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Free credit reports for everyone? Pros cons

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The amount of information that credit bureaus have about us is somewhat strange. In fact, every time you request or obtain a financial product linked to credit, you can be sure to leave a mark on your credit report. This virtual footprint includes everything from credit cards, loans, mortgages, store cards, credit lines and, in some cases, a bank account application.

As a result, the importance of controlling your credit score should not be underestimated. After all, this is the main metric that lenders will consider when deciding whether or not to approve your credit application. In addition, the health of your credit profile will also determine how much interest you pay for the respective credit product.

As such, it is crucial that you regularly check your credit report to evaluate if there is anything you can do to improve your score. One of those providers in this regard is Credit Karma. The online platform claims to provide a free way to verify your credit score at any time without paying a single penny. It sounds too good to be true? Actually, no, everything available at Credit Karma is, in fact, free at the point of use.

However, if you want to get more information about what the platform really offers, be sure of our comprehensive review of Credit Karma. Within it, we will explore what Credit Karma is, what the website allows you to do, what information you will be aware of and more.

Visit Credit Karma

What is Credit Karma?

Founded in 2007, just before the financial crisis, Credit Karma is an online platform that says "make financial progress possible for everyone." The general concept of the platform is that everyday consumers have the opportunity to verify, analyze and subsequently improve their credit profile when they deem it convenient.

Directed by CEO Ken Lin, Credit Karma also aims to provide its users with simple tips to keep their financial situation in good standing. This could include an incorrect entry in your credit report (which is more common than you think), or a particular credit product that is pending to be attached at a higher than average APR rate.

Although there are now many online platforms that allow you to access your VantageScore and credit report, many of these websites charge a monthly or one-time fee. On the contrary, the key attraction of using Credit Karma is that the platform is totally free.

Credit Karma website

Instead of charging money to its users to access their financial capacity, Credit Karma earns money through external advertisers. In addition, as you will be presented with a variety of offers on loans, credit cards and other financing products, if you choose to take out one, the underlying provider will pay Credit Karma a small commission at no additional cost to you.

It is also important to keep in mind that, unlike other free credit scoring platforms that operate in the market, which often limit you to the number of times you can access your report, Credit Karma gives you access whenever you want.

Even more important, not only can you recover your current credit score with Equifax and TransUnion, but you will also get your full credit report. This arms you with all the tools you will need to participate in a credit reconstruction exercise.

Finally, and to illustrate how popular Credit Karma's free platform is now among consumers, the company says it now has more than 100 million members under its wings.

So, now that you know what Credit Karma is, in the next section of our review we will explore what information you can access as a free member.

What does Credit Karma offer?

While the platform offers a variety of free services throughout its site, Credit Karma is behind three main features: access to your credit score and credit report, and continuous monitoring of your financial situation.

Let's analyze these three services in more detail so that you know exactly what you are receiving.

Free Credit Score

Before unraveling the basics of the free credit score offer available at Credit Karma, it is important that you first understand how your credit score Really jobs. Otherwise, the information presented to you through the Credit Karma website will be of little value if you do not have a clear idea of ​​what the score means.

First, there are three leading credit rating offices in the United States. This includes TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Each credit bureau operates independently, which means that each one has its own way of collecting data and assessing the current strength of your financial situation.

In particular, this includes the way your credit score is calculated. Here is a breakdown of how the three major credit agencies quantify your credit score.

  • Equifax: 300 (bad) to 850 (excellent)
  • Experience: 0 (very poor) to 1,000 (excellent)
  • TransUnion: 0 (bad) to 710 (excellent)

As you can see in the above, the credit rating space is somewhat fragmented, especially since each agency will have a slightly different point of view as to how healthy its financial position is. In order to create a more aligned credit rating system in the US. UU., The three main offices subsequently created the "VantageScore". As the VantageScore This is what will be provided in Credit Karma, it is very relevant that we briefly explore how this works.

Surveillance

What is a VantageScore?

In its most basic form, its VantageScore is a collective credit score that is taken from the scores of the three main credit agencies: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. This should not be confused by your FICO score, which is a completely different rating system. However, both VantageScore and FICO now use the same credit score range, which starts from 300, to a maximum of 850.

This covers a credit score of very poor (300-579), regular (580-669), good (670-739), very good (740-799) and excellent (800-850). The importance of your VantageScore should not be underestimated, as it is estimated that more than US lenders requested 6.4 billion points in 2017 alone.

That said, we will give you a complete breakdown of the many factors that can damage or improve your VantageScore later in our review. After all, it makes no sense to have access to your VantageScore if you don't understand what you need to do to improve it.

Free VantageScore in Credit Karma

To make things even more complicated for you, it is important to keep in mind that your VantageScore may differ slightly between the three main credit bureaus.

Although the VantageScore ensures that all three agencies use the same formula to determine their credit score, they could still differ for several reasons. First, when lenders report the performance of their repayment, they can choose to report one, two or all three offices. This means that an office could have more information about you at any time.

In addition, even if all three offices have the same information about you, the frequency with which the respective agencies update their scores may vary slightly. However, when you become a member of Credit Karma, you will have continuous access to your VantageScore according to TransUnion and Equifax. As such, you will not have access to your VantageScore with Experian, although the offices mentioned above are so dominant in the US credit space. UU., So this should not worry you.

Most importantly, as Credit Karma updates your system daily, you can effectively verify your updated VantageScore on the platform every day, for free.

Perceptions

Free Credit Report

As noted in the previous section, having a firm understanding of what your current score is through the VantageScore system is of paramount importance. However, if you are Really Take your financial situation seriously and, therefore, make frequent evaluations of what your credit profile looks like, you should also check your credit report.

In its most basic form, your credit report takes things one step further, to the extent that your credit score will notify you of your specific score, your report will give you a complete breakdown of each entry that constitutes your score.

For example, each time you apply for a new loan, credit card or other financing product, and the lender makes a "hard consultation," the application will appear on your credit report. As we will discuss later, making too many credit applications can have a detrimental impact on your credit score, so be careful with this.

Note: It is important that you understand the difference between a "soft" query and a "hard" query. Simply put, a soft query is when lenders can extract information from your credit report without the search appearing in your report. However, when lenders need a more complete extraction of their data, they will conduct a thorough investigation. This will appear on your credit report.

In addition to the applications and credit products previously obtained, your credit report will also contain your payment history. This includes payments that have been made on time, as well as late payments and defaults. In addition, your credit report will contain information linked to your personal identity, such as your current and previous address, date of birth and what bank accounts you currently have.

Ultimately, your credit report contains a significant amount of information about you, which means you need to know what is there. Even more important, there is always the possibility that some of the information in your credit report is incorrect or outdated. With respect to the first, this could be a blacklisted address where you have never lived. And the latter, this could be a loan that is still in default, although it has now been fully repaid.

Free credit report in Credit Karma

As in the case of your free VantageScore, Credit Karma will give you full access to your TransUnion and Equifax credit report. Again, if you need to see the information Experian owns, you must obtain it elsewhere. In fact, it is highly recommended that you understand your financial situation with the three credit agencies, since there is always the possibility that some of the information contained is incorrect.

However, your TransUnion and Equifax credit report will be updated once a week at Credit Karma, which is excellent. In addition, the report you can obtain as a free member is the same report that the respective credit agency will charge if you went directly to their website. This is in stark contrast to other free platforms, which generally offer you a diluted version of your report, and then ask you to pay a fee to get full access. This further highlights why Credit Karma is now very popular among consumers in the US. UU.

In addition, to serve those with little understanding of how credit reports really work, Credit Karma will highlight the most important information contained in the report. As such, if there is a particular entry or section in your report that the Credit Karma algorithm believes needs more attention, you will be clearly notified of this.

Decisions

Credit monitoring

So, now that you have a clear idea of ​​how your credit score and credit report work, we will now explain the importance of continuous credit. surveillance. In a nutshell, everything is good and good if when you verify your current financial situation you discover that you are in possession of a good credit score, however, this does not mean that your good score will remain intact. indefinitely.

On the contrary, your credit score can go up or down at any time. While your score adjustment may be valid, this is not always the case. As noted above, there may come a time when an incorrect entry is posted on your credit report.

However, the process of monitoring your credit goes beyond simply checking if there is an invalid line in your report. Instead, you should be informed if a particular action you have taken has had a negative impact on your credit score. In fact, you would be surprised at how easily this can happen, so you should carry out periodic checks.

The good news for you is that Credit Karma can make the credit reduction process super easy for you, to the extent that the system will send you automatic notifications when something out of the ordinary arises. This could include a situation where you have requested too many credit products in a short period of time and, therefore, your credit score has been affected.

Credit monitoring in Credit Karma

As is the case with both VantageScore and the full credit reporting service offered by Credit Karma, the platform's free credit monitoring feature covers Equifax and TransUnion. As such, Experian has been excluded again.

However, the credit monitoring service at Credit Karma is not periodic, which means that you will only receive notifications if something out of the ordinary arises.

It is karma credit Really Free?

With a lot of credit reporting websites now in circulation, you are very likely to know that "free" often does not mean free. For example, many platforms will ask you to enter your credit card details before you can receive your report. In fact, this is a tactic often implemented by major credit agencies.

While you may not be charged in advance, you may need to subscribe to a subscription service that, if you do not cancel before the free trial expires, will be taken directly from your credit card. In other cases, although some credit reporting services will provide you with a free credit report, much of the information is restricted. As such, the only way you can access your full report in its entirety is by paying an additional fee.

However, in the case of Credit Karma and its free credit reporting services, the platform is 100% free. There is never any requirement to enter your credit card details, nor will you be asked to pay an additional fee to receive your full report. That is why the platform has attracted more than 100 million members since its creation in 2007.

Credit Karma application

If you're wondering how Credit Karma can offer something for free when other credit reporting websites don't, this is because the platform makes money through advertising. The vast majority of this comes in the form of loan offers and credit cards offered throughout its site. If you proceed to withdraw one of these financing products by clicking on the link through Credit Karma, the platform will receive a small commission fee at no additional cost to you. In this sense, it is a beneficial situation for both you and the consumer. Y Credit Karma alike.

What else does Credit Karma offer?

In addition to its three basic credit data services, which consist of free credit scores, credit reports and credit monitoring, Credit Karma offers a range of other free services that may be of interest to you.

Below we have listed a quick breakdown of what these services are and how they work.

Direct dispute

If, upon examining your TransUnion credit report, you notice that an entry is incorrect, invalid or outdated, Credit Karma allows you to submit a dispute directly through its website. Normally, you would need to address this directly with TransUnion, which can be a very cumbersome process.

As great as it is, it is a shame that you cannot repeat the same process with Equifax or Experian, which means that you must resolve any dispute directly with the corresponding credit agency.

Product Recommendations

While it is true that the Internet is now packed with third-party websites that offer recommendations for credit-based products, it could be argued that Credit Karma takes this to the next level. The reason for this is that the product recommendations that the platform presents will be based on its underlying credit profile.

For example, if you currently have a bad credit score, Credit Karma will probably recommend a credit product that will allow you to rebuild your score. At the other end of the spectrum, if you receive an excellent credit score, but the Credit Karma algorithm believes that you have outstanding balances with too many lenders, then the system may recommend an appropriate balance transfer credit card that comes with a super long period. 0% interest free.

Mobile app

For those of you who prefer to perform life administrative tasks through your mobile phone, you will be pleased to know that Credit Karma now offers a complete mobile application. The application is available to download for free through the Google Play and Apple stores.

By doing so, you will have access to all the same account features found in the desktop version of the site. However, the mobile application is even more useful if you are looking for real-time credit monitoring notifications, since updates can be sent directly to your mobile device, rather than having to check your email inbox.

Credit Karma: The bottom line?

In conclusion, it is clear to see why Credit Karma has attracted more than 100 million members to its platform.

Consumers finally have a place to go to check their credit score and credit report for free, without entering any financial information.

In addition, the credit report you can obtain from TransUnion and Equifax is available in its complete form, unlike the fragments offered by other credit reporting websites.

We also like the current credit monitoring notifications that Credit Karma will send you if something unfavorable is published in your credit report, as well as the Direct Dispute feature that allows you to check incorrect entries in TransUnion. Again, all this can be achieved without paying a single penny in fees, which is great.

However, if we detect a small defect with the Credit Karma platform, you will not be able to obtain any of the information that Experian has. As one of the three main credit rating offices in the US UU., It is essential that you access both your credit score Y Full credit report with Experian too, which means you should do it externally from Credit Karma.

Visit Credit Karma

Credit karma

Karma Credit Review

Pros

  • Free to use
  • Full credit reports
  • Credit monitoring

Cons

  • Cannot get data from Experian

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are only those of the author, not those of any bank or credit card issuer and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The answers below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. The responses have not been reviewed, approved or supported by the bank advertiser. It is not the responsibility of the bank advertiser to ensure that all publications and / or questions are answered.

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