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Credit Report Cards: Credit.com vs. Credit Karma

This article was written by in Credit. 27 comments.


For a few years, Credit Karma has been offering a product that lets consumers see what lenders and employers see when they look at the consumers’ credit reports. After securely and privately providing your personal information, Credit Karma retrieves your credit report from one of the credit reporting bureaus, either Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion.

Credit Karma then analyzes your details and assigns a grade, A through F. The various categories receiving grades relate to the items that determine your credit score. Lenders review these items when deciding whether to extend credit to you, how much credit to extend, and at what cost.

This is a free service, supported by advertising.

Yesterday, Credit.com announced they will also be offering a similar free service, providing a credit report card to help you evaluate and improve your credit report.

So which service is better? I took both services for test drives.

Credit report cards

Here are some of the most obvious differences. Credit.com assigns grades to the following categories: Payment history, debt usage, credit age, account mix, and inquiries. Credit Karma’s categories are similar: Open credit card utilization, percent of on-time payments, average age of open credit lines, total accounts, hard credit inquiries, total debt, and debt-to-income ratio. More categories, and therefore more information, is more helpful.

To look further into the health of my credit, Credit Karma offers charts in each category, placing my result within the spectrum of results from the Credit Karma Community, all users of the website. So I can see, for example, that the grade of “C” Credit Karma gave me for “Total Accounts,” which includes how those accounts are divided among revolving credit accounts and loans, puts me in a group of users who received an average score of 683, significantly lower than my score.

This tells me I’m doing well enough in the other categories to make up for this deficit but improving my mix of accounts will improve my score further.

I also received a grade of “C” from Credit.com for the “Credit Mix” category. Credit.com doesn’t offer a chart, but it does include details about my types of credit (23 revolving credit accounts, 0 mortgage loans, 1 auto loan, 6 student loans) and excellent suggestions for specific actions I can take to improve in this category.

Here are some screen shots. Click on the thumbnails to see the full-size images.

Credit.com

Credit Report Card from Credit.com

Credit Karma

Credit Report Card from Credit Karma

Credit.com rewards me with an “A+” for the Credit Age category while Credit Karma believes my accounts warrant only a “C.” This discrepancy is due to the underlying information retrieved from the credit bureaus. According to Credit.com my oldest account is almost 15 years old (established in 1994) while Credit Karma sees accounts dating back only five years. The information provided by Credit.com is more accurate; I received my first credit card in 1994 and it has never been closed.

Other features

As you can see in the graphics above, Credit.com offers you a range for several different types of credit scores. The one that matters the most is often the FICO® Score. Credit.com places my score in the range of 750-850. On the other hand, Credit Karma offers one exact score directly from one of the reporting bureaus. It is not a FICO® Score, however.

Get Equifax Credit Watch Now.

Up-sell

One important piece of information to note is that throughout the site, Credit.com asks you to “upgrade to a full report.” This is a 3-bureau credit monitoring service for $14.95. For most people, this is an unnecessary service. For those who need credit monitoring services, there are lower cost options. In fact, as Smithee mentioned yesterday, AAA offers some customers free credit monitoring.

Credit Karma offers links to products such as bank accounts, insurance, and money management software. Some of the products will pay a fee to Credit Karma if you sign up through this website.

Conclusion

In this case, Credit.com wins due to the accuracy of the information. This is not Credit Karma’s fault, however. Credit Karma does have a strong plus: this site provides an exact credit score while Credit.com offers only ranges. And through using Credit Karma, I’ve discovered that one of my credit reports does not include my full history. I will need to review all three credit reports at the respective bureaus to find and fix any problems if possible. If I seek a mortgage, it is possible for a lender to evaluate me based on the same information that was provided to Credit Karma, so it is worthwhile to check all avenues.

Credit Karma also uses a “social engine;” you are compared and evaluated among the community of Credit Karma users and the suggested product offers you receive result from user feedback. For me, this is not a strong need, but others might find these social features useful.

Both these services are free, and it takes very little time to provide your personal information and verify your identity. You receive your credit analysis immediately after doing so. Although Credit.com gets my vote at the moment, there is no harm and no cost in using both services.

For those concerned about privacy, here is Credit Karma’s privacy policy and Credit.com’s privacy policy. Episode 3 of the Consumerism Commentary Podcast includes an interview with Kenneth Lin, CEO of Credit Karma. Listen to the podcast for more information about Credit Karma. If you have used Credit.com or Credit Karma’s services, please feel free to share your thoughts below.

Updated January 7, 2013 and originally published September 30, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Juggler314

Hmm…well i just tried out credit.com and while it may offer a bit more detail, i don’t think whatever scoring model it is using is even remotely accurate. It told me I had “one of the highest credit scores possible”. But I know this is not true from pulling my own FICO scores. Several issues – it seems to have ignored my BK (it sees it, but it doesn’t drag the score down, or the many 90+ lates associated with that BK). It also has my AAoA higher than it is in reality. Credit Karma, while not an actual FICO score at least tracked roughly equivalent to FICO scores. It’s worth noting that even 750 which is the low end of the score range is at least 30 points over my actual score. Let alone the top end of the “range”.

I hope that’s just the new service not being that accurate…

Also credit karma will pull your report every day if you want, credit.com only pulls it once/30 days.

I’m not sure why, based on, seemingly, only one small discrepancy (that credit karma is not correctly pulling an old account), you would decide that credit.com is more accurate. It could be that the data it is getting is also incorrect and it is no fault of Credit Karma at all.

Looking through the summary data on credit.com it seems to be taking an overly optimistic view of my credit report. It says I have 2 mortgages and 3 auto loans when in reality I have only 2 old mortgages (no longer part of my credit report) and just one auto loan (the other two are one much older one and a the original one before I refi’d my current loan).

I’ll check back in a couple of months, but right now, at least for me, credit.com does not represent anything even remotely helpful as every other reporting gives me a lower score (both FICO’s + severale FAKO scores).

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,485 (Platinum)

Thanks for sharing your observations, Juggler. I imagine other people will see lots of interesting differences between Credit.com’s data and Credit Karma’s data.

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avatar Ann-Marie

I think it’s important to differentiate here between the “credit report card” that you get on these sites and a REAL credit report. Neither site offers a real credit report from one of the three credit bureaus, only a subjective assessment of what’s on your credit report. While these assessments may give you a general idea of what’s affecting your credit score, in the case that you get a low grade, you’ll need to pull your full credit report to find out what specific account is hurting your credit.

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avatar Juggler314

agreed, but at least for me, even the “credit report card” bit on credit.com was *way* out of whack with reality.

one thing I’ve noticed about fako scores while diligently tracking both my fico and some fako scores is that even though the fakos obviously aren’t real they tend to roughly track the fico scores. By that I mean if you graph both over time the shape of the graph is similar (pay down debt and both will go up, etc).

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avatar David

I just tried out Credit.com’s report card too and, although it looks great, I am skeptical of its accuracy, too. It gives me an A+ when I know my actual score range is 680-700 because of high (but declining) utilization and a stupid 30-day late payment a bit over a year ago. My credit should be more like a “C” or “B-” if you ask me. CreditKarma seems to be more accurate in that regard with its estimated scores for me hovering in the 680-700 range.

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avatar Juggler314

David, Did you try writing a good will letter for your creditor with the 30 day late? if you generally are a good customer (both before and after) sometimes they will erase it. I’ve never done one myself by the folks over at the myfico forums have many tips on it.

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avatar Kelly

I personally thought credit.com did a decent job of telling me my “grade”, but it was too vague in the assessment of the actual number.

It also said I had multiple credit inquires the last being from 9/09.

Flexo do you know if creditkarma.com is considered an inquiry? Other than credit karma, I have not used any credit related service or requested increases nor applied for new cards.

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avatar Eric

Credit Karma imposes “soft” inquiries so it won’t harm your score every time you pull.

Personally (because of inertia more than anything), I think I’ll just with Credit Karma. However I really appreciate the comparison as I was waiting for someone to do it.Timely!

Thanks Flexo!

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,485 (Platinum)

Like Eric mentioned, Credit Karma does a soft pull on your credit, not affecting your score. Credit.com does the same.

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avatar David@DINKSFinance

I would prefer CreditKarma due to the additional categories and less advertisements about upgrading for some fee. To me these are more important than the small difference in accuracy.

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avatar Edward Dowdle

First time looking at this service.

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avatar mlk2

The scores Credit Karma offers have nothing to do with actually acquiring credit.

Be careful in signing up for free credit monitoring via any of your financial services. Read the TOS closely. Credit Karma has partnered with a number of financial services to provide these services but what they don’t tell you is that the service is third party and that you are authorizing a third party to access your credit from any number of places.

Credit Karma is one of these scam services.

I had the unfortunately experience of bumping into them via my Sears credit card. Sears offered “free credit monitoring” from my Sears credit card.

What they didn’t tell me (and what is not disclosed on the web site where you check your credit) is that the service is really a third party service that can access your credit scores whenever they want. What Sears didn’t say was that their so called service at http://www.searscreditscore.com was actually run via Credit Karma, which gave Credit Karma access to credit scores without agreement.

If you want to cancel this service you will have to be persistant. Credit Karma has NO means to contact them except via email. My emails were unanswered for days. They will NOT reply to specific questions but only give you a canned response that often has nothing to do with your question.

Free is not always free.

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avatar joecredit

I’ve been getting the same run around having a Sears Credit Score account and not being able to create a Credit Karma account for well over a year. I’ve don’t this mostly via email, but did manage to talk to a couple of people at Sears Credit Score about 8 months ago. They were utterly useless. I received an email saying that Sears Credit Score was going away as of June 30, 13 and I my info would transfer to Credit Karma. Today is July 1, 13 and I still cannot create a Credit Karma account and Sears Credit Score is still up and allowing me to log in. SO FRUSTRATING.

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avatar Ferodynamics

I tried to sign up for CreditKarma but it said I already had an account. Which is not true.

My account is “flagged as a dupe.” Based on what information? My social security number? They don’t have my email address in their database because I clicked “Forgot my password” and that didn’t work. The reason I can’t get into the site is unclear.

So I’m wondering if it’s a scam, you give them all kinds of detailed personal info through the sign-up form, then they provide you nothing in return and probably resell the info behind your back. If the same thing happens to you, let me know.

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avatar Lori

No Its not a scam . But they use address as a verifying point possible that someone from old address is crossed with YOu?

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avatar Winning Player

CreditKarma.com and Credit.com are scams! CreditKarma said I had two bad strikes on my credit report and offered a paid subscription to help me clean it up. Credit.com did the same thing, giving me an “F” for payment history stating I had too many late payments. Well, folks, I have PERFECT credit, my credit score is 825-850 (it does fluctuate some) and have NEVER EVER EVER had even a ONE day late payment in my entire 57 years. Go directly to AnnualCreditReport.com for a FREE annual credit report from the three bona-fide credit reporting agencies (I get one from one of the 3 agencies every four months) and pay about $8 for a TRUE credit score—not the crap CreditKarma.com and Credit.com are feeding people. Then follow the instructions if you need to update or dispute any info and it will be done quickly. Unless you are dealing DIRECTLY with Equifax, Experian, or Trans Union, you can pretty well assume you are being scammed. Now I’m worried about what they are doing with my personal info. Can you say “identity theft?”

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avatar Donald

I just pulled the score from My Fico and got a 793. (I’m shopping for a loan) Credit Karma list my score as 791 wow impressive. Only two points off.

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avatar sean

I signed up for Credit Karma on Saturday. Monday was the first time in 2 years a collection agency was chain calling my house. Credit Karma is most defiantly collecting information for collection agencies.

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avatar Anonymous

Sean, Same thing here; no calls in ages; couple days after signing with CK, BOOM!!! Chain calls!
——-
sean
I signed up for Credit Karma on Saturday. Monday was the first time in 2 years a collection agency was chain calling my house. Credit Karma is most defiantly collecting information for collection agencies.

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avatar Jane Pool

I used creditkarma and credit.com this morning and since then I have gotten at least 20 scam
phone calls trying to offer me a pre-approved loan.

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avatar Robert

Credit Karma is the only free credit checking site I have seen as opposed to the other “free” ones that want a credit or debit card number to use. If they want this information it is not FREE! That said Credit Karma seems more interested in getting you to take out a credit card and not taking into account whether or not you pay your bills on time.

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avatar adonia

Credit Karma pulls from TransUnion only. It has nothing to do with the other 2 major credit companies. So remember that when you look at CK, it is only TransUnion information you are looking at not from all 3.

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avatar Rob

While Credit karma is useful in that it is a truly free site. It seems to not take into account on time payments and is only interested in getting you to get one of the credit cards they promote.

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avatar Kyle Johnson

Before you say credit karma is inaccurate, try reading better.

CK simply states that the average age of your open credit lines is a little over 5 years old, that will take into account your oldest and newest account in addition to the ages of all 28 in between. If you click and get more info on the account age at credit karma, it should show your oldest open account age there.

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avatar Tusker

I have used Credit Karma for a few months now. I just signed up for a credit.com account after reading this. I can tell you right now that Credit Karma is WAY better. They offer way more information for free. Not to mention they update way more often than Credit.com. The only thing credit.com may be good for is checking your Experian score versus your TransUnion score with Credit Karma.

Credit Karma is way better and its not even close. (Strictly referring to what is available for free from both services.)

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avatar Will

Credit Karma just recently got slapped with an order from the FTC to improve the security on their mobile phone application because it wasn’t using SSL encryption which is a bit disappointing considering the type of data they have access to.

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avatar buffs

Seems pretty lame to me, credit.com has my credit score 200 points higher than the score I pulled directly from Experian. Nothing “educational” about that, unless learning that the score you get from one site to the next is absolutely useless is the lesson you were attempting to learn.

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