Bad credit can have a severe impact on your life. You may find yourself unable to be approved for a credit card, get a car loan or even rent an apartment. Here on You Reviews, we like to focus on tools which will help you to improve your quality of life.
Credit Karma promises to be one of those life-improving products. They advertise themselves as a free credit monitoring service, and claim that there’s no fee to use the website.
Credit Karma has only been around for about 10 years, but most of us have been using the service since it was born. You may remember the commercials which used to play on television and the radio. We signed up then, and are still members today.
So what about it, then? Is Credit Karma a good service? Is it truly free? Accurate? Read on for our Credit Karma review.
What is Credit Karma?
There are a number of companies online which promise you a free credit score. As you probably know, you can get your credit score through the bureaus or sometimes through your credit union. But that takes effort, and sometimes you just want simplicity.
Credit Karma gives you just that. The service is free to use, and doesn’t require a credit card to sign up. You’ll need to provide your basic information: name, address, social security number and birthday. You’ll also need a valid email address. But that’s pretty standard, and is only used to identify you.
Once you’ve signed up and verified your account, you’re in! You’re ready to use the services on the site; we’ll cover a few of those in this Credit Karma review. First, though, let’s look at what Credit Karma reviews from across the web have said.
Credit Karma Reviews: The Negatives
One of the biggest complaints you’ll see if you’re checking out a Credit Karma review is that the score is “fake.” If you’re reading those reviews, they’re probably old.
Credit Karma used to report what is called a VantageScore. A VantageScore is kind of like what would happen if your Equifax, TransUnion and Experian scores had a baby. Pulling your VantageScore will give you a general idea of how your credit is doing.
However, it’s not the number that most creditors use when determining your creditworthiness. People started complaining the Credit Karma was trying to pass off the VantageScore as a “real” credit score, and Credit Karma changed its methods.
Now, when you log into Credit Karma, you’ll see both your Equifax and your TransUnion scores. However, they’re still calculated by using VantageScore 3.0. Confused? Check out our article on credit scores.
Credit Karma reviews also complain that the company only updates scores once each week. Now, we’re not sure why you’d need a score report any more frequently than that. But we can, however, say that most credit unions operate in the same way.
The absolute biggest complaints in Credit Karma reviews are about the additional services. The company offers credit monitoring, tax service, and others. Don’t do it. They’re not free, you don’t need them, and they’re not proven to work accurately. Stick with just checking your report, and you’re golden.
Do note that if your credit score changes frequently, it may take Credit Karma a few days to catch up. This can create a discrepancy between your Credit Karma score and your VantageScore.
Credit Karma Reviews: The Positives
Credit Karma reviews are sometimes a bit more scathing than they need to be, in our opinion. The service really is free – we wouldn’t use it if it weren’t, and it’s helpful to be able to check your score every now and then. There are other companies which claim to be a free service. We tried those, and were instantly bombarded with emails asking for money.
The score is fairly accurate, give or take around 10 points. Credit Karma also matches you up with (sponsored) credit card offers, but tells you your approval odds. The odds are usually pretty spot-on. You may get a credit card suggested to you. It may be a secured loan offer. Or, it may be no offer if your credit needs work.
You’ll also have access to view the inquiries, collections, public records and payment histories on your credit report. You can dispute items on your report by just clicking a link on the Credit Karma site. You can see the ages of your accounts. And, most importantly, you can identify anything unusual that you find on your report.
Again, we don’t really recommend that you delve too deeply into the additional products Credit Karma offers. It is a business, after all, and they’ve got to make money somehow.
Credit Karma Reviews: The Verdict
Credit Karma reviews are mixed, but here’s what we think: we think the company provides a valuable service. You’ve just got to use it the right way.
Credit Karma will give you a score that’s pretty darn close to your credit score. They’ll give you guidelines as to how you can improve your credit. Check out their credit simulator. And they’ll present you with offers, albeit sponsored ones, which you may qualify for.
Credit Karma is not a tax service. If you want a tax service, visit H&R Block. If you want a true credit score, you’re going to have to ask the bureaus to provide it. But if you just want to know what’s going on with your credit report, and have a general idea of your score, Credit Karma is perfect.
Over the ten years that we’ve been using the service, we’ve never received fraudulent charges from Credit Karma. We’ve never received so much as a spam email. So, for what it’s worth, we do recommend the service. We think it is a great tool for rebuilding credit.