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Credit Report Cards: vs. Credit Karma

This article was written by in Credit. 38 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, 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. 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 for the “Credit Mix” category. 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 Report Card from

Credit Karma

Credit Report Card from Credit Karma 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 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 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, offers you a range for several different types of credit scores. The one that matters the most is often the FICO® Score. 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.


One important piece of information to note is that throughout the site, 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.


In this case, 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 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 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’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 or Credit Karma’s services, please feel free to share your thoughts below.

Updated April 20, 2017 and originally published September 30, 2009.

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About the author

Luke Landes 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 Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

Comment Policy: We love comments! However, the comments below are not provided or commissioned by this site or its advertisers. Comments have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by this site or its advertisers. It is not this site or its advertisers' responsibility to ensure all comments and/or questions are answered.

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

Hmm…well i just tried out 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, 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 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 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, 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 2 Luke Landes

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

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avatar 3 Anonymous

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 4 Anonymous

agreed, but at least for me, even the “credit report card” bit on 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 5 Anonymous

I just tried out’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 6 Anonymous

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 7 Anonymous

I personally thought 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 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 8 Anonymous

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 9 Anonymous


Can anyone please provide more information on my question- I have used credit karma in the past and I am interested in At this point, I am seeking to fix old credit debts and the right way to go about it. I dont want any more credit inquiries- hard or soft. Do either of these services impact my credit anyone more so?

Thanks for taking the time to read this.


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avatar 10 Luke Landes

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

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avatar 11 Anonymous

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 12 Anonymous

First time looking at this service.

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avatar 13 Anonymous

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 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 14 Anonymous

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 15 Anonymous

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 16 Anonymous

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 17 Anonymous and are scams! CreditKarma said I had two bad strikes on my credit report and offered a paid subscription to help me clean it up. 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 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 and 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 18 Anonymous

Credit Karma had my student loan debt over $8000 when it was actually just above $2000. This was only a year ago. I had to search for old records of the payoff and submit to have this taken care of. The other two bureaus had my loan info accurately reported.

Just a few days ago, my Credit Karma score dropped 26 points and they can’t provide a reason. I’ve had no late payments. They have a record of a current delinquency according to Credit Karma and they can’t explain it. Any and all delinquencies were included in a bankruptcy back in 2013. I’ve had none since.

Credit Karma feeds off of this and manipulates the situation. What they want is for me to trust their info and sign up for the services offered by Lexington Law so they can get a kickback.
Credit Karma is at it again. Trying to feed off those that seem or appear vulnerable.

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avatar 19 Anonymous

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 20 Anonymous

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 21 Anonymous

Sean, Same thing here; no calls in ages; couple days after signing with CK, BOOM!!! Chain calls!
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 22 Anonymous

I used creditkarma and 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 23 Anonymous

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 24 Anonymous

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 25 Anonymous

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 26 Anonymous

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 27 Anonymous

I have used Credit Karma for a few months now. I just signed up for a 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 The only thing 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 28 Anonymous

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 29 Anonymous

Seems pretty lame to me, 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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avatar 30 Anonymous

A lot of people don’t know about this, but Discover offers free credit score for their card holders. I believe more banks will follow this trend.

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avatar 31 Anonymous

Credit Karma is a complete SCAM!!! Their troll employees are all over the web writing “independent” reviews of them but I assure you they are a joke. After you sign up with them, they will lock you out of their site so you cannot close your account. I assume they sell your personal info to 3rd parties to make their money. They have already settled a large government lawsuit regarding not protecting personal info. DO NOT do business with these thieves.

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avatar 32 Anonymous

What u mmeaning open meameanings open cridet card dibit. ….. 68$

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avatar 33 Anonymous

Maged: That’s easy for you to say.

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avatar 34 Anonymous

Credit Karma does not give you your fico score it only gives you reports from Trans union on the the other hand credit. Com gives you one score. I did it with credit. Com then had it pull and it was almost dead on and credit karma was about 50 points off…

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avatar 35 Anonymous

I use a unique email address for every website that asks for one. The one I gave to now gets a load of spam. They sold my email address to spammers!

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avatar 36 Anonymous

CreditKarma is a great way to help change the course of how consumers monitor and keep track of their reports by consistently keeping them proactive. They send weekly reports and updates and emails to sign-in and update yourself with where you stand….however as some have already brought up…it’s not the most accurate scoring model. Which can sometimes mislead consumers and put them in a greater financial strain.

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avatar 37 Anonymous

My score is 100 points HIGHER than my score. Looking them up, they both use VantageScore 3.0. Why such a huge discrepancy? Is either one closer to a real, usable score for things like a mortgage?

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avatar 38 Anonymous

CK STATED MY CREDIT CARDS WERE AT THEIR LIMITS INFORMATION SO UNTRUE MY CREDIT. Com scores were way higher right now I’m banking on I have been using them to get ready to purchase a house and now I’m nervous to even check

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