How to really get your credit score for free -- over and over and over...


We live in a golden age when it comes to personal finance. Nobody has any gold, but there are more resources than ever to maintain and keep track of your finances.

The latest that I've just started using is Credit Karma, which allows people to check their credit score for free -- and as often as they like. I have to think that this is going to really irritate some of the other organizations out there that make you pay to see your credit score. For instance, FreeCreditReport will let you get your credit score for free -- once -- but after that it bills you $14.95 a month unless you cancel your membership.

There is a price of sorts for joining Credit Karma -- as it makes clear when you read the terms. The company will share your credit score with marketing partners, in hopes that you might want to use some of the services and goods it's hawking. But if you can live with that -- and I can -- it's a pretty interesting web site. For instance, you can see exactly how you measure up against the rest of Americans' credit scores.

And, sure, that can be humbling if you've been hammered by the economy in recent years, but if you're bound and determined to raise your credit score, this seems like a pretty useful tool. And, of course, my big question -- that I only thought to look into after I signed up -- will checking your credit score nine times a day at Credit Karma bring down your credit score?

They say no, which seems logical enough. The folks at Credit Karma have the power to show or not show your credit score to creditors, and they won't. They know that if they were to do that, that would pretty much destroy anyone's reason for checking out their web site.

Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).