Welcome back to “Mike Meets”! In this series, the SALT editorial team makes our intern, Mike Restiano, try financial products he’s never used before (jealous?). Mike will highlight what he likes and dislikes about each—and whether you should check it out for yourself. This week, Mike is investigating Credit Karma.
YOU MEAN… YOUR CREDIT HAS A SOUL?
Credit Karma is by far the most interesting name I’ve ever heard for a financial tool, being far more creative than your standard clunky acronym.
As creative as the name is though, I had no idea what to expect from the site. Was it going to probe the depths of my credit’s soul and tell me if it was going to be reincarnated or not? Or was it just going to try and get me to sign up for some kind of credit card?
Either way, I had to (literally, had to) check it out. A quick Google search brought up the website no problem.
NICE AND SIMPLE
The website’s home page was extremely easy to navigate, which is always a big plus in my book. My eyes found the big “get started” button right in the center of the page very quickly. After I clicked it, it donned on me that I probably should’ve checked out the site’s “How It Works” page first before I started signing up.
Alas, I had already entered my first name into the sign-up form. I had gone way too far to turn back and check it out.
The data entry was also very simple, asking for only a name, address, screen name, password, and Social Security number. I’m always wary when any website asks for that almighty 9-digit number, but a little blurb assured me that my info was safe. I trusted said blurb, put in my info, and moved on. Probably not the best habit to have.
The first thing I saw once I put all my info in was my credit score staring me dead in the face. Now granted, I’m sure you can run into something much more surprising on a website, but this was kind of a big deal for me. I’ve heard nightmare stories about people not being able to get houses or cars because of that number, so it was interesting to just finally see mine.
After my time meeting annualcreditreport.com, I learned that getting your credit score usually costs you extra, and you can only inquire a certain amount of times within a given timeframe. But Credit Karma didn’t charge me a single thing.
It also included a nice infographic bar along with my score to show me where I ranked in terms of credit range in an easy-to-read format.
EVEN MORE DETAILS
After playing around with my account for a bit, I found that you can get even more details on your credit score if you want them. The website provides a detailed “credit report card” for you so you can see how you’re doing on the various factors that influence your score.
Each of those factors has a standard letter grade, so you can separate what you’re doing well on and what needs some improvement. In my case, a few of the factors came up as “N/A” so they didn’t factor into my score at all. If you’ve never had a credit card before, (like me) you’ll probably be in the same boat.
A WHOLE LOT OF ADVERTISEMENTS…
I really enjoyed the credit exploration tools on the website, but there was one part of it I didn’t find too great. One of the tabs leads to a whole page of credit card advertisements!
I understand that having a credit card will help boost your credit score (if you pay it on time, that is), but I’m a little tired of having them marketed at me. It seems like every time I get my mail there’s always at least one notice from Capital One or Chase advertising some fancy credit card with a low APR (whatever that means).
If I wanted to sign-up for a credit card while I was still in college, I would’ve done it the 9,000 times the companies made it apparent to me. To have to sift through a whole page full of ads was a little bit daunting for me.
Plethora of advertisements aside, I still give Credit Karma my stamp of approval. It’s easy, simple, and provides you with your credit score without any hidden tricks or fees.
Although credit cards don’t really appeal to me right now (way too much pressure, way too little money), I know that they will in the future. Who knows, maybe in 5 years I’ll actually think that all of those advertisements are helpful.
Know of a financial product that Mike should meet? Share it in the comments.