Credit scores originally were built for lenders, but Credit Karma makes the system work for consumers, too – and makes money at it.

Smart consumers know their credit score affects their ability to get a loan, their mortgage rates, credit card approvals, and even a job or housing application. So it’s a good financial habit to review your credit report and score frequently – for accuracy and to identify ways you could improve your score, if necessary.

It’s possible to purchase access to your credit reports, scores and monitoring services through each of the big three credit-reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – but these can involve hefty monthly fees, and “free trials” often have opaque fine print. Federal law mandates that everyone has the right to one free credit report from each agency every 12 months, if you request it. (You have to apply, the official credit-report site, and your score isn’t included.)

But Credit Karma, a San Francisco–based company founded in 2007, has shaken things up by offering free ongoing access to your credit scores and credit reports from TransUnion and Equifax. You sign up with, but do not have to register a credit card as you often must for free trials on other sites.

Once you’re a member, you can track your credit as often as you like. Credit Karma also provides free online tools and information to help you understand your score, with specific actions, based on your profile – say, reduce your credit utilization or improve your on-time payments – that you can take to improve it.

Read more: Why Credit Karma Is Free & How It Makes Money | Investopedia
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