Opinion

Felix Salmon

The car-loan interest rate lottery

By Felix Salmon
November 5, 2010

Remember Anacott Financial, the scam credit card website which would spit out a completely random number when you asked it for your credit score? It seems that Capital One has taken a leaf out of their book when it comes to offering car-loan rates. Go ahead and visit this page using various different browsers: I got rates as low as 2.3% in Firefox, 2.7% in Safari, and 3.1% in Safari for iPad. J-Walk has found minimum rates as high as 3.5% using Explorer, which corresponds with what Devin found — he was the guy originally shopping for a car loan, who wrote up his experiences at the Capital One website and sent them in to Consumerist.

It seems there are four possible permutations here — 2.3%, 2.7%, 3.1%, and 3.5% — which get served up randomly when you visit that page. I’m all in favor of A/B tests, but this is meant to be serving up a simple statement of fact, and when the public discovers these things it hardly increases our level of trust in financial institutions. Someone at Capital One clearly put quite a lot of effort into this ostensibly-simple web page; I’d love to be a fly on the wall when that person gets asked questions by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Comments
4 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Here in England, I’m getting the opposite.

Chrome gives me:

New Vehicle 3.50% 3.87% 4.97%
Used Vehicle (Dealer) 5.09% 5.39% 6.71%
Refinancing 4.84% 4.84% 4.84%

While IE gives me:

New Vehicle 2.70% 3.07% 3.87%
Used Vehicle (Dealer) 4.09% 4.39% 5.51%
Refinancing 3.94% 3.94% 3.94%

Randomised or clever marketing gimmmick?

Posted by foodist | Report as abusive
 

In the comments on the consumerist two people claim that which browser one uses is a variable in calculating your interest rate.

From the comments:
“If you model the risk and revenue of applicants, the type of browser shows up as a significant variable. Browsers do predict an account’s performance to some degree, and it will affect the rates you will view. It isn’t a marketing test.”

Posted by levinsontodd | Report as abusive
 

I find 0.3% to 0.6% lower values if I use Konqueror rather than Firefox.

Posted by c65hsk | Report as abusive
 

Perhaps if you use NSCA Mosaic, you can get a negative interest rate. For what it is worth, I used Lynx, a text-only browser, and got an offer for 3.1%. It is not clear how that would figure into a risk-based model at all.

Posted by j7uy5 | Report as abusive
 

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