Time and again we’ve published content on PursuingPoints.com that deals with your credit score, how your credit score is calculated, and how you can improve it. Today we’re going to look at how you can obtain your free credit score courtesy of a website I’ve been using more or less since its inception. CreditKarma.com is the leader in free credit scores online, and not only do they offer credit scores, but they’re offering new features on a regular basis. Prior to the advent of CK and websites like it, obtaining a credit score, especially a free one, was a minefield as you tried to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge your way past a myriad of online scams. While those scams still exist, they’re much easier to avoid these days thanks to sites like CreditKarma and CreditSesame.
Free Credit Score Details
Founded in 2007 Credit Karma has evolved from simply showing you an “estimated” credit score, to actually providing you with exact numbers courtesy of TransUnion and Equifax. Signing up is a three step process and its similar to signing up for similar financial institutions in that you must verify your identity before you can proceed. Once you’re in you’ll have immediate access to both your Transunion and Equifax credit scores and reports. The homepage just shows you your scores, but if you go deeper you can actually see how those scores are derived, lets check that out. As mentioned in the article on how your credit score is calculated, there are a few major factors that you’ll want to look at. Lucky for us, CreditKarma lays those out in a simple to understand format and they’ll tell you where you’re doing well, and where you could be doing better. For each factor listed CK will tell you whether or not it has a high, medium, or low impact on your credit score.
For any of the factors listed you can click on “View Details” to dive deeper into the individual factor. There you’ll get a more detailed accounting of how the number was derived, which accounts its looking at, etc.
My advice is to check your account with CK on a regular basis; monthly at a minimum, weekly is better, and daily if you’re a bit obsessive like I am.
Communications and Monitoring
Beyond just simple credit reporting, Credit Karma also has a robust credit reporting and monitoring solution. They’ll email you when you pay off cards, when your score changes, when a new account is added to your credit report, and more. They also have alerts which you can configure in order to keep you up-to-date with things like; bill reminders, bill payments, bank fees, and more. Here is a screenshot of how I have my communication preferences configured:
In my opinion one of the coolest, albeit the feature that I wish did not need to exist is the identity monitoring service on CreditKarma. Here, you can see a list of all the breaches that your email has been found in. This is helpful because as we discussed on the protecting your online identity podcast, once an account has been breached you should change your password right away. Of course, you should also use a password manager and follow the rest of the helpful hints in that episode but I digress. In my case CK tells me that I have been a victim of 8 total breaches. Once you signup for your CK account be sure to checkout the identity monitoring portion of the website and take action on any breaches you may’ve been subjected to.
Ever wish that you could see if there was money out there, belonging to you, that you could lay claim to? With CreditKarma you can! Heres how it works, as per the CreditKarma website:
- When a business owes you money but can’t send it to you, they may turn it over to the state.
- Each state holds onto that money and keeps a detailed list of who it belongs to.
- If some of it’s yours, you can file a claim to get it back into your pocket.
The real beauty of this product is in its simplicity, you simply enter your name and state in order to search for any unclaimed money. Unfortunately for me, I am not any of the Peter Foti’s in New York with missing money 🙁 But if one of them is you, go claim your money!
Simulators and Calculators
If the aforementioned features weren’t enough, how about a host of helpful calculators and a credit score simulator? Thats right, CreditKarma has calculators for mortgage refinancing, debt repayment, amortization, and simple loans. They’ve also got a credit score simulator which is actually pretty fun to play with. You can see your current score and then say “What might happen if I get a new loan”, and it will tell you the estimated effect on your credit score. As an example, if I go out and get a loan for $50,000, my score will drop by an estimated 47 points. Better not do that!
Beyond everything we’ve mentioned above, CK also has apps for both Android and iOS, making it super easy to check your score while you’re on the go. And if you’re so inclined, they’ll make credit card recommendations to you based on your current score and approval odds. I personally have never signed up with a card through CK but if you find a good offer, I don’t see a reason not to.
What is your experience with CreditKarma? Let the other Pursuing Points readers know in the comment section below!