You are also entitled to a set of free credit reports since this is a set of negative impacts that sort of just showed up.

      As for the collection agency, you should follow the guidelines of the federal fair credit collection act.

  • smedheat says:

    credit Karma rocks. it is a useful tool. for me, it was accurate within 4 points of experian so i can’t complain. you should use annual credit score plus credit karma, as someone pointed out. :)

  • Will says:

    I have used Credit Karma for nearly 5 years now. I cant even recall my thoughts when I first signed on because there were no reviews such as this one. I suppose I took a risk signing on, although everything on their sight was secured and looked legitimate. When I first signed on I was 22, had a reposed car, 1 credit car, a couple student loans and a very poor score, somewhere around a 515. At first I didnt use the site like I do now, but I could check in every two months or so and it would show a slow increase. I paid off the balance on the repo’d vehicle which brought up a discriminatory mark that had nothing to do with Credit Karma, just my credit score. Since then I have been able to keep a close eye on my credit and for the first time ever, I have a 701 credit score which I give Credit Karma my thanks because they were able to show me what I needed to do to improve my score, and I did it!
    I am just married, bought a car with the lowest interest offered,my score is only improving, and I show ALL of my friends and family Credit Karma because of what it did for me.
    I suppose if you have no intention of attempting to fix your credit, or pay off your debts, then maybe this site wont benefit you the same. It took me several years to overcome the ‘rock over my head’ because of the repossession but now I have flawless payment history, I have 21 accounts opened throughout my years, only a couple of hard inquiries on my history at this time, and a solid understanding of my credit and what it is.
    Thanks for everything Credit Karma and good luck to everyone else with your ventures and I hope this helps.

  • Richard says:

    Creditkarma doesn’t provide Fico scores. It provides you its own credit scores. This was not disclosed anywhere on its site, so it’s a SCAM. If it’s FICO you are looking for, look elsewhere.

    • Ray Zinn says:

      Richard please see my comments below. I wouldn’t call the site a scam. Unfortunately The Fako Scores are not the real FICO score but since they are for the most part what we will get when we buy from the credit agencies as you may well know. After all that’s how we on the Fico Forum know all too well don’t we.

  • Ray Zinn says:

    Only a couple of caveats.
    The score they supply is not the actual FICO credit score but a score that Trans Union gets using their own scoring system.
    There are three credit bureaus, Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax. Each uses a proprietary scoring system as well as the FICO system. If the score number is proceeded by the FICO name it is the true score that banks use when checking your credit.
    The banks, and other places that you apply for credit at, may use all or only only one of the credit agencies as they see fit.
    All of the other credit info supplied is as found in your actual credit report in summarization form.
    This score may be used to give you an approximate idea where you stand score wise.
    In defense I will also say that if you were to pay for the score directly to the companies it’s a good bet that they would give you a “Fako FICO” score as well. For now the only place that I trust for the “real” score (must pay for ti tho” is at “MyFico.com”. Honestly I have have no other problems with the site (Credit Karma) and do appreciate the chance to get credit information for free with no strings attached.

  • Jesse K. says:

    I just signed up for CreditKarma and it seems they no longer require your full social. It just asked for my last 4 digits

  • Ray says:

    @ robin:
    As far as I know personal (meaning you) looks do not show or lower your score, only a valid check by someone you are looking to apply for some credit from, IE new bank card, car, house, personal loan etc. But it does seem that when you do check, it actually helps by pushing the time stream back. You should go to MyFico.com and ask more in their forums (just a user like you) This site (credit Karma)is also informative

  • Ray says:

    Kerri:
    Please see my reply above “jan, 8th” about this scoring system.

  • Bruce says:

    I have an account with Equifax and they treat the credit score as something they will give me (as a valuable client) if I pay them a fee. Why shouldn’t we all be able to get our credit score for free. I appreciate the service of CreditKarma.com. These credit reporting companies (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion) have a hell of a lot of power in our lives….just who are these people anyway?

  • Brad C. says:

    I use credit karma and love it! It is so easy to use. Thanks for this great review.

  • brittney says:

    How can i change my account name…

  • Ray says:

    Good question, I searched the profile I have and it allows one to change everything except your name and address.
    Perhaps you can delete the account and then rejoin with a different E-Mail address.
    Your E-Mail account should allow you to add new / different addresses using a different prefix but using the same suffix (@*****.com, net, org, or what ever suffix) you now have.

  • RAY FRANKLIN says:

    I have had ck for only 3mo and find it to be very valuable , it already alearted me twice of report changes. 1 hard inquiry another use improvement. BUT simulator is crap it does not work there have been thousands of complaints about it. Its responses are not valid. This is offset by the good things it does. Too many, way too many to enumerate.

  • Jennifer Rouillard says:

    I wonder how accurate it is… I have a credit card I owe on and outstanding hospital debt from 4 years ago that doesn’t show up at all. All my other stuff shows up. Also I noticed people were questioning if you have to give your ss#. I just signed up with them today and you do. Your full number not just the last four digits. Which I would assumed.

  • Jennifer Rouillard says:

    Not everything was on this report for me. Some credit card debt Ive had for awhile also a 4 year old hospital bill that is outstanding. I wonder how accurate it is if things are missing.

  • Donald says:

    So, what is the scoop? Do you give them your full SS number or just the last four numbers?

    If just the last four numbers how do they know me from Joe Schmo who has the same numbers?

  • shavonta says:

    it only ask for your full ssn if u enter something in worng or answer some of the questions wrong. It want to make sure it no fraud going on if you enter in something incorrect.

  • Rick M. says:

    I’ve used Credit Karma for several years and have also turned on my kids, now adults, to the site. I have nothing but good things to say about the value you receive for the effort it takes to get started. You see the direct implication of your actions to your credit score whether it’s accepting a new credit line at a local mall department store or an offer for 0% interest for the first year on a new credit card.
    Everything you do and are impacts you credit score. For example, I noticed my auto insurance score dropped about 10 points one month even though I had no tickets, accidents or claims of any kind. However, it dawned on me it happened to be the month of my birthday. Although I can’t confirm age discrimination by the insurance companies through Credit Karma, my insurance agent did confirm that regardless of your record, your age is considered. Try fighting that battle alone. :-\ Time to call AARP :-)

  • Fatine echenique says:

    I signed up with creditkarma 3 or 4 months ago now… Of course at first I didn’t believe for a second the “it’s all free part “… Nothing is free nowadays lol! Well from my experience I was never asked for a credit card number n I never paid a penny. Now I believe the way they make their money is by advertising different credit cards with lower rates .. I have not signed up for any of those offers yet…but some of them look appealing !
    At the end of the day I am able to check all kind of info on my debts n that’s what matters to me at this point!

  • Brian says:

    I didn’t see anything about whether they give all three credit scores like the other site, do they?

    • Ray says:

      No, also don’t know what the other site of which you talk. This site gives you a Trans-union score.

      You may want to go to MyFico.com. You can get al three scores and reports for a cost, they may be offering a discount for now.

      You may also check with your Credit Card providers as some of then now offer that info for free. My Discover card does that now and includes a short report also, not a complete one.

      I have more info above under Ray, the first name only, no last.

  • al says:

    I have a freeze with all of the credit agencies. Will CK still be able to access my score with the freeze in place?

    • Ray says:

      I believe that a freeze (a good thing to do) only prevents anyone from opening up any new account with your info.

      A freeze is easy to for anyone wishing to get strong protection from ID Thieves.
      One problem is that it even keeps you from getting a new credit account (not to be confused with using your existing cards) unless you give a private code to them and unlock the files at each agency first.

  • Sharon says:

    I am still considering Credit Karma. I don’t mind fees so much as getting locked into months of payments and then having to try to remember to cancel cause you can’t afford it. And if Fico is the only score sets that matter, why do any of these other agencies exist?

    • Ray says:

      Sharon:
      Not sure about the fees you mention, but I don’t think they apple here. It was a free site that gets its money through the ads and Credit Cards offerings here.
      PLEASE LOOK FOR MY PREVIOUS RESPONSES ABOVE. MY RESPONSES WILL BE UNDER ONLY THE NAME OF “RAY”.
      The Fico scores are the actual scoring system the banks and other credit agencies access when you apply for any credit.
      On the My Fico site (managed by the Fico organization which created the system) they offer a number of ways to get the credit reports and scores from the three major credit reporting agencies, for a fee of course.
      The score / report are a one time pay only, not the auto charge renewal like you mention.
      This site,as far as I know gives you a free score and perhaps a short report.

  • G.E. Miller says:

    I think you’re thinking about mint.com. Credit Karma does not require you to enter usernames/password for other sites in order to function.

    • Ray says:

      But how do the people confuse the two sites since they are leaving their comments here?
      This has happened a couple of times.
      I have tried to answer all of their questions, but can’t give any on those particular questions, especially this last one which really confounds me.

      • G.E. Miller says:

        Honestly, I know for a fact that there are a few trolls on this post by IP logs. Whether they are competitor company trolls or just confused wanderers, I don’t know. Probably a combination of the two. The ones I know for sure are trolls, I am marking as such.

        • Ray says:

          Agreed, that had crossed my mind.
          Nuff said, don’t feed the Trolls, will take my own advise.
          But will continue to apprise others that the stated(when they occur)does not apply to this site and should be ignored.

  • Jeremy says:

    I have Credit Karma as well as other services. I know each service has it’s own models to which it provides score off of, and it seems there scores lower significantly lower then the rest. I noticed that the main thing they’re trying to solicit me is a service to “fix” my credit, so it’s my opinion this is why there score is lower. Would not consider there service a scam, but I recommend exploring other options as well. I have a credit card that now gives me updates and is seemingly accurate without trying to sell me any services which makes me feel much better.

  • Susan says:

    Credit Karma is probably the best credit service available, and it is completely free! Not a scam, completely legit. I couldn’t be happier with their service.

  • New CK User says:

    I just signed up for a new CK account a few weeks ago and want to report that this Credit karma review was spot on. I’m really excited that I was able to get all of the benefits for free, especially the credit monitoring. Credit Karma is clearly safe to use and not a scam.

  • Coce says:

    I started to sign up for CK, but when it came to entering my SS #,
    it wanted all 9 numbers, not just the last 4 (as others stated in this forum). I immediately backed out of the sign up process to further look into reviews and see what I was getting myself into. I don’t feel comfortable supplying my entire SS#. Why are some people saying they only had to enter last 4 numbers, but I was asked to enter the whole thing?

  • Terry P says:

    Yes, Credit Karma is free. And yes it is a legit business. No, it is not very accurate. It consistently reports my credit score at 748 – 752. Yes, that’s good, but when I check my actual FICO score it is 790 – 798. I get mt FICO score free from Discover card every month (in fact it’s the only reason I don’t cancel that stupid card), and I routinely take advantage of my free credit reports from https://www.annualcreditreport.com/. You can get a freebie once per year from each of the Big Three; Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. So every four months I order from one of them on a rotating basis. Again, it’s always significantly higher than CK, even though CK purports to get their info from Equifax and TransUnion. So, in short, you can trust CK to be free and legit. But you can trust their data only to a point.

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