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