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First Foundation bank review 2023: Offers numerous deposit accounts, and competitive APY. But the requirements are steep

December 29, 2022, 3:37 PM UTC
Updated January 27, 2023, 7:03 PM UTC
Illustration of the First Foundation Bank logo surrounded by a blue and orange frame.
Numerous deposit accounts and competitive APY on savings.
Illustration by Fortune; Original logo by First Foundation Inc

Founded in 2007, First Foundation is an FDIC-insured bank that includes both an online presence and 31 branch locations across California, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, and Texas.

Its parent company is Texas-based First Foundation Inc., which also operates the wealth management company First Foundation Advisors.

First Foundation bank was initially created to serve wealth advisory clients, but has since expanded to offer consumer accounts in order to appeal to a broader base of consumers with more varied banking needs. Most notably, First Foundation offers a high-yield online savings account with an industry-leading 4.00% APY. 

All rates and fees are current as of Jan. 27, 2023, and are subject to change. 

First Foundation offerings 

In addition to savings accounts, First Foundation offers several consumer account options including a variety of checking accounts, certificates of deposit (CD), a savings account, and a money market account.

Checking and savings accounts 

Personal checking

  • APY: 0%
  • Fees:
    • Maintenance fee: $0
    • Mailed statements: $3
    • ATM fees: Reimbursed up to $20 per transaction
    • International outgoing wire transfer: $45
    • International income wire transfer: $15
    • Domestic outgoing wire transfer: $35
    • Domestic incoming wire transfer: $10
    • Cashier’s checks: $8
    • Stop payments: $35 for checks and ACH
    • Insufficient funds fee: $35
    • ATM card replacement: $5 or $75 for rush
  • Minimum opening deposit: $100

This account comes with a debit card and funds can be accessed via ATMs across the country. Additional features include e-statements, mobile deposit capabilities, and Zelle transfers.

Personal Interest Checking

  • APY: 0.05%
  • Fees:
    • Maintenance fee: $20. Fee is waived for those who maintain a minimum daily balance of $2,500 
    • Mailed statements: $3
    • ATM fees: Reimbursed up to $20 per transaction
    • International outgoing wire transfer: $45
    • International income wire transfer: $15
    • Domestic outgoing wire transfer: $35
    • Domestic incoming wire transfer: $10
    • Cashier’s checks: $8
    • Stop payments: $35 for checks and ACH
    • Insufficient funds fee: $35
    • ATM card replacement: $5 or $75 for rush
  • Minimum opening deposit: $100

Personal interest checking accounts are designed for clients with higher balances, who want to earn interest on their funds. Similar to the personal checking, these accounts come with a debit card. This account is not available to online-only customers and is only available through local branch locations.

Senior Interest Checking

  • APY: 0.05% 
  • Fees:
    • Maintenance fee: $0
    • Statements: $0
    • ATM fees: Reimbursed up to $20 per transaction
    • International outgoing wire transfer: $45
    • International income wire transfer: $15
    • Domestic outgoing wire transfer: $35
    • Domestic incoming wire transfer: $10
    • Cashier’s checks: $8
    • Stop payments: $35 for checks and ACH
    • Insufficient funds fee: $35
    • ATM card replacement: $5 or $75 for rush
  • Minimum opening deposit: $100

The senior checking account features exclusive extras available to customers who are 55 and over, such as free basic checks and no minimum balance requirements.

High-yield savings 

Online Savings

  • APY: 4.00%
  • Fees:
    • Monthly maintenance fee: $0
    • Mailed statements: $3
    • ATM fees: Reimbursed up to $20 per transaction
    • International outgoing wire transfer: $45
    • International income wire transfer: $15
    • Domestic outgoing wire transfer: $35
    • Domestic incoming wire transfer: $10
    • Cashier’s checks: $8
    • Stop payments: $35 for checks and ACH
    • Insufficient funds fee: $35
    • ATM card replacement: $5 or $75 for rush
    • Account closure fee: If the Online Savings account is closed within 90 days of opening, there’s a $20 fee. Accounts closed after 90 days do not incur a fee.
  • Minimum required opening deposit: $1,000

This account is available to clients located anywhere in the country. ATM cards for the online savings account are available upon request. First Foundation does not allow online savings accounts to be funded through existing First Foundation bank accounts. The $1,000 minimum required opening deposit must be funded with new money.

Money market accounts 

Online money market 

  • APY: 4.00%
  • Fees:
    • Monthly maintenance fee: $20. Fee is waived for those who maintain a minimum daily balance of $2,500 
    • Mailed statements: $3
    • ATM fees: Reimbursed up to $20 per transaction
    • International outgoing wire transfer: $45
    • International income wire transfer: $15
    • Domestic outgoing wire transfer: $35
    • Domestic incoming wire transfer: $10
    • Cashier’s checks: $8
    • Stop payments: $35 for checks and ACH
    • Insufficient funds fee: $35
    • ATM card replacement: $5 or $75 for rush
  • Minimum required opening deposit: $2,500

Debit cards for money market accounts are available upon request. In addition, you can request and write checks from your money market account.

Certificates of deposit

  • APY: 
    • 12-month: 4.00% 
    • 18-month: 4.00%
  • Fees:
    • Maintenance fee: $0
    • Statements: $0
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Early withdrawal penalty of 180-days interest applies to early withdrawals made at any time.
  • Minimum required opening deposit: $2,500

When opening a CD account with First Foundation, you will get access to online and mobile banking. Penalties may apply to early withdrawal but the fees are not publicly disclosed.

Other services First Foundation offers 

In addition to personal deposit accounts, First Foundation Bank offers a full spectrum of additional services ranging from business accounts to real estate lending services, and residential mortgage loans. Additional services include:

  • Business checking
  • Lines of credit and term loans
  • Owner-occupied real estate financing
  • SBA lending
  • Equipment financing
  • Business credit cards
  • Multifamily lending
  • Commercial real estate lending
  • Rental property loans
  • Mortgages for primary residence purchase, vacation or secondary residences, and investment properties
  • Credit cards
  • IRAs

The First Foundation platform and customer support 

First Foundation Bank offers online and mobile banking. Both platforms can be used to track your account activity, pay bills online, transfer funds, send person-to-person payments, and more.

The bank’s customer service representatives can be reached via phone at 888.405.4332. Service hours are Monday through Thursday from 5 a.m. until 8 p.m. PST, Friday from 5 a.m. until 6 p.m. PST, and Saturday from 6 a.m. until 2:30 p.m PST. The customer service phone number also provides automated support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Virtual help is also available via Webex from the bank’s website. The bank’s website also features a knowledge center that includes videos explaining many of its services.

Pros and cons of First Foundation 

If you’re considering banking with First Foundation, here are some of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

Pros: 

  • Generous APY on savings. The First Foundation savings offers a 4.00% APY, which is more than 12 times the national average.
  • Branch locations. There are 31 First Foundation branch locations, which can be very beneficial for those who like the option to also bank in person.
  • Variety of consumer account types. First Foundation offers many different types of deposit accounts including checking, savings, money market, and CD accounts.

Con: 

  • Steep opening deposit requirements on some accounts. In order to establish a savings or money market account with First Foundation you’ll need to make a minimum deposit between $1,000 and $2,500.
  • Variable interest rate on money market and savings accounts: The APY on the First Foundation savings and money market accounts can change at any time.

Frequently asked questions

Is First Foundation a real bank?

Yes, First Foundation is both an online bank and also maintains local branches.

Does First Foundation have Zelle?

Yes, First Foundation Bank’s mobile app includes Zelle as does its online banking platform within the bill pay function. 

How long has First Foundation been in business?

First Foundation was established in 2007.

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