Credit Karma’s Free Credit Score – 7 Things You Need To Know

Credit karma is a very popular resource for people looking for information on their credit scores. These are a few important things you should now about and the services that they provide.

What is Credit is the only website that allows you to see you credit score for free. This was true at the time of writing this. You do not need to give your credit card details to see you credit score. You will need to give your social security number. This is what Credit Karma uses to access your credit score for the first time. However, this information is not stored with them. They only use it for first time use.

How is Credit Karma different from other free credit score offers

Credit Karma is different from other offers for a free credit score in the sense that the others are only a trial. You are required to provide your credit card information for a trial to some credit related service, the most common of which is credit monitoring. These trials are offered by all major credit bureaus i.e Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion as well as There are several other well known websites that offer these credit score trials as well.

Should you use Credit Karma or other free trails to see your credit score?

This depends on you really. You can use a free trial to see your credit score. However, keep in mind that it might be difficult to get out of trial which will result in getting your credit card getting charged at least for the first month.

However, if you really do intend to use the service for which you are getting a free trial, then this is not a bad idea. Have a look at the various offers on the website of the credit bureaus and to see if there is anything that you can use. Their services include Credit monitoring, 3-in-1 credit reports etc.

Credit Karma on the other hand offers completely free credit scores. You will never get charged to view your credit score.

What credit score does Credit Karma provide.

You will probably be well aware of the fact that there are more than one kind of credit scores in use. Each credit bureau has its own scoring model. On top of this your FICO score from different credit bureaus will probably be different from each other as well.

What Credit Karma provides you with is the Vantage Score. Vantage Score is a credit scoring model developed by the 3 main credit bureaus in cooperation with each other. The result is that this particular credit score will be the same no matter where you pull it from. Vantage Score uses your credit report information from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax and combines them to come up with your credit score. This is the reason why the score does not differ no matter where you get it from.

Who uses Vantage Score

The question obviously arise as to who uses Vantage Score for credit approval. According to the information released by the Credit Karma, the top 5 banks use it along with a host of other financial institutions including car insurance. In fact, Credit Karma also offer an automobile insurance score as well.

Why is Credit Karma free

If you are wondering how can CreditKarma be free when everyone else charges you for your credit score, the explanation is this. Credit Karma uses advertisement and endorsements to earn revenue. You will be able to do much more than just see your free vantage credit score on their website. You will also be able to avail a host of other services like compare credit cards and avail special offers from this credit card companies. There might be other credit other credit offers available as well such as car loans, home loans and savings accounts.

This is a logical outshoot of the service that Credit Karma provide. People interested in knowing their credit scores will also be interested in some credit service or the other. By having tie ups with credit card companies and providing offers to consumers is the way that they earn their revenue. For example they show a credit card that a particular consumer might qualify for. If a consumer interacts successful with these offers, Credit Karma earns a commission.

Should you use CreditKarma

Credit Karma definitely seems to be a good place to see your credit score for free. In fact as we have mentioned, it might be the ONLY place. Even if you are not looking for your vantage credit score in particular, any credit score is always a good pointer to your credit health. So before applying for any credit related service, you can use Credit Karma to check your credit health. They also have a lot of tools and information that can be of help. So go ahead and saunter over to and make the best of it.

What Is VantageScore

What is VantageScore Credit Score?

As you might well be aware by now there are many different credit scoring systems which use different scales to measure what is a good credit score. Your credit rating will depend on the system being used as well as the parameters that it uses to measure. The VantageScore is used to measure your credit worthiness as well. It is one such credit scoring model among many others such as fico credit score.

What makes VantageScore different from other credit scores? What makes the VantageScore different is that this is the first and the only credit score that has been developed in cooperation between the three national credit reporting agencies, Experian, trans-Union and Equifax. The result is that this is one credit score that is consistent between the three different national bureaus because it is built on the uniform platform and calculated on information shared by the three credit bureaus. Usually what happens is that your credit score from any one credit scoring models such as fico credit score or any other, differs from each of the different credit bureaus because the information in your credit file with each bureau might differ.

How a VantageScore is calculated

Just like any other credit scoring model, the developers of the VantageScore review a set of consumers which number more than 1 million in most cases. The historical credit profiles of these consumers are examined carefully and some labels are identified. While the exact formula and the algorithm of calculating credit score for any scoring model is not known exactly, it is now believed that the credit score is comprised of five major factors or five major credit vehicles that are thought to be most predictive of future credit risk. These five different factors are assigned different risk and weight to calculate your credit score. This is of course a very simplified explanation of the calculation of the credit score. The calculation itself is highly complex and also a trade secret with the developers of each credit were. The breakup of the information used in credit score calculation was first supplied by fair Isaac Corp. for their fico credit score. The credit score is influenced by the following factors:


Knowing exactly what your credit is by using VantageScore

Another obvious advantage of the VantageScore is that you get a consistent, predictable and a more accurate credit score since the three credit bureaus share information and build it on a common platform. You can maintain a good financial history and make informed decisions and have the result sure positively in your good credit score. Normally, one would be led to believe that a consistent credit scoring system is preferable to one that is not. Consumers find it frustrating many times to have different credit scores from different credit bureaus where the difference sometimes can be large. It is common to find the difference of 20 – 50 points amongst different credit agencies. This can be frustrating. If you have a consistent credit score, you are in a better position to negotiate with the lenders. Knowing your credit score beforehand can put you in a strong position which can save you thousands of dollars over the installment of loan, insurance premium payments etc.

Understanding VantageScore rating.

The VantageScore is based on the traditional A., B., C., D. and F. rating. These letters are affixed to a credit score that is also measured numerically and ranges between 501 to 990. The alphabetical Association are just gives the quick and a general idea of in which range your credit score is. Going back to a typical grading system, you will know that A grade means the best whereas an F. is a bad rating. A more exact picture of your VantageScore is represented by the numerical score.

Even FICO Makes More Than One Credit Score

If FICO makes more than one credit score, which one should you order

As if worrying about different credit scores from different service providers was not enough, Fair Isaac Corporation itself makes more than one credit score. However, the good news is that these scores are usually created to serve specific lender needs and requirements. These are not available to consumes anyway. As far as you are concerned you will get your standard FICO score when you order it from only variations could be in your 3 different FICO scores based on 3 different credit files with Experain, TranUnion and Equifax.

So essentially you have 3 FICO scores from each credit bureau and they all could differ each other, though not by much in most cases, due to different information in your credit file with each credit bureau.

A common confusion among consumers is regarding different credit scores from different credit scoring models. A common misconception amongst people is that there is one credit score and it is called the FICO credit score. FICO is indeed the pioneers of credit score calculation. It was developed by Fair, Isaac Corporation. While initially there was one FICO score today even the Fair, Isaac Corporation develops several different credit scores all of which are commonly referred to as the FICO score. Any score that is about by the Fair, Isaac Corporation is called the FICO score although there are different credit scoring models designed to be used by different kind of lenders. The kind of FICO score that is developed for the use of many kind of lenders and lending decisions are called generic scores. Besides these there are specialized and specific FICO scores meant for different kind of lending purposes such as automobile loans, mortgage loans etc.. There are even super specialized FICO score is designed for use by only one specific lender according to the requirement of the business. The most well known brand names of some Fair Isaac models are NextGen and FICO Classic Score.

The summary of this is that there are several credit scoring models in use today. Some estimates that these number in more than 1000. FICO scores are the credit scoring models are blocked by Fair, Isaac Corporation while FastStart is a credit scoring model that has been produced by Experian-Scorex which is a competitor to Fair, Isaac Corporation.

3 Credit Scores from 3 Credit Bureaus – Why they can be different

Why there are 3 credit scores from 3 credit bureaus, why are they different.

The first thing to understand is that your credit score will depend on 2 things – first, the credit scoring model used to calculate it and second, the information in your credit file with a credit bureau. Since each of the 3 credit bureaus have their own file for the consumer, this results in creation of 3 credit scores for any credit scoring model, be it FICO, PLUS™ or the VantageScore credit score.

When you order your credit score from any source, you usually get a score from 3 credit bureaus. Whether you order it from Experian, Equifax, Trans Union or, you will always get 3 credit scores based on the information contained on your credit file with each of the 3 credit bureau.

Why Are the 3 Credit Scores Different?

Credit scores differ for two reason, credit scoring model used and the credit bureau report used for the calculation. FICO, VantageScore (TransUnion credit score), PLUS™ (Experian credit scores), are all different credit scores. Since they are different scoring models, using different algorithms, one will obviously differ from another. So if your credit scores from TransUnion are going to different from your FICO credit scores.

Now even within the same scoring model, such as FICO (from or VantageScore (from TransUnion), you are going to have 3 credit scores, each one based on the same model but each one using a different credit file from each of the 3 credit bureaus. The result is that you have 3 fico credit score, 3 VantageScore credit score, 3 PLUS™ credit score and so on and so forth, from Experian, Trans Union and Equifax.

In order to understand why your credit score from each of the 3 credit bureaus is different, you should understand why the information on your credit report with each credit bureau is different as well.

Since not all lenders are both equally to all the 3 credit bureaus, the information on your credit file also differs with each of them. This results in a disparity and difference between your 3 credit scores.

3 Credit Score Can Differ by 50 Points

Many people get perturbed by the fact that there is as much as a 50 point difference between one credit score from one credit bureau to another. However, this can happen.

Credit bureaus now share information that comes to calculating your credit score. Whereas earlier if you bought your credit score from any one credit bureau you either received their proprietary credit score or the fico credit score based on the information that they had on your credit report. Now however, all 3 credit bureaus provide 3 different credit scores based on the information on all 3 credit files with Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. The only difference is that different credit bureaus will use different credit scoring models.

It is important to note that the propriety credit scoring model used by either of the 3 credit bureaus is not really used by any of the lenders. A majority of lenders still use the fico credit score. So if you want to order your 3 credit scores in order to see what your lender might see and you apply for credit, getting your credit scores from is the best option. As mentioned before, even will give you 3 FICO Credit Scores, each one from Trans Union, Experian and Equifax.

Understanding Your Different Credit Scores Before Buying

Different Credit Bureaus Offer Different Credit Score. Find Out More.

Which credit score to buy? Which credit bureau offers what credit score? Where can you get your FICO credit score? Which is the best credit score to use?

All these questions plague the minds of someone trying to get his hands on his credit score. Read this article in its entirety to understand the different credit scores available to you and which credit bureau uses what credit scoring model.

There is a lot of confusion in the minds regarding their credit scores, at least the first time that they are trying to access it. While at one point of time there used to be only the FICO credit score, there are now many credit scores in use. When you look for your credit score you are presented with credit scores from 4 main sources,

  • The 3 credit bureaus Experian, TransUnion and Equifax
  • And

Compounding this problem is that fact that things keep changing as well. When a certain credit bureau could have been giving you your FICO credit score earlier, they may be only giving you their specialized score now. So before you order or buy your credit score, or get your score for free as a part of some trial program, you should know the difference between all the credit scores being offered from various sources and which credit score you get where.

Mostly, all websites will offer you your 3 credit scores. The question is which ones are they?

Always remember, for any one credit scoring model, you will have 3 different credit scores depending on the different information in each of your credit file with 3 credit bureaus. This is why you can see the offers for 3 credit scores on the websites.

FICO Credit Score

Let us start with the FICO credit score first. This is perhaps the most widely used credit score even today. Majority of lenders use this. At one time this was the ONLY credit score to be had. The first thing to understand about the FICO credit score is that you have 3 DIFFERENT FICO CREDIT SCORES. Each FICO score is based on information in your credit file from each credit bureau.

You have three FICO scores, one for each of the three credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Each score is based on information the credit bureau keeps on file about you So, in a nut shell you have:

  • Equifax FICO Score
  • Experian FICO Score and
  • TransUnion FICO Score.

All of these 3 can be had by visiting

FICO scores are also known by different names across different credit bureaus.

Other Names for FICO Scores

FICO scores have different names at each of the credit reporting agencies. All of these scores, however, are developed using the same methods by Fair Isaac.

Equifax – BEACON® Score

Experian – Experian/Fair Isaac Risk Model

TransUnion – EMPIRICA®

For your three FICO scores to be calculated, each of your three credit reports must contain at least one account which has been open for at least six months. In addition, each report must contain at least one account that has been updated in the past six months. This ensures that there is enough information – and enough recent information – in your report on which to base a FICO score on each report.

What You Should Know About the FICO Credit Score

Credit bureau scores are not the only scores used. Many lenders use their own credit scores, which often will include the FICO score as well as other information about you. FICO scores are not the only credit bureau scores.

There are other credit bureau scores, although FICO scores are by far the most commonly used. Other credit bureau scores may evaluate your credit report differently than FICO scores, and in some cases a higher score may mean more risk, not less risk as with FICO scores.

Your credit score may be different at each of the main credit reporting agencies. The FICO score from each credit reporting agency considers only the data in your credit report at that agency. If your current scores from the credit reporting agencies are different, it’s probably because the information those agencies have on you differs.

Your FICO score changes over time. As your data changes at the credit reporting agency, so will any new credit score based on your credit report. So your FICO score from a month ago is probably not the same score a lender would get from the credit reporting agency today.

Let us move on to other credit score that you usually get from the credit bureaus.

Equifax Credit Score

The credit score provided under the offers described on the website of Equifax make use of the Equifax Credit Score™ which is a proprietary credit model developed by Equifax. It may be calculated using the information in your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit files. This score is intended for your own educational use. There are numerous credit scores and models available in the marketplace and lenders are likely to use a different score when evaluating your creditworthiness.

Experian Credit Score

The PLUS Score, with scores ranging from 330 to 830, is a user-friendly credit score model developed by Experian to help you see and understand how lenders view your credit worthiness. It is not used by lenders, but it is indicative of your overall credit risk. Higher scores represent a greater likelihood that you’ll pay back your debts so you are viewed as being a lower credit risk to lenders. A lower score indicates to lenders that you may be a higher credit risk.

TransUnion Credit Score

TransUnion also gives you a free credit score trial from all 3 credit bureaus. It gives you a credit score that is known as VantageScore.

What is the VantageScore credit score?

The big three credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, offer their own proprietary models but usually provide the FICO score to lenders. So they created the VantageScore model to create a consistent credit score model across the three bureaus to compete with the FICO score. Thus, they can offer lenders a more “standardized” score from the bureaus and cut out the Fair Isaacs Company.

Comparison / Difference Between VantageScore and FICO


  • Score range is from 501 to 990
  • VantageScore uses letter grades to spell out your credit health: 901-990 = A or Super Prime, 801-900 = B or Prime Plus, 701-800 = C or Prime, 601-700 = D or Non-Prime, and 501-600 = F or High Risk.
  • Takes into account 6 components of your credit report: payment history, utilization, balances, depth of credit, recent credit, and available credit.
  • VantageScore claims to score thin file consumers more accurately by providing predicative scores for consumers with limited histories

Additional features:

VantageScore is based primarily on the last 24 months of actions on a consumer’s credit file. Always remember that any credit score model will give you 3 different credit scores across the 3 credit bureaus depending on the different information present on your credit file with each of them.

FICO Credit Score

  • FICO range is from 300 to 850 No letter grades for FICO
  • Takes into account 5 components of credit report: payment history, amount of debt, credit history, types of accounts, and inquiries.
  • Thin file consumers often cannot generate a credit score at all, or are scored with inflated, high scores because they have few credit actions on file

Free Credit Scores from

Credit Karma provides users with their TransRisk New Account Score, VantageScore, and Auto Insurance Score as supplied by TransUnion. The TransRisk score is calculated by TransUnion using their proprietary scoring model and is the original credit score provided on Credit Karma.

The VantageScore is calculated by TransUnion using the VantageScore model, developed jointly by all three major credit bureaus. This model introduces the first, consistent scoring methodology shared by all three bureaus. The Auto Insurance Score is a numerical measurement of the risk a consumer may pose to an insurance company. This score is calculated from data derived from a consumer’s credit report.

What Is A Good Credit Utilization Ratio?

The credit utilization ratio is the amount of credit that you use as compared to the total credit limit available to you. It is recommended that you keep your credit utilization to 30% or below. A lower credit utilization represents a lower risk than is good for your credit score. Credit utilization comprises 30% of your credit score calculation. Credit utilization is considered by the credit scoring models individually on each credit card as well as jointly on all your credit cards. Which means that you not only need to keep your credit utilization to about 30% on the credit level available to you jointly on all credit cards but also on each individual credit card. A credit utilization of less than 30% is ideal if you carry a credit balance on your credit card or if your credit card is reported to the credit bureau before your payment is posted.

Does a Bank Overdraft Hurt My Credit Score?

An overdraft allows spending beyond the money that is present in your account. So the banks allow an overdraft facility and while the do allow the transaction to go beyond the mind that is present in your account pay liable to charge an extra fee. Bank overdrafts are not reported that you to the credit bureaus and hence are not likely to have the right impact on your credit score. However if you do not cover the overdraft quickly enough a bank may pass on the debt to a collection agency for recovery. If the collection agency reports to the credit bureau a collection account will be opened on your credit file which will in turn have an effect on your credit score. A collection account will remain on your credit report for a period of seven years from the date that’s the debt was first reported even after you have paid it unless you convince the collection agency to remove it in exchange for payment or settlement.

Credit Score May Get Hurt When a Cheque Bounces

If you pay your credit card Bill through a check and the check is returned for insufficient funds your credit score could get damaged. Your credit card company will charge you a returned check fee and your account will be reported as delinquent to the credit bureaus. One delinquency may not have much of an impact if you’re strong credit history but repeated delinquencies will cause more damage to your credit score. You should ensure that you have enough funds to cover the check and use a check to pay your credit card Bill.

How Will a Debt Settlement Affect My Credit Score?

The answer to this question is pretty much the same as how a late payment is going to affect your credit score. It is impossible to predict accurately as to the impact a settled account is can do have on your credit score.

A debt settlement will typically have a negative impact on the credit rating of person. But the thing to consider is that a debt settlement happens on an account that is already delinquent. If the account has already been reported as delinquent, the negative impact on the credit rating has already occurred. One option that the consumer has during the debt settlement is to try and convince the creditor that he should report the account as paid and closed in exchange for setting the debt. Not many creditors might agree to do this but some may. If you can change the status of your account on the credit report from the link went to paid off, it might actually benefit your credit rating.

Settling debts can have a long-term beneficial effect on your credit score because it allows you to get rid of the debts of the past and move on to building a fresh credit history for yourself. The only negative impact is that future creditors might see that settlements on your credit report and realize that you did not fulfill your end of the bargain of paying back past lenders in full.

An account that has been settled will remain on the credit report for a period of seven years since it was first reported as delinquent. This will have a negative impact on the credit score but the impact will lessen as the information gets older.

You can see the impact on your credit score when you buy your credit score from  You are presented with a list of factors that are affecting your credit score negatively. So if you have settled the did in the past and want to see if it is having any sort of a negative impact on your credit score, you should buy your credit score from and see the results more clearly.

How Does a Late Payment Affect My Credit Score?

It is impossible to predict the damage to the credit score due to a late payment for every consumer. The impact of a late payment will depend upon a lot of other factors such as the other information present of the credit report. FICO credit scoring models and other companies will develop credit scores to not reveal the exact details of how calculation is made to the public.

FICO did release FICO score loss information based on two hypothetical situations. In this scenario, the person with 680 credit score will be has one other late payment on their credit history would lose between 60 and 80 points for a 30 day late credit card payment while the person with 780 credit score with no other late payment would lose between 90 and 110 points.

If your credit profile similar to the ones mentioned above then the credit score might suffer a similar dent. You can predict the impact of a late payment on your credit score using the FICO score simulator. It’s available when you purchase the FICO standard product from FICO standard product includes the credit report from your Equifax or TransUnion credit bureau and credit score.

Does Closing a Credit Card Hurt Credit Score?

Closing a credit card is more likely to hurt your credit score. If you close a credit card that has a balance on it, your credit score will probably drop of you close the card. This is because as soon as you close the card the credit limit of the card is reported to be zero. If you’re still carrying a balance on it your debt level is going to remain the same. 30% of the credit score cancellation is based on credit utilization which is the amount of available credit is that you’re using. Closing a credit card results in no available credit while still having a balance on it makes your credit utilization to more than hundred percent.

Even if your credit card has no balance on it your credit utilization may still increase. When you close a credit card the total credit available to you decreases. This increases the credit utilization ratio. Usually the crepitus advised to keep your credit utilization to about 30% of the total credit limit available to you.

If you have no other major credit cards are an amount that you close your only other cards are store credit cards, then your credit card score could drop. Mix of credit is another factor that is considered into the credit scoring model and constitutes about 10% of your credit score. It looks at the various different credit services such as loans, credit cards that you are using. The more the mix of credit that you are utilizing the better it is for your credit score.

Closing an old credit card account could impact your credit score in terms of credit age which forms about 15% of your credit score. But this won’t happen tells the time that’s the account drops of your credit score which may take a pill 10 years to happen since closed accounts that have been in good standing are kept on a credit report for a period of 10 years even after they have been closed.