Free Credit Score with Credit Karma
As you plan your wedding, whether you decide to open a lot of credit cards for airline miles and points or not, it’s still very important for you to be aware of your credit history and your credit score. Not only does your credit history affect your ability to borrow money, it can also affect your employability or even your dating life!
First of all, you may have seen the commericals on TV for your free credit report at freecreditreport.com. DO NOT go there. Every person does indeed get a free credit report every year, but freecreditreport.com is not the real website; it’s simply a knockoff site that hopes to make money off people. The real site that you want to go to for your annual free credit report is annualcreditreport.com. Your free credit report will not include your FICO credit score, which is used by banks, employers, and others to determine your credit worthiness. Some methods exist for getting your free FICO credit score but in general, you will have to pay for it. The good news is, however, some companies help approximate your credit score (also known as your FAKO credit score). They are free to use, and the two most popular are Credit Karma and Credit Sesame; I like Credit Karma the best, and it is really easy to get your free credit score with Credit Karma.
Free Credit Score with Credit Karma
Credit Karma extracts your credit history from public records once you provide some basic information, such as name, date of birth, and social security number. It will also ask you a few security questions to verify that you are who you claim to be but once you have successfully created an account, you don’t need to input any information, such as credit card numbers or anything like that. You can give Credit Karma your online banking logins to better track your accounts, but I prefer not to do that and to be honest, it’s not really necessary.
The main use for Credit Karma is to obtain an approximate credit score. Like a FICO credit score, Credit Karma will give you a credit score up to 850. While the free credit score from Credit Karma is not the official FICO credit score, I find that it is a good enough estimate for my needs. In addition, Credit Karma also assigns you an overall credit report card grade along with subcategory grades for the following: credit card utilization, percent of payments made on time, age of credit history, total accounts, credit inquiries, and derogatory marks.
Last but not least, Credit Karma tracks your score over time so you can see how your activities impact your credit score. For example, I have seen my Credit Karma credit score drop 2 points when I open a credit card but quickly rise soon after that due to the positive benefits of a new account, such as increased revolving credit and lower credit card utilization. Every person’s situation is different, but it’s somewhat of a myth that the act of opening up lots of credit cards will really hurt your credit score. If you are not responsible in using your credit and paying off statements without accruing high interest, then yes, opening up credit cards WILL badly hurt your credit score.
The Main Point
It’s helpful to get a free credit score with Credit Karma and to monitor that score over time. Even if you don’t open up a 2.2%-ish cash back credit card, such as the Barclays Arrival or a real 2% cash back credit card, such as the Fidelity American Express, you may want to be aware of your credit score for post-wedding purposes, such as renting a new apartment or obtaining a mortgage. Credit Karma is free, and I find the website very intuitive and easy to use.
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