First Union: Easiest in Online Loan Applications

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First Union National Bank offers the easiest way to apply for a home equity loan online, according to a recent study conducted by WebCriteria Inc., Portland, OR, a company that analyzes customer Web site experiences.

Eight bank sites were ranked according to time and effort required to apply for a home equity loan under WebCriteria's Task Analysis service. The less time and effort required for a task, the higher the rating.

First Union National Bank ranked first and earned a four-star rating, with a total task time of four minutes to apply for a loan. Bank One Corp. took eight minutes to apply and ranked last. Results of the test can be viewed at

Searching for the best home equity loan rates has become one of the most frequent task objectives at online banking sites, according to Alistair Williamson, CEO of WebCriteria. Williamson said reliable online bank services attract and retain customers.

"In addition to the obvious opportunity to attract new customers, banks can save a significant amount of money by conducting these business transactions online," Williamson said. "To retain satisfied customers, banks must have customer-centric sites that make it easy to complete financial transactions."

WebCriteria clients include Chase Manhattan, US Bank, Marriott, IBM, Verizon and Honda.

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