Here's the short answer: The credit scores and reports you see on Credit Karma come directly from TransUnion and Equifax, two of the three major consumer credit bureaus. The credit scores and reports you see on Credit Karma should accurately reflect your credit information as reported by those bureaus.
Checking your free credit scores on Credit Karma doesn't hurt your credit. These credit score checks are known as soft inquiries, which don't affect your credit at all. Hard inquiries (also known as “hard pulls”) generally happen when a lender checks your credit while reviewing your application for a financial product.
If there's a downside to Credit Karma, it's the fact that, yes, they're using your personal credit data to advertise to you. It's no different than Facebook using your likes to serve ads based on your interests. That said, I would agree that the financial data makes it a bit more personal.
Why your Credit Karma credit score differs
Your score can then differ based on what bureau your credit report is pulled from since they don't all receive the same information about your credit accounts. Secondly, different credit score models (and versions) exist across the board.
The most accurate credit scores are the latest versions of the FICO Score and VantageScore credit-scoring models: FICO Score 8 and VantageScore 3.0. It is important to check a reputable, accurate credit score because there are more than 1,000 different types of credit scores floating around.
But how accurate is Credit Karma? In some cases, as seen in an example below, Credit Karma may be off by 20 to 25 points.
You can get a free FICO® Score from hundreds of financial services companies, including banks, credit unions, credit card issuers and credit counselors that participate in the FICO® Score Open Access program and offer free scores to customers.
No. Using Credit Karma doesn't hurt your credit. When you access your information on Credit Karma, it counts as a "soft" inquiry that isn't reported to the credit bureaus. A "hard" inquiry, such as a lender's credit check when you apply for a loan, is reported.
It usually takes about four to six weeks for lenders to report new information (like new balances or payment activity) to TransUnion, and the frequency of updates can vary by lender. So it can take up to seven weeks for any changes or new information to show on Credit Karma.
This is due to a variety of factors, such as the many different credit score brands, score variations and score generations in commercial use at any given time. These factors are likely to yield different credit scores, even if your credit reports are identical across the three credit bureaus—which is also unusual.
Credit Karma is different from Experian. While Experian compiles your credit report and determines your credit score, Credit Karma simply shows you credit scores and report information from Equifax and TransUnion.
Risk of Getting Into Debt
Any time you borrow money, you're creating debt. The more you borrow, without repaying, the deeper you go into debt. Debt leads to a myriad of other problems, and not all of them are financial. It can lead to stress, depression, and other health issues, all of which can have serious impacts.
70% of U.S. consumers' FICO® Scores are higher than 650. What's more, your score of 650 is very close to the Good credit score range of 670-739. With some work, you may be able to reach (and even exceed) that score range, which could mean access to a greater range of credit and loans, at better interest rates.
A 720 FICO® Score is Good, but by raising your score into the Very Good range, you could qualify for lower interest rates and better borrowing terms. A great way to get started is to get your free credit report from Experian and check your credit score to find out the specific factors that impact your score the most.
If you spot a hard credit inquiry on your credit report and it's legitimate (i.e., you knew you were applying for credit), there's nothing you can do to remove it besides wait. It won't impact your score after 12 months and will fall off your credit report after two years.
If you've recently made a change, like opening or closing a line of credit, or paying down a credit card balance, your lender(s) may not have reported this information to the credit bureaus yet. You can check when the individual accounts were last reported with the bureau through Credit Karma.
The most common reasons credit scores drop after paying off debt are a decrease in the average age of your accounts, a change in the types of credit you have, or an increase in your overall utilization. It's important to note, however, that credit score drops from paying off debt are usually temporary.
This is because your credit history is shortened, and roughly 10% of your score is based on how old your accounts are. If you've paid off a loan in the past few months, you may just now be seeing your score go down.
Credit Karma is 100% free, and you can get access to your credit scores and reports from two of the three major consumer credit bureaus, plus credit monitoring, insights, recommendations and more. Credit Karma Money Save is a high-yield savings account,1 with no fees and no minimum to open.
Credit scores help lenders evaluate whether they want to do business with you. The FICO® Score☉ , which is the most widely used scoring model, falls in a range that goes up to 850. The lowest credit score in this range is 300. But the reality is that almost nobody has a score that low.
While Experian offers free FICO scores on their website, you cannot get a free FICO credit score through Equifax or TransUnion directly.
FICO® score ranges vary — they can range from 300 to 850 or 250 to 900, depending on the scoring model — but higher scores can indicate that you may be less risky to lenders.
Equifax and Experian are the most commonly used credit bureaus by auto lenders. They offer services that are directed specifically at the auto industry, and each gets a portion of their revenue from the industry.