My Credit Karma Review – 2011

We all know that we should get our free credit reports each year, but those annual credit reports only give you the report, not your credit score. While the report is good for verifying the accuracy of your information being reported to credit agencies, most of us want to know our score to see how we stack up against others and to figure out what rates we can expect to receive on loans. This is where Credit Karma comes in. Credit Karma provides your TransRisk, VantageScore, and TransUnion Auto Insurance Risk Score. Along with these scores, Credit Karma also provides you Credit Report Card, which summarizes your credit report. And best of all… Credit Karma provides these all for free.

Going into this, you must know that CreditKarma is going to make its money somehow. Luckily, it’s not going to be from your wallet. Like Mint, CreditKarma makes its money by advertising offers tailored to your specifically. Since it knows your credit information, it will often pitch you credit cards to apply for or bank accounts that you can open. The ads on CreditKarma are much more intrusive and obvious than Mint’s, but if it helps them provide a free service, then I’m all for it. Credit ScoreThe first thing you’ll probably be interested in after signing up is the credit score. The credit score given by CreditKarma isn’t the true credit score that banks will see. This is the TransRisk New Account Score from TransUnion. This is essentially TransUnion’s own proprietary calculation of your credit score. Most creditors use a FICO score, but this TransRisk score will be somewhat similar and gives you something to measure your improvement based on.

To see more details of your score you will need to head on over to the Credit Report Card. In here you’ll be able to drill down to the factors that are negatively impacting your score. For me, everything was a grade of A expect for: Credit Report Card

CreditKarma is letting me know that I don’t have a long credit history (my oldest account is barely 4 years) and my total number of accounts is too low. Apparently to get an A in the total number of accounts I need 21+ accounts. I don’t really understand why that would impact my score since I already believe I have too many accounts.

All-in-all, CreditKarma is a neat, free tool that gives you a good indication of where your credit stands and allows you to track how it changes over time. For me, it’s stayed flat pretty much for the past six months. Its usefulness is limited because it does not give you a detailed picture to spot actual errors (i.e. it doesn’t list specific accounts on your report). Its more of a fun tool to check in with occasionally to see how you’re doing, as opposed to being useful on a consistent basis.



Amazon Launches Cloud Player and Cloud Drive

Amazon Cloud PlayerNearly all of us have important documents we don’t want to lose under any circumstance. Your previous options were to burn these to a DVD or store them on some type of external storage like a thumbdrive or a hard drive. Now it’s time to introduce you to the cloud. You’ve probably heard of cloud computing and cloud storage before. Companies like Dropbox have pioneered the cloud storage industry. But now, heavyweight Amazon has entered the field. Amazon Cloud Drive has launched and Amazon is giving you 5GB of free storage. It integrated right into your existing Amazon account, so it’s easy to get. It’s a great solution for storing important documents and photos. Instead of worrying about what will happen if your hard drive crashes, Amazon will worry for you. They back up your data to ensure you don’t lose it. If you want to check it out, click here.

Simultaneously, Amazon has launched an add-on service. Amazon’s Cloud Player allows you to play any music that you upload to the Cloud Drive and can be used on either a web browser or on your Android phone. As an android user, this is absolutely fantastic. You can have instant access to as much of your music library as you have uploaded to Cloud Drive from any computer or your android device. I signed up for Cloud Drive this morning and threw up some of my music. I then launched the Cloud Player on my Android and I was able to select any of my songs to listen to instantly, with no lag or buffering. The music quality as also terrific. It’s a great service, and if you stick with the under 5GB plan, it’s completely free. For more storage, it costs $1/GB per year. So 20GB of storage will cost you $20/yr. If you want to use it to back up most of your important documents and such, you may need to go for the $20 plan. I think that $20/yr to ensure the safety of your important information is a small price to pay.