My Credit Karma Review (From a Real User)
This Credit Karma review has been updated for 2024, post announcement of the Mint app shutdown. Ever since I first used and highlighted Credit Karma on this site, I’ve had many curious friends and readers ask me questions about the app. That prompted me to write this Credit Karma review and update it frequently. Since I started using Credit Karma, it’s grown exponentially, added many new features, and was purchased by Intuit (owners of TurboTax, Quickbooks, and other financial services) in 2020. I’ve now been a Credit Karma user for over 13 years, and update this review every few months to reflect my experiences and highlight new features.
The most common questions I’ve received about Credit Karma are:
- Is Credit Karma free?
- What are Credit Karma’s features?
- What happened to Credit Karma Tax?
- How does Credit Karma make money?
- Is Credit Karma safe?
- Is Credit Karma a scam?
- How accurate is your Credit Karma credit score?
- Who are the competitors/alternatives to Credit Karma?
- What are the Credit Karma pros?
- What are the Credit Karma cons?
I had all of those questions myself and spent a lot of time researching the answers. This Credit Karma review hopefully will answer all of your questions and more.
Is Credit Karma Free?
Is Credit Karma really free? This was the big question that I had going in as well. In the credit score and reporting space, with most apps, you are asked for your credit card. After a short trial period, if you don’t cancel, you get charged. This is not the case with Credit Karma. In their FAQs Credit Karma states:
Credit Karma won’t ask you for your pay card number during the registration process… We may offer some paid features on Credit Karma MoneyTM and you can choose to opt into those paid features, or continue to use many Credit Karma products and features for free.
I have not used the Credit Karma Money features. The large majority of Credit Karma features are free, and if you run into a paid feature, there aren’t any “gotchas” or obligations.
What are Credit Karma’s Features?
Here’s a rundown of all the free features and benefits you can get from a Credit Karma account:
- TransUnion Credit Score: as seen above, you get a free TransUnion credit score, and it is continuously updated every time you log in to your account, so you can see how it changes periodically as you take actions that will impact your credit score.
- Equifax Credit Score: you also get a free Equifax credit score, in addition to the TransUnion credit score. That makes free scores for 2 out of the 3 major credit bureaus. Both scores use the VantageScore 3.0 model.
- TransUnion Credit Report: Credit Karma has free credit report access too. By clicking on “Credit” and then “Score Details” in your dashboard, you can click “View Full Credit Report” for both Equifax and TransUnion to access your credit reports at any time (they are updated frequently and you can even view old reports). This gives you more consistent access to credit reporting throughout the year (versus 1 report per bureau per year via annualcreditreport.com), allowing you to more frequently monitor and correct any errors or discrepancies.
- Equifax Credit Report: After TransUnion credit reports were added, free Equifax credit reports were added as well.
- Credit Accounts List: a list of all of your accounts and when they were created (from both Equifax and TransUnion).
- Free Credit Monitoring: One of the best features of Credit Karma is free credit monitoring – so you can monitor any suspicious activity like new accounts created or credit inquiries that you did not initiate. Click in to your “profile & settings” and look under “communications & monitoring” to set it up.
- Credit Card Spend: You can easily track your credit card spending by category (similar to Mint) by linking accounts.
- Credit Factors Report Card: under “Credit” and “Score Details”, Credit Factors allows you 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 info for improving your credit score.
- Credit Score Simulator: this one is a bit hard to find, but the Credit Score Simulator might be the most useful feature on Credit Karma. You get to simulate how taking certain actions (e.g. closing a credit card, opening a new one, increasing your credit line, transferring balances, etc.) may impact your credit score.
- Identity Monitoring: Credit Karma will show you if any data breaches have exposed your personal information.
- Financial Calculators: Credit Karma offers various financial calculators for personal use: mortgage refinance, debt repayment, loan, amortization, etc.
- Credit Karma Money: Credit Karma Money is an optional (no fee) high-yield savings account and checking account offering from Credit Karma. There is no minimum deposit to open.
- Net Worth Tracking: Credit Karma recently transitioned a big feature from the Mint app, net worth tracking. It was announced that Mint is shutting down & transitioning features to Credit Karma.
What Happened to Credit Karma Tax?
“Credit Karma Tax” is no longer offered by Credit Karma. With Intuit’s purchase of Credit Karma, the U.S. Department of Justice forced Credit Karma to sell Credit Karma Tax to Square, Inc. It is now called “Cash App Taxes“. All tax related content on Credit Karma now directs to Intuit’s TurboTax, which has both free basic filing as well as paid tax versions. If you’re looking for tax software, check out my best and cheapest tax software article.
How Does Credit Karma Make Money?
How does Credit Karma makes money if they don’t charge you for their service? It’s a good question. Credit Karma makes most of its money by sharing offers from financial partners (e.g. credit cards, loans, insurance, etc.). Essentially, they are offering their partners a form of targeted advertising. Credit Karma gets paid if you optionally sign up for one of those offers. Here’s an example of an offer:
Is Credit Karma Safe? A Look at Credit Karma Safety & Security Measures
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? Yes – Credit Karma is extremely safe and secure. To keep your privacy safe, Credit Karma boasts the following privacy, safety, and security measures:
- 2-factor authentication on logins.
- Credit Karma uses 128-bit or higher encryption to secure the transmission of information (note the “https” in the address bar).
- Independently certified by digicert.
- External security auditing.
- External security assessments.
- Credit Karma does not sell your personal information to or share it with unaffiliated third parties for their own advertising or marketing purposes.
- Accounts are read only – you can’t execute transactions.
- No credit card information entered
Is Credit Karma a Scam?
Before signing up, I wondered “Is Credit Karma a scam?”. But, after researching and using them for many years, I can tell you Credit Karma is not a scam. They are a legit company with a legit business model that has been around for years now.
Credit Karma is a digicert certified company. And through BBB (Better Business Bureau), they have a strong history of responses and complaint resolutions to customers. That is reassuring.
Power in numbers is reassuring as well. Credit Karma has over 130 million members. And the Intuit purchase of Credit Karma is reassuring, as Intuit is a very reputable publicly-traded financial services company.
I’ve never once been charged, never once had my identity stolen, or had any complaints of any kind in the years I have used Credit Karma.
How Accurate is your Credit Karma Credit Score?
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 within a handful of points of my FICO score. That’s less than a 1% spread – 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 calculate their scores.
Credit Karma Competitors & Alternatives Comparisons
Credit Karma doesn’t really have any direct competitors that offer everything that they do. But you can get bits and pieces from other sites, almost always at a cost:
- Equifax: “Complete” is $9.95/month for 1 credit bureau (Equifax), “Premier” is $24.95 for 1 credit bureau credit score and annual 3 bureaus. The “family plan” is $29.95/month.
- Experian: “Identity Protection Premium” is $24.99/month for 3 credit bureau monitoring and alerts, “Identity Protection Family” is $34.99/month covers 1 additional adult and up to 10 children.
- TransUnion: credit monitoring is $29.95/month for TransUnion only.
- LifeLock: Prices range from $11.99-$69.99/month. Offers a number of the monitoring and alert components, with less of a focus on financials and credit cards. They have 3 monthly tiered services for a subscription cost (see my LifeLock review for more details).
- Credit Sesame: offers some basic credit score and monitoring, but not much else. They offer a very basic free service with TransUnion scores and reports as well as “Sesame+” which unlocks Equifax scores and reports, credit monitoring, and a few additional features for $24.99/month. See my Credit Sesame review for more info.
Credit Karma Pros
Here are the biggest Credit Karma pros:
- Almost all features are 100% free
- Several features that cost money with other apps (credit monitoring, credit scores, credit reports, etc.)
- Free insights, tools, and resources that are hard to find elsewhere
- Reputability, safety, and security
Credit Karma Cons
Any honest Credit Karma review will talk about the cons. I have two:
- There are a lot of offers in the interface. 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. You are under no obligation to sign up for any offers.
- Some of the better features are hard to find. You have to do a lot of clicking around. The top navigation bar is lacking.
Credit Karma Review: Summary
All-in-all, Credit Karma is a super useful service that I think everyone should have in their financial arsenal. You’re basically getting for free what many other services like Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian are charging $24.95 or more per month for just credit report and score monitoring features. And having used other credit score reporting services 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 and score it as a 5 out of 5 stars. Please share your Credit Karma review below.
Credit Karma Review
Credit Karma Review Summary:
You won’t find a financial service that offers as much value as Credit Karma, at no cost. Your free account gets you access to both TransUnion and Equifax credit scores and reports. On top of that, you also get free credit monitoring, credit tips, a free online savings account, and other perks. I consider Credit Karma to be an essential tool in the personal finance toolkit. And their member count and purchase by Intuit validates this claim.