Credit Report Cards: Credit.com vs. Credit Karma
Do you know where your credit stands at this very moment? Whether you’re thinking about applying for a new financial product or just want to track your credit score’s progress, it can be difficult to know where to start. Between three different credit bureaus and hundreds of credit scoring models, which credit report card source is the right one for you?
While there are many companies offering to help you monitor and track your credit, there are two big names that are constantly at the forefront. They are Credit.com and Credit Karma. Both companies offer free services that will show you credit reports, analyze your score information, and even alert you to changes, all without cost.
So, which service is better? I took both companies for a test drive in order to find out.
Credit Report Cards
Both Credit Karma and Credit.com offer users a report card of sorts. This dashboard summary allows you to see, at an immediate glance, exactly where your credit-related strengths and weaknesses lie.
There are some differences between the two services, though. For instance, Credit.com assigns grades to the following categories: Payment history, debt usage, credit age, account mix, and credit inquiries. You are given easy-to-read, report card-style scores that let you know exactly where you stand in each category.
Credit Karma’s categories are similar: credit card use, payment history, derogatory marks, total accounts, credit age, and hard inquiries. However, you’re not given grades with Credit Karma–just color-coded indicators to let you know whether certain areas need more work.
More categories, and therefore more information, is typically more helpful. I also appreciate that Credit Karma utilizes info from both Transunion and Equifax in your dashboard, and you can toggle between the two to compare. (Credit.com only uses Experian data.) However, there is a benefit to be had in the “grading” system offered by Credit.com, which may be a motivator for many people.
Credit.com also lets you know how your grade compares with others in your age group, your state, and in the country. That’s fun to see and can provide additional encouragement.
There are literally hundreds of different credit scores for each person, just depending on where the data is pulled from and which calculation is used to create the end number. With that said, I didn’t expect the two sites to give me the same credit score but I was a little miffed at how much lower it was on Credit.com.
When I view my score through Experian–which claims to use the VantageScore 3.0 model–I get two results. Using data from Transunion, my score is 751; using data from Equifax, my score is 760. These are both on par with what I find elsewhere, too (like the free score provided by my Chase Sapphire Preferred card and through my bank).
However, my score through Credit.com is much lower. Again, I am offered two different scores. The top score is supposed to also be calculated using the VantageScore 3.0 and Experian-pulled data, whereas the bottom one is “Experian’s National Equivalency Score.” There’s a difference of 14 points between them, though.
I would just brush that off and say that maybe it’s just due to differences in my Experian data. However, I also check my credit score with Experian directly each month. When I checked it a few weeks ago, it was different than the Credit Karma score: 767.
Yes, Experian calculates using the Fico Score 8, but I am still curious as to why there is such a big jump between the VantageScore 3.0 and the Experian data utilized by Credit.com.
Since both platforms use different data (pulled from different credit bureaus), there are bound to be some inconsistencies. However, I thought it was interesting to see how different they were.
For instance, Credit.com told me that my hard inquiries warranted a C grade. Credit Karma told me that I only had two hard inquiries (and they check against two bureaus!) and that I was in the green.
We also talked about the credit score differences above. While I tend to lean toward the data provided by Credit Karma (since it’s consistent with what I find everywhere else), I am curious as to how Credit.com is so far off.
There is also a big difference in my account age category. Both companies show my oldest account, but Credit Karma only counts my average age of open accounts. Since I recently closed an old credit card (with good reason, though!), this has dropped. However, the discrepancy shows in the average: Credit.com says that my average account age is 112 months, or 9.3 years.
According to Credit Karma, it’s only 97 months, or a little over 8 years.
Both companies have the same accounts listed, even though they pull from different bureaus. The difference here isn’t in the data that’s available to them–it’s in how they actually choose to calculate and present the information to me.
If you want to view your individual accounts and compare your credit report, you can do so through both websites. There’s one very big difference, though.
With Credit Karma, you can simply click through your Accounts page to view individual credit cards and other related accounts, see your payment history, view high balances, and see any derogatory marks. If you find an error, you can easily report it without even leaving the Credit Karma website. Talk about easy!
However, Credit.com doesn’t offer this. You can view your full credit report and see this information, but you’ll need to click to be redirected to Experian’s website in order to do so. Once there, you’ll be asked to provide personal information and sign up through the bureau’s site. (To be fair, Experian.com is an excellent resource to utilize, too, but it’s not Credit.com, so being forced to sign up for a second account is irritating.)
One important piece of information to note is that throughout the site, Credit.com asks you to “upgrade to a full report” or “get your Fico Score 8.” While it’s advertised as only costing $1, you will again be redirected to Experian.com to sign up for an account. Following that $1 trial period, you’ll be billed $21.95 a month for the monitoring service.
For most people, this is an unnecessary move. Especially considering that you can sign up directly with Experian.com for free and still view your FICO Score 8 once a month. For those who need constant credit monitoring services, there are lower-cost options. In fact, we have mentioned before, AAA offers some customers free credit monitoring as do some credit cards and banks.
Credit Karma does not try to upsell you through the dashboard. The site offers links to products such as credit cards, bank accounts, insurance, and money management software that seems to be a good fit for you, however. Some of the products will pay a fee to Credit Karma if you sign up through this website, but it won’t cost you a penny.
In the past, Credit.com won out.
However, this time, the big winner is Credit Karma.
There were differences found between the two sites, but I felt that Credit Karma offered more of my information in a clean, easy-to-read way. Oh, and Credit Karma offered me a full credit report and history on the spot. Credit.com, however, wanted to redirect me to Experian.com if I wanted to view my own credit report details.
I was also happier with the consistency in my credit score through Credit Karma. While Credit.com was more accurate with my average age of accounts (by a few months), I felt that overall, Credit Karma pulled everything together into one neat, comprehensive package. The site is very easy to navigate, as well, and I wasn’t upsold at any time.
On big benefit of Credit.com was that it quickly and easily compared each aspect of my credit report card against others. This allowed me to see not just where I stood, but how I measured up to my age-based peers, others in my state, and even throughout the country. I felt that this was a great feature to have.
Let’s be honest, though: both of 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. So while Credit Karma gets my vote at the moment, there is no harm and no cost in using both services. It’s actually a great idea to utilize as many of these free services as you can, in order to get the most accurate view of your credit score and activity.