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Does Credit Karma affect your credit score? The answer may surprise you.

Credit Karma can help you monitor your credit without impacting your score.
Written by Lena Borrelli, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Marc Wojno

For some, a credit score is enough to keep them tossing and turning at night. But what if you don't have to worry about it? What if there's someone -- or something -- that can keep an eye on your score for you, perhaps improve it, even as you sleep tight at night? It is a tempting proposition. 

Regardless of your credit score, Credit Karma can help you improve your credit and even help you find the right credit card for your credit score. Here's what you need to know about Credit Karma. 

What is Credit Karma?

Credit Karma is a service that helps you track your credit score. Whether your score increases or decreases, Credit Karma will help keep you in the know. It also offers specially curated offers based on your specific qualifications to help you find the right credit cards for your financial situation. 

How does Credit Karma work?

Credit Karma works two ways: providing updated credit scores and helping you build your credit through exclusive credit card offers. 

The service works with two of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax and TransUnion, so that you can be sure that you are receiving the latest information about your credit record. Unlike some of the other credit sites, Credit Karma provides actual credit scores instead of just providing an estimate. It uses your Social Security number to dig deep into the credit bureaus for any sign of change in your credit status. As your credit changes, you can log in and watch your progress. 

Why is my credit score different on Credit Karma?

There are several reasons why your Credit Karma credit score may differ from the one you see on other services.

There is a delay in reporting

Credit scores may update at different times, so your credit report could experience a lag based on when creditors report your payments. There are also some lenders that only report to select credit bureaus instead of to all three. Some creditors may report faster than others, causing your credit score to change in response, even if it is only temporary. 

The credit scoring model varies

Different credit reporting agencies may utilize separate scoring models, affecting how your credit score is calculated. It is one reason why credit scores can vary so significantly. One model may prioritize some facets of your credit more than others, such as late payments or your debt-to-income ratio. 

For its part, Credit Karma does not use the popular FICO® score for your credit. 

Instead, it uses the Vantage 3.0 credit score that is based upon TransUnion and Equifax reporting. 

It is a mistake 

Most credit scores you see on Credit Karma reflect the latest available information provided by credit bureaus. However, sometimes mistakes happen, and they can negatively impact your credit report. That is why it is so important to monitor your credit report, so you know if there are any inaccuracies that need fixing. 

To help, Credit Karma offers its Direct Dispute tool so you can make an easy appeal to removal inaccurate information. 

Does Credit Karma affect my credit score?

In short, no. 

To calculate your score, Credit Karma uses a soft check to pull your current credit score, giving you the most current information available. Unlike a hard credit check, a soft check does not affect your credit, leaving your credit report unchanged by Credit Karma, no matter how many times you check your score. When you log in to check your score, a soft credit inquiry occurs. Because it is a general inquiry and not specific to one application, it is considered a soft credit check and does not impact your score.  

How much does Credit Karma cost?

Credit Karma is a free service that costs nothing to join. At no point are you asked for your credit card or banking information, keeping your payment details safe from the service. 

Bottom line

Credit Karma can be a massively helpful tool in building and maintaining your credit. It is an easy way to monitor your credit score without dinging your credit or causing any damage to your credit report. Even better, it costs nothing to join or check your credit score. Plus, if you experience any trouble with your credit report, the service is ready and waiting to get an in-depth look at your credit or to help you file a dispute. 

All said, Credit Karma will not affect your credit score, but it will help you improve it. It could very well be the perfect solution to your financial needs.   

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