Until recently, the only way to access your credit history online was to pay for it from one of the three credit reference agencies – Experian, Equifax or CallCredit.
These days however, you can keep an eye on your credit file for free by creating an account with Noddle or ClearScore.
This is a big bonus for all of us, as it means checking your credit history doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. But how do you decide which to use? We put ClearScore and Noddle to the test to help you decide.
Layout and navigation
For starters, while the layouts for both services are simple and straightforward, ClearScore is quite a bit flashier than Noddle.
If you’re just after the bare bones, Noddle definitely provides this, but ClearScore’s website is much more visually stimulating and navigation is smooth and slick.
On the other hand, ClearScore offers many different tabs and an almost mind-boggling amount of information that can get confusing – especially on your first visit. Noddle’s tabs are simpler and more straightforward, allowing you to access what you need without much thought.
In this category, ClearScore has a distinct advantage, as it has an app available for both Apple and Android smartphones – which makes accessing your credit history on the go even easier. The app offers everything that is available on the browser version, so it’s a big bonus if you mainly use your smartphone for browsing.
Noddle doesn’t have its own app, but this might not be important to you if you don’t have a smartphone or if you use a laptop or PC regularly instead.
We think Noddle’s desktop layout is easier to understand, with useful features such as allowing you to dispute personal information with the press of a button. ClearScore, on the other hand, makes it a bit more difficult to dispute any of the information that shows up as there is no direct tab to do this.
Although the credit “score” you’re given is not what individual lenders see when they do a credit search on you, and it doesn’t play a part in whether you’re accepted for credit, it can be useful to see how each agency ranks you. And if you notice it going up or down, it will give you an idea of whether there are any issues you should be aware of.
With Noddle, your credit “score” is marked out of 710, with a scale ranging from ‘very poor’ to ‘poor’, ‘fair’, ‘good’ and ‘excellent’. Alongside this, you’re given a score out of five for your credit “rating”. It’s unclear why there are two scores given, and we think judging your credit “rating” out of five is too limited a scale to be useful.
ClearScore on the other hand has one score out of 700, letting you know whether your account is higher or lower than average and if your finances are stable. It offers you both a UK average and the average score for people in your area, although the latter doesn’t have many practical uses and isn’t necessarily something you should pay much attention to.
Both Noddle and ClearScore allow you to view your balances on each credit account you have open, as well as what your current account balance is and your overdraft if you have one. If you have a mobile phone contract, you should be able to see your balance here too.
On both services, you can look at a detailed breakdown of your various balances and see how much you paid off each credit account on a month-by-month basis. Although Noddle is more simplistic in its layout, this feature is cluttered and quite confusing, while the ClearScore version of it is a lot easier to decipher.
ClearScore is in the process of introducing a timeline which lets you keep an eye on changes to your balance, lines of credit, payments and any cash advances over a period of time. In addition to this, it’s also introducing a Goals feature, which helps you to aim for certain financial milestones such as getting out of debt or saving money on borrowing.
Although both services give you an insight into your credit history for free, we think ClearScore offers you the most from the two. Although Noddle provides you with a free overview of your credit history, you have to pay £30 for the year to get a detailed idea of what’s affecting the score it gives you – where ClearScore offers you practical positive and negative points regarding your credit history that identify where you’re doing well and where you could improve for free.
While the essential information is all there on Noddle, it lacks the crisp and clear layout that ClearScore boasts and doesn’t offer a complete service free of charge.
Another bonus of ClearScore is the app, which allows you to keep an eye on your credit history while you’re on the go.
Consider using both
While we think ClearScore is more user-friendly and easier to navigate, you could consider opening an account with both services.
As they’re each owned by a different credit reference agency – ClearScore is owned by Equifax and Noddle by CallCredit – each judge you on different criteria and sometimes mistakes or outdated information can appear on one but not the other. So it always pays to have an account open with both so you’re fully aware of any issues that need addressing.
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Intelligent Lending Ltd (Credit Broker). Capital One is the exclusive lender.