When you write a check, you will find a few numbers written on the bottom of your check. One of these numbers is a routing number, and it serves the purpose of the bank’s identification code. However, there is more to it than just an identifier. Let’s find out!
In the United States, a routing number is a nine-digit code that identifies financial institutions. It is mainly used to facilitate money transfer between financial institutions through ACH, Fedwire, check, etc. When you write a check, you will find this number on the bottom.
This number helps identify the bank or financial institution you have opened an account with. These numbers are of great importance as your money gets to or comes from your account through this number. You must be wondering; if this number is such a big deal, it must have a name. Of course, it has a name. In the banking world, you call it the routing number.
Everyday banking tasks like direct deposit, bill payments, check processing, wire transfers, and the use of mobile payment services require an account number and routing number. The routing number on a check serves an essential purpose as it specifies the bank’s location at which you opened your account and from which you will draw funds. Rather than reading a check to find out your bank’s name and potentially confusing it with a bank of a similar name, routing numbers help process checks through the digital process to know exactly where money is supposed to go.
In this article, we will specifically talk about what is routing number on a check and how to find it on the check. If you are a non-banker and want to seek in-depth knowledge in this regard, read this entire article. This piece of information will serve you with information that you need to know.
What is a routing number?
The routing number on a check, formally referred to as an ABA (American Banking Association) or a routing transit number, is a nine-digit code that identifies the specific bank or branch associated with your account. Routing numbers came into existence first in 1910, when there were no computers and the banking system needed a guaranteed method to ensure that funds were deposited to and withdrawn from the right bank.
Every new bank applies for a routing number upon its establishment. It can use up to 5 routing numbers if they need separate routing numbers for different transaction accounts or a specific number based on the bank’s location and branches. You need a routing number in different situations, such as setting up direct deposit, automatic loan payments, or recurring transfers like bill payments.
Routing number on card
Bankers use a routing number to process cheques. Routing numbers help trace the past. Credit cards operate through card numbers as well as online processing. Debit cards are often marked with the VISA or MasterCard logos to support processing or accepting merchants. Hence credit cards and debit cards do not have a routing number.
Credit cards do not have routing numbers. The fact remains that credit cards also do not need them. You must know that you need routing numbers only for transferring funds between accounts through wire transfers, checks, etc. At the same time, credit cards serve a different purpose. It is easy to understand the misconception that credit cards have routing numbers. All credit cards have a 16 digit number attached to them. They can either be on the front or the back of the card.
Some modern cards go for a minimal aesthetic and do not list any numbers on the card itself, opting to provide that information to customers through an app instead. What credit cards do have are account numbers. This number acts as the link between the credit card issuer and the cardholder. This information is essential for processing payments. The first digit of the card number identifies the type of card. If the number starts with 3, it is an American Express card. visa cards start with the number 4, while a Mastercard begins with 5. Discover cards start with the number 6.
The following 6 to 8 numbers are what you refer to as the issuer identification number. They are also known as bank identification numbers. These numbers are used to identify the financial institution that issued the credit card. The remaining digits are unique to every cardholder as it serves the purpose of identifying the customer’s specific credit account at their financial institution. The card issuer selects these digits to signify your account number.
Why don’t credit cards have a routing number?
The purpose of a credit card is not to send wire transfers or direct deposits. The customer does not spend their own money when using a credit card for a purchase. The bank grants them a specific credit limit that they can use to shop every month. Whenever a customer uses a card for payment, the bank pays the merchant in full. The cardholder does not need to pay the bank immediately.
It is only when their billing cycle comes around that the customers need to pay banks for the funds that have already settled on behalf of the merchant. Hence, credit cards do not hold any routing number. Credit card payment settlement’s mechanisms are entirely different from wire transfers and direct deposits. They are not reliant on a routing number to process the transactions.
Routing and account number on check
Knowing the difference between routing number and account number on check is imperative to proceed with the financial operations. Differentiating between these numbers helps set up a direct deposit and automatic payments for monthly bills. You need bank account routing and account numbers to set up transfers to and from other bank accounts. Your account number is unique to your checking or savings account, while the routing number is specific to the bank or credit union as a whole.
Banks and credit unions manage numerous accounts. When transferring money to or from your bank account, your routing number and account number are integral in making sure the money is deposited or withdrawn from the correct account. Let’s walk you through the check’s routing and account number details.
Routing number on the check
If you keep the checkbook, you will know where to find the routing number on the check. The first set of numbers on the lower-left corner of a check is the routing number. Keep in mind the routing numbers are 9-digit codes, and the character symbol surrounding the numbers is not part of the routing number on a check. Routing numbers, sometimes called transit numbers, are public and vary based on the region where you opened your account.
If your bank or credit union maintains an account with the federal reserve bank, it has an ABA routing number. Only financial institutions that meet this requirement and have a federal or state charter can apply for a routing number with the ABA. You must know that routing numbers break down into three parts. The first four numbers refer to the federal reserve routing symbol. The next four digits are the ABA institution identifier, and the final number is the check digit.
The U.S. is the only country that uses routing numbers to identify banks when sending and receiving money. Foreign banks use IBAN instead, which is short for “International Bank Account Number.” In most cases, banks and credit unions only have one routing number. However, some prominent national and multinational banks may have multiple routing numbers based on where you live or hold the account.
How to find your routing number on a check?
If your checking account comes with paper checks, you can look for your bank routing number on the check. So, where is the routing number on a check? When you look at the front of a check, you will see a space at the bottom with a row of numbers. Specifically, you should see three groups of numbers, separated by a space or unique character.
Looking at the bottom of the check, the first group of numbers in the bottom corner of your check is the bank routing number. Again, an easy way to tell if your bank routing number is to count the digits and confirm that there are nine. If there are more or fewer than nine digits, you may be looking at your checking account number.
How to find your routing number online?
If you have a checkless checking account or you have run out of checks, finding your bank routing number may be as simple as visiting your bank’s website. Banks and credit unions can publish their routing numbers online to make it convenient for customers. Unlike a bank account number, a bank routing number is public information and does not need to be secured or protected. You may be able to find this number right on the main homepage of the bank’s website.
The account number on the check
The second set of numbers on your check next to the routing number is your account number. An account number is a set of digits used to identify a specific bank account, such as a checking or money market account. Banks assign account numbers to each account you own. For example, if you open a checking account and a savings account at the same bank, you will have two different account numbers; however, just one routing number.
If you have checking accounts at two different banks, each would have a unique account number and a unique routing number. Your account number helps tell the bank where to send money or receive every time you make new debit or credit transactions. Your account number effectively provides access to the funds in your account; you must keep it safe.
5 ways to transfer money using the routing number and account number
You might need routing and accounting numbers to transfer money. We will present you with some of the most commonly used money transfer methods involving account and routing numbers.
1. Bank to bank money transfer
People usually need to make a bank transfer or send money from one debit card to another, especially when we are not using mobile wallets or apps. In this case, you can visit the bank branch physically and make the transfer. It might incur a few extra charges, but it will be safe, and you will just have to provide the account number.
You can also use TransferWise, a service available in the US and outside. It can connect you with local banks and help you make money transfers using several different currencies. Another form of similar transfer is done using ATM cash withdrawal.
- Visit a nearby spot and take out cash from the ATM.
- Visit the bank to deposit the money into the recipient’s account
This method would also require you to provide the account number. This transfer method is very convenient though it can take up to 2 days for the funds to be reflected in the other account. It is feasible for both domestic and international money exchange.
2. Money transfer using bank
Money transfer via check is another simple technique to move funds using the routing number and account number.
- You just have to get the check from the bank. Besides this, an option of e-check is available as well.
- Fill it with the amount that you need to transfer.
- After that, the sender will submit the check to the bank, and consequently, the recipient will receive the money in a couple of days or hours.
3. Using money order
You can say that money order is an antique way of transferring money. It allows you to send money to the recipient via mail. However, there have been some issues where the sender lost track of the money or never reached the other party; therefore, you need to be careful.
4. Bank to prepaid card money transfer
Reloadable prepaid cards have become very useful nowadays. You can recharge it with money and use it until the funds expire. Moreover, you can use your bank account to recharge the prepaid debit card whenever needed. You mostly transfer money online either directly through your banking app or by using services like PayPal or Skrill. Whereas, if you are transferring money from your bank account then you might have to visit the physical branch first to activate such a transaction. You can recharge the card online without any issues after the first time.
5. Withdrawing cash
Every store now lets you shop online, but that does not permanently abolish the need to have some money in hand. Now you can also withdraw money or cash using routing and account numbers. There is no limit on the amount you wish to cash, provided that you have sufficient funds in your account.
Moreover, if you need to transfer a considerable amount of money, it is better to contact bank cashier check services. Cashier checks are delivered almost immediately and much faster than regular checks without $0 additional charges. Nearly all reliable banks now have mobile apps that let you deposit checks to your smartphone. You can perform a money transfer using a routing number and account number.
How to manage routing number vs. account number?
Knowing your bank routing number and account numbers is crucial if you need them for specific financial transactions. But like any other financial information, it’s essential to keep your details safe. Someone could, for example, use your bank routing number and checking account number to order fraudulent checks. Or they may be able to initiate a fraudulent ACH withdrawal of money from your account. Here are a few tips for managing routing numbers and account numbers securely:
Avoid writing down account numbers
Similar to your Social Security number or debit card PIN, you are better off committing your account numbers to memory if possible.
Destroy void checks
If you have to void a check for any reason, then be sure to destroy it rather than tossing it in the trash.
Do not share account information
Giving out your bank account numbers to individuals or entities you don’t know can be risky. If someone asks you to share your account information, verify that the request is from a trusted source.
Be selective about the apps you use
Personal finance apps can make managing your money easier. But they can also be targets for hackers and scammers who may use malware or phishing attacks to steal your information. So, before linking your bank accounts to an app, make sure it’s legitimate.
Aside from security, it is also essential to make sure you enter your routing number and account numbers correctly. Entering an incorrect routing number or account number could result in money being sent or received to the wrong account. Double-checking each set of numbers in situations where you need to share them for a financial transaction can help avoid banking headaches.
How many digits is an account number?
In the United States, each bank assigns account numbers using its methodology, kept private for security reasons. There is a mandatory requirement about the length of the account number; if those accounts are going to send and receive electronic payments, the number cannot be more than 17 digits long. Most bank account numbers have between 8 and 12 digits. Financial institutions may also use multi-factor identification, two-step verification, and other security measures to protect account numbers from fraud.
Bank routing numbers list
This list of bank routing numbers consists of all banks of all the states in the USA. A routing number is mandatory for fund transfer. There is a whole list available online on different platforms of bank routing numbers, but we present you with the list of every bank’s routing number based on region.
The list mentioned above contains bank routing numbers of a few states. You can easily find these lists on different banks’ or financial institutions’ websites, where the list for each state in the US is available. You can also search your bank online and click on the routing number and wire transfer information section to learn more about these numbers.
Routing number lookup
You can easily find routing numbers through online lookup tools. One of the most reliable look-up tools online is the US routing number lookup tool checks the validity of your routing number based on its database of more than 18,000 unique numbers. The tool is available for informational purposes only.
While the intention is to provide accurate data, users must acknowledge that the website bank.codes accept any liability whatsoever concerning its accuracy. Only your bank can confirm the correct bank account information. If you are making a significant payment, which is time-critical, we recommend contacting your bank first. To find a routing number through this tool or other tools such as routingnumber.com, you need to select your bank’s location’s state, bank, and city.
Routing numbers prove beneficial to identify the financial institutions in the United States. You can typically find the routing number on the bottom left corner of most personal checks. When you send or receive money directly from your bank account in electronic payments, banks need to know where you will be transferring the money.
The routing number identifies the financial institution where you keep your money serves as a designation for sending funds being paid to you. Each bank has a different routing number, but few banks can request up to 5 routing numbers for each type of transaction. Although anyone can find the ABA routing number for your bank or credit union, your account number is not public information; therefore, it is essential not to share it unless necessary to avoid potential fraud.