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Credit Karma Vs. Experian: Which is better?

Home » Guides & Tips » Credit Karma Vs. Experian: Which is better?

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How does Experian compare to Credit Karma? While there are numerous prominent credit monitoring companies, choosing one over another as the best depends mainly on your preferences and needs as a consumer. Credit Karma versus Experian is always a hot topic, as the two companies offer in-depth and vital credit monitoring services in a similar fashion. However, the pair have distinct differences, and discovering which one is best for you may be surprising.

Monitoring your credit score is crucial for staying on top of your financial well-being. Budgeting apps and credit monitoring apps like Credit Karma, Experian, and others have become indispensable personal finance tools. Let’s dive deeper into the Experian versus Credit Karma debate to help you decide which could be most beneficial for you or if there may be another option.

Side-by-Side Comparison of Experian vs. Credit Karma:

Credit Karma vs. Experian review differences and similarities

Check out the Top 5 Credit Monitoring Services for 2023

About Credit Karma 

Who is Credit Karma, the company? Credit Karma started in 2007 and quickly became one of the most popular free credit monitoring services. Through its other businesses, Turbo Tax and Mint, Credit Karma is uniquely positioned to assist consumers with more than just credit monitoring. Tax return integration and remote digital banking services are also available.

Credit Karma Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Always a free service
  • Provides approval odds for loans and credit cards
  • Digital banking options available
  • Tax refund assistance is available
  • Monitors two credit bureaus
  • Credit score management information available

Cons

  • No options for monitoring all three credit bureaus
  • Uses the less popular VantageScore 3.0 scoring model
  • No options for reducing advertisement exposure
  • No identity theft services or insurance available
Read Credit Karma Reviews for 2023

Is Credit Karma Free?

The free service provided by the company is available only through the Credit Karma app. Credit Karma members enjoy weekly VantageScore 3.0 updates of their Trans Union and Equifax credit scores with access to their full credit reports that update monthly. Other benefits include instant information regarding what affects your creditworthiness and helpful suggestions for raising or maintaining your score.

While Credit Karma is a completely free service with no paid plans available, the company does need to generate revenue for itself. Credit Karma creates that income through advertising and partnerships with several credit and loan companies. Expect to see numerous ads and offers while using the Credit Karma app. The benefits, however, are that Credit Karma is always free to use, and the app can also provide information regarding your approval odds for individual credit options.

About Experian

Experian’s primary business is being one of the three major credit bureaus. However, the company also offers its CreditWorks program, which includes a free credit monitoring service and a paid version called Credit Works Premium, with a few extra bells and whistles.

Experian Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Three-bureau credit monitoring available in paid plan
  • Experian Boost, available with either plan, can help increase your credit score
  • $1 million identity theft insurance available in paid plan
  • Widely used FICO model score reporting
  • Free monthly credit report access through the paid plan
  • 17% discount for annual plan purchase

Cons

  • Free plan monitors just one credit bureau score
  • Short 7-day free trial period for the paid plan
  • Identity theft protections are relatively basic
  • Best services are only available in the paid plan
Read Experian Reviews for 2023

Is Experian Credit Monitoring Free?

Experian’s free credit monitoring plan, CreditWorks, is relatively basic and straightforward. The plan includes monthly FICO 8 reporting of your Experian credit score, exposure to credit and loan offers tailored to you, and helpful information to learn about factors that affect your credit score.

How much does Experian’s premium credit monitoring service cost?

CreditWorks Premium, Experian’s single paid plan option, costs 24.99 per month. Upgrades from the free plan include credit monitoring of all three credit bureau FICO 8 scores, limited identity theft and dark web monitoring protections, ID theft insurance, weekly credit score updates, and monthly full report updates.

Both Experian plans offer a unique feature called Experian Boost. The program allows users to input detailed banking and utility bill information into Experian’s system to potentially be included in credit score considerations to increase their credit scores quickly.

Credit Karma vs. Experian: What’s the Difference?

When considering the differences between Credit Karma and Experian Credit Monitoring, it’s important to recognize that both companies provide credit monitoring services with unique features and offerings.

Credit Karma has gained popularity for its free credit monitoring service. It stands out due to its integration with TurboTax and Mint, allowing users to access not only credit monitoring but also tax return integration and digital banking services. While Credit Karma offers VantageScore 3.0 updates of TransUnion and Equifax credit scores through its app, it lacks the option to monitor all three credit bureaus. It’s known for its user-friendly approach and offers insights into approval odds for loans and credit cards. The app provides users with personalized suggestions for improving or maintaining their credit scores. Credit Karma’s revenue model relies on advertising and partnerships with credit and loan companies, which can lead to increased ad exposure for users.
On the other hand, Experian, one of the major credit bureaus, provides a more comprehensive credit monitoring experience. Experian’s free CreditWorks plan offers monthly FICO 8 reporting of your Experian credit score and customized credit and loan offers. Their paid plan, CreditWorks Premium, takes it a step further by including credit monitoring for all three credit bureau FICO 8 scores, weekly credit score updates, and monthly full report updates. Additionally, the premium plan offers limited identity theft and dark web monitoring, ID theft insurance, and the unique Experian Boost feature. Experian Boost allows users to incorporate utility and banking data to potentially enhance their credit scores. Experian’s paid plan comes with a higher price tag, but it offers a complete suite of credit monitoring features and identity theft protections.

Unique Features About Credit Karma

Credit Karma has gained popularity for its free credit monitoring service. It stands out due to its integration with TurboTax and Mint, allowing users to access not only credit monitoring but also tax return integration and digital banking services.

While Credit Karma offers VantageScore 3.0 updates of TransUnion and Equifax credit scores through its app, it lacks the option to monitor all three credit bureaus. It’s known for its user-friendly approach and offers insights into approval odds for loans and credit cards.

The app provides users with personalized suggestions for improving or maintaining their credit scores. Credit Karma’s revenue model relies on advertising and partnerships with credit and loan companies, which can lead to increased ad exposure for users.

Unique Features About Experian Credit Monitoring Services 

On the other hand, Experian, one of the major credit bureaus, provides a more comprehensive credit monitoring experience. Experian’s free CreditWorks plan offers monthly FICO 8 reporting of your Experian credit score and customized credit and loan offers.

Their paid plan, CreditWorks Premium, takes it a step further by including credit monitoring for all three credit bureau FICO 8 scores, weekly credit score updates, and monthly full report updates.

Additionally, the premium plan offers limited identity theft and dark web monitoring, ID theft insurance, and the unique Experian Boost feature. Experian Boost allows users to incorporate utility and banking data to potentially enhance their credit scores. Experian’s paid plan comes with a higher price tag, but it offers a complete suite of credit monitoring features and identity theft protections.

Is Experian Credit Monitoring Worth It?

Experian’s free credit monitoring services are generally sufficient for most users. The free offering provides users with insights into their credit score based on their Experian credit report. It offers tips on how to enhance their credit and promptly alerts users about credit activities, assisting them in staying vigilant. However, the question of whether Experian’s paid credit monitoring services are worth the investment warrants examination, and we can turn to customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for insights.

Customer reviews on the BBB shed light on significant issues and dissatisfaction associated with Experian’s credit monitoring services. These reviews highlight a range of problems that customers have encountered, including:

  • Inaccurate Reporting and Scoring: Numerous customers have lodged complaints regarding inaccuracies in their credit reports and credit scores. Some have reported unexpected drops in their scores or faced challenges when disputing erroneous information.
  • Poor Customer Service: Multiple customers have recounted experiences of unhelpful and discourteous interactions with customer service representatives. Many have encountered difficulties in having their concerns addressed or receiving adequate assistance.
  • Technical and Website Issues: Complaints have arisen concerning the usability of the Experian website and technical glitches that hindered customers from accessing their accounts, managing credit freezes/unfreezes, and resolving disputes.
  • Lack of Value for the Cost: Some customers have expressed the sentiment that the cost of Experian’s paid credit monitoring service does not align with the benefits provided. They perceive the service as overpriced considering the offered features.
  • Cancellation Challenges: A notable proportion of customers have faced challenges when attempting to cancel their paid Experian credit monitoring subscriptions. They have reported encountering obstacles and experiencing delays during the cancellation process, resulting in continued charges.
  • Limited Access to Promised Features: Customers have cited instances where they paid for specific features or services within the paid version of Experian’s credit monitoring, only to find themselves unable to access or utilize those features effectively.
  • Discrepancies in Monitoring and Reporting: Several customers have observed disparities between the information provided by Experian’s paid service and data from other credit monitoring platforms or sources. Such inconsistencies raise concerns about the accuracy and reliability of Experian’s monitoring.

Read the Full Review on Experian Credit Monitoring Services.

Which is Better: Credit Karma or Experian?

While Credit Karma and Experian have several things in common, such as a free credit score monitoring option and comprehensive mobile apps, their differences outweigh the similarities by a wide margin, which makes them challenging to compare against each other. Perhaps the best answer to which is better depends on what you’re looking for in a credit monitoring service. Here’s a quick comparison of the two services.

Experian Credit Karma
Free plan available Yes Yes
Credit score agency FICO 8 VantageScore 3.0
3-Bureau credit monitoring Available with paid subscription No
Credit score improvement advice and tools Yes Yes
Credit score update frequency Monthly with the free plan or daily with paid plan Weekly
Full report availability Monthly with daily access though paid plan  Annual
Digital banking options available No Yes
Identity theft protections Available with paid subscription No
ID theft insurance Available with paid plan No
Mobile app Yes Yes
Family plan available No No
Identity theft insurance Yes No
Lowest monthly cost Free Free
Highest monthly cost $24.99 Free

How to choose between Experian Vs. Credit Karma?

Choosing between Credit Karma and Experian depends on your preferences and needs. If you’re looking for a free service with insights into credit factors and approval odds, Credit Karma might be suitable. If you value more comprehensive credit monitoring, including all three bureaus and enhanced identity theft protections, Experian’s CreditWorks Premium could be the better option.

Ultimately, both platforms contribute to helping users understand and manage their credit scores effectively, but Experian’s offerings may appeal to those seeking more comprehensive monitoring and protection, while Credit Karma’s free service is more geared towards those looking for basic credit insights.

How to Choose Which Credit Monitoring Service is Right for You

Deciding which credit monitoring service is right for you depends primarily on what you’re trying to achieve with the information. Between Experian and Credit Karma, choosing one will likely come down to whether or not you’re willing to pay for some services.

Credit Karma doesn’t offer a paid subscription. Credit Karma’s free service includes two-bureau monitoring using the VantageScore 3.0 model, while Experian’s free version offers monitoring of just one bureau’s score. However, Experian uses the FICO 8 scoring model, which is more commonly used by lenders.

Both companies provide accurate credit score pictures, credit reports, helpful information to increase or maintain your scores, and lending and credit card offers. However, Experian’s free plan offers the added benefit of Experian Boost to help increase your score if necessary.

If you’re willing to shell out some cash for more comprehensive credit monitoring of all three credit bureaus, Experian is your only option between the two. However, if thorough identity protection is your goal, other ID protection companies beyond these two offer more comprehensive protections with pricing similar to Experian.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Credit Karma Accurate for Credit Scores?

Is Credit Karma accurate for credit scores? Credit Karma provides accurate credit scores from Trans Union and Equifax using the VantageScore 3.0 scoring model. While your reported VantageScore is accurate, it may differ significantly from your FICO score due to variables in how your score is determined between the two models.

Is it safe to use Credit Karma?

If you’re wondering, is Credit Karma safe? The company assures consumers that it never sells or shares personal information. It employs encryption technology for data transmissions and actively monitors for any unusual activity. Moreover, as reported by Security.org, “Credit Karma’s credit reports are read-only. This means that neither Credit Karma nor any other party can hack the system to alter the details of your credit history. The company assures consumers that it never sells or shares personal information, uses encryption technology in data transmissions, and monitors for any unusual activity.

Source: Waypoint Real Estate Group, @WaypointRealEstateGroup YouTube.

Is Experian more accurate than Credit Karma?

Your Experian credit score and your Credit Karma free score accurately represent your credit scores. However, the companies report your score as determined by different scoring models, which can cause apparent discrepancies between them.

Why is my Experian score so much higher than Credit Karma?

While your Credit Karma free score is accurate and reliable, the company reports your credit score as determined through the VantageScore 3.0 model. Your Experian credit score is also accurate and reliable. However, it uses the FICO 8 scoring model, which measures different creditworthiness metrics than the other.

Is Experian the most accurate credit score?

Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax are the three major credit bureaus that provide your credit scores. All of which are as accurate as possible. However, your credit score can be measured using several scoring models, which usually explains any variances between scores from the three.

What does a credit freeze do?

You can freeze your credit with each of the three major credit bureaus. Freezing your credit means that lenders can’t access your credit file or score and aren’t allowed to make inquiries until you unfreeze your credit. Freezing your credit helps prevent criminals from opening an account or applying for credit with your name and information. You can unfreeze your credit anytime to allow lenders to access your data when you apply for a loan or other credit.

About Author

Dr. Ali
Who is Deane Biermeier? In the dynamic realms of finance and home improvement, a luminary has emerged over the last decade—Deane Biermeier. Widely recognized as the go-to expert for insightful reviews and content, his prolific writings grace esteemed publications, including Forbes, Angi.com, U.S. News and World Report, LifeWire, Family Handyman, and several others. He also acts as an expert consultant for The Spruce and Family Handyman. In 2023, Deane joined the esteemed team at TrustedCompanyReviews.com, solidifying his status as a sought-after authority. What sets Deane Biermeier apart? His writing isn't merely informative; it's a delightful blend of honesty, expertise, and entertainment. Deane's crafted content aids millions of consumers, steering them away from pitfalls and toward near-perfect purchases. TrustedCompanyReviews.com feels blessed to have Deane on their team, and now you, too, can be blessed with his insightful writing. Dive into some of Deane's latest reviews on personal loans, credit monitoring, identity theft, and related topics and industries. Follow Deane Biermeier to read his exciting newest reviews, soon to come in 2024! In the upcoming year, Deane has queued up an exhilarating series of reviews that you won't want to miss. He'll be uncovering the inside scoop on cutting-edge products designed to enhance the security of your finances, starting with credit card reviews as 2024 starts. Don't forget to bookmark Deane's author bio page before you navigate away from this page! All of Deane's newest reviews will be featured right here on his author profile page. If you appreciate Deane's insightful reviews and find them helpful in making informed decisions, please consider sharing this author bio on your social media channels. No fluff, just the unbiased facts that matter are what you'll discover with Deane Biermeier's reviews. You won't get sold by anyone, and it's not a marketing gimmick but rather the stuff you need to know before making a purchase. Deane's passion goes beyond mere technical expertise; he believes in the transformative power of knowledge. His commitment lies in equipping consumers and homeowners with the necessary resources to make informed decisions, guiding them with confidence throughout their home improvement projects and when facing financial choices. Determining the right credit cards or personal loans amidst a myriad of companies vying for your business can be stressful and challenging. Dealing with fast-talking salespeople can often result in poor decisions, as individuals may be misled by enticing portrayals, only to discover later that reality falls short of expectations after becoming a client and paying upfront costs. Such situations can be avoided by following Deane's reviews and gaining insight from the information he shares. His reviews illustrate the facts about companies and products, sharing customer experiences that occur after the sale, enabling individuals to make informed choices and avoid potential pitfalls. Deane's insights are not just recognized but actively sought after by leading publications like Forbes Home, Angi.com, USNews, Family Handyman, and Lifewire. He consistently delivers credible, unbiased information, providing readers with the confidence to navigate the intricacies of home improvement and finance. Deane is more than a writer; he is your trusted partner in realizing your home improvement dreams. Combining decades of hands-on experience with meticulously researched insights, he offers practical guidance and financial knowledge to support you at every step of your journey.
Dr. Ali

Deane Biermeier

Last Updated: December 20, 2023

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