We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.
Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.
Of course, the offers on our platform don't represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can.
Once people see that Credit Karma offers access to your credit scores for free, they usually follow up with questions like, “Is Credit Karma accurate?” or “What’s the catch?”
Whether it’s your first time visiting Credit Karma or you’ve been a member for years, you might want some more insight into where Credit Karma gets your credit scores and why you should trust a company that claims to offer something for free.
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.
This means a couple of things:
- The scores we provide are actual credit scores pulled from two of the major consumer credit bureaus, not just estimates of your credit rating. This, by the way, is one of the reasons why we ask for your Social Security number and other personal information in order to create a Credit Karma account — so that we can match you up to what the bureaus have on file for you.
- Credit Karma isn’t a credit bureau or a credit-reporting agency. We don’t gather information from creditors, and creditors don’t report information directly to Credit Karma.
Understandably, you may still have some questions about how Credit Karma gets your credit scores and why your scores from Credit Karma might look different from scores you got somewhere else.
We’ll dig into some of those questions below. We’ll also explain how Credit Karma can offer free credit reports from TransUnion and Equifax along with your free credit scores from each of those credit bureaus.
What’s a credit score?
There are few numbers in life that matter as much to your financial well-being as your credit scores.
Each of your credit scores is a three-digit number that relates to how likely you are to repay debt. These numbers can go a long way in determining whether a lender will approve you for a credit card or loan.
We say “each of your credit scores” because you actually have more than one. The three major consumer credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — create credit reports that contain important information about your credit accounts and financial profile.
Credit-scoring models created by companies like VantageScore Solutions and Fair, Isaac and Company (FICO) use the information from your credit reports to calculate your credit scores. Different credit-scoring models may weigh the information in your credit reports differently, but high-impact factors generally include credit card utilization, your payment history and any derogatory marks on your credit reports.
Interested in seeing what’s on your credit reports?
Why are my credit scores from Credit Karma different from scores I got somewhere else?
We pull your VantageScore 3.0 credit scores directly from TransUnion and Equifax. There are a few reasons why you might get different credit scores from each of the three major credit bureaus.
One big reason why you may have different scores is that the three credit bureaus may have differing information about you.
Here are three reasons why that may be the case:
1. Mistakes happen
Errors on credit reports are not unheard-of, and even if one bureau has your information completely correct, there’s no certainty that the other two bureaus will as well.
To offer some helpful context: Through Credit Karma’s Direct Dispute™ tool, more than $10.2 billion in erroneous debt has been removed from TransUnion credit reports since 2015. And that’s only one credit bureau!
2. Not all lenders report to all three major credit bureaus
Some lenders may only report to one or two bureaus, not all three. Also, the bureaus may not update your reports at the same time. Different information can understandably result in different credit reports and credit scores.
3. Different credit-scoring models can yield different results
Lastly, credit scores are calculated using different scoring models. Because each scoring model can emphasize different aspects of your credit history, you can get different scores even if they’re based on the same credit reports.
Does Credit Karma offer free FICO® scores?
You may have read reviews that say the credit scores you see on Credit Karma are useless because they’re not FICO® scores. Though Credit Karma does not currently offer FICO® scores, the scores you see on Credit Karma (VantageScore 3.0 credit scores from TransUnion and Equifax) provide valuable insight into your financial health.
It’s important to keep in mind that no one credit score is the end-all, be-all. There are dozens of different FICO® scoring models alone. Even if you’re confident in a specific FICO® score, it may not necessarily match the scores a lender pulls when you apply for a loan.
At Credit Karma, we believe that because you can have so many different scores, the exact number you get at a given time isn’t of foremost importance. What’s more important are the changes you observe over time in a single score, and where that number puts you in relation to other consumers.
By using Credit Karma to monitor your VantageScore 3.0 credit scores from Equifax and TransUnion over time, you can have an easy point of reference to gauge your overall credit health.
What should I do if I see incorrect information on Credit Karma?
If you think Credit Karma is showing you incorrect information, it’s usually for one of three reasons:
1. Your creditors have not reported up-to-date information to the bureaus
Creditors typically report your updated account data to the credit bureaus once a month, so seeing old balances, payment activity and credit utilization rates is pretty common. Unfortunately, it’s usually something you’ll just need to wait out until the information gets updated.
2. There’s inaccurate or outdated information on credit report(s)
If the incorrect account information is more than a month old, this could indicate that your credit report contains inaccurate or outdated information about your credit history.
In this case, we recommend viewing the full credit report in question, reviewing it carefully, and disputing any errors you see directly with the credit bureau.
3. TransUnion and Equifax may be slow to update your report(s)
Even if you’ve successfully disputed an error, it may take a while for TransUnion and Equifax to update your reports.
On Credit Karma, you can see when your reports were last updated. You can also see when the next update will be.
Part of the reason why we created Credit Karma is to facilitate credit history transparency for our members. If you see incorrect information about your credit profile on our site, this could clue you in to a bigger issue.
We recommend disputing any errors you find, as some inaccuracies may be unnecessarily hurting your scores. Then, come back to Credit Karma frequently to see how your VantageScore 3.0 credit scores from TransUnion and Equifax can change over time.