Home Equity SimpleScore Methodology


The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

For every review, our editorial team:

  • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
  • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
  • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore

Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best home equity loans of 2020.

We want to make sure the SimpleScore is as helpful and accurate as possible because we know making any home lending decision — big or small — is tough. With that in mind, we created unique criteria for each category for a fair and honest comparison at The Simple Dollar. 

Why do some brands have different SimpleScores on different pages?

Keep in mind that most brands have multiple products and services, and they are scored differently depending on the categories we’re evaluating on a given page. The same product or service may have multiple SimpleScores depending on the categories being evaluated. For example, if we’re comparing U.S. Bank according to our criteria for mortgage origination, it scores a 4 out of 5. But when we compare the same brand based on criteria for home equity loans, it scores higher at a 4.25 out of 5. We adjusted each category’s methodology to account for differences in products in order to cover the most important factors and standards that you might consider.


We awarded higher scores to home equity lenders that offered lower rates

Aspect Score12345
APRover 15%13.01%–15%11.01%–13%9%–11%under 9%

Loan Amounts

We gave lenders with higher available loan amounts higher scores. The higher the loan amount — or even no maximum — the higher the aspect score.

Aspect Score12345
Loan AmountsUnder $100K$100K–$199K$200K–$499K$500K–750K$750K+/no max


We doled out higher aspect scores to lenders that kept the fees to a minimum — or eliminated them entirely.

Aspect Score12345
Support4+ fees3 fees2 fees1 feeNo fees

Customer Satisfaction

We used the J.D. Power Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study℠ to see how customers rated their experience with each lender. If a lender wasn’t included in J.D. Power’s study, we skipped this aspect and averaged the four remaining aspect scores.

Aspect Score12345
Customer Satisfaction1 circle2 circles3 circles4 circles5 circles

Product Variety

If a lender had more than just one product, we awarded it a higher score, because customers should have all available options for loans.

Aspect Score12345
Accessibility2 or less other products3 other products4 products5 products6+ products