Sometimes, credit scores and how they work can seem like a mystery. In 2007, Credit Karma set out to change that. What started as a San Francisco startup now has millions of satisfied users that know much more about their credit than they did before. Is it worth the download? Debt.com’s product review team dug a little deeper to find out.
How does Credit Karma work?
Ken Lim, the founder and CEO of Credit Karma, wanted to make it easier for consumers to have direct access to their credit information. He saw that scores were built to be accessible to banks and lenders, but left consumers out of the loop. The goal was to empower the average person to take control of their credit.
The app does this in a few different ways. First, it pulls your scores from two of the three major credit bureaus. Usually, you only have access to one free credit report per bureau per year. Credit Karma updates your scores from TransUnion and Equifax every single week.
Next, this financial wellness app shows you the financial factors that make up your credit profile. You can see an overview of your hard inquiries, total accounts, age of credit history, derogatory marks, credit card utilization, and payment history. The best part? You can check up on your credit without hurting your scores.
How accurate is Credit Karma?
Overall, Credit Karma is very accurate – but there are some qualifications to that statement. You have one credit score from each of the three major credit bureaus. As we mentioned, Credit Karma only pulls scores from two. This means that you aren’t getting the whole picture.
Additionally, the app reports only VantageScore 3.0. While this may be an accurate score, the most commonly used credit scoring model is actually FICO Score 8. That’s the score most commonly used by lenders when they review a credit application.
How does Credit Karma make money?
Like many content-based information providers, Credit Karma makes money through advertising and making affiliate deals with other companies. What does it mean for you? Well, for one, it means you will receive ads for certain credit cards, loans, and other financial products while you use the app. Second, since the ads are targeted, it means that the company is using your personal information. As long as you are fine with ads, you’ll appreciate Credit Karma’s no-cost service.
Reviews of Credit Karma
According to their users, Credit Karma is incredibly useful. With over 92,000 reviews on the Apple App Store and over 800,000 reviews on the Google Play Store, this personal finance app scored a 4.8 out of 5 and a 4.7 out of 5, respectively.
Reviewers who liked the app noted its ease of use and the quick registration. They also often stated that it helped them raise their credit scores. Its ability to track other financial factors, such as loans and car payments, was another positive. Some users also pointed out that having such effortless access to your credit information made spotting identity theft much easier.
Negative reviews mostly had to do with how the app was running on the reviewer’s particular phone or operating system, or the fact that it only checks certain credit scores. Credit Karma was quick to respond to the reviewers having problems and offer them support.
Our Final Thoughts
For those who want a simple way to keep up with their score and participate in credit monitoring, Credit Karma offers a free solution. The most important thing to keep in mind if you download the app is that it tracks credit scores using VantageScore 3.0, and the scores that your banks or lenders use may be different.
New: Credit Karma Tax
This year, you can file your taxes with Credit Karma Tax. You can file for your state and federal tax return for free with their simple tax preparation system. Learn more here.
Important Update: Bureaus Offer Free Weekly Reports Through April 2022
In light of the unprecedented financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the credit bureaus have expanded free credit report access. You can now download your credit report from each bureau once per week through annualcreditreport.com.
We recommend taking advantage of these free weekly reports to check your credit often during this crisis, so you can avoid mistakes.