Credit Karma Money Spend Account Review

Over the past few years, the free credit score site Credit Karma has expanded into other aspects of finance. This includes offering an unclaimed funds finder as well as a free tax filing platform (which they recently sold off to Block Inc now that Intuit’s purchase of Credit Karma has been completed). Additionally, Credit Karma has rolled out a free checking account in the form of Credit Karma Money Spend  — which was briefly known as Credit Karma Checking before getting a rename.

So, how does the checking account stack up against other options? Let’s take a look at what you should know about the Credit Karma Money Spend account and whether or not I think it’s a good pick.

What is Credit Karma Money Spend and How Does it Work?

Opening your account

First things first: in order to open a Credit Karma Money Spend account, you’ll need to have a Credit Karma account. However, you can easily set up your Credit Karma account and only endure a couple of extra steps in order to get started with Spend. While you’re at it, you can also open a Credit Karma Money Save account, which currently offers a solid 1.98% APY (as of August 19th, 2022 — and this rate has been rising rapidly!).

Like Credit Karma itself, Credit Karma Money Spend is free to join and use, with no minimum balance requirements or overdraft fees. Additionally, the account is FDIC insured through MVB Bank. You will need to provide some additional information when you sign-up, though. This includes confirming your name, Social Security number, and address. Once this process is completed, you’ll be able to link external accounts while you wait for your debit card.

Deposits and transfers

Once your account is created, you can then arrange to transfer funds from an existing account. This is done via Plaid, which is a secure API that allows you to log into your account. Per usual, transfers can take a few business days to clear. However, if you have a Credit Karma Money Save account as well, you can make instant transfers between the two, which is helpful.

Something that annoys me about Credit Karma Money Spend is that you can currently only link one external account at a time. Therefore, if you want to make a transfer from a different account, you’ll need to unlink your main one and add it. Then, when you want to go back, you’ll have to repeat the process. This is actually an issue that Spend shares with Credit Karma Money Save — but is also something they’re apparently looking to fix if messages on the site are to be believed. Here’s hoping that’s true as it’s a random and frustrating flaw.

Credit Karma Money Spend also allows you to set up direct deposit. To do this, you’ll want to write down the routing number and account info to provide to your employer’s payroll department. Like with a growing number of other banking services, Spend also allows you to receive your paychecks up to two days early when they’re directly deposited — however, the availability of this feature will depend on how your company does its payroll.

In terms of other deposits, at this time, Credit Karma doesn’t offer mobile check deposits. Similarly, there isn’t a way to deposit cash. Hopefully at least the former will be a feature that comes to the account sometime down the road.

Debit card

With Credit Karma Money Spend being a checking account (although one that doesn’t currently offer paper checks), you’ll also receive a free debit card when you open your account. What’s nice is that these cards are equipped with the latest technology, allowing you to pay via swipe, chip, or tap. 

It also bears a simple but fairly unique design, with the back taking on a slight minty green color and purplish mag strip. The orientation of the card is also vertical, with the number displayed in four cascading sections at the top followed by the expiration date and security code. This means that your name is printed in rather small letters near the bottom of the card — or left side if you’re holding it in the traditional way. While it’s not my favorite debit card design, it’s also nowhere near the bottom of the list either.

The debit card is a Visa, so it will be accepted at most places that take cards. Plus, according to Credit Karma’s FAQ, the card can also be used overseas (although a 1.0% foreign transaction fee charged by Visa may apply). Also, be aware that the card does have a $5,000 per day spending limit.

ATM access

At the time that I’m writing this, visiting my Credit Karma Money Spend account settings shows a section under Transaction Limits that says “We’re working to provide surcharge-free ATM usage with a surcharge-free network. Once this launches, you’ll see a map to locate thousands of free, in-network ATMs.” 

Despite this, the Spend account is actually part of the Allpoint network, which provides more than 55,000+ fee-free ATMs. In fact, you can locate such ATMs by visiting the “Find an ATM” tab in the app. I’d suspect that this conflicting information is a symptom of the account still being in beta. Regardless, as I can say from experience, the Allpoint network is pretty vast, so you should be okay finding a fee-free machine in your area.

Instant Karma

As John Lennon once sang, “Instant karma’s gonna get you.” Well, now that motto shines on in a new way with Credit Karma Money Spend. When you use your debit card, there’s a chance (emphasis on chance) that you might get your purchase comped thanks to Instant Karma. Any transaction is apparently eligible for this perk, with the reimbursement minimum benefit coming in at $1 and the cap sitting at $5,000. Incidentally, this is somewhat similar to the main gimmick of Bella Loves Me, which was a neobank app that has sadly ceased operation. 

Although I made a few purchases with my card, I’ve sadly been unable to trigger an Instant Karma payment just yet. Originally, looking at the list of winners made it seem that these rewards were few and far between. However, as Credit Karma Money Spend has expanded, you can see that there are now several winners per day and even per hour. 

Also important to note is that, looking at the fine print, it doesn’t look like residents of Florida or New York are eligible for Instant Karma — at least that’s my interpretation of the terms. So, while this is a fun element that could pay off if you won, I wouldn’t count on it being a main benefit of the account.

Cashback offers

One of the newer features to come to Credit Karma Money Spend is cashback offers. Powered by Dosh, these online and in-store deals allow customers to earn cashback at select retailers. What’s nice is that, instead of having to use a specific link, enter a code, or even activate an offer, you’ll just need to pay using your Credit Karma Cash Spend debit card. 

Looking on the platform, I currently see a deal for $40 off a Sam’s Club membership, 6% back at H&M, 5% back at some local restaurants in my area, and more. Seeing as this feature was only added a couple of months ago, I haven’t had a chance to try it for myself just yet. However, if you are shopping at any of these participating locations, this could very well be a win for you.

Final Thoughts on Credit Karma Money Spend

Following the debut of Credit Karma Savings — which became Credit Karma Money Save —  it only made sense that the company would create a checking counterpart. That’s exactly what Credit Karma Money Spend is… for better or worse. Like Save, Spend is a very basic account that lacks some key features, such as mobile check deposit or even the ability to link more than one account at a time. In fact, perhaps the biggest perk of the account is simply the ability to quickly transfer funds out of your Save account and access them via ATM or your debit card. Then again, these features are likely ones that most users aren’t too concerned about as I’m probably the only one with dozens of accounts and who’s cashing paper checks (I’m really putting the “older” in “older Millennial”). 

As for other benefits, I do like the idea (and fitting name) of Instant Karma — especially in the absence of Bella Loves Me —  but it’s hard to say how much value most customers would see from this overall. Of course, it’s also difficult to guess what percentage of transactions are being rewarded, even though the list does make it seem fairly frequent these days. Meanwhile, if you’re a resident of Florida or New York, your exclusion from this program sadly makes this point moot.

At the end of the day, there’s really not much I find objectionable with Credit Karma Money Spend — even if it is, to hammer home the same word, “basic.” On the plus side, the addition of cashback offers gives users another rewarding way to use their debit cards. Plus, with Credit Karma Money Save now offering nearly 2% APY, that account is far more worthwhile than it was even a few months ago. In turn, using that account in tandem with Spend becomes a more attractive option as well. So, whether you’re a Credit Karma fan already or have yet to sign up, I do think that opening a Spend account and using it as a secondary account for cashback and Instant Karma makes sense while you allow your money in Save to grow.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:
Does Credit Karma have a checking account?
A:

Credit Karma has recently launched a checking account called Credit Karma Money Spend.

Q:
Is Credit Karma Money Spend legit?
A:

Yes, funds deposited into your Credit Karma Money Spend account are held with MVB Bank and are FDIC insured.

Q:
Is Credit Karma Money Spend FDIC insured?
A:

Yes. Deposits to Credit Karma Money Spend are held with MVB Bank, Inc., Member FDIC.

Q:
What bank does Credit Karma Money use?
A:

Credit Karma currently partners with MVB Bank for both it’s Credit Karma Spend and Credit Karma Save account products.

Author

Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and has recently starting publsihing his own personal finance blog at https://moneyat30.com/

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I used to like Credit Karma the fact that it is free, but as time passed I think there are new and other apps that works better.

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