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City First Bank business loans review

A community development-focused bank for the greater DC area.

  • Best for small business and nonprofit owners looking for SBA funding.
  • Pick something else if you also want personal financing.
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Loan TermNot stated
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What is City First Bank?

City First Bank is a community bank and certified community development financial institution, or CDFI. It primarily serves the DC Metro area with a focus on economic development.

Most of the small businesses it works with are in low- and moderate-income communities. And it has worked to build up these areas by helping small businesses provide jobs, affordable housing and supporting nonprofits that serve the community.

What types of loans does City First Bank offer?

City First Bank only offers business loans. These include your standard term loans and lines of credit, as well as SBA 7(a) loans to cover general working capital expenses and 504 loans for equipment and real estate expenses.

It might be a particularly good source for SBA funding. It offers an SBA loan kit, which you can use to find out if your business is a good match for this government-backed program within five days. It also claims to simplify the notoriously complicated SBA loan application process, though it doesn't specify how.

How does borrowing with City First Bank work?

You'll need to speak with a lending officer at City First Bank if you're interested in a loan — though you can take a peek at the application online. Together, you and the lending officer will go over your business's financials before deciding what type of loan is best for your business.

It might take a few weeks or even months to get your funds. But this process can help ensure that you get approved for financing that will benefit your business the most.

How do I get started?

You can get started by filling out a quick loan application which is available on the City First Bank website. Follow these steps.

  1. Go to the City First Bank website.
  2. Select Business/Nonprofit in the main menu and hit Business lending.
  3. Click the link to download the loan application.
  4. Review the application checklist and make sure you have all of the information and documents you need to get started.
  5. Follow the directions to provide the required information about your business, its owners, any other guarantors and the loan request.
  6. Sign the application and reach out to City First Bank to find out the best way to submit it.

You might want to hold off on completing the full application until you have a meeting with a lending officer, however. You can reach out to City First Bank's loan team by calling 202-243-7118 or emailing

Pros and cons of City First Bank loans

City First Bank might be a great option for small businesses looking for government-backed funding. But it might not be ideal if you're also looking for a bank that can cover all of your financing needs.


  • Accepts nonprofit
  • Simplified SBA loan program
  • Focus on serving businesses


  • No personal or auto loans
  • Only one branch
  • No branch access after business hours

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City First Bank reviews from around the web

City First Bank only gets a few online reviews — common for a community bank. Almost all reviewers praise City First Bank for the way it serves its community. But a few negative reviews cited a high level of employee turnaround that made it difficult to work with the bank. And a couple mentioned that the quality of customer service can be poor.

There aren't enough reviews to get a full picture of what to expect as a borrower. The lack of reviews could be a good thing — people generally don't leave a review online if they're satisfied with their experience.

BBB accredited No
BBB rating A+
Yelp 2.5 out of 5 stars, based on 4 customer reviews
Indeed 4.3 out of 5 stars, based on 3 customer reviews
Customer reviews verified as of 12 October 2020

What do City First Bank employees say?

The few City Fist Bank employee reviews are mostly positive — a great sign if there were more than three reviews. Happy employees typically translates into less turnover. That makes it a lot easier to develop a long-term relationship with a loan officer who knows your business inside-out.

What other products does City First Bank offer?

In addition to business loans, City First Bank offers the following personal and business products:

  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service (CDARS)
  • Cash management services
  • Insured cash sweep

Where does City First Bank have branches?

City First Bank only has one branch in the downtown DC area. Here's the mailing address:

1432 U Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009-3916

Under normal circumstances, the branch would be open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Friday until 5 p.m. But as of September 2020, it's only open from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. You can get in touch by calling 202-243-7100. Or, fax documents to 202-243-7197.

City First Bank history

City First Bank first opened its doors in 1998, five years after some two dozen community development leaders decided that they needed to form a financial institution focused on community development. The idea was to build up neighborhoods that had suffered from divestment-related and discriminatory policies and lending practices.

In August 2020, it announced plans to merge with Broadway Federal Bank, a commercial bank based in Los Angeles. The merger won't change the mission — both are CDFIs that serve low- and moderate-income areas. But it will make City First the largest Black-controlled federally insured commercial lender, According to the New York Times.

Bottom line

City First Bank can be a great choice for small businesses and nonprofits — especially those that are looking for SBA funding. But its banking hours might make it a little difficult to set up a meeting if you can't stop by during a work day. Its lack of consumer loans and limited product line also means it might be able to take advantage of as many services as you might find with another community bank.

Read our guide to business loans to find out what other types of financing your business might qualify for.

Frequently asked questions

Review by

Anna Serio is a trusted lending expert and certified Commercial Loan Officer who's published more than 1,000 articles on Finder to help Americans strengthen their financial literacy. A former editor of a newspaper in Beirut, Anna writes about personal, student, business and car loans. Today, digital publications like Business Insider, CNBC and the Simple Dollar feature her professional commentary, and she earned an Expert Contributor in Finance badge from review site Best Company in 2020.

Expert review

City First Bank offers loans to small businesses in the greater Washington, DC area. While it offers a wide range of loans, its speciality is helping businesses get approved for government-backed funding through the Small Business Administration, or SBA.

It provides applicants an SBA loan kit to help them navigate the typically confusing application process. And you can find out if your business might qualify within five days. But it only offers business financing. You might want to look elsewhere if you also want to cover personal financing needs.

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