By law, you’re entitled to three free credit reports each year. But what about free credit reports on demand? Or free credit scores-updated every few days? It might sound like a scam.
Fortunately, Credit Karma offers everyone no-cost, frequently updated credit reports and scores from two big-name credit reporting agencies. When you sign up for a free Credit Karma account, you’ll get access to your personal data from Equifax and TransUnion.
View it whenever you want — as often as you want. And the information you receive can help you catch problems early, improve your credit, and boost your financial knowledge.
Let’s take a tour of what you’ll find when you sign up for Credit Karma.
The Credit Karma Dashboard
When you log in to your free Credit Karma account, you’ll arrive at your financial dashboard. From here, you can view high-level credit information and drill down on your Credit.
The top of the page shows your credit score. You’ll see the VantageScore 3.0 credit score as reported by both TransUnion and Equifax. And you’ll find the date when your score was last updated. Click either score, and you’ll jump to your Credit Health Report (more on that below).
When you scroll down, you’ll see a block of icons that let you navigate Credit Karma. Click to access your Credit Health Report, view your financial accounts, or access some of Credit Karma’s services for taxes, auto loans, home loans, and savings accounts.
Your Credit Health Report
Ready to dig into your credit? From the dashboard, click your TransUnion score to view your TransUnion credit health report or your Equifax score to view your Equifax credit health report. Your creditors may report to all the credit bureaus or just one, so the reports you see may be identical or have slight differences.
On your Credit Health Report page, you’ll notice a graph depicting the changes in your credit score over time.
Click the “See what’s changed” button to view more information about shifts in your score.
Below the graph are two important tabs —Credit Factors & Credit Report. Here’s what you should know about them.
Your Credit Factors
Remember: There are two Credit Health Report pages — one for each credit bureau. So, from each Credit Health Report page, you’ll be able to see a tab for the TransUnion Credit Factors or the Equifax Credit Factors.
The Credit Factors tab shows which elements of your financial history impact your credit score, how significant that influence is, and how well you’re currently doing on each of those fronts.
And each factor is color-coded. So it’s easy to see at a glance where you’re doing well (green), where you could do better (yellow), and where you should pay extra attention (red).
Credit Karma’s report features six critical factors that determine the quality of your credit score:
Payment history (impact: high)
Your payment history shows the percentage of credit and loan payments you’ve made on time.
Click “View details” to get more information on what constitutes good and bad values for this metric. Credit Karma marks your payment history green if your value is 99% or more, yellow if it’s 98%, and red for anything below that.
On this page, you’ll also find helpful facts on how this metric is calculated and which types of late payments can hurt your score the most.
Credit card use (impact: high)
Your credit card use shows your credit utilization ratio — how much of your available credit you’re using.
Click “View details” to get more information on what constitutes good and bad values for this metric. Credit Karma marks your credit card use green if your value is less than 30%, yellow if it’s between 30% and 49%, and red if it’s 50% or more.
On this page, you’ll also find helpful facts on how this metric is calculated and tips for lowering your credit utilization ratio. Also, you can scroll down to view a list of open credit card accounts with their respective balances, credit limits, and individual credit utilization ratios. Expand each one to get detailed information on your history with that card.
Derogatory marks (impact: high)
Your derogatory marks total shows the number of collections, tax liens, bankruptcies, and civil judgments on your credit report.
Click “View details” to get more information on what constitutes good and bad values for this metric. Credit Karma marks your derogatory marks total green if your value is zero, yellow if it’s one, and red for anything greater than that.
On this page, you’ll also find helpful facts on how this metric is calculated and what steps you can take if you have a public record or debt in collections.
Credit age (impact: medium)
Your credit age shows the average age (in years and months) of all your open loans and lines of credit.
Click “View details” to get more information on what constitutes good and bad values for this metric. Credit Karma marks your credit age green if your value is seven years or more, yellow if it’s between five and six years, and red if it’s less than five years.
On this page, you’ll also find helpful facts on how this metric is calculated and tips for maximizing your credit age. You can scroll down to view a list of open loans, credit cards, and other lines of credit with the age for each. Expand each listing for your detailed history with that account.
Total accounts (impact: low)
Your total accounts figure is the number of all open and closed credit accounts you have.
Click “View details” to get more information on what constitutes good and bad values for this metric. Credit Karma marks your total accounts number green if your value is at least 11 and red if it’s 10 or fewer.
On this page, you’ll also find helpful facts on how this metric is calculated, plus details on what lenders want to see when it comes to the number and types of your credit accounts.
Hard inquiries (impact: low)
Your hard inquiries figure is the number of times you’ve applied for new credit, typically within the last two years.
Click “View details” to get more information on what constitutes good and bad values for this metric. Credit Karma marks your hard inquiries number green if your value is less than three, yellow if it’s between three and four, and red for anything greater than four.
On this page, you’ll also find helpful facts on how this metric is calculated and tips on how you can keep your number of hard inquiries to a minimum.
Your Credit Karma Credit Report
From your Credit Health Report page, click the Credit Report tab to be taken to either your TransUnion Credit Report or your Equifax Credit Report. View your report on-screen or click the available button to print a copy for your records.
Wondering how to read a credit report? Here’s what you’ll find in yours:
This section includes present and past names you’ve used, employment details, and address history reported to the credit bureau.
Here you’ll find a listing of every account on your credit report — auto loans, credit cards, student loans, mortgages, and more.
For each account, you can see details of the financial institution managing each account, the date of the most recent account report, whether your account is open or closed, whether your account is in good standing and the balance of each account
Click an account’s summary to expand and view additional information. Details may include your current balance, credit limit, date of last payment, date opened, loan term, whether the account is individually or jointly held, which payments were made on time (and which were late), the amount borrowed on a loan, the loan term, and more.
Found a problem with your data? Click the “Dispute an Error” button to report an issue to the credit bureau.
This section shows a listing of recent hard inquiries of your credit report. An inquiry will only appear here if you’ve actively applied for a new loan or line of credit. Soft inquiries are not reported and don’t impact your credit score.
Here you’ll find a listing of all your credit accounts that have gone to collections. Accounts noted here will disappear from your credit report within seven years.
This section shows a list of your bankruptcies, legal judgments, and matters of public record that can damage your credit score. Most of these records disappear from your report within seven years, though bankruptcies may stick around for 10.
More Credit Reports
At the bottom of the page is a button to view credit reports in your name. When you click it, choose a report date from the available drop-down list.
The Accounts List
Head back to the dashboard and click the “Accounts” button under your credit scores. From there, choose to view your TransUnion Accounts List or your Equifax Accounts List.
You’ll see your total balance owed across all open loans and lines of credit. Plus, you’ll find a breakdown of how much money you owe across each type of account — credit cards, collections, student loans, other loans, auto loans, and home loans.
Scroll down to find balance information from each individual account. Click an account to see more details and view your reported payment history.
A Few Extras from Credit Karma
As you review your credit history details, you’re likely to get some recommendations along the way from Credit Karma.
For instance, Credit Karma might take note of your current mortgage terms and recommend that you refinance at a lower interest rate. You’re welcome to click their provided link to search for refinancing options and get quotes.
If you do refinance through Credit Karma, they’ll earn a commission. (In fact, that’s how they make their money to offer you no-cost credit reporting services.) Credit Karma may also recommend personal loans, credit cards, and more.
From your dashboard, Credit Karma gives you access to its tax filing hub, its auto marketplace hub, and its housing hub. In the auto hub, you can shop for car insurance, buy a new or used car, and view your motor vehicle records. In the housing hub, you can explore mortgage and refinance options, find a real estate agent, look for home insurance, use tools designed for homebuyers, read relevant articles, and much more.
Keep in mind that window shopping for a great rate is risk-free but applying for credit will place a hard inquiry on your report. Apply enough times, and your score will drop. Also, think twice before closing an open card in favor of a new card. Closing an account can decrease your average credit age and further hurt your score.
Access to your credit history is empowering. With your report at your fingertips, you can use your data to make informed choices about your money. And, with that insight, you’re in the driver’s seat for your financial journey.