Often times, when you want to make a decision about your mortgage, you want to try different mortgage interest rates and different mortgage terms to see where you land. I do that quite often. When I get a raise, I go and test what an extra bi-weekly payment of $25.00, $50.00 or $75.00 would do to my amortization. Mortgage math is not simple math you do in your head unfortunately. It’s really important to get it right and that’s why it’s recommended to use a mortgage calculator.
I wanted to see what the landscape had in terms of calculators and decided to compared them. I have outlined all the calculators I have reviewed below with screen shots. Please let me know what you think.
Mortgage Calculator Testing Criteria
In order to test the mortgage calculators, I am focusing on the following points:
- Is the bi-weekly payment accurately portrayed versus the monthly payment? What a bi-weekly payment should show is an accelerated mortgage schedule also referred to as the accelerated bi-weekly option.
- Is the overall information displayed adequate for the borrower to understand mortgage payments.
- Can the borrowed see the impact of choosing different options?
Best Mortgage Calculator
There are many reviews below and I wanted to let you know up front which one I consider the best as I often referred to its features to grade other mortgage calculators.
BMO deserves to get the Best Mortgage Calculator mention. Check out their other tools, they have done better than others in teaching and helping borrowers. Below is the review of all the calculators I have done.
Your Financial Institution Mortgage Calculators
If you already have a mortgage with a financial institution, it’s best you use their calculator. The public calculator may be different from the internal calculator as part of their tools I have found. The reason for the difference is that the public calculator is a gross approximation to what you will be choosing based on the standard mathematical formula. The private tools and calculator is based on your actual mortgage rules and is therefore accurate. All your payments and interest can be outlined.
Assumption: I have my mortgage at Scotia Bank and I know both public and private calculators are different in terms of accuracy. The public calculator is a good approximation though.
Grade B – Royal Bank Mortgage Calculator
Royal Bank Mortgage Calculator – Don’t confuse the bi-weekly option. You really want to pick the accelerated bi-weekly option, you save almost 3 years of payments. Moving on past my mortgage advice, the calculator lays out all your option to easily compare the payment, interest and principal in one place. The last column is great as it shows the savings compared with the standard monthly payments. Making 2 extra payments saves you nearly $12,000.00 in the long run.
The calculator gets a B rather than an A for a lack of comparative ability within the calculator.
Grade A – TD Bank Mortgage Calculator
TD Bank Mortgage Calculator – The TD Mortgage Calculator set the standard in terms of feature. The accelerated bi-weekly option was available and you could see that for a 25 year amortization, the length of payment is just a little over 22 years. Not only that, you can compare up to 3 scenarios. You can compare the same scenario with different payment schedule like the Royal Bank Mortgage Calculator but most borrowers will tend to compare different rates and term length.
The calculator gets an A for providing what any borrower needs for making better decisions. You can get access to an amortization schedule if you want details as well. I really like it when a graph is provided as you can visualize the size of your mortgage over time.
Grade A – Bank of Montreal Mortgage Calculator
Bank of Montreal Mortgage Calculator – The Bank of Montreal Mortgage Calculator is similar to the TD Mortgage Calculator but it has some nice tools and it allows you to export the data for you. BMO has definitely enhanced many of their tools to empower borrowers in understanding their financial situation. They even have a calculator helping borrowers find out how much of a house they can afford.
Based on all the features and easy ability to compare rates and scenarios, the BMO Mortgage Calculator gets a A.
Grade C – Scotia Bank Mortgage Calculator
Scotia Bank Mortgage Calculator – The calculator provides you with the minimum features required to understand one mortgage option. However, it fails to compare the different payment schedule and it doesn’t have any ability to compare rates in one place.
For the lack of features mentioned, I gave it a C.
Grade D – HSBC Mortgage Calculator
HSBC Mortgage Calculator – The HSBC Mortgage Calculator is really the most basic of the mortgage calculators. Minimum effort was put in the calculator and everything is geared towards making you call an HSBC agent.
It provides even less features than the Scotia Bank Mortgage Calculator and for that it gets a D.
Alternate Mortgage Calculators
It’s not just the banks that participate in the mortgage business :) As such, I have tried to review some of the popular mortgage calculators by non banks.
Grade C – RateSupermarket.ca Mortgage Calculator
Rate Supermarket Mortgage Calculator – The mortgage calculator surprised me. I was not expecting a nice graph as outlined below. It does support the accelerated bi-weekly payment schedule and it highlights the benefit in a nice graph. However, it lacks many features that the banks have been providing.
For the lack of features, it gets a C grade just like Scotia Bank. From an at-a-glance usability and information available, the graph is much better than Scotia Bank and others though. It’s a very good way to communicate the payment structure over time.
It’s worth checking out their site though as they have many other resources for mortgages.
Grade D – CMHC Mortgage Calculator
CMHC Mortgage Calculator – The CHMC Mortgage Calculator is pretty poor. It’s the same basic feature as the HSBC mortgage calculator.
It gets a D based on the lack of features necessary to evaluate an important decision. There isn’t enough information in one place and falls short compared with the other calculators.
Grade C – CanEquity Mortgage Calculator
CanEquity Mortgage Calculator – The CanEquity Mortgage Calculator puts a different spin on their presentation. Instead of graphs, they have data.
I am going with a C grade for having a lot of data all displayed in one place. There is a lot of information and it’s well presented to understand a mortgage. However, based on the features other mortgage calculator offers, that’s as high as I can go.
Readers: Do you have a favorite Mortgage Calculator? Any good one missing?