Credit Karma is one of several free services that let you view certain details of your credit report online and for free. Their biggest competitor that I know of is Credit Sesame – but since Credit Sesame couldn't verify some of my information while I was signing up, I've never actually used that site, and can't comment on it one way or the other.
Credit Karma, meanwhile, used to allow you to refresh your credit report every day, which made it somewhat useful for people trying to "bump" credit inquiries off their TransUnion credit report. A while ago they changed their policy to allow users to refresh their credit report just once every 7 days, which made it less useful for that purpose, and also more of a hassle to keep track of when you're "eligible" to refresh your report. Since then, I've basically stopped using the site.
Nonetheless, Credit Karma continued to be useful for a few specific purposes:
- Seeing when credit card balances are reported to the credit bureaux. For most cards, this is the statement closing date, for some it's the business day prior, and at least for US Bank it's the last business day of the calendar month (in my experience);
- Tracking hard versus soft inquiries. Unfortunately, many rental property managers make hard credit report inquiries of potential tenants; for us starving artists who move between rentals every year or two, this can potentially add up to a couple unnecessary hard inquiries at any given point in time. There's not much you can do about it, but it's good to know exactly where you stand on the inquiry front;
- Staying vaguely aware of potential identity theft (and other issues). Every once in a while a mysterious credit account will appear or disappear on my Credit Karma report card. So far it's invariably been my mom adding me or removing me as an authorized user on one of her cards, but presumably if my identity were stolen to open a new credit account, I'd see the same thing and be able to take action.
Full TransUnion credit report now available
When I logged onto Credit Karma on my PC yesterday, I noticed a new banner on the top of the page:
As I said, I no longer check the site regularly, so it may have been there for a few weeks or months. But sure enough, clicking the banner now takes you to a new page that displays somewhat more information than the "digest" previously available on Credit Karma.
Having glanced through it a few times, here's the most interesting additional information now available:
- Remarks on accounts. All of my accounts have the same remark: "Account closed by consumer." But presumably this is where other information would be found, for example if an account was reported settled or written off by the credit issuer. If you find that's been done in error, you need to dispute the remark as soon as possible;
- Credit inquiry dates and estimated removal dates. This could potentially help you plan credit card applications in advance, if you currently have too many inquiries to feel comfortable applying for new credit;
- Addresses and employers on your credit report. As I mentioned, I move all the time and it's interesting to see what addresses and employers appear on my TransUnion credit report and which don't. A work-study job from 3 years ago appears on there, but my last two years working and living in New England are like they never happened!
In any case, there's a lot of information there, and while none of it should be surprising, you may be surprised by what's there and what isn't, so if you have a Credit Karma account you've been neglecting, you may want to log in and give the new feature a whirl.