Credit Karma Accuracy

Credit Karma has made waves in the financial industry by offering both free credit scores and free credit monitoring to its customers. At first, a lot of people were worried that Credit Karma is a scam. But, after an in-depth Credit Karma review, it seems that the company is legit. However, it is important to understand just what it is that they offer.

Credit Karma vs FICO

Credit Karma Accuracy graphicTo understand whether Credit Karma scores are accurate, you first have to understand what credit scores are and where they come from.

First, a credit score is nothing more than a number calculated from information in a person’s credit report. The idea behind a credit score is to determine algorithmically how good of a credit risk someone is without actually have to read through the details of a lengthy credit report. The resulting number is only as good as the math that created it. The more statistically accurate the number is, the better the score is.

However, in the real world, there is really only one credit score that matters. Fair Issac was the first company to popularize the concept of a credit score. Over the years, it has demonstrated that its credit score algorithm is accurate enough statistically for financial investors to use it in determining risk. Since then, there have been other companies using other statistically models to generate their own credit scores. Most notably, the three major credit bureaus have all tried to push a credit score of their own, but without much success. When it comes to actual lending, the gold standard is the FICO score.

That leads to another type of mathematical attempt at creating a credit score. Since the only credit score anyone really cares about is their FICO score, that is the score that people want to know. Since that score is a proprietary product of the Fair Issac company, they are the only company than can calculate your actual FICO score.

However, the company was forced by Congress to provide a little bit of transparency into the process of calculating a score by providing some general information as to what a FICO is based on, and just as importantly, what it is not based on. Starting from there, numerous entities have tried to develop an algorithm for creating credit scores that generates a similar score to the official FICO score. Doing so requires reverse engineering the mathematics that go into the score. No one has exactly duplicated the score, but many alternate scores provide a close approximation.

Credit Karma does not provide a true FICO score. Doing so would be prohibitively expensive for a free offering, even with the revenue generated by advertising and referral fees.

How Accurate is Credit Karma Score

The Credit Karma score accuracy question comes down to how typical you are as a user of credit. If your credit profile is one with typical amount of debt, income, ratios, and payment history, your CreditKarma.com score will be pretty accurate. This type of credit profile has been reverse engineered more than any other and therefore the alternate algorithms are better at predicting this kind of score. If, on the other hand, your credit profile is unusual, your score may be significantly off.

For example, if you have a very short credit history, but very high income your score might not be very accurate. Likewise, people with a long, but atypical credit history might find their score way off.

Either way, the best use of any free online credit score is to track the MOVEMENT of your score over time. If your score is going up, then the chances are very good that your actual FICO score is doing the same. The reverse is also true. If you do something like open a new credit card, or cancel an old one, and your Credit Karma credit score goes down, you might want to consider reversing course.

Regardless, knowing your “real credit score” when you are not applying for credit is not very useful. Your score changes every day, so even if you get your official, 100% accurate, FICO score on Monday, but Friday, your score may be up or down several points, just like your CreditKarma.com credit score might be off by several points. In other words, don’t stress out about the exact number. Instead, focus on making the number go higher, or at least stay the same.

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15 thoughts on “Credit Karma Accuracy”

  1. Went to put credit karma app on iPad. Not what I got. Clicked on credit karma app. It said I now joined Score Sense family.
    Nothing to do with credit karma.
    Why & how is this happening?

    1. I’m guessing you downloaded an app that said it was Credit Karma, but wasn’t. If it’s the Apple app store, you should report it, they don’t take kindly to fake/imposter apps. I’m not sure what the story is with Android app store though.

  2. I’ve used Credit Karma long time. Today I finally decided to put the app on my iPad. I went in and went to the CK app and clicked on it, but that is not what I got. It wouldn’t take my password finally I had to put in a new one. Then I got mssg. stating I was part of the “Score Sense family & it now appeared that CrKa was part of them, who also say is free & gives all 3. Somehow I figured there is a problem. And now their app is on my computer, not credit karma. So I then went to google to put in credit carma & changed my password. Now I’m afraid to try it again. Maybe I should just do it the way I am. What is going on? Are they taking a lot of your business? You might not even know.

    1. Hi Lori, I don’t work for Credit Karma, but I don’t think they are part of Score Sense. I’ve never looked at ScoreSense, but a quick search shows a lot of complaints and they paid out millions in refunds to settle an FTC action. I’d delete it right away, then login to Credit Karma via your computer and change your password.

  3. I will say this. I was unaware that credit Karma did not post my Actual credit score. I had been working on a few things from a divorce 5 years ago and I paid a few outstanding bills off and I saw my trans Union score change a little, but equifax never budged and was always around a 100 points lower. I had been getting frustrated and I finally called an account in which I had paid off to say it was still showing on my credit report and when I told them I was on Credit Karma, they told me not to even pay attention to that site, they are so far off the factual report and score. They told me that I get a free report every 6 months off of annualcreditreport.com.. I logged in there and they let you pull the three largest credit reporting companies, and it pulls your report, but you have to pay around $7 to $9 to see you credit score for each one if you want it. I paid it for Experian and Trans Union which is what Credit Karma shows and my credit scores were over a 100 points higher on the actual sites than credit karma had reported. I was pissed and happy with joy at the same time. I would say, do not trust credit karma’s scores AT ALL!!!!!

  4. Most credit card companies and alot of banks give out free scores now. Even if Credit Karma is not so accurate with their scores, they also give you information on your credit report in a nice easy to read and understand format. That alone is worth it to me as a free service. Just take their scoring with a grain of salt. Verify with actual Fico when you are ready to actually borrow some money.

    1. I forgot to mention that My Credit Karma score is about 60 points off on both Trans-union and Equifax. This worried me at first because I thought my credit took a dip, but when I checked my real Trans-union FICO score, it was actually a little better than i had last checked. I do fall into that category of having relatively new credit, nothing older than 2 and half years reporting, and decent income, so that’s probably throwing off the credit Karma calculator.

  5. Love credit Karma accurate or not. It gives me a lot of information about my credit and it is free.
    As a matter of fact it has been very accurate/exact with my Transunion score and a few points
    off with Equifax. It is truly Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

  6. CreditKarma is not very accurate and is very slow to show changes to you credit report and score.IF you need real time score with the same data that banks and financial institutes use their is only one four place. 1. MyfICO they are the one they that have the algorithm that the three credit agency use to CALCULATE SCORES.
    2.Equifax, 3. Transunion 4.Experian. Do not depend on CreditKarma for true up to date credit information.

  7. I had been watching my credit reports after my divorce, so I knew I had a high 700s FICO. Then I hit a hard patch and had to use my credit cards, cosigned for my daughter’s leased vehicle (which got me 3 credit pulls from the dealer!), and suddenly I had dropped over 100 points according to Credit Karma. I am trying to get that score back up since my use of credit is quite responsible, but the score seemed stuck in the Poor-Fair range. Desperate, I got an account with Identity Guard and, to my surprise, their 3 bureau agency reporting has my score in the low 700s. Credit Karma still lists it in the low 600s. I haven’t applied for any new credit, so not sure if I’m good or poor…but I continue to monitor and hope Identity Guard is correct!

  8. i signed up with credit karma back in November of 2014 my scores
    were in the 600’s then went down to 590’s then went back up
    since then i have opened up 2 credit card accounts capital one
    platinum cli 300 starting out, in may American express cl 1000
    my scores are 754 and 740, but was denied discover it credit card
    in may (was pre qualified too, was not to happy because they require excellent credit, and i have not got a rejection letter yet no good no the reconsider number, so i will stop for a couple of months and then retry maybe. so i think credit karma is pretty good for free monitoring

  9. I have been using Credit Karma for a while and it fluctuated quite a bit. I was never too concerned because my average score is in the excellent range. Recently for no reason it took quite a dip down in to the low to mid “fair” range. Out of fear I may have been a victim of fraud, I immediately paid for the true 3 company score. They were all actually higher than Credit Karma had showed them to be for quite some time. I went thru all activity and found no disputes. I have been monitoring my scores since this happened and Credit Karma is still significantly off (100 points).

  10. Credit karma is way out of whack . I signed up a year ago with Lexington Law . They were supposed to improve my credit score and clean up negative items . After a year with them Credit Karma showed me of having a credit score of 710 … I was all excited . I went to my bank to apply for a small motorcycle loan of $4000. Low and behold I was SHOT down …. I only had a credit score of 590 . That’s 120 points .The hard inquiry dropped my credit score another 18 points . So instead of Credit Karma working for me , it was a detriment to my credit history . Don’t use them !!! Kevin Cole

    1. Sorry but this statement is false. Your hard hit would not be 18 points. Hard hits are from 2 to 5 points, not 18!

      CreditKarma is not your FICO score. While CK will show you two it doesn’t show you Experian, which a lot of people use. If you have 710 on CK and your Experian is 650 then you can do that math on the average and that is why you got shot down.

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