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Why Your Credit Karma Score May Not Match Your Actual Credit Score

A credit score is one of the most important factors lenders consider when evaluating a loan application. Whether you’re looking to buy a home or simply want to secure a credit card, your credit score can greatly impact your financial future. In the digital age, we have numerous online tools and resources to understand and improve credit scores. 

One of the most well-known tools is Credit Karma, which offers a free credit score and credit report. However, how precise is Credit Karma compared to your actual credit score? In this guide, we’ll explore the differences.

What Is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a numerical indicator of your creditworthiness, typically determined by examining your credit history. It reflects your risk level to lenders, with higher scores signifying a better credit history. Usually, it is calculated from the details in your credit report, such as payment patterns, credit utilization, and the age of accounts. 

The FICO score is the most widely used credit scoring model.

What Is Credit Karma?

Since 2007, Credit Karma has become one of the leading credit management services around the world. It offers users free access to their credit score, report, and monitoring alerts through its platform. Utilizing the VantageScore 3.0 model, Credit Karma provides a comprehensive overview of an individual’s credit health and comparison to other consumers. 

In addition to credit scores and reports, Credit Karma provides users with financial tools and resources such as personalized credit recommendations, budgeting and savings tips, and access to various financial products and services. 

With its focus on education and empowerment, Credit Karma is a well-trusted resource for millions of consumers worldwide.

How Does Credit Karma Compare To Actual Credit Score?

Credit Karma offers a free and convenient way of accessing your credit score, however, it is essential to be aware that it may not always be precise. The reason is, Credit Karma utilizes the VantageScore 3.0 model, which could be dissimilar from the FICO score usually adopted by lenders. 

The FICO score is the most extensively utilized credit scoring model in the financing field and is the one that most lenders depend on to evaluate creditworthiness and make lending decisions. Although the VantageScore 3.0 and FICO scores measure credit risk, their approaches to calculating scores can be inconsistent. 

How Often Does Credit Karma Update?

Credit Karma regularly refreshes your credit score and credit report, granting you the ability to keep a close eye on any alterations to your credit score and take care of any possible problems in a timely fashion.

However, it is crucial to note that the credit bureaus that provide the information to Credit Karma, such as Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, may not update their records as frequently. The frequency at which the credit bureaus update their information can vary and may occur once in a few weeks. 

Sometimes, essential changes to your credit report, such as opening a new credit account or paying off debt, may not be reflected on Credit Karma simultaneously. To ensure you have the most up-to-date information, consider checking your credit score and report regularly.

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How Accurate is Credit Karma?

Credit Karma’s credit score and credit report give a general idea of your creditworthiness, however, the figures may not be 100% precise. 

This is because Credit Karma makes use of another credit scoring model compared to many lenders and possibly does not have access to all the data required to calculate your credit score. 

Furthermore, credit ratings from various sources can differ due to dissimilarities in the data used for their computation.

Credit Karma VantageScore Explained

The VantageScore 3.0 credit scoring model, used by Credit Karma, was created by the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. 

The score is based on factors such as payment history, credit utilization, and age of credit accounts. It measures a credit risk or the likelihood of defaulting on a loan or other credit obligation. 

It ranges from 300 to 850, with higher scores indicating lower risk and greater creditworthiness. 

One key advantage of the VantageScore 3.0 compared to the FICO score is its flexibility and leniency when it comes to certain credit histories. It is beneficial for borrowers with a limited credit history or a history of timely payments but with high credit utilization. The VantageScore 3.0 also provides more consistent credit scores across the three major credit bureaus, which can help reduce confusion for consumers and make it easier to understand their credit profiles.

VantageScore vs FICO: What’s the Difference?

While the VantageScore and the FICO score measure creditworthiness, they differ significantly.

  • Credit history requirements

VantageScore requires only one month of credit history and one account reported to the credit bureaus within the past two years to generate a score. In contrast, FICO requires at least six months of credit history and at least one account that has been active within the past six months to generate a score.

  • Scoring models

VantageScore has three different scoring models, while FICO has over 50 different scoring models for various types of credit. It means that lenders may use different FICO models depending on the type of credit.

  • The number of credit factors

VantageScore and FICO place different weights on various credit factors. For example, VantageScore places more emphasis on payment history, while FICO places more emphasis on credit utilization.

Why is My Experian Score Higher Than Credit Karma?

If your Experian credit score is higher than the score on Credit Karma, it may be due to a few different factors. 

One of the most common reasons is that the information in your Experian credit report may be more up-to-date or complete than the information in your Credit Karma report. This could result in a higher score on Experian.

FICO scores can sometimes be higher than VantageScores because they consider a wider range of credit information and may use different weighting and calculation methods.

Also, there may be errors or discrepancies in your credit report impacting your score. For example, if there’s incorrect information on your credit report, or if there’s a mistake in your credit history, it could result in a lower score. 

Regularly monitoring your credit report from multiple sources, including Credit Karma and Experian, can help you detect and address any errors or inconsistencies in your credit history.

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Understanding the differences in credit score measuring approaches will help you evaluate your credit history and take steps to improve it. Remember, that Credit Karma is a free and quick method to examine your credit score, but it is not always completely accurate. To have appropriate credit information, you should monitor your credit score using various sources.  Furthermore, if you plan to buy a property and apply for a loan, you should get your FICO score straight from the credit reporting bureaus to verify that you have the most up-to-date information. You may enhance your chances of getting credit by understanding your credit score and taking efforts to improve it.

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