Best Financial Calculators

Although Scientific, Graphing and CAS computers might be better known for their range of functions and complex operations, financial calculators are the quintessential companions for any office-goer. A particularly special feature of financial calculators is that they are robust yet compact, which is ideal when you’re on the move. If your work or studies demand more difficult calculations than the standard ones (i.e your mobile calculator) then a financial calculator capable of many computations such as profit margins and cash flow analysis might be the best fit for you. Certain occupations such as tax professionals and financial advisors may find them a worthy investment that saves you time and effort. In fact, even if you happen to have no background in a financial course, you may find them incredibly helpful in managing your personal finances and dealing with taxes etc. In fact, due to how easy they are to operate, even kids and older people can reap the benefits.

Our recommendation

We’ve compiled the following list to help you make an informed decision, in case this might be getting a bit difficult to follow. The following are ranked as the best by beginners and professionals alike and should help reduce any research time you might spend otherwise. Most are also allowed by examination boards:

What to look for?

Most financial calculators of the cheaper selection can usually suffice for general purposes. However if your occupation requires more complex operations to be calculated then higher cost calculators with a larger selection of built in functions would be better suited for you. Of course when looking into purchasing a financial calculator you must go beyond pricing and functionality and consider other factors such as: versatility and how easy to use they may be. Depending on what your job might be though, you need to prioritize specific calculations and ensure the calculator you’re getting can operate the way you want it to, for example if you work in investments then look for something that can perform discounted cash flow calculations. Similarly, a real estate investor may care more for depreciation and amortization calculations just as an MBA student might require NPV and interest rate calculations for his classes. Regardless of the reason you want to purchase a calculator, there are a few notable features you need to assess before you make a purchase in order to make the best decision for yourself.

The bottom line is that you need to pick a calculator that can solve the specific problems you need it to while also factoring in ease of us and cost. The following are a few key considerations you should look into:

the usage of the financial calculator

For this you need to have a good estimate of how much you’re going to be using this calculator, for example most people need to acquire a financial calculator to simply pass an intro to finance class, in this case a cheaper one is better suited for that purpose, anything that’s easily available and can last a few months. The calculators in this range (such as the Texas Instruments BaII Plus) are easy to find and handle most things you might need them to, the only downside being that they usually miss some of the more advanced functions. But if you’re a finance professional or an undergrad in the major then an advanced-and ultimately more expensive- model would be best. Better models not only have more advanced features but they also generally last a longer time and prove to be a good investment in the long run. It almost entirely depends upon the usage of the financial calculator by you in the future.

financial certification exams

A very common mistake that a lot of finance students make is that they buy higher end calculators for their papers which are then confiscated once they enter the exam premises. Certain certification exams such as CPA don’t allow calculators capable of storing texts, most boards usually have online documents explaining which models and types are allowed though. So a good idea would be to go through their official website and read the calculator policy to see which ones are allowed or not. Many certification programs have a policy that prohibits the use of any calculator that can store text to ensure that candidates do not use the calculator to bring notes into the exam environment. For the major finance boards, these are the policies for now.

CFA Institute (for CFA and CIPM designations) 

 Only HP 12C or the BAII Plus are permitted inside the exam hall, The CFA policy and the CIPM policy can be found online (identical).

CFP Board of Standards

 The paper requires a calculator that has an IRR function, but does not permit any alphabetic keys. Because of this, series such as the HP 10B, 10BII, 12C, and 17BII might be ideal for candidates appearing under this board. Also, the TI BAII, BAII Plus, BAII Plus Professional would be acceptable.
What would not be acceptable however would be the TI 83, 83 Plus, and 84 Plus

Investments & Wealth Institute (formerly IMCA) CPWA certification exam

The following calculators may be allowed for use in the exam: The HP series such as: HP 10b, HP 10bII, HP 10bII Plus, HP 12C, HP 12C Platinum, HP 17B, HP 17BII and HP 17BII. As well as: Texas instrument BA II Plus, BA II Plus Professional and BA II Plus Business Analyst, but not the TI 83/84. All versions (new and old) of these calculators are permitted for exam use, but candidates must clear their financial calculator’s memory prior to their papers. No notes (which includes manually programmed formulas) are allowed inside the area, in the case that the calculator has notes printed on it, it needs to be covered by a masking tape. Staff may choose to inspect calculators prior to testing, for a detailed list of the CPWA calculator policy, consult page 10 of the Candidate Handbook.

FINRA Exams (Series 6, Series 7, Series 63, etc)

For the FINRA examinations, you are not permitted to bring your own calculator. Instead one is provided to you by the staff upon request.

The Society of Actuaries

BA-35, BAII Plus (regular or Professional version), or a TI-30X (all versions, this is a scientific calculator) are permitted . Usage of a non-approved calculator will result in disqualification from the paper. If you choose to use a programmable calculator you must ensure that the memory has been wiped out prior to taking the exam.

CPA exam

Only 4 function calculators ( that take care of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are allowed) for any other calculations you must use tables.

graphing/scientific functionality

Certain financial calculators (specifically the higher end ones) are a full package and include graphics and/or scientific functions as well as advanced math ones, such as the TI 83 Plus or TI 83. Depending on your work or courses you might need a more adaptable calculator capable of more than just financial calculations. For finance in general most graphing functions aren’t very useful and you could just use spreadsheets instead)

Budget: Spend Wisely!

Broadly, Financial calculators tend to fall into 2 price categories:
The first more inexpensive range of $30-$40 (HP 10BII, TI BAII Plus, Sharp EL-733A) and the latter higher end range of $60-$100 (HP 12C, HP 17BII, TI BAII Plus Professional, TI 83 Plus, and TI 84 Plus). If all you require is a few extra functions, graphing and science functions then sticking to a lower cost model would be best for you. These are great and reliable enough, although they don’t have too much range or memory. If however, you are a business student then an important thing to consider is that most of your departments will require graphing calculators (you will inevitably need one for your math classes) , so you should purchase a graphing calc that can also double for your finance classes such as the TI series. Always make the decision of asking your class professors for what is allowed in the course syllabus before purchasing a calculator though.

FAQ

Most frequent questions and answers

The most basic financial calculator is a lot like a basic pocket calculator , however, a financial calculator has a few additional features to boast of that basic pocket calculators can not offer. It’s typically used by people in finance professions such as investment specialists, bankers, and accountants for their work but can also be used to perform basic math functions. It also had the added advantage of being able to compute financial function such as numbers of payments needed for a loan of the current value of a product etc.

The financial calculator allows with absolute easy (a touch of a button) all interest calculations for a payment stream of regular payments, and can allow you to approximate interest rates. Although you can argue that any calculator would allow you to do this if you input the right formulae, the financial calculator saves considerable time. Especially if you happen to be an individual whose career is built upon doing financial calculations, or even if you don’t dabble into that territory often, a good financial calculator is a worthy investment for anyone personally dealing with our own finances. While it is possible to do this with any calculator, the financial ones save you considerable time. Financial calculators come with specific functions such as Interest Rate functions and Loan Calculations, as well as PMT, PV, I, FV and N.

A scientific calculator may be able to perform all the basic functions you require for your financial calculations such as addition and subtraction etc and can compute exponentials and logs, except financial calcs come preprogrammed with multiple business algorithms and financial features in the design. Thus they serve as a much faster and efficient method of performing these calculations since they’re specifically purpose-built.

As for graphing calculators, the same rule applies except the only significant advantage of a graphing calculator for financial purposes is that you can combine complex equations by using parentheses whereas on a financial calculator you can use parentheses, but you can’t see them, making it hard to keep track mentally.

The financial calculator allows with absolute easy (a touch of a button) all interest calculations for a payment stream of regular payments, and can allow you to approximate interest rates. Although you can argue that any calculator would allow you to do this if you input the right formulae, the financial calculator saves considerable time. Especially if you happen to be an individual whose career is built upon doing financial calculations, or even if you don’t dabble into that territory often, a good financial calculator is a worthy investment for anyone personally dealing with our own finances. While it is possible to do this with any calculator, the financial ones save you considerable time. Financial calculators come with specific functions such as Interest Rate functions and Loan Calculations, as well as PMT, PV, I, FV and N.

A scientific calculator may be able to perform all the basic functions you require for your financial calculations such as addition and subtraction etc and can compute exponentials and logs, except financial calcs come preprogrammed with multiple business algorithms and financial features in the design. Thus they serve as a much faster and efficient method of performing these calculations since they’re specifically purpose-built.

As for graphing calculators, the same rule applies except the only significant advantage of a graphing calculator for financial purposes is that you can combine complex equations by using parentheses whereas on a financial calculator you can use parentheses, but you can’t see them, making it hard to keep track mentally.

Everybody regardless of occupation should own a financial calculator for efficient and easy calculations, whether this be a part of their job or a personal estimate to help them manage their own finances.
For most non-finance majors, calculations required throughout life for something such as business loans or taxes might seem to evade any attempt of comprehension. It is for this reason that purchasing a purpose built calculator and reading a basic manual on how to operate it would be in your best interests. Not only does it allow for easier estimations for present spendings, but allows you to consider amounts to save up for any future prospects you might be thinking over, aiding you in identifying possible cut backs and investments.

And important question posed by customers is what calculations they can do with a financial calculator as well as how. For this reason most calculators in the market come with easy to understand user manuals full of detailed instructions for that specific company or model type. Beyond this though, there are a few general functions that are usually universal in all financial calculators that you could learn.
The main function of a financial calculator is to calculate payments, determine interest rates and to solve for the present or future value of annuity and loans, due to this some functions are very common. A few notable keys to look for may include:
N- The number of periods.
I- The periodic interest rate
PV- The present Value
PMT- Payments
FV- Future value.
With the use of any financial calculator, you can solve for these 5 functions.

Always start off by determining which variable you would like to solve for first and consider that the present value is always the loan or annuity that you are starting off with. To solve for any variable you need to have four out of five to start with in your calculations, the value for a variable may even be zero ( in the case for PMT, PV and FV.) Always know when zero has to be used in an equation though, the PMT is zero when you owe all the money at the end of the term or invest a lump sum, similarly the FV is zero when a loan or annuity is finally paid off, and the PV is zero in the case where you are currently receiving or making payments. You always need to enter any and all known variables for any further calculations by first entering the amount and pressing the corresponding function key for the value, such as is PV is 300 then you enter 300 and then press the PV key. However this method does not work for all financial calculators across models as they tend to be characteristic and diverse in nature, so make sure you read any specific instructions in the manual.
To solve for the variable that you need, locate the compute button on your calculator. You must press this compute button followed by the function key that you are hoping to solve for, for most calculators you can even change some of the known variable amounts or ‘tweak’ them in the case that you want to change the parameters used (even after calculations)

Here’s a helpful test you can try to solve to check if you are doing it right that I found online:

N = 360 I = 6%/12 = 0.05% PV = 200,000 PMT = solve FV = 0

The payment should be 1,199.10.

This would be your payment on a $200,000 home with no down payment on a 30 year mortgage with a 6% interest rate.

 

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