2012 Credit Karma Money Spend Account Review
Credit Karma Money Spend logo

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.

Credit Karma Money Spend
Credit Karma Money Spend: Suitable But Nothing Special
3
Monthly fee
None
ATM network
Allpoint
Cashback?
Branded offers
Credit Karma Money Spend – AKA the Credit Karma debit card – is mostly a straightforward account for the majority of users. However, those with low credit scores who are looking to improve them may find value in the Credit Builder feature. Sadly, though, the unique Instant Karma feature that made the card stand out has since been retired. And while there are cashback deals from certain brands, they can also be hit or miss.

Overall, Credit Karma Money Spend is likely best used in conjunction with the Credit Karma Money Save account. Still, there may be better and more comprehensive options out there.

Pros
  • Fee-free ATM access
  • Cashback offers for brands
  • Credit Builder option for those with score below 619
Cons
  • “Instant Karma” feature removed
  • No paper check deposit
  • Cashback offers are hit or miss

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 go through 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 3.75% APY (as of March 2023 — and this rate has been steadily rising!).

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, that motto shined on in a new way with Credit Karma Money Spend. Previously, customers who made purchases using their Money Spend debit card had a chance of seeing their transaction comped (up to $5,000 even). Furthermore, customers could see a live feed of these Instant Karma wins. 

Unfortunately, as you may have picked up on given my past tense usage, this perk is no longer offered. As of March 1st, 2023, the “contest” as Credit Karma called it has come to a close. This is a big loss for the card as it was easily the most interesting aspect of it. Hopefully Credit Karma finds something to replace it with… but my hopes aren’t too high on that front.

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”). 

Unfortunately, one bit of luster the account did have was the Instant Karma program, which is no more. Granted, it’s hard to know what percentage of transactions won or how much Credit Karma was giving away with this feature. Nevertheless, it was a fun idea that I’m sure kept users engaged with the account.

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 3.75% APY (as of March 2023), 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 makes some sense while allowing your money to grow in Save.

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.

Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. (Note: advertising relationships do not have any influence on editorial content. Advertising compensation allows Fioney to provide quality content for free. All editorial opinions are those of the individual author and/or Fioney.)

Author

Kyle Burbank

Head Writer ~ Fioney
Kyle is the head writer for Fioney. He is a personal finance nerd, constantly looking for new apps and services to test and incorporate into his own financial game plan. In addition to his role at Fioney, he's written for other publications including Born2Invest, Lifehack, and Laughing Place, as well as his own site Money@30. He also creates personal finance and travel-related videos for Fioney's YouTube channel, which has garnered more than 2 million views. Currently, Kyle resides in Springfield, Missouri with his wife of 10 years. Together, they enjoy traveling (including visiting Disney Parks around the world), dining, and playing with their dog Rigby.

Other Articles by Kyle Burbank

American Express to Acquire Tock from Squarespace

American Express is expanding its dining platform with not one but two acquisitions. About the acquisitions: Today, Amex announced that it will be acquiring the restaurant reservation service Tock from Squarespace (who purchased the company in 2021). The purchase is expected to be for $400 million in cash but is subject to closing conditions, customary adjustments, and regulatory approval. Amex also notes that, as part of the deal with Squarespace,...
Gynger financing options

Technology Financing Company Gynger Raises $20 Million

A FinTech that helps tech-buying businesses finance their purchases has closed a new round of funding. About the round: This week, Gynger announced that it had raised $20 million. The Series A was led by PayPal Ventures, while Gradient Ventures, Velvet Sea Ventures, BAG Ventures, and Deciens Capital also participated. In addition to the equity round, the company secured a debt facility of $100 million from Community Investment Management. Previously,...
carry on travel bag and a Starbucks coffee

Starbucks and Marriott Bonvoy Announce Rewards Partnership

Two popular loyalty programs are joining forces to reward travelers (and keep them caffeinated). About the partnership: Starting this week, Starbucks Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy members will be able to link their accounts and earn bonus rewards. First, those with linked accounts will earn Double Stars during stays at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties. If a regular Starbucks Double Stars Day falls during one of these stays, members can earn Triple...
The "Email" field is empty, you must enter some text to proceed.The text you entered in the "Email" field appears to be invalid, please edit it and try again
Get the Latest News Delivered to Your Inbox

A Guide to Building Credit and Increasing Your Credit Scores

When it comes to credit, there’s some good news. The average credit score in the United States has been steadily rising in recent years, coming in at 715 in 2023. That may be because, today, consumers not only have more ways to access their credit reports and scores than ever before but also because there are an increasing number of options that Americans have for building credit in the first...

2024 SoFi Checking and Savings Review

Ever since I started taking an interest in the FinTech sector, one company whose name I’ve seen pop up over and over again is SoFi. Lately it seems as though that theme has been sent into overdrive as the company has not only become a household name thanks to its stadium naming rights deal but also because of the company’s continued product expansions. The most interesting development in my mind...
Brim logo

Brim Financial Raises $85 Million as It Eyes Global Expansion

Toronto-based FinTech infrastructure startup Brim Financial has announced a new funding round. About the round: Brim has revealed an $85 million round. The Series C was led by EDC Investments while new investor Vistara Growth and returning investors White Owl Group, Epic Ventures, and Zions Bank also participated. To date, the company has now raised $110 million including a Series B in 2021. According to Brim, the latest funding will...
Chase Freedom Flex card

Chase Reveals Q2 2024 Freedom 5%(+) Bonus Categories

Chase has announced its bonus category picks for the second quarter of 2024 — including some interesting twists. About the categories: As April approaches, Chase has revealed what categories Freedom and Freedom Flex cardholders can earn bonuses on. From April 1st through June 30th, customers can earn 5% (or more) in three categories: Amazon.com, Hotels, and Restaurants. Similar to how Chase embraced a "New Year, New Me" theme last quarter,...
Rent Day

Bilt Announces Home Collection Deal for May 2024 Rent Day

For May's Rent Day, Bilt is offering a deal that will allow members to decrease their rent bill while also adding to their home decor. About the Home Collection offer: Bilt has crafted a unique Rent Day offer for May 2024. Through the 1st, when Bilt members redeem their points toward rent payments, they'll receive the same number of points to be used toward Bilt Home Collection items. To take...