Credit Report Cards: vs. Credit Karma

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Last updated on August 22, 2019 Comments: 42

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 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 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, 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. ( only uses Experian data.) However, there is a benefit to be had in the “grading” system offered by, which may be a motivator for many people. 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.

Credit Score

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

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 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

Individual Sections

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, 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 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: 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.

Other Features

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, 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, is an excellent resource to utilize, too, but it’s not, so being forced to sign up for a second account is irritating.)


One important piece of information to note is that throughout the site, 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 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 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, 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., however, wanted to redirect me to 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 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 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.

Start acting today, get your credit score analyzed with Credit Karma 

Article comments

Tammy Mathias says:

I Love Credit Karma, however I tried and found that they didn’t even show that I mixture of different types of credit that I had…
My personal installment loan wasn’t even listed and #CreditKarma does list it, giving me a better score. #CreditCom seems a bit in accurate, comparatively.

Hi I have been with Credit Karma for more than 5years and It has given me the tools to get
and the game, It helps you better understand the highs and lows of dealing with creditors
Take from a guy who once had a score of 4.o now it’s moving and the right direction it’s 670points

poonam says:

This article is very useful to us. That is important in financial.

poonam says:

Thank you for this article.

Anonymous says:

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

Anonymous says:

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?

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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!

Anonymous says:

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…

Anonymous says:

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

Anonymous says:

Maged: That’s easy for you to say.

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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.)

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says: 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?”

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

First time looking at this service.

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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!

Anonymous says:


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.


Luke Landes says:

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

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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.

Anonymous says:

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).

Anonymous says:

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).

Luke Landes says:

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