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Twitter users are upset about Credit Karma's credit scores—here's why

Here's why there may be credit score differences between what you see on Credit Karma and elsewhere.

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On Tuesday afternoon, consumers took to Twitter to express their frustration over their credit scores on Credit Karma, the personal finance company owned by Intuit.

The issue for most wasn't that the credit scores they were finding on the Credit Karma website were low—rather they were too high.

Consumers tweeted about going to apply for a credit card or loan thinking they have good or excellent credit, only to soon find that the credit score that the card issuer or lender pulled was lower than what they saw on Credit Karma.

The specific tweet that started off the conversation can be found here. Twitter users were quick to follow up and joke about how inflated their credit scores looked on Credit Karma.

But they were on to something important when it comes to checking your credit score.

Below, CNBC Select breaks down why you can expect your credit scores to differ, depending on where you check them.

Why your Credit Karma credit score differs

There are multiple reasons why your credit score differs between what a personal finance website tells you and what your credit card company or a prospective lender find.

This is mainly because of two reasons: For one, lenders may pull your credit from different credit bureaus, whether it is Experian, Equifax or TransUnion. Your score can then differ based on what bureau your credit report is pulled from since they don't all receive the same information about your credit accounts. Secondly, different credit score models (and versions) exist across the board.

As it states on its website, Credit Karma uses the VantageScore® 3.0 model. VantageScore may look at the same factors that the other popular FICO scoring model does, such as your payment history, your amounts owed, your length of credit history, your new credit and your credit mix, but each scoring model weighs these factors differently.

For this reason, VantageScore and FICO® Scores tend to vary from one another. Your VantageScore® 3.0 on Credit Karma will likely be different from your FICO Score that lenders often use.

If you plan on applying for credit, make sure to check your FICO Score since there's a good chance lenders will use it to determine your creditworthiness. FICO Scores are used in over 90% of U.S. lending decisions.

Take note of the FICO Score version you look at as well. The FICO® Score 8 is widely-used and can help you gauge which credit cards you qualify for. But there are also industry-specific FICO Scores to use when you are planning a certain purchase. For example, FICO® Auto Scores are ideal if you want to finance a car with an auto loan, while it's good to check FICO® Scores 2, 5 and 4 if you plan to buy a house. Check out the full list of FICO's score versions for different financial products here.

How to check your FICO Score for free

You can access your free FICO® credit score through your bank or credit card issuer, like American Express, Bank of America or Citi. Online resources like *Experian Boost™ also provide free access to anyone, regardless if you're a cardholder or not.

*Results may vary. Some may not see improved scores or approval odds. Not all lenders use Experian credit files, and not all lenders use scores impacted by Experian Boost.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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