CreditKarma: Never Pay for Your Credit Score Again!

I feel like a moron. Just two weeks ago I paid $14.95 for three-month access to my credit score. Let me tell you a little story about how this began:

My neighbor, four doors down, has the same name as me, with the minor difference of a different middle initial. Her middle initial, happens to be that of my maiden name. Because I hyphenated my last names for the first few years after I was married, I have a registered “credit alias” that is exactly the same as her name, and a mailing address just a few digits off.

That really isn’t too much of a problem, except that because our addresses our so similar, and she doesn’t pay her bills, her collections accounts arrive on my credit score routinely.

Four more of these recently appeared on my credit report and were discovered by my mortgage bank during my refinance. I shot off another letter to TransUnion last week hoping to intervene before my rate-lock was threatened.

I’ve got to say, I’m pretty tired of paying for my own credit score. Yes, you can get a credit report free annually, (just one) but it’s far more helpful in a situation like mine to check it more frequently than that.

Finovate 2009 presenter, CreditKarma may be the solution people like me are looking for. It provides constant, free access to your credit score as well as some other features.

You can see how your credit score stacks up to those in your age range, state, or even email domain. You can also use their calculator system to see how adjustments in your financial situation would affect your score in theory. Would it help or hurt you to close a high-interest account, extend your credit limit, or even file for bankruptcy? I was surprised to know that paying off my credit card balance entirely will actually hurt my score, and that optimally I should be carrying some credit card debt. (Thanks anyway, but I’ll still be going debt-free). There’s a screen to view your long-term credit score over time, which will be very helpful for tracking identity fraud or excessive credit inquiries (which cost you points).

The site is free because of sponsorship (think Mint), but I found the sponsorship to be rather oppressive and cluttering. However, not so much that I won’t be using CreditKarma. Also, be reassured, that they fund the site through ad partnership only, not through selling your personal info.

There are some features that I especially like including a credit card debt calculator which allows you to either enter your projected monthly payment and calculate a payoff date, or enter a date and it will show you your estimated monthly payments. Adding a little extra value to this calculation is their friendly nudge that shows you how much you can cut your payoff time by paying just a little bit more.

At this time, CreditKarma is only showing credit scores from TransUnion, and not Experian and Equifax, but in my experience, TransUnion’s scores have always been the lowest (They’ve also been the only ones routinely confusing my neighbor’s accounts with mine).

Because CreditKarma is requesting your score on your behalf rather than for a lender, your credit score won’t be affected by the inquiry.

Jessica Ward is a freelance writer and blogger located in Seattle, WA. She blogs on finance, credit, family and food at