11
Mar
unnamed

Like it or not, your credit score dominates all the financial details of your life. Most services that provide you access to these all-important values have a fee attached, but that's not the case with Credit Karma, which has just arrived on Android. You could be forgiven for being wary of an app that asks for so much personal information, but Credit Karma is the real deal and provides a killer service.

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Credit Karma pulls its data from TransUnion, one of the big three credit reporting agencies. All you have to do is make an account, and provide the app with personal data to verify your identity. Credit Karma will provide you with weekly updates to your TransUnion credit score, ongoing credit monitoring, and reports on various aspects of your credit history. The app itself is a little awkward to use, and some parts of it behave sluggishly. There is also no tablet support as of yet. Still, it's got a ton of information and you can PIN lock it to keep others from snooping around.

I was actually somewhat shocked Credit Karma offers so much functionality without charging anything. Instead of asking you for money, the company displays super-targeted ads in the app. For instance, you'll probably see offers from various banks offering credit cards that suit your profile. The service has been featured extensively on TV and online, so it's fair to label this one "not a scam."

[SlickDeals, SlickDeals 2, Bargaineering]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • http://twitter.com/Bazar6 B Azar

    Personal, sensitive data, alongside highly targeted ads... sounds sketchy to me.

    • Wilfredo Alarcon

      This!

    • Justin Winker

      It may sound sketchy to you, but in my experience, it's not. I've been using it since I was in High School (it's been about 3 years), and it's reliably helped me increase my credit score and it's helped me know which cards are better and whether I'll be eligible for them or not. I'm glad they came out with an app for Android, though - I've been sick of seeing ads for an iOS version and no Android version.

      EDIT: In addition, they have to use advertisements to make money, since they offer their service to consumers for free. it's business model is similar to Google's in that respect.

      • http://twitter.com/Bazar6 B Azar

        I understand they need ads to pay themselves... I'm all about that and have no problem with it... It keeps me from having to pay freecreditreport.com so they can't continue with their stupid adverts on TV...

        Just so y'all know, I did try it out, and I took "highly targeted ads" from reading this article (actual quote from the article : "the company displays super-targeted ads in the app."). I didn't like the idea of putting my SSN in an app that could possibly use my personal info to target ads to me.

        Turns out, after using the app (for less than 24 hours), the ads don't seem to be targeted to me, they're targeted to people using the app, people who are looking up their financials. So while I overestimated what the app was going to do with my info, I'm quite pleased with the service and how not-in-your-face the ads really are.

        They gained my trust...

        Edit : And for those who are still thinking about it... the option to set up a PIN to even open the app is great. You don't have to worry about the app being open to anyone who has access to your phone (whether lost or just laying around)

        • Matthew Fleisher

          freecreditreport.com is not free. http://www.annualcreditreport.com is the real one that is free.

          • http://twitter.com/Bazar6 B Azar

            "It keeps me from having to pay freecreditreport.com" ... I know it isn't free, you have to enroll in like a triple advantage program or something, whatever it says at the end of the commercial.

          • Matthew Fleisher

            I know, it's a sales pitch. annualcreditreport.com is the free one with no strings attached setup by the 3 credit bureaus after the govt passed a law saying that all consumers should have free periodic access to their credit reports.

    • Jay Ryan

      For me it's been a life saver. I'd been rebuilding my credit and went to their site to see how I was doing. I then got approved for a credit card with a rather high limit from a prominent vendor.

  • Robert Alex Kibler

    CreditKarma is amazing. Their advice helped me decide which credit card to get and how to make sure I would get approved. I've been waiting months for this app.

  • Jim Mullen

    Doesn't it cost money to get a Transunion account (i.e. their free trial is only for 7 days)?

    • Justin Winker

      No need for a TransUnion account - this is all done through CreditKarma's own software and they analyze your information to put out your TransUnion score. They use the same calculations as TransUnion.

      • Johnathon Roman

        I have a TransUnion account I rarely use, that I'm paying for. Without paying for it, does creditkarma itself negatively impact your credit by checking your information weekly? As in will it show as multiple inquiries for say, you're trying to get a house and get rejected or lower rate because there have been multiple inquiries from same origin recently?

        • Justin Winker

          No - it still counts as you checking your credit score (your checks are not visible to anyone other than you). In addition, CreditKarma doesn't limit the amount of times you can update your score by month - you can re-check it once a day if you need to monitor it that closely. I'm content with once or twice a month, but the ones that limit it just get annoying :)

          • Johnathon Roman

            Thanks for your reply. I will most likely look at my TU report one more time before going through the dreaded cancellation process

  • http://www.facebook.com/larryjasonstorey Jason Storey

    Showing not compatible on rooted nexus 4 with only change to lcddensity 280. Will reset stock 320 and try again.

    • Justin Winker

      Weird, it worked for my N4. I haven't messed with the lcddensity though - I do have it rooted and rommed (Paranoid Android 3.0).

  • Freak4Dell

    This is definitely legit. I've been using the service for years. However, don't expect your FICO score from this. It's a decent enough estimate, but it won't be exact.

    • Samsung Fanboy

      explanation please. what do you mean dont expect your FICO.....its decent enough estimate.....wont be exact?

      • Freak4Dell

        FICO is considered the gold standard score. That's your "real" credit score. FICO is a company that generated the formula to get this score. Each of the 3 big credit agencies uses a variation of this formula to get their scores, which is why those 3 agencies are the go-to places to get your "real" score. Credit Karma uses a formula that they generated, which is based off your TransUnion credit report. This means their score is usually close to the real TU score, but it's not the exact same formula, so it's not the exact same score. There's probably some licensing fees involved to actually use the FICO formula, which I think is why you won't ever get your FICO score for free without some sort of catch (a denied inquiry, a free trial, etc.).

        People report different levels of success with Credit Karma. When I checked my CK score against my scores from the agencies a while back, it was fairly close, but a little over what the real scores were. Others have reported that their scores are off by nearly 100 points, in either direction. CK is a good service to get an idea of what your credit probably looks like, but if you're about to embark on a credit inquiry journey, I'd go ahead and check out your real reports and your real scores beforehand, just to be sure.

        • Samsung Fanboy

          thanks for all the info., sorry I was too lazy to find out for myself lol :-)

          • Okz

            From what I understand, CreditKarma now gets the credit score directly from TransUnion - I think this is a fairly recent collaboration with TransUnion. CreditKarma site now shows "Score provided by TransUnion"

  • Justin Winker

    Those of you that have questions on this service, please check out CreditKarma's FAQs - they have a lot of information that will help you in deciding whether or not to use the service.

    Link: http://www.creditkarma.com/about/faq

  • Quryous

    .

    When will it upgrade to offer the other credit reporting companies? Without all three the value is severely limited.
    .

  • Deven G

    my only concern is that the data they use for ads will be stored and used again. Maybe used to possibly target me for spam mail.

  • Wilfredo Alarcon

    After re-reading all the entries, I will give this a try.

  • http://www.doctorofcredit.com/ doctorofcredit

    Just a reminder for those that didn't know, credit karma recently got a slap from the ftc for not using proper security protocols on their mobile app.

  • Edward Skinner

    I would really recommend trying out Credit Sesame as well. I prefer it to CK because they offer free identity theft insurance. I don't know of anyone else that offers this service for free.