What up finance nerds! Who’s ready to get into some credit score action today? Who wants to try and dethrone me off the highest score I’ve ever received in my life? :)
I hope it’s you.
I won’t get into the 101 reasons why it’s important to know your score and what goes into it all, but please believe me when I say it’s an empowering thing to know – even if you never plan on taking out debt again (and big emphasis on “plan” there). Your score can tell you a lot about how good you are with your money, and more importantly whether you get a kick-ass interest rate or not on future loans. Where a 1% difference can literally be a matter of tens of thousands of dollars more compared to the pretty boy next door’s loan who just happens to have a plumper score.
In this case, and this case only, it’s okay to be like that pretty boy :) And even more so if you’re trying to *get out of debt* too which is why these interest rates are so dang important! The more efficient your payments, the faster you become free and the sexier you’ll feel. Not unlike the almighty budget.
But there are thousands of credit sites out there – which should I use??
This is one of the most annoying parts to it all. It seems every day new places pop up promising free scores and fancy reports and yada yada yada – all of which only helps confuse us even more. Especially when the industry is strife with scammers.
Now I haven’t tested all of them, but some of the more legitimate sites are CreditSesame.com, Credit.com, Quizzle.com, and of course CreditKarma.com. The one that I personally love the best, as alluded to in this article’s title ;)
All of these places give out free credit scores, whether from Experian or TransUnion or the becoming more popular – VantageScore 3.0 – and you’ll probably be fine with any of them. You could also go to MyFico.com and others to get your FICO score too, however that would cost you and my personal feeling is that as long as you know roughly where you stand in the game you’re fine (vs pulling every single score out there and driving yourself mad!).
You may also find your score these days attached to other services you’re already using like Discover Card or Bank of America, or even my fave – USAA. But the only thing you get there is your score.
It’s also important to note that your credit *score* is different than your credit *report*. The score tells you where you stand, and the report tells you WHY you’re standing there. I.E. your credit history and every last credit line you’ve ever had opened along with the current statuses on them. They can literally be 60 pages long depending on how old you are and how much you love travel hacking ;)
You can get your credit report for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com too. Which sounds shady as hell, I know, but trust me they’re legit. And actually the only place authorized by federal law to exist for consumers.
So, Why Credit Karma?
For starters, they’re the only credit place I’ve gone back to more than once after setting up an account :) Like I said, the others are fine, but these guys are better. And I’m not just saying that because I’m now an official ambassador for them. In fact, that’s *why* I’ve decided to partner with them – their $hit is awesome! And apparently others agree too since they’re literally the largest of the group with over 50 million members and having given out over a BILLION free scores since launching in ’07. #BOOM.
So they definitely know what they’re doing. But here’s why I love them, exactly:
#1. They make it EASY for you to stay on top of your score (for free)
You literally log in and it’s right smack there in your face. Your VantageScore 3.0 from both TransUnion and Equifax. They update it once a week for you, and it’s completely free.
Here’s mine so you can see exactly what I mean:
As you can see, my score jumped up 11 pts since last week! The highest it’s ever been, coming in at 829 out of a max of 850. Not too shabby… And all I had to do was get rid of the biggest loans of my life, haha… We’ll see what happens when the bigger of the mortgages finally gets wiped away too :)
Btw, to learn more about the differences between all the different types of credit scores (FICO, Experian, Equifax, TransUnion, VantageScore 3.0) click here.
#2. They make it easy to stay on top of your credit REPORT (for free)
While you can also get it for free over at Annual Credit Report.com, those 60+ pages are NOT fun to look at. What I love about Credit Karma is that they import it right there for you *in your same account* so you can check that anytime you wish too. All under one roof.
They also make it drastically easier to review so you’ll actually DO IT, rather than print out your report because some financial blogger told you too and then promptly shove it in a drawer somewhere cuz it’s annoying as hell. Which it is :)
But again, w/ CK it’s literally just a matter of scanning our eyes downward once you’re logged in and seeing all the pros and cons to your history right there in the same spot. And believe me – your credit report does NOT do that. It looks like it comes from one of those old school dot matrix printers, haha… Only slightly better.
Screen shot again of my account so you can see:
(Of course I found the account of ours that’s perfect, but we all have our skeletons ;))
Other great tools and resources:
They also offer a slew of other helpful things such as:
- A credit simulator — To show you how future decisions can affect your credit
- All kinds of calculators — Home affordability calculator, debt repayment calculator, simple loan calculator, amortization calculator, how-to-be-sexy-like-j-money calculator (hint: track your net worth!), etc
- An area you can track your spending if you’d like — Similar to Mint and all them, you can attach your accounts and watch for spending trends inside your Credit Karma account too.
- And recommended products — If you’re wondering how CK makes their money, this is it :) As all free services online do these days (while your score is free for you, it costs them money), they feature specific products they feel are good fits for your situation based on the info they’ve collected from you. So you’ll see the “best” credit cards, loans, refinance places, etc pop in here and there throughout the account. I personally ignore it all since I’m not in the market for any more cards, but you might find it handy if you are on the prowl for such things.
So in a nutshell you get your credit score, your free credit report, and access to a bunch of tools and calculators when you connect with CK. All of which is free and easily accessible.
My Challenge to You Today:
My challenge to you today, whether you use Credit Karma or your own favorite place, is to pull your score and throw it in a spreadsheet so you can start tracking it over time just like you do with your net worth (which I know you’re doing, right? RIGHT???). Or better yet, add a spot there in your spreadsheet so it’s all in one spot and you can easily update over time!
Then if you’re feeling ballsy, drop your score down below so we can all ooh and ahh :) Bonus points if you can beat me too – a fun little game my wife and I play, only one of us ever has fun at it, haha…
If you do end up checking out CK, make sure to tell them what you think below! They’ll be watching this so be as open and honest as possible (and feel free to ask questions). You can sign up easily here: CreditKarma.com
And remember, regardless of what your score is it’s mostly important to just KNOW where you stand. We hope to never need it again since it means we’re not planning on adding more debt to our worlds, but better to be safe than sorry if we can help it. Life has a funny way of changing up our plans, eh?
PS: Checking your score with CK won’t affect your credit at all – it’s a “soft” inquiry.
PPS: As noted above, I now have a relationship with Credit Karma which means I’m compensated for spreading the word. Y’all know by now that I’d never pimp anything I find lame or hurtful to anyone, but gotta put it out there so you’re aware. I don’t rep brands lightly!
(Funny aside – as an online guy I always pay attention to the mistakes people make when trying to get to our sites, so to see how on top of it they were I typed in CreditCarma.com and sure enough it redirected to CreditKarma.com ;) That’s also a trick hackers/spammers use btw, so anytime you launch something important online try and scoop up the blatant mistakes people could accidentally type in and then redirect them to your main page! You might have seen this in the news recently with JebBush.com forwarding to Donald Trump’s page, haha… It’s since been taken down, but not Loser.com ;))
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PS: If you don't trust yourself with another credit card, ignore this! This strategy is to help you get out of debt quicker, not risk adding more to it.