PORTLAND, Ore. - First Union National Bank scored the highest in a WebCriteria Inc. survey of ease of use among home equity loan Web sites that was published Tuesday.

The Charlotte, N.C., banking company earned four of five possible stars by offering home equity loan applications that require just more than four minutes to complete. FleetBoston Financial Corp. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. also earned four stars, with application completion times just seconds longer than First Union's. Bank One Corp., whose applications took more than eight minutes to fill out, was ranked last among eight banks surveyed.

WebCriteria is a Web site consultant and publishes benchmarks for Web sites in various industries. The company said that tasks users perceive as taking too much time and effort are frequently abandoned in favor of sites that are easier to use. WebCriteria's clients include J.P. Morgan Chase, U.S. Bancorp, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and International Business Machines Corp.

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