Site Review: Credit Karma

Have you ever signed up for one of those “Free” credit report offers only to find out that you were getting hit with a monthly charge later? Yep, been there, done that, bought the T-shirt myself. Do a Google search on “Free Credit Score” or put this key phrase on a page with Adsense and you’ll see dozens of marketing squeeze pages for these offers.

A new company, Credit Karma, is seeking to turn this around 180 degrees by offering your credit report for free and presenting you with affiliate offers that match your demographics. Let’s see how this unique system works.

The Look and Feel

Credit Karma

The site has a slick Web 2.0 look with AJAX widgets and is very easy to use. It is obvious that they have spent a lot of time crafting this site. I didn’t detect any glitchy behavior or anything during my use of the site although, since they’re still in ‘beta’ some areas are not yet completed.

Overall, I have to give them very high marks for their user friendly site design.

Signing Up

Signing up with Credit Karma is easy. It’s a two part form with email verification. They don’t require a credit card. That’s a big difference right there. For a limited time you can use this invitation code, CKFRND, to sign up yourself if you live in the US. I think you’ll find the process easy and quick. It’s always good to know your credit score so that you won’t be blindsided by credit problems when you buy a house or car or if you want to apply for other credit.

Security

Credit Karma maintains a TRUSTe approved privacy policy. The do not store your full Social Security Number. Plus since they don’t require a credit card to pull your score, they never have this piece of information.

They don’t share information to any third parties without your explicit consent. They do have a check box for this on their sign-up so if you don’t want partner emails, don’t check that box.

Also, and this was important to me since I was in the process of buying a house, they make the credit score inquiry on your behalf. This means that it won’t count as a ‘request for credit’ inquiry on your credit score and it won’t be shown to creditors. This means that using Credit Karma won’t affect your credit score at all.

The Offers

I know, it is hard to believe that they’re offering this with no hidden cost or obligations. You don’t have to sign up for any of the offers they present to get your report. They’ll let you do it without signing up for anything. Amazing, almost unbelievable, isn’t it.

You can view Credit Karma’s Karma Offers here. As you can see they’re fairly typical financial, wireless and entertainment offers.

They also allow site users to vote up or down on the offers. This is a good idea although I have seen some scamming affiliate sites use fake voting to boost more lucrative offers to the top. While I don’t see an indication of this here, it is something that they should address in their sidebar info to increase user comfort with their system.

My concern for them here is that they may not be showing enough offers or too many of the “same old, same old” offers. I think that they may get more conversions by providing a wider variety of offers and by making offer browsing more inviting.

I really like the transparency they provide with the offer description plus that they allow comments on the offers. This makes me more comfortable with their site.

The Bottom Line

I think that Credit Karma has staked out a rather unique market position by offering something of value while encouraging affiliate offer purchases to make money. Hey, it’s not too different than what I’m doing here on OpTempo. It’s one of the more innovative marketing methods out there right now.

I encourage you to give their site a look to find out what they’re all about and to them a try if you live in the US.

Update

They’ve been adding on to their site. Check out my review of their new Credit Score Simulator.

 


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13 Comments »

Comment by Aloha Team
2008-02-02 19:21:56

Hi Frank,

I signed up, and used your code (hope you got some sort of referral fee).

That said, I don’t think I’m going to drop freecreditreportdotcom just yet.

Hopefully creditkarma plans on adding more features (other than advertising) in the future. It’s somewhat interesting to see my credit score. But unless I’m missing something, there’s no way to dig further on creditkarma; to see what’s causing my score (whether good or bad).

Also, maybe something else they’ll improve on in the future, but right now, it really doesn’t appear as though the offers shown below the credit score have any correlation at all to the score itself …

Mine is showing ads for a blackberry pearl, and a free trial membership at gamefly ???

It’s an interesting concept … advertiser supported, as opposed to monthly fee … but, I think this site needs to mature a bit more before it could really be considered a viable alternative to the more established sites.

Just my opinion,
Todd

Comment by jfc
2008-02-02 20:07:20

Thanks Todd,

I could see them adding a detailed report for a fee but I’m not sure what regs the credit reporting companies have for this.

As I mentioned, they need to bring in more offers. I only saw about 8 and I suspect you saw the same 8. Credit repair offers would be logical for a low score while automotive and housing offers would be great for higher scores.

They’re still in beta so I guess they’re trying to create some buzz and links to their service. They need to ramp up fast though or else they’ll lose the traction they’re building up.

 
 
Comment by Experts on Credit
2008-05-05 13:34:10

No credit card required? Nice. I’m going to check this out. Thanks for the code.

Comment by jfc
2008-05-05 14:55:07

Sorry ‘Experts’,

Since this post is a paid review by a competitor of your site I couldn’t leave your link in this commment.

 
Comment by Sharon Janeiro
2008-08-07 18:59:58

Dear Sir; I think this is great! Idenity is so important,an yet have to pay to see if it’s clear. Thanks for the great oportunity to ck. more frequently before i realize i’m in trouble

 
 
Comment by Tips To Fix Credit
2008-08-17 14:37:20

One thing to remember, though, when using this service or any service like it that provides your score is that this is NOT the exact same as your FICO score. In fact, it can be anywhere from 1 - 50+ points different than what your true FICO score is. Yes, it may give you an idea of where your credit is, but you can’t quote the score from Credit Karma as being your true FICO score, because 99% of the time it will be different. It can be useful, however, if you’re working on building your credit up and want some sort of visual indicator that you’re moving in the right direction.

 
Comment by Credit Repair Expert
2008-09-03 14:26:05

I really like the concept of Credit Karma and their site is nicely layed out. I agree that since they only show a sigle credit score, it does not really serve much purpose currently except to give one a general idea of where their score is. It would be great if they would at least display your 3 bureau scores separately to give a user the variance between bureaus. However, we are planning on recommending the site to our credit repair clients as a free site to watch your score raise while you are enrolled in our service.

 
Comment by Webmaster Forum
2008-10-11 02:35:17

I really like their site too. It’s full of great information and serves a great purpose of letting you keep tabs on which way your score is going.

I thought I could sneak my link into your Top Commentators list. Too bad you fixed the bug in it that lets me get away with such crap. Oh, and I see you’re adding my IP to your spammers list. Darn!

 
Comment by The Windows Fix
2008-11-02 19:55:47

I didn’t find Credit Karma through your site, but I was looking for a good review of it. Nice work and thanks.

 
Comment by The Man
2008-11-12 06:56:53

Just like the last comment, I found Credit Karma through another site and had to verify it. So I Google’d it, read a few reviews, and decided it sounds genuine. Thanks for the review.

 
Comment by Niche Titans
2008-12-18 03:00:09

Just like the last person, I had found CreditKarma somewhere else, then checked for reviews and I have been to your site many times earlier this year when I owned LinkBuildingBible.com …. so I knew you were someone I could trust.

 
Comment by brian
2009-04-05 15:27:46

What agency is Karma pulling the credit scores from and or who are they affiliated with?

Comment by SanDance
2009-04-15 09:26:10

The site says it is powered by TrueCredit by TansUnion (At least on their Credit Simulator)

 
 
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