Any calculator, from the most basic to the most advanced, will enable you to quickly and accurately perform basic arithmetic and, if you know what you’re doing, solve advanced problems. But it’s important to choose a calculator that best suits the kinds of problems you want to solve. If you’re in business and finance, a financial calculator can be a worthwhile investment.
Financial calculators look a lot like scientific calculators; they feature a number pad, a (typically) one-line display, and a variety of function buttons. The difference is that the functions are purpose-built for solving financial problems, whether that’s calculating interest, loan payments, pensions or a wide variety of other time-value-of-money calculations you might need to make. Some financial calculators are more intuitive to use, while others allow you to perform a wider array of functions but may have a greater learning curve.
Besides functionality, there are other factors to consider. For example, are the buttons easy to press, and do they have a good tactile sense? Other external features like solar-powered batteries and included cover cases make can impact your decision. These are the financial calculators to get, including options from TI, HP and Casio.
1. HP 12CP Financial Calculator
HP’s 12CP comes packed with features and has large buttons, and can quickly run any of the 120 built-in functions. The buttons are clearly labeled and intuitively organized. The numbers on the one-line display are given with comma breaks, making it easier to quickly tell the number you’re working with without having to count zeroes. It can be used for either RPN or algebraic calculations.
Pros: Affordable and feature-rich. Compact size and includes a cover, making it good on the go. Comma breaks for easier reading.
Cons: Can have something of a learning curve to familiarize yourself with the features.
2. Texas Instruments BA II Plus Professional Financial Calculator
Texas Instruments remains the standard-bearer in the world of calculators, but with so many offerings, it can be hard to know which to get. The BAII Plus is a great option for students and professionals, and it’s suitable for use on the CFA exam. It can be used for a variety of time-value-of-money calculations. The buttons are clearly labeled and organized in a not too busy way, making it easy to find the functions you want to perform.
Pros: Sleek and intuitive design. Exam-approved. Comma breaks for easier reading.
Cons: Screen is somewhat delicate.
3. Casio FC-200V Financial Calculator with 4-Line Display
If Casio can make a wristwatch with a calculator, then you know their financial calculators will be feature-rich for their size. This calculator is compact, but it boasts a solar panel, directional arrows and a four-line screen. In addition to the built-in functions, this calculator makes it easy to repeat functions you often have to do, thanks to the two shortcut buttons. A slide-on case is also included for taking on the go.
Pros: Designed for time-value-of-money, cash flow analysis, and other financial functions. Shortcut buttons and four-line display for greater convenience.
Cons: Doesn’t have commas in basic computational mode.