How to Use Credit Karma to Monitor and Build Your Credit Score

How to Use Credit Karma to Monitor and Build Your Credit Score

Your credit score is one of the most crucial components of your financial profile. Credit Karma believes you have a right to access your credit score for free, anytime. In addition to offering free credit scores, Credit Karma also provides its members with helpful tools and resources to help you better understand credit scores.

In order for you to best monitor and build your credit score, here's a step-by-step approach for using Credit Karma.

Step 1: Sign up.

There are three steps in the Credit Karma sign-up process:

  • Create your account. Here, you'll create your login information. Be sure to choose a secure password by following these password creation tips. Also, use a reliable, personal email address, instead of a work or school email account (that might be cancelled) or an email address that you share with a spouse or other family member.
  • Tell us who you are. You'll provide your personal information, including your social security number. This information is used to identify you with the credit bureau. Read more about our privacy policy.
  • Confirm your identity. In order to verify your identity and receive your free credit scores, you'll be asked to answer a series of questions based on information on file with the credit bureaus. You must answer these correctly in order to access your free credit score.

Credit Karma will never ask for your credit card information, since all of our services are free. You'll never be charged to get your credit score from Credit Karma.

When you've completed the sign-up process and your identity is verified, you'll be able to get your free credit score .

Step 2: Get your free credit score and credit report.

Credit Karma provides several different ways to view your credit:

  • Dashboard: Here, you'll see your score and how recently it was updated. When you log into your Credit Karma account, your score will automatically update if it's been more than seven days since your last update. All you have to do is log in to initiate this process.
  • Credit Scores: This is where you can view your VantageScore 3.0 credit scores, along with your Auto Insurance Score and Home Insurance Score. You can track your scores from the first month you become a Credit Karma member.
  • Full Credit Report: Check your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports any time and update them up to once a week. Full credit reports come in an easy-to-understand format complete with educational blurbs and related reading.
  • Credit Factors: Find more details about important factors that contribute to your credit score.
  • Credit Simulator: This feature allows you to simulate real-world financial actions to see how they may impact your credit score. You can see how a new loan might affect your credit, or how much your score would decrease with a few new hard inquiries on your credit report.

Take note that checking your credit score on Credit Karma will never hurt your credit, since it initiates a soft inquiry. Read more about hard and soft inquiries.

Step 3: Connect and relate your accounts

After you connect and relate your accounts, Credit Karma can become a one-stop site to review your credit lines and bank accounts. As you'll be able to view both your financial accounts and credit scores in one place, it'll give you a 360-degree view of your financial health and present more relevant suggestions on how to improve your financial situation. Not only will connecting your accounts allow you to be able to check all of your accounts in one place, but it'll also enable you to use other awesome features of the site, such as:

  • My Spending: A tool that tracks where your money is coming from and where it's going. Easily identify what you spend the most money on and how you can fix those areas.
  • Email alerts: If you're the forgetful type, Credit Karma has a variety of reminders that you can choose to be sent to you, such as bill reminders, low balance alerts and credit limit changes.
  • Money-saving offers and recommendations: With your accounts connected, Credit Karma will be better able to understand your financial situation and alert you to products and services that are a better fit for your needs.

Step 4: Monitor your accounts.

The My Accounts section of Credit Karma aggregates all of your lines of credit into one place so you can track your overall credit balances. In the Credit Cards section, Credit Karma shows your overall credit card balances as well as your overall credit card limits, and calculates your credit card utilization rate. Since credit card utilization has a large impact on your credit score, it's important to keep it below 30 percent on average.

Step 5: Make moves to build your credit score.

With the help of on's recommendations and resources, make choices to help build your credit. These may include:


Credit Karma and its tools will always be free, so use them as often as you like to update and monitor your credit score. There are other useful features on to better your financial life. Read credit card reviews before applying for a new card. Use the Credit Advice Center to ask and answer any questions you have about credit and other financial matters. Use My Savings to find potential ways to save money on financial products. Read through the articles in Credit News and the Credit Karma blog for regularly updated information on credit and personal finance.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this site is not provided by the bank or issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the bank or issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank or issuer. Credit Karma may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. It is this compensation that enables Credit Karma to provide its members with services like free access to your credit scores and free monitoring of credit and financial accounts at no charge.


Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Credit Karma does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For complete details of any products mentioned, visit bank or issuer website.

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3883 People Helped

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1.  Start a monthly budget system

2.  Priority

     A.  Home, Auto pymt’s, Health when needed.

     B.  Set aside Home, Auto insurance, property taxes, license fees, little every month will make easier                 

     when they come due.

3.  Savings for rainy day/retirement, $100.00 a month, which is only $25.00 a week. Alternatively, auto from paycheck.

4.  Any disability insurance you can buy, and increase it as your wages increase, cover on/off job, 24/7.

     When you are young, it is cheap, but does increase with age. You will never know when might need it!

5.  Always look for 0% financing 6,12,18,24 months, be a week ahead of due dates, divide amount purchase by months of 0% interest payments, if late bye-bye 0% automatic 29.9 to 32%, not counting the late fee too.

My favor is always looking & works with their money if possible, if not then 35% or more if you cannot afford to pay in full monthly statement.   Use your credit cards with rewards another way of saving and purchasing what you want later with gift cards from REWARDS.

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1049 People Helped
Helpful to 1049 out of 1118 people

Thank you, good advice, which I will follow.

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672 People Helped
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thank you for the great advice

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Response to ewilliams216:

First, I DON'T know why your issue is still a problem on Credit Karma ...but give me a minute, please.  I have some information to help you get it taken care of.  It IS frustrating!

Credit Karma doesn't update our credit reports - only the credit report companies can make changes to their databases -  "they" being Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  Credit Karma helps you inform them (E, E & TU) of incorrect information on YOUR credit report.  Of the three, TransUnion is the (only) one Credit Karma uses to display the information you see when you log in.  Credit Karma will give you the OPPORTUNITY, the ABILITY to look at the other two as well, so you can "connect and match" them  to get all of your credit straight, but they even tell you that the credit report they have is base on TransUnion credit report.

If TransUnion, then, never changes the information they have in their database, Credit Karma can't display the changes.  If, on the other hand, TransUnion HAS changed it, Credit Karma has no choice but to "change" it (show the changes), as it's only displaying what it has been given.

So what I wanted to tell you is this:  although you're checking your credit status via Credit Karma, which is good because it's free... you have the right to obtain your credit report - free - once a year, from each of the three companies above - TransUnion, Experion and Equifax.

If you call, they'll give you the option to do so online, or order a paper copy by phone.  Be aware they will ask for name, address, SSN - so you may want to be aware of who is around you.  If you go online, you can request a paper copy to be sent, or you can opt to see it online.  Be where you can print - I believe you will only be allowed to enter once.  (You also have the option to sign up and pay - that way you can look at your report as much as you want.  They WILL try to auto-pay for the following year(s) though, so please watch the options you select.

You can get all three reports at one time, or decide to get a different report once every 4 months.  Some say the latter lets them see their credit report throughout the year.  I agree - IF they all say the same thing; sometimes what's good on two will have an error on the third, and sometimes the same information will be incorrect on all three accounts.  The choice is up to you.

The bottom line is that you are entitled to get a free report once a year from each of the three credit report companies, each and every year.

Why don't you start with the one Credit Karma uses - TransUnion - and see whay they (still) show on that particular issue you want corrected?  If you get them straight, your Credit Karma will be ok.  (Your best bet is to ensure all three Credit Companies say the same thing, as some places subscribe to Experian, and others like Equifax.)

Go to: or call :  Call (free) 1-877-322-8228

This is where to write to request your annual credit report - or fo change errors on it.  They will send it within 15 days.  If you notify them of issues on your reports within a specific time frame (it's reasonable) timeframe, they will make the changes and send you an updated report.  You can do this over and over, until they get it right, if you respond before the time limit on that new report.

Annual Credit Report Request Service
PO Box 105283

Atlanta, GA 30348-5283

Write each individually: 


P.O. Box 740256

Atlanta, Georgia 30374


P.O. Box 9554

Allen, Texas 75013


P.O. Box 6790

Fullerton, CA 92834

And KEEP Credit Karma because: 1) they're free, 2) you can look at them any time you want,  3) as many times as you want, 4) they DO indicate when something is - or is NOT - wrong with your credit, 5....) they have soooooo much else to offer in getting and keeping your credit up to snuff that the other three don't.

Good luck to you.


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222 People Helped
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Your info has been very informative.  I know that my credit report is flawed and requires a definite follow up.  Thank you.

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162 People Helped
Helpful to 159 out of 170 people

great information I can use this as my convience thank you

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321 People Helped

Helpful to 321 out of 325 people

Just wanted to post a message of encouragement to anyone who is struggling to repair their credit.  2012 was a horrible year for us in many ways, including financially.  Our credit score was at an all-time low for this reason.  I signed up with Credit Karma, followed some of their advice and slowly but surely began the process of re-building our credit.  I made payment arrangements with several creditors for a monthly payment schedule to pay off old debt.  I faithfully paid all or most of the balance each month on the one secured credit card that we have.  I made a budget for us and stuck to it.  A little over on year later our score had increased nearly 100 points!  Enough to allow us to get an auto loan on a much more fuel efficient used car to reduce expenses AND continue to rebuild our credit.  Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is credit repair.  Don't be discouraged, however.  Things will get better and you CAN repair and improve your damaged credit!

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102 People Helped
Helpful to 102 out of 104 people

credit karma is awesome my credit score has gone from 419 to 631 in just a little over 2 yrs i was able to pay off all my debts in collections that i didnt even realize i had and they all settled for way less than the orgiginal debt so i am really happy now i just got to get it up a few more points and my credit will be in the fair range instead of very poor ... thanks to credit karma

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55 People Helped
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2012 was the worst year ever for me...financially it sucked...I had always been on time in paying bills, and then it all fell apart..I could hardly functioned as to what my next step would be...but I am slowly rebuilding.

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805 People Helped

Helpful to 805 out of 830 people

Thank you creditkarma it was beneficial to understand how the score is arrived at and ways to imrove my score. All this for free? wow, I highly recommend your site to anyone wanting to understand and improve their credit...THANK YOU! 

You're so welcome! We're here if you ever have any questions.

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401 People Helped
Helpful to 401 out of 434 people

I really want my credit score to get better and could use help in getting it that way.  Is there any help out there that can help me better my credit?  I sure could use the help.  thanks.

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178 People Helped

Helpful to 178 out of 191 people

ive been with since 6-10-12 and it has showed me quite a-lot about the credit monitoring system, and i wanted to say it has been very useful to me and my wife who is also a member since 6-10-12. thank you for your services. and i would like to know why my bank says a different score than creditkarma does.i will be looking into this matter asap////

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The reason the banks score is different is the standard used in the credit world is different then the one creditkarma uses.  Which is an ok thing, if you wanted to see your "true score" then you would a) have to pay and b) take a hit via hard inquiries.  creditkarma is a great general tool to notice trends in your score and get an idea of where you are but it is not 100% what will be used when you apply for a card.  My example of myself would be CK says i'm 706 but when I applied for an Amazon card I was actually 720, the difference wasn't huge but was nice to find out it was actually higher. 

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Tony C is correct bc I recently saw my score at 600 on CK but when I went to my credit union (which I recommend highly for anyone building credit) it was more like 630. 

So far this has happened to me twice. Once when I opened my checking acct with the CU (I needed 620 CS) and the second time when I changed over from my secured Visa to unsecured. They gave me a $3K limit!

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224 People Helped

Helpful to 224 out of 231 people

Thank You CreditKarma for Providing all information needed to better my score. It's a delight to know where I stand and what I can do to improve it.  This site has help me understand the status and is very beneficial. I have posted and shared this site with many of my friends on Facebook and they are vey thrilled to see that this site was absolutely FREE!! I have been monitoring my score or awhile now and I'm glad to see the numbers jump up with improvement. Thank you again CreditKarma, You guys are the best ")

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The problem my wife and I are having is that when we pay off an item on our credit report credit karma does not have it updated. My wife paid something off a year ago and credit karma still has it in collections. She called all credit bureau and they say they either has it marked as paid or not on the report at all. I think an item that was paid a year ago is plenty of time to update on this site. Can anyone tell me why this is.

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Helpful to 138 out of 148 people


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Read about half way down on how to disput credit claims. 

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109 People Helped

Helpful to 105 out of 113 people

Hi. I am on disability and have had a hard life. My credit is between very poor and poor. Having a fixed income, I am limited on resources. Can anyone advise me on how to get started building credit?

I have several student loans that I have been deferring, placing on an income repayment plan but they keep showing late or missed payments. I bought a car but the company did not report to the credit agency, I asked them to make an exception so I could build some credit. I have not seen it on my report yet. 

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322 People Helped
Helpful to 300 out of 311 people

Sorry to hear of your troubles. Do the following things if you want to see your score increase:

1. Take control of your student loan payments immediately. It was unclear whether your loans are being paid automatically through some sort of an account. But before you do anything else, you need to take control of your payments. Either make electronic payments through an account that you control or via mailed checks. That's the only way to ensure they are paid on time every month.

2. When you bought the car, the company should have given you many documents including your lender information and your title company. You will need to contact them directly in order to have your purchase reported to the credit bureau. Start with googling "how to get car purchase reported to credit agency." Always make your car payment on time.

3. Sign up for a credit card, any credit card you can get approved for, and use it for small purchases you would normally pay cash/debit for and pay it off on a monthly basis. It sounds crazy but next time you receive a pre-approved credit card application in the mail or are offered one at a store you frequent, sign up. You will not be given a large limit to start with (prob around $200) but it will increase over time. Some gas stations have their own cards too and there are fuel perks associated with using one. This will only work if you can use it to purchase things you will end up buying anyway and only if you pay it off on time every single month and don't roll a balance. But if you do this, you will see your score start to rise incrementally and steadily the longer you do it and the limit on your card will go up too (but don't use it all the way to the limit).

5. Continue monitoring your credit, which it sounds like you're already doing, and dispute any negative information that looks wrong/incorrect.

Good luck! It takes time and effort to turn a bad credit score around and it doesn't happen over night, but it can be done and it's so worth it when you do.

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111 People Helped
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With scores like that your best bet is a secured Visa like a savings account just watch which when you get these very it won't with the lowest fees they do report as a credit card not being secured and will build your credit more you keep in there are you limit is paid off everything you spend make sure you put back in the same month

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149 People Helped

Helpful to 149 out of 160 people

I love Credit Karma they are helping me to improve my score and for that I am thankful! :-) 

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114 People Helped

Helpful to 114 out of 119 people

Excellent tool!! Thank you CreditKarma, for being so resourceful! 

You're very welcome!

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