Free Credit Reports

Jan 6, 2015 by

credit karma logoDisclosures first: Money Counselor is not an affiliate of Credit Karma™, but is affiliated with Credit Sesame, a similar service. That means if you do business with Credit Sesame through a link in this post, Money Counselor gets a small commission—which helps pay the bills around here!

Quick Review of Credit Reporting

Regular readers know this, but for those new here: In the U.S., three credit bureaus—TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian—produce consumer credit reports. All Americans have the right to get from each bureau their free credit report once per year. (Certain events—a credit application rejection, for example—also entitle consumers to an additional free credit report.) And you should exercise your rights and get your three free reports every year. (Read my article “Credit Report Reminder” to learn why you should review your reports and why it’s important to get all three reports.)

If you want a second credit report from the same bureau within twelve months of the date you got a free one, the credit bureaus will make you pay through the nose for it! Money Counselor discourages paying through the nose (whatever that means) for anything, so read on to learn how you can get two of your three reports free, anytime.

Credit Karma Offers Two Free Reports

In July of 2014 Credit Karma began offering to its customers—for free—TransUnion’s full credit report. The credit reports offered by Credit Karma are updated weekly and are available to its customers without limit. You could check your credit report every week if that turns you on.

Now Credit Karma has added a second free report. Equifax’s credit report is also now available without limit to Credit Karma’s customers.

How long do you suppose it will be before Credit Karma works a deal with Experian, the last remaining generator of credit reports not offered by Credit Karma?


What You Have to Do to Get a Free Credit Report Through Credit Karma

Credit information is attached to your personal information. To get your free credit reports through Credit Karma, you must establish an account and provide your Social Security number, address, date of birth, and other personal information. Of course you’d have to provide the same if you went directly to a credit bureau to get your credit report.

Why I Don’t Use Credit Karma

I don’t have an account with Credit Karma, and I don’t foresee opening one.

You may feel differently, but I hold tight to my personal information, especially my Social Security number and date of birth. In this era of what feels like exponentially rising hacks and growing clarity that no online database is secure, the fewer corporate computers on which my personal information is stored, the better. Remedying identity theft is a huge hassle that can take many, many hours and lead to lots of frustration. Read “Identity Theft Trends” and “Tax Season Identity Theft” to learn more.

I believe obtaining my one free credit report annually directly from each credit bureau is all I need to do. I might make an exception if I was keen to, say, take out a mortgage, had already used my three free annual reports a few months ago, and wanted to be sure my credit reports were all accurate before applying for the mortgage or other big loan. That’s the sort of circumstance where I could see Credit Karma’s service coming in handy. But I’m not the sort who’s so obsessed with my credit report and score that I need to check either more than once a year, under usual circumstances.

Have You Used Credit Karma?

What’s your experience with Credit Karma? Please share.

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