Is the Credit Karma Free Credit Report a Scam?

Is the Credit Karma no cost credit report legit or a scam
Credit Karma recently made the announcement they would offer their users free credit reports on top of the free credit scores they already give. The question many people have when they hear about something like the free credit report is, “What’s the catch?” and, “Is it a scam?” The good news is the offer isn’t a scam, and for the most part, there aren’t any catches involved with getting it.

Is the free credit report really free?

Many companies that offer “free” credit reports technically come with no cost, but there’s a catch. In order to see the report, you have to give your credit card and sign up fro a free month of credit monitoring with the company. If you cancel the credit monitoring before the month free trial is up, then you don’t get charged for anything, but if you accidentally forget, your credit card ends up being charged. The FCC also reports that canceling can difficult and not always done the first time you request it to be removed. So while the report is technically free, there’s a catch that can cost you money down the line.

Credit Karma┬áset up their no-cost credit report offer the way they did with their no-cost credit score. There is no need to give your credit card to be able to see the report. They are able to do this because of the way they make money. Other sites make their money by selling the credit monitoring services, but Credit Karma makes its money through offering services where they get a commission if you sign up. These credit scores and credit reports don’t come cheap, as the company spends tens of millions of dollars to get them, but they make enough on the advertising to their users to more than make up for these costs.

Is it a real credit report?

There are some who take issue with the free credit scores from sites like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame and Quizzle because they aren’t FICO scores. There’s a debate as to whether this really matters or not, but it’s a concern to some people. They want to know if the credit report is from the credit reporting agencies or if it’s some type of other credit score.

In this instance, the credit report given is from TransUnion, and it’s the credit report you would get if you bought it directly from them. While it is a real report, it’s only one of the three main credit reports available. You do not have access to your Experian or Equifax credit reports from the site, although you can get a free Equifax credit report from Quizzle. You can also get your credit report at no cost once a year (plus in some other specific circumstances) from (you can see how the Credit Karma and AnnualCreditReport offers compare here).

How often can I see my credit report?

Many people wonder if the credit report is a one shot deal. That is, once you’ve seen it one time, then you can no longer see it again to see if it has changed in the future. The answer it no, it’s not a one shot deal. In fact, you can access your updated report as frequently as once every week if you desire.


The Credit Karma free credit report is not a scam or a bait and switch program. The only catch is that in order to get it, you will be given a lot of advertising offers (this is how they make their money) which you can choose to accept or decline. You won’t have to give your credit card to access the report, but you do have to give them sensitive financial information, which comes with some risks.

(Photo courtesy of Colin Kinner)

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17 Responses to Is the Credit Karma Free Credit Report a Scam?

  1. faith says:

    Credit reports aren’t important! You should follow Dave Ramsey and shoot for a zero credit score and not worry about your credit report. Only those who want to be part of the system care and you don’t want to be part of it. You want to be debt free, and if you are debt free you don’t need credit. Stop wasting your time with this stuff and write articles that can help people stop using credit.

  2. scott says:

    @Faith — we get it. You’re a Dave Ramsey gal and have swallowed the Kool-Aid. That doesn’t mean the rest of us have the same opinion, If you don’t like these articles, don’t read them.

  3. faith says:

    You shouldn’t be writing articles because you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  4. faith says:

    If you think credit reports and scores are important, that is the same as saying you love debt. Stay in debt if that is what you want, or follow Dave Ramsey and learn how to live debt free. You only have yourself to blame thinking you know more than Dave does.

  5. Gabe says:

    In all fairness Faith, you can be debt free but not have any money. If you’re debt free and have tons of cash saved, then yes, a credit score doesn’t mean anything. However if this is not the case, a credit score is important. Dave Ramsey offers wonderful financial advice, but one thing you mush understand is that it’s not for everyone. I don’t think anyone is saying they know more than Dave Ramsey, but people have different opinions and different methods to saving, etc. Different strokes for different folks. A method that works for you and your lifestyle, may not be the best for someone else in a very different lifestyle.

  6. Jeffrey Strain says:

    Actually, I do know that every person’t personal finances are different from every other person’s, and what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for the next. While Dave has some information that works for a lot of people, it isn’t the best advice for all people.

  7. Sora says:

    Credit reports lets us know if someone has been using our personal information to apply for credit cards, utilities, buy cars, etc. People such as landlords, bank reps, and other workers who would have to have access to our financial info is a capable of doing these things. I went to check on an apartment to rent and the manager had one of the applications out on her desk that a potential tenant had filled out. I saw their name, social security number, address, etc. The manager stepped away from her desk for aminute to get more inquiry cards from other room. I could have easily taken a picture of it with my smartphone and used it maliciously. If that person didn’t check their ctedit report then I could get away with using their info for my own personal gain.

  8. benjamin says:

    Why exactly are credit scores and credit reports so important? I had my identity stolen and it screwed up my credit report for about 3 years and caused all types of problems. Why do so many companies go by them when so many of them are wrong?

  9. John Tombs says:


    A “zero credit score” is dangerous and harmful. A credit score is used for many things beside getting credit. It affects your insurance premiums, your ability to rent a home, your chances of getting a job, and more besides.

    You don’t need debt to have a decent credit score.

    The link Jeffrey posted is a great explanation of all this.

  10. Dwayne says:

    A credit score of zero is perfect for someone whose wealth is similar to those like Dave Ramsey who can pay cash for a home or an automobile. Who has the cash to buy a home and doesn’t need credit scores to accomplish that goal? That’s just silly…

  11. faith says:

    If it is dangerous and harmful like you say, why would Dave Ramsey, who has made millions helping people get out of debt because they trust him, say that nobody needs a credit score? it’s your advice that’s dangerous and harmful.

  12. faith says:

    You’re wrong. His advice is for everyone. Why would he only give advice to a few people and why do millions love him?

  13. herdjohnson says:

    Ben Bernanke made millions because people trusted him, too…

    I’ve made hundreds of dollars every year using rewards credit cards while paying no interest. Tell me again how that’s a bad thing?

  14. Ron C says:

    Hey I turned 18 ran up a bunch of cards and didn’t pay ambulance bills and crap. The Card People got me a couple times but that’s how it goes. Guess what? Just got a new Credit Card with a 300 balance. (took 4 days to max out.) I guess we’ll see how this goes?

  15. Steve says:

    So true , Faith…people should finally realize this…they would be better off

  16. Henry garrett says:

    Need credit score

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