Feb 13 2020

Credit karma credit report and Video

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Credit karma credit report


Credit Karma

Free. Excellent user experience. Explains rationale for credit scores and reports. Suggests solutions for problem areas. Pulls data from third-party services.


Intrusive financial product recommendations. Only displays two credit scores. Can’t change auto-logout setting.

Bottom Line

Credit Karma offers credit scores and reports, along with recommendations for financial products. It does a good job of helping you understand your credit, though some may find the ads distracting.

Credit Karma is an aptly named personal finance service. If you pay your credit card bills in full and on time every month, don’t open and close accounts frequently, stay current with loan payments, and avoid negative events like bankruptcies and tax liens, you’ll be rewarded with an enviable credit score. Since most of us don’t have perfect credit habits, we need to know where we stand—and how to improve that critical number. Credit Karma helps on both counts. Credit Karma keeps you up to date on that all-important credit score, but it also informs you of potential credit breaches and provides tools that help you find and secure the best credit, loan, and auto insurance deals. It does all of this for free, paying for itself by the recommendations it makes to you based on your overall credit profile.

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Easy Setup

Getting started with Credit Karma only takes a few minutes. You need to provide your name and address and a few finance-related personal details, such as your Social Security number. Because the site holds such sensitive information, it offers a number of security features that you should opt in to. You can request a texted code to verify your identity with two-factor authentication if you log in from a different device, for example, and enter answers to security questions. You can turn credit and identity monitoring off or on and request email notifications for special promotions, changes to your credit score, and so on.

As you’ll quickly learn, the site logs you out if you’re idle for several minutes. This is a smart practice for individuals who live and work around other people, but it would be nice to be able to change this setting if no one else is nearby.

Navigating Credit Karma

A simple site demands a simple user experience, and Credit Karma supplies it. At top center of the Dashboard (home page) is your credit score, as reported by two of the three bureaus. A semicircular graphic pinpoints where you fall on the scale of possible numbers, and arrows illustrate whether your current score has gone up or down since the last report. Below that is a three-month line graph that shows your ups and downs, followed by links to your actual credit reports, accounts, and any existing loans. Links to Credit Karma’s Marketplace are in the upper right; you can shop for credit cards, loans, and auto insurance on this page. And in the lower right is a financial product “suggested” for you. A toolbar across the top of the page provides additional navigation tools.

Mint, the Editors’ Choice for free personal finance services, has a start screen that provides a link to your credit score, but it also offers a much broader, deeper picture of your personal finances. While Mint also pays for itself by displaying ads for financial products that might suit you, it tucks them away so they’re not as visible from the home page. Rather, your accounts, bills, budgets, and spending take center stage.

Tracking Your Credit Score in Credit Karma

Credit Karma displays scores from two of the three credit-reporting agencies: TransUnion and Equifax (Experian is the third). This three-digit number between 300 and 850 basically tells potential lenders how likely you are to repay debt. It’s based on multiple factors, including your payment history; the amount of debt you’re carrying; the length of time you’ve had credit; and how close you are to your credit limit(s).

It’s not uncommon for the two scores to be different There are many reasons for this, and a lot depends on your lenders. They may not report to all three credit unions—some don’t report at all—or their updates may come in at different times.

To learn more about why your score is what it is, you click Score Details under My Overview. Here, you’ll see which factors have the most and least impact. Credit card use, payment history, and derogatory remarks fall into the first group, while credit age, total accounts, and hard inquiries are less influential. You can also see balance changes, as well as your credit reports themselves. Past reports are available, too.

Credit Karma’s Competition

NerdWallet is another service that competes with Credit Karma, providing your credit score and report, but only from one bureau. It also doesn’t offer all the tools that Credit Karma does to help you secure credit that’s well suited to you. It also lacks some of the features designed to help you improve your credit score that Credit Karma offers.

Mint also lets you get your credit score and report there and learn about what goes into your number, but the site does so much more to help you manage and track all of your financial accounts and your budget. Mint, too, is free; it’s a tool that everyone should at least explore, if not consult regularly.

Telling Credit Karma About Your Loans

Before you can use Credit Karma’s tools, you need to enter information about any loans you have beyond credit cards. If you have an auto loan, for example, you tell Credit Karma what the year, make, model, trim, and current mileage are. The site will create a page for that vehicle that displays its current estimated value and your “auto insurance score,” which predicts the likelihood that you’ll file a claim or have an accident. You can also link to the Credit Karma Auto Marketplace from here, where third-party data providers, such as Carvana and Capital One, help you shop for a car or a loan (or help you sell your car).

Home loans work similarly. You supply information about any mortgages you’ve taken out, and Zillow provides an estimated value for your home. If Credit Karma thinks you could get a better deal, it displays refinancing opportunities that might be attractive. The same goes for personal loans, business loans, and student loans.

Making Improvements

The site’s goal is twofold—to help you save money and to encourage you to take actions that could improve your credit score. So, Credit Karma offers tools that can help you do both. The Credit Score Simulator is one of the best of these. It displays several moves that might trigger a change in your credit score, like getting a new loan, letting your accounts go past due, and receiving a credit limit increase. Click on one and supply any additional information needed, and a graphic at the top shows you what your new credit score might be.

Other tools that might be helpful to you are interactive calculators for mortgage refinancing and debt repayment, and recommendations based on your current financial situation. These are sprinkled throughout the site, but you can see several at a time by clicking on My Recommendations in the toolbar. You can also search for credit cards by filters like Balance Transfer, 0% and Low-Interest, and Airline (miles).

Obviously, Credit Karma knows a lot about you and could use that information to its advantage. But the company says it does not spam its users nor sell their data to its partners. We did not see an uptick in breathless offers to our inboxes during our testing period, nor did we from Mint.

Credit Karma on Mobile

Credit Karma’s Android app and iOS app are very similar. Neither replicates the browser-based version; each lacks some of the extras, the calculators, the simulator, and other resources you can use to work on improving your credit. But both offer quick access to your credit scores and reports, recommendations for financial products that might be more economical, and comparison-shopping.

Mint’s mobile apps, though, are the ones you’ll turn to when you’re away from your computer and need to know quickly whether, for example, you can afford to buy something. You can also see how a particular purchase fits into your budget and which transactions have posted recently.

A Unique Service

We have not run across a website that offers serious competition to Credit Karma. NerdWallet comes the closest, but it’s not as mature. Whether you simply want to keep a close eye on your credit score or you have some work to do on it, Credit Karma can help. Its website and apps are attractive and thorough, and require minimal navigation to find what you’re seeking. Mint, however, remains the PCMag Editors’ Choice for free personal finance services, while Quicken Deluxe reigns as the paid Editors’ Choice.

While you’re thinking about getting your personal finances in order, you should also make sure you know which personal tax preparation service you’re going to use in the upcoming tax season.

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