About six months ago I began seeing comments on posts about student loan refinancing mentioning a mysterious bank that was offering ridiculously low rates. As you all know, every time I find a company doing awesome things for doctors and other high income professionals, I try to bring them on as a site sponsor. It’s a win-win-win. The company makes money, I make money, and readers get an awesome service in exchange for their money. In the case of student loan refinancing, that often mean saving literally tens of thousands of dollars in interest. This “mysterious bank” is doing something so awesome that it is worth dedicating an entire post to what they’re doing. But lest there be any doubt about my ulterior motives (with this post and this for-profit site), if you refinance your student loans with this bank through the process described in this post, I make money.

Awesome Rates

The bank is First Republic Bank and the reason they’re awesome is that they’re offering incredibly low rates compared to everyone else in the space. All the rates are fixed, but they’re basically at the same rates that other banks offer variable loans to their very best customers. Take a look at their current rate chart (as of February 2019):

  • 5 Year Fixed: 1.95%-2.70% APR
  • 7 Year Fixed: 2.55%-3.30% APR
  • 10 Year Fixed: 3.20%-3.95% APR
  • 15 Year Fixed: 3.70%-4.45% APR

[Rates effective as of August 1, 2019. Borrower must open a First Republic ATM Rebate Checking account (“Account”). Terms and conditions apply to the Account. If the Account is closed, the rate will increase by 5.00%. Rates shown include relationship-based pricing adjustments of: (1) 2.00% for maintaining automatic payments and direct deposit with the Account; (2) 0.50% for depositing and maintaining a deposit balance equal to the greater of 10% of the approved loan amount or $5,000 into the Account; and (3) an additional 0.25% for depositing and maintaining a deposit balance equal to the greater of 20% of the approved loan amount or $10,000 into the Account.]

If you follow this stuff closely, you know why I’m so excited about this. If you don’t, let me spell it out in detail:

# 1 The rates are super low. For example, the best 5 year fixed rate with CommonBond, CredibleSoFi, and DRB right now is 3.5%. The best 5 year variable rate with SoFi, DRB, Credible, and CommonBond is 2.13%. First Republic is offering a fixed rate that is 1.55% lower than anyone else. In fact, it’s 0.18% lower than anyone else’s VARIABLE rate.

# 2 You get access to the lowest available rates based on the relationship you have with the bank. Basically, the more deposits you keep in your account with them, the lower your rate will be when you refinance your student loans.

  • You get a 0.50% rate discount for maintaining 10% of your loan balance, or $5,000, whichever is greater, in your checking account.
  • You get a 0.75% rate discount for maintaining 20% of your loan balance, or $10,000, whichever is greater, in your checking account.

Excited yet? I am. This means even if you have already refinanced, it probably makes sense to do it again with First Republic.

What’s the Catch?

If you’ve been reading WCI for a while, you know there’s going to be a catch. In fact, there are a few catches. But many of you, perhaps as many as 1/3 of you, are still going to be interested. Here’s the main catch: You have to live in some very specific geographic areas. Here they are:

  • California, specifically San Francisco, Palo Alto, Newport Beach, Palm Desert, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Barbara
  • New York, NY
  • Boston, MA
  • Portland, OR
  • Palm Beach, FL
  • Greenwich, CT
  • Jackson, WY

That’s it. If you don’t live in any of those areas, they’re not interested in refinancing your loans. That’s because what they are really interested in isn’t refinancing your loans, but starting a life-long private banking relationship with you. So if you don’t live where they have bank branches, they’d just as soon have you refinance with someone else. I knew some of you would be curious, so I asked what it really meant to live there. Here was the answer:

We don’t ask for proof of where they live, however they will need to show us paystubs, bank statements and a driver’s license; and if the address they gave us doesn’t match those documents, it would be a red flag.

Sorry if I just broke your heart. But finally, finally, there is something good for doctors practicing in California, Manhattan, and Boston- some of the highest tax and cost of living areas in the country.

Minor Issues

There are a few other relatively minor catches. I’ll list them here:

You Must Qualify

Like with anybody besides the federal government, you have to qualify financially. [Update 3/21/16- You’ll need to contact them to see if you qualify.]

No Resident Refinancing

While they don’t specifically say residents can’t refinance, there is no program to allow you to refinance based on your future projected income nor a way for you to keep your in-training payments low (like you see with DRB and Link Capital.) Basically, they make you wait until you have the necessary income and liquidity to be able to qualify for the loan.

You Should Bank With Them

Like I mentioned earlier, the rates offered include a discount for having a banking relationship with them. It’s a really, really big discount such that you probably don’t want to refinance with them unless you’re going to bank with them. For those of you that missed it before, here are the relationship-based pricing adjustments available:

  • You get a 0.50% rate discount for maintaining 10% of your loan balance, or $5,000, whichever is greater, in your checking account.
  • You get a 0.75% rate discount for maintaining 20% of your loan balance, or $10,000, whichever is greater, in your checking account.

You also get a personalized, dedicated banker and reimbursement of your ATM fees, but there are monthly fees if you don’t keep at least $3,500 in the account.

This Isn’t a Student Loan

This loan is a personal, unsecured loan with all that entails. It’s not a student loan.  It doesn’t qualify for ICR, IBR, PAYE, RePAYE, or PSLF and probably not for any state or employer offered student loan repayment program. It doesn’t go away if you die (and will be assessed against your estate.) Of course, if you go bankrupt, it does go away, unlike student loans. There are no provisions made for unemployment, underemployment, death, or disability. So be sure you have enough life and disability insurance to cover the amount borrowed.

$300K Limit

Their general limit for this loan is $300K. I know many of you have a larger loan burden than this.There are separate loan minimums for undergraduates and graduate degree holders. The minimum loan amount for an undergraduate degree holder is $40,000, while the minimum for graduate degree holders is just $25,000.  Even if they don’t approve you for more than $300K, at least you can refinance the highest interest $300K as long as you otherwise qualify.

What Is the WCI Deal?

Want an extra $200 in your pocket (or better yet, put toward your loans?)Refinance with First Republic! Also, you would do well to remember what has happened with other student loan refinancers in the past once their services were widely publicized- they got really busy and sometimes even ran out of money requiring them to stop taking new applications or delay loan disbursement for a few weeks or even months until they could get more money to loan out. So you would do well to hurry up and apply! If you are an attending with student loans not going for PSLF, and live in one of the above mentioned areas, stop reading now and refinance with First Republic.

What if First Republic Doesn’t Work For You?

Even if First Republic can’t refinance your loans, this is still an awesome development in this space because it puts pressure on all the other refinancing companies to keep rates as low as they can while staying profitable. There are plenty of other companies who have refinanced the loans of WCI readers. Use the links below to get the special WCI deals (and to help support this site):

Company
Cash Back
Rates
Residents?
$500
Variable 2.25%-7.41%
Fixed 3.48%-7.02%
Yes
$200
Variable 1.99%-6.75%
Fixed 3.25%-6.75%
No
$300
Variable 2.31% to 7.36%
Fixed 3.46% to 7.36%
Yes
$500
Variable 1.99% - 6.89%
Fixed 3.20% - 6.99%
No
$300-750
Variable 1.9% - 8.59%
Fixed 3.49% - 7.75%
No
$350
Variable 2.39% -6.01%
Fixed 3.14% - 6.69%
No
$300
Variable 1.99%-6.65%
Fixed 3.50%—7.02%
Yes
$400-750
Variable 2.21% - 9.72%
Fixed 3.14% - 9.99%
No
$300
Fixed 1.95%-3.45%
No
$600
Variable 1.90%-4.14%
Fixed 3.10%—4.67%
No
$300-550
Variable 2.02% -6.30%
Fixed 3.21% - 6.45%
No

 

 

Do you bank at First Republic Bank? Have you refinanced your loans there? What was your experience like? Will you be applying now that you’ve read this? Comment below!