Online Mortgage Calculators - Not All Made Equal

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U.S. Banks Could Borrow Ideas from Innovative European Banks

This type of calculator is often classified as a Rich Internet Application and in my opinion this is where the mortgage industry should be heading to provide a superior online customer experience.

Today, Backbase, The Ajax Company, released an evaluation of mortgage calculators provided by many of the leading U.S. banks and rated them based on several criteria ranging from ease of use to effectiveness to completeness. Results from U.S. banks were very unequal but the study highlighted the lead of some innovative European banks.

Nowadays more and more mortgage shoppers look for information online, so traditional mortgage lenders need to provide user friendly and effective tools for a better online customer experience. Therefore the online mortgage calculators of six large traditional lenders were compared: Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, Countrywide, Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo. For an international comparison, the Moneyou calculator from ABN AMRO was used.

The criteria used to evaluate the different mortgage calculators were as follows:

  • Is the calculator easy to find?
  • Does it provide initial results quickly?
  • Mortgage specific terms can be confusing so, how is help provided?
  • Is Context help available?
  • Can we ask questions easily? Was online chat or a toll free number available?
  • Can you do what-if scenarios or get instant updates?
  • Does it offer real mortgages examples?
  • Can you save your scenario and apply directly for a mortgage?

In an "A" through "F" rating, the study found that the U.S. banks evaluated in this exercise were ranging from a grade of B for Countrywide, to C for Washington Mutual and Citibank, D for Chase and Bank of America, and F for Wells Fargo.

Read the details of the findings at:

The evaluation concluded that traditional U.S. mortgage lenders would be well advised to look closely at tools developed by innovative European financial services. They can leverage some common sense guidelines such as: promoting the calculators on the front page, providing good support via content-sensitive help and live chat, and displaying the phone number prominently. Mortgage calculators should also facilitate what-if scenarios by including the input form on the results page.

"Moneyou, for instance, has taken it one step further, by using real-time updates and graphs," said Jep Castelein, Backbase Senior Product Marketing Manager. "This type of calculator is often classified as a Rich Internet Application and in my opinion this is where the mortgage industry should be heading to provide a superior online customer experience."

A free Backbase Webinar, covering Successful Customer Engagement solutions for financial services, is scheduled on Thursday July 31st at 8AM Pacific Time. To learn more or register, go to:

About Backbase:
Backbase, Inc., The Ajax CompanyTM, is the leading provider of enterprise software for creating Ajax-based Rich Internet Applications (RIAs). Medium to large enterprises and independent software vendors use Backbase to enhance the usability of their Web applications, migrate fat client applications to the Web, deliver next-generation online self-service applications, and create enterprise mashups. Founded in 2003, Backbase is headquartered in San Mateo, California, USA. Additional information is available at

Michel Gerin
Backbase, Inc.
michel @


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