March 28th, 2012

Credit Q&A with Justine, Credit Advisor

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We asked our Facebook community to share their biggest credit questions. Justine, Credit Karma’s resident Credit Advisor, chose three questions to answer today.



“Why does your credit score get penalized for keeping your balances at zero and not having any charges or bills for a period of time?” (Jeff S.)

Your credit score won’t penalize you for keeping your balances at zero, as long as you show active monthly credit use. Regular credit use, either credit card usage or paying down loans, is what effectively builds your credit score. Without any credit activity, your credit score can’t benefit from responsible credit habits like a keeping a low credit utilization rate or on-time payments. Continue making small credit charges and paying your balance in full (an awesome habit to keep up!), and it’ll go a long way to build credit.

“How close to my real credit score is Credit Karma’s score?” (Jessica H.)

There is no single, “true” credit score. While the FICO and VantageScore are considered popular models, there are dozens of credit score models that lenders use to assess your credit, depending on the lender and what type of credit you are borrowing. Credit scores typically vary by a few points, but will place you in a similar risk range, such as good credit, fair credit or bad credit. Monitoring one score, like’s, gives you a picture of your overall credit health. You can read more about’s free scores here.

“How do medical collections affect your credit?” (Raymond A.)

Medical collections affect your credit the same way any debt collection affects your credit: the account in collections will significantly lower your credit score and remain on your credit report for at least seven years, even after you pay the bill. Get in touch with the collection agency pursuing you for your medical debt and offer to pay the bill promptly if the agency promises not to report the collection to the three major credit bureaus. If you can, get this agreement in writing. It’s worth a shot to try and negotiate. Good luck!


Have a question for Justine? Leave your question in the comments or share it on Facebook or Twitter!

Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Credit Karma does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For complete details of any products mentioned, visit bank or issuer website.


  1. How do I contact Credit Karma for help finding something? I am trying to find my “Credit Karma Notifications list” and it doesn’t seem to be an available option within my account choices. My search is not addresses on any of the FAQ lists.

    I would appreciate your help. This is the only way I could find to contact someone in relation to this site. Thanks!

    sophiajoy at 10:59 am on March 28, 2012
  2. It’s tricky to find your Credit Karma Notifications list (that’s something we’re working on). Find it at the bottom of your Score Center: Whenever you have a question, feel free to ask it here (I’m always on the lookout) or on our Facebook or Twitter. For questions specifically pertaining to your account, email us at

    bethy at 12:45 pm on March 28, 2012
  3. When I signed up with FREE Credit, I was under the assumption that I would get all three credit reports but instead I got the one from Transunion.

    First, I would really like to know to whom I owe $90. When I left California, I owed no one to my knowledge. I would appreciate you letting my know with a phone # to call and discuss who thy are and why I owe them $90.

    Secondly, I requested my free annual credit report from Equifax and they say my credit score is $542. This could not possibly be right. I also asked for a report from Experion. In other words, I would like to get a credit report from them and find out why my credit score is so low with them and I want to get in touch with them so they can clear this up. I have not used credit in 10+ years and I’ve heard from no one.I need complete credit information from all 3 bureaus. I look forward to your help. Also, why do I logging in with the same redundant information? You have all my info from my last log-ins. Thank you for all your help. Deidrea M. Brown (13 April 2012)

    Deidrea at 10:02 pm on April 12, 2012
  4. Hi, Deidrea. We assure you that Credit Karma is completely free. The $90 charge couldn’t have come from us, because we never ask for any credit card information when you register. I’m happy to clear up the bit about the three credit reports, too. As explain in our FAQs, we provide three free credit scores, your TransRisk score, VantageScore and Auto Insurance score. We also provide free insight into your credit report, though not your full credit report. You can receive a copy of your free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus at If you have any additional questions or issues with your account, please don’t hesitate to contact us at

    bethy at 11:15 am on April 13, 2012
  5. How do I find out who all I owe money to?

    Rachel at 5:00 am on May 3, 2012
  6. Hi, Rachel! We suggest getting a copy of your full credit report from You can get a free copy from each of the three credit bureaus once a year.

    bethy at 10:29 am on May 3, 2012
  7. Why is my Karma credit score much higher than my credit score with the other credit bureaus. Experian, etc.

    Ilda Johnston at 6:52 am on August 8, 2012
  8. Because you have more than one credit score. They can vary by credit bureau, industry, information needed, etc. Here’s an article that helps explain these differences:

    bethy at 11:02 am on August 8, 2012
  9. My credit card utilization is reported as 0% which gives me a C rating. I had not been using my credit cards, however the last few months I have been using my credit cards, when does the credit card utilization get updated. It is still reported as 0%.

    RAY C at 8:01 am on March 21, 2013
  10. Jenna

    Hey Ray, credit card companies report to the bureaus once a month, so you should see updates within 30 days.

    Jenna at 10:11 am on March 21, 2013
  11. How long can a time share stay on your credit report?

    Patricia at 7:45 am on July 15, 2014
  12. Mike

    Hi Patricia – Thanks for your question. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for here, I’d recommend checking out our advice section:

    Thanks again!

    Mike at 8:50 am on July 15, 2014
  13. I refinanced my home, but yet both mortgage companies are still showing up on my credit report. Is this affecting my credit score? If so how do I get the old one off.

    chad osborn at 6:22 am on July 22, 2014
  14. Mike

    Hi Chad – Good question. We actually just published an article on refinancing loans, so I’d recommend checking that out as a first step. You can find it here:

    If you have further questions, you can also file a ticket with our member support team. You can do that here:


    Mike at 9:17 am on July 22, 2014

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