First Republic Bank’s roots were planted in 1985 by founders Roger Walther and James Herbert. By 1991, the bank had become FDIC insured, were listed in NASDAQ with an IPO of $23 million and had 100 employees. In 1991 they launched their internet banking services and the next several years experienced great expansion. By 2000, they established First Republic Securities Company, had 423 employees and deposits totaling over $2 billion. The following decade consisted of mergers and acquisitions and more growth. The company moved into the wealth management sector, which today they offer along with personal banking and lending services with over 2000 employees and 60 offices nationwide. Its locations span from San Francisco, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Newport Beach, San Diego, Portland, Palm Beach, Boston, Greenwich, and New York City.
- Liquid CD
- Unlimited ATM
- Fraud and identity theft protection
Liquid Certificate of Deposit
First Republic Bank has four unique selling points. The first is their Liquid Certificate of Deposit (or Liquid CD).
Compared to a traditional CD that charges penalties for early withdrawals, the Liquid CD allows customers to access their money every seven calendar days free of charge while earning interest higher than an interest-bearing checking account.
- Guaranteed interest rate for a fixed length of time.
- Penalty-free withdrawals allowed every seven calendar days.
- Various terms offered.
- Automatically renews at end of term.
- FDIC-insured to the legal maximum.
- Requires a minimum opening balance of $10,000 ($1,000,000 maximum).
- Requires a minimum daily balance of $10,000 to earn interest.
- Cannot be opened in connection with an IRA.
There is, however, a penalty for closing the Liquid CD before maturity and a penalty for making more than one withdrawal in a seven calendar day week.
The second stand-out feature at First Republic Bank is their unlimited ATM use
for checking customers.
First Republic offers customers an ATM Card and ATM/Debit Card that allows them to access funds worldwide.
ATM Card customers can:
- Access cash at ATMs around the world 24/7-free with ATM Rebate Checking accounts.
- Use their ATM Card to make purchases at any merchants that accept PINs (Personal Identification Numbers).
- Use their ATM/Debit Card anywhere that accepts Visa.
- Protection plan available for items purchased using the ATM/Debit Card.
- Receive transactions listed on monthly account statement, showing date, location and amount.
When customers sign up for First Republic's ATM Rebate Checking account, they get free use of more than 800,000 ATMs worldwide, unlimited ATM access, and even interest on balances above $3,500.
- ATM withdrawal fees refunded from other banks worldwide
- Free ATM withdrawals to available limits.
- Interest on balances of $3,500 or more.
- Free online banking, free bill pay
- Complimentary first order of checks
- Overdraft protection available for no charge via linked savings account or Overdraft Line of Credit.
- Minimum opening balance of $500
- Minimum average balance of $3,500 to avoid $25 monthly fee.
- FDIC-insured to legal maximum.
Fraud Identity Theft Protection
The third feature worth mentioning is First Republic's Fraud and Identity Theft Protection
The bank offers its customers free fraud protection software called Trusteer Rapport.
Trusteer Rapport is an online banking protection software that provides an extra layer of security for customers using First Republic's website, defending customer's confidential information against identity theft and fraud.
It does this by:
- Working alongside customers' existing anti-virus software and firewall
- Enhances the security of user's browser and verifies that the connection to First Republic's website is direct and encrypted
- Prevents malware and fraudulent websites from stealing customer's username, password and other sensitive information
- Stops cyber criminals from tampering with customer's transactions while banking online
- Blocks malicious attacks that user's anti-virus software cannot detect or fix
- Warns customers if they accidentally visit a fraudulent website pretending to be First Republic Bank
The benefits are good and the software is user-friendly and easy to download. What makes it better is that:
- Free for First Republic clients with no registration or commitment
- Takes less than a minute to download and is easy to use
- Updates automatically and requires little to no maintenance.
Not only is the software free to download with no maintenance fees, customers also get a $25 bonus as a thank you for downloading. This bonus is easy to claim, customers only have to:
- Sign into their account after downloading Trusteer Rapport
- Send First Republic a secure email from the Contact Us page letting them know which First Republic account they'd like them to credit
- Or customers can call the Online Banking Support team to claim their money.
First Republic's final selling point is its home equity line of credit (HELOC). With this HELOC, First Republic offers its customers the chance to be prepared to finance important endeavors when the time arrives-anything from new investments, home renovation to financing a child's college tuition.
This HELOC has several favorable features, the stand-out feature being possible tax-deductibility.
Other First Republic HELOC details:
- Loan decisions based on individual qualifications.
- No annual review necessary.
- May be tax-deductible (consult with tax attorney for specifics)
- No prepayment penalty.
- No additional bank closing costs (if closed simultaneously with First Republic first mortgage. Primary residence required as collateral).
- Variable Rate based on Prime Rate as published in the Wall Street Journal plus a margin, based on loan amounts and credit qualifications.
- Minimum credit line of $50,000.
- Long list of fees
- Extra costs
Long List of Fees
Customers need to be aware of First Republic's long list of additional fees (which should be easier to access on the website instead of an external link to a pdf pamphlet). These fees are:
- Account Research or $50 per hour Reconciliation
- ACH Preauthorized Transfer $25 per setup/change
- ATM Card Replacement $5 per card (no charge for first replacement)
- Cashier's Check $10 each
- Certificate of Deposit Account Loan $50 setup
- Check Copies $5 each (2 free per account statement)
- Check Printing Charges Varies by style selected Collection Item (Includes Foreign) At cost + $15 each Courier Service At cost + $25 per month International Drafts $25 each + shipping charges
- Legal Process $75 minimum per order including:
- Includes subpoenas
- restraining orders
- writs of attachment or execution
- search warrants
- similar orders relating to your account deemed to be valid.
- Nonconforming Check 25 cents each
- Overdraft and Insufficient Funds:
- Overdraft item paid $30 per item, max $120 per day
- Insufficient funds (NSF) item returned $30 per item, max $120 per day Item paid or returned against uncollected funds (UCF) $30 per item, max $120 per day
- Overdraft Protection by transfer from linked account $3 per transfer
- Returned Deposit Item $10 each Statement
- Copies $10 per statement
- Stop Payment Via:
- Automated Banking Service $8 each
- Banking Online $8 each
- Phone or at an Office $30 each
- Incoming Wire Transfer $0
- Outgoing Wire Transfer Domestic $30 per wire
The Bottom Line
Unlike many bonuses or cash offers and rewards that need rebates or other hoops to jump through, First Republic makes their cash bonus easy to verify and claim. With the long list of additional fees, customers should tread lightly and keep on top of their account transactions to avoid incurring fees. They should also be in communication with First Republic prior to opening an account to ask about the fees, when they occur and how to best avoid them if possible. Depending on the customer's personal circumstances, the fee list may not be an issue while for others, they may need certain transactions that will cost them heavily. For example, if someone is a business owner, the additional list of legal fees may be a factor. Fortunately with the bank's solid fraud protection, keeping track of fraud and identity theft will be easier and more automated.