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Credit Karma – is it really free?

Example of a Credit Karma offer
Example of a Credit Karma offer


Should you want the longer answer – you’ll never be charged for anything, you don’t have to cancel an account, you don’t enter a credit card number to join although you might end up entering some financial information if you want it to look into your accounts.

Credit Karma makes its money by taking your information and offering you suggestions and getting commission on auto and home loans and credit cards you’re probably approved for. Usually they will show you offers that are equal or better than what you’re currently packing although sometimes I’ve seen an offer I could very easily refuse.

The credit monitoring service tells you when purchases have been made or when you’ve got payments coming up on credit cards if you want those reminders. It can also tell you, with information from your credit report that it pulls every few days (it’s the soft pull, not the damaging one,) how much you owe, how much you make, income flow, and other things that actually make it a little easier to get a handle on your expenses.

Credit Karma tools
Credit Karma tools

Getting a monthly update on mortgage and account balances dropped has felt like a plus even on months where I’m looking at moths flying out of my bank account. Oh, I have no money? Well at least I’ve got another $1000 chipped away on the mortgages.

Is it free? Still yes.

Doesn’t pulling your credit report from Transunion and Equifax cost them money? Yes. They’re not paying $30 for the service however, probably more in the $0.02 bulk range, and they’re getting both commission when you sign up for something and probably money to promote a card or service to you.

Long long ago I worked for a dotcom, getting someone to sign up to be contacted about a mortgage was a $35 bounty and then some number more if they went through the process, seems like credit cards were $15 for a signup and an additional $15 for an approval. Money was always good and paid quickly with those companies.

With your credit report in their hands, you can think of anything from them as extremely targeted advertising on an insanely useful app that can help you manage your money. Or you can think of it as having the potential to be the biggest privacy threat on the internet if it got breached.

The credit monitoring service makes money by getting you to remember Credit Karma exists and drawing you back to the service.

So should you wonder, they’re making their money on relatively lucrative (in the internet world,) advertising. As far as I can tell at year four of service I have not received spam from other companies, I’ve found the information I get useful.

Paul gets no commission from CK, is not affiliated with them in any way, and is just hoping with some slightly better information out there on the internet they’ll stop playing the same Credit Karma commercial over and over again.

Paul King

Paul King lives in Nashville Tennessee with his wife, two daughters and cats. He writes for Pocketables, theITBaby, and is an IT consultant along with doing tech support for a film production company.