Everyday banking tasks such as direct deposits, bill payments, check processing, transfers, and mobile payment services such as Venmo require an account number and a routing number. Here is a deep overview of what a routing number is and how it works.
What is the routing number on the check?
A routing number consists of a nine-digit number that is assigned to a bank or credit union. Think of it as your bank’s numeric address that allows it to send and receive money from other financial institutions. Your routing number is also known as a “routing transit number” or ABA (American Bankers Association) number that identifies the specific U.S. bank you are dealing with.
Instead of reading the check to find out the name of the bank and possibly confusing it with a bank of a similar name, routing numbers help bank employees and machines that now process checks to know exactly where the money is. That way, checks for Bank of America and American Bank never go wrong.
You can find the routing number and personal account number at the bottom of the checks issued by the bank. For new customers, most banks provide at least one free checkbook.
Routing number: The routing number consists of nine digits printed in the lower-left corner of the check. The odd font used to print a number is known as Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR), and it is printed in electronic ink so that banks can easily process checks.
Account Number: The account number is located in the lower center of your personal check, directly to the right of the routing number. The account number is the unique identifier of your bank account.
Check number: To help you record all payments, your personal check has a unique check number in the lower right corner.
When providing routing and account numbers, it’s important to double-check your records, as errors can lead to failed transfers or money being sent to the wrong account. If an error occurs, notify your bank so that it can change the transaction. For more information, read our detailed guide to writing a check.
Find the routing number without checking
Do you have to pay your electricity bill over the phone, but don’t have access to a check with a routing number? No problem. Here are some other ways you can find a routing number without checking so you can complete the transaction.
1. Go online
Your bank’s website or app can publish routing numbers online. Sign in to your online bank account and go to the ‘Account Information’ or ‘Account Summary’ section. The routing number must be clearly indicated. You can also visit the bank’s website or Google’s website, as well as the phrase “routing number”.
2. Call the bank
Call your bank to speak with a customer service representative. You can count on being assigned a routing number or confirming what you find online.
Who is the bank routing number for?
A bank routing number is a unique number assigned to a specific financial institution to send payments accurately and receive collections. These codes are important because they help the U.S. banking system “clear” your financial transaction by matching the correct financial transactions to the appropriate financial institution.
In addition to the bank routing number, you need a second number – your account number. It finds your exact bank account or checking account.
How are bank routing numbers used?
ABA routing numbers are used by American banks and credit unions for the following types of transactions:
- Order checks online
- Opening a direct deposit
- Test processing
- Initiation of transfers or ACH payments
- Processing collections
- Draft permission
- Receipt or transfer of payment to the IRS
- Depositing income, such as social insurance
- Set up recurring automatic payments
How does a routing number work?
Each routing number developed by ABA is publicly known and unique to a single financial institution. However, one bank or credit union may have several routing numbers that are specific to different places and different tasks to be performed. This often happens with larger institutions.
Basically, a routing number is a bank ID that works with an account number to identify your account and make sure the money gets to the right place. Knowing what it is and where to find it, you will be able to easily perform various banking transactions.