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Want a free VantageScore?

By Leslie McFadden ·
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Posted: 12 pm ET

Credit Karma, a site that offers free credit scores and tools to consumers, will now let you peek at your TransUnion VantageScore and auto insurance score for free.

"We thought we would illustrate the breadth of credit scores available to lenders and bankers by providing consumers free access to them," says CEO Ken Lin. Credit Karma already provides a free TransRisk credit score from TransUnion to consumers who create a free account with Credit Karma. According to Lin, the company has no current plans to phase out the TransRisk score.

There are indeed a multitude of credit scores in existence, including proprietary scores from each of the three major credit reporting agencies -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- and FICO scores based on the credit file for an individual at each agency. There are also industry-adjusted versions of credit scores, different generations of each scoring model as well as custom scores.

Then there's VantageScore, a relatively new score introduced in 2006. The scoring model was jointly developed by the three major credit-reporting agencies and is used today by the top five credit card issuers, according to VantageScore Solutions LLC. The scores range from 501 to 990, with higher scores indicating lower credit risk, and come with a corresponding letter grade of A, B, C, D or F.

"Realistically it's impossible for a consumer to track every single score out there," says Lin. Knowing one or two, he says, gives consumers a general idea of their credit situation.

Credit Karma only offers scores from TransUnion. To get scores based on your Equifax or Experian credit reports, you have to look elsewhere. My story, "How to get a free credit score," lists other sites that provide truly free scores or score estimates that aren't connected to a fee-based credit monitoring product.

A look at the auto insurance score

The auto insurance score available through Credit Karma is a score based on your TransUnion credit report, not your driving record. An auto insurance score represents your likelihood of filing insurance claims, and can be considered in most states in setting your premium.

The auto insurance score you receive using the site might look radically different from your credit score. Lin notes that it emphasizes different factors than a regular credit score, such as your length of credit history and payment record. A young credit history might result in a lower score, for example.

Weigh in: Will you sign up to see your free VantageScore credit rating and auto insurance score?

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