Born in Paris, the son of a successful Jewish banker, he was associated with and afterwards succeeded his father in the management of the business. As early as 1842 he entered political life, having been elected in that year as a deputy for the department of the Hautes-Pyrénées. From that time to his death he actively busied himself with the affairs of his country. He readily acquiesced in the revolution of February 1848, and is said to have exercised a decided influence in financial matters on the provisional government then formed. He shortly afterwards published two pamphlets against the use of paper money, entitled, Pas d'Assignats I and Observations sur la question financière.
During the presidency of Louis Napoleon he was four times minister of finance, and took a leading part in the economical reforms then made in France. His strong conservative tendencies led him to oppose the doctrine of free trade, and disposed him to hail the coup d'état and the new empire. On January 25, 1852, in consequence of the decree confiscating the property of thc Orleans family, he resigned the office of minister of finance, but was on the same day appointed senator, and soon after rejoined the government as minister of state and of the imperial household. In this capacity he directed the Paris exhibition of 1855. The events of November 1860 led once more to his resignation, but he was recalled to the ministry of finance in November of the following year, and retained office until the publication of the imperial letter of January 19, 1867, when Émile Ollivier became the chief adviser of the emperor. During his last tenure of office he had reduced the floating debt, which the Mexican War had considerably increased, by the negotiation of a loanof 300 millions of francs (1863).
Fould, besides uncommon financial abilities, had a taste for the fine arts, which he developed and refined during his youth by visiting Italy and the eastern coasts of the Mediterranean. In 1857 he was made a member of the Academy of the Fine Arts.
Achille Fould died in Tarbes in 1867.