Get Your Free Credit Score from Credit Karma
Credit Karma offers free credit scores to consumers with no strings attached. It is a truly free service: There's nothing to cancel and they don't ask for your credit card number.
The sign up process is painless. I was able to receive my free score in less than two minutes.
As you can see from the screenshot above, the only "catch" is that under your free credit score report, Credit Karma will show you offers from various companies like Road Runner, Upromise, and Discover. You can organize the offers based on ratings from other Credit Karma users (think of it as a Digg for financial product offers). According to USA Today:
Credit Karma provides you with special offers based on your credit score. For example, you can get a lower interest rate on credit cards. You may also apply for offers from cable companies and other businesses.
There are no annoying pop-up ads and Credit Karma claims it will not sell your information to anyone. The ads are not a bad trade for a free credit score. In comparison, FICO's official credit score monitoring service costs $14.95 a month.
If you're not familiar with how credit scores work, the raw numbers might not be very helpful. This is where Credit Karma's comparison charts come in handy.
You can check your credit score for free as many times as you want. Credit Karma will keep track of your scores over time, which can help you identify overall trends in your credit score.
What information do I have to provide?
You have to verify your identity by providing your address, phone number, and social security number.
In order to verify your identity with TransUnion, Credit Karma requires standard personal information that anyone would need to access your credit report, including your address, date of birth, and social security number. Since they realize that providing such confidential information may make some people uneasy, they’ve put many security measures in place to ensure your safety.
Is it safe?
Does checking my score negatively affect my credit?
Checking your score with Credit Karma won’t lower your score. Since they’re making the credit score request on your behalf, these inquiries aren’t shown to creditors and don’t affect your credit at all.
How can this be free? Are they going to sell you anything?
Credit Karma is ad-supported. However, they’re not the pop-up ads that you might be picturing. Instead, Credit Karma provides targeted offers they think might be helpful to you based on your current financial situation. You’re not obligated to take advantage of these offers to continue using Credit Karma, and can even opt-out of receiving email offers.
Is this my FICO score?
The scores Credit Karma provide are real scores straight from TransUnion. However, they are not FICO scores. Because you have so many different scores (there dozens of FICO scores alone!), the type of score, or even the number you get isn’t that important—what matters is the changes that you observe over time in a single score, and where that number puts you in relation to other consumers. You can learn more about the scores Credit Karma provides here.
Can I trust the people behind Credit Karma?
Yes. Credit Karma is an honest company whose mission is simply to provide financial information and tools to everyone free of charge. They’ve provided scores to millions of members and are continually growing and improving its service. They have an A rating from the BBB, are certified by TRUSTe, and have been featured on The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CNN, and a multitude of other sites.
Are there other ways to get free credit scores?
Yes, here are some options:
More information about Credit Karma and credit scores:
- A Guide to Credit Karma’s Free Credit Scores
- Discussions about Credit Karma at Slickdeals and FatWallet.
- Nora's comprehensive guide to applying for and managing your credit.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any bank, card issuer, airline or hotel chain.