The internet is littered with "free credit score offers," but most of them require you to enter your credit card number for a trial subscription to a credit monitoring service. If you forget to cancel your free trial (the way most people do) your credit card will be charged a fee. Kenneth Lin, founder, and CEO of Credit Karma, is a firm believer that you should have access to your credit score absolutely free—without a credit card or tricky subscription cancellations.
CreditKarma.com's Free Credit Score and Credit Report
CreditKarma.com allows you to get a free credit score and credit report with absolutely no obligation. You don’t have to enter a credit card number or subscribe to a credit monitoring service. The credit score and credit report are absolutely free (the site makes money through advertisements). I've used it for several years and have never paid anything to view my credit.
If you’re new to Credit Karma, you can sign up to receive a free credit score in less than two minutes. After you’ve signed up, you can continue to view your credit report and credit score for free every day. Your credit score is refreshed daily and your credit report is refreshed weekly.
The one drawback to Credit Karma's free score is that it's not a FICO score, the one most widely used by lenders. Even though it’s not your FICO score, it gives you a picture of your credit standing based on your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports. The only thing that's missing is your Experian credit report. Credit Karma has expanded their services to include free daily credit monitoring, a VantageScore, and an Auto Insurance Score. All those services are free.
Credit Karma's Credit Score Simulator
This is a personalized simulator that tells you how certain actions will affect your credit score. Thinking about applying for a new credit card? Credit Karma will tell you how an additional inquiry will affect your credit score. Paying off a credit card balance? See how much your credit score will increase.
The simulator will let you choose among the most popular actions with credit limits, payments, and public records to see if your credit score will go up or down. A credit score comparison lets you compare your credit score to other consumers in a similar demographic.
Other Credit Information
In addition to credit score information, you can also find details about your debt accounts, including the amount your balances increased or decreased since your last update. Credit Karma can also recommend the credit cards you're most likely to be approved for based on your credit standing. Other Credit Karma users who've applied for those credit cards list their credit scores and whether they were approved.
In the ten years since Credit Karma's launch in 2008, it has evolved from a website to check your credit score to a tool to help you improve your credit—and help you assess your debt. It's free and the information is invaluable. When you visit the site, just make sure you've typed the URL correctly. Look for a lock next to the URL at the top of your browser and check to see that the URL begins with "https://". The "s" is your sign that you're visiting a secure website.