Number of Reports
The first thing to note is Credit Karma only gives users access to their TransUnion credit report. This is important because there are actually three main credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Each credit reporting agency is different than the others, and what is contained in each of their reports can differ from the others. That means when you see the free credit report from Credit Karma, you’re only getting access to one of the three credit reports on you out there. You can also get a free Equifax credit report at Quizzle, but again, it’s from only one of the reporting agencies. AnnualCreditReport gives you access to all three credit reports at no cost.
Frequency of Report
As a general rule, you’re only allowed to get a credit report once a year at no cost from AnnualCreditReport (there are some exceptions). Since this is a long period of time between seeing what is happening on the reports, many people request a report from one of the three credit bureaus every 4 months, giving them a better chance to catch something if it’s not right on the reports.
Credit Karma, on the other hand, gives access to the TransUnion report much more frequently. You can access it as often as once a week. This makes it much more likely to catch a discrepancy on your report quickly so you can resolve the issue right away, plus stop any identity theft before it mushrooms into a bigger problem. The caveat being that these discrepancies are showing up on the TransUnion report and not the Experian or Equifax reports.
In order to get access to your free credit report, you have to give some sensitive financial information, such as your social security number, to access it. While the past doesn’t indicate what will necessarily happen in the future, Credit Karma has been lax with user’s financial information with their mobile app which exposed the information and allowed for the possibility of it being stolen by identity thieves. Credit Karma has settled this issue with the Federal Trade Commission and is being monitored on the issue. AnnualCreditReport hasn’t had the same type of security lapse.
AnnualCreditReport does only one thing; it gives you access to your credit reports. You don’t get access to your credit score, you don’t get credit monitoring and you don’t get a lot of advertisement offers for other stuff. Credit Karma does offer more, including free credit monitoring, no-cost credit scores and tools to help you better understand how what you do affects your credit score. It also comes with a lot of advertisements for other services since this is how they make their money.
While it would seem that since both these sites are offering free credit reports, the two would be similar in a lot of ways, but the reality is both are quite different from one another. Which ends up being better for you depends a lot on what you plan to do with the credit report. Both have advantages and disadvantages which need to be considered when deciding which is best for you.