Every check has a routing number, and you might occasionally be asked to provide this routing number when linking an online account to a checking or savings account at your local bank or credit union.
Unfortunately, routing numbers aren’t clearly labeled on personal checks or elsewhere, so it can be tough to find them on a paper check. Let us break down routing numbers and how to find them in no time.
What is a routing number?
A routing number is a nine-digit code that identifies a bank or credit union for a financial transaction.
Every bank and credit union has a unique routing number, so think of it as an identifying piece of information or electronic signature to ensure that money comes from the proper account or goes into the correct account.
The banking industry adopted routing numbers in 1910 to streamline the transaction process. Because every bank has a unique, specific number assigned to it, there’s a very low risk of miscommunication or funds being transferred improperly.
Even if two banks or credit unions have similar names, they are mathematically distinct from each other thanks to routing numbers.
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When do you need a routing number?
You may need your routing number in many different situations.
For instance, when you enroll in a direct deposit, you’ll need to supply your routing number to your employer so they know where to route your paycheck every time you get paid.
Similarly, you’ll need to supply your routing number to institutions to set up automatic loan payments or recurring transfers, like regular bill payments to your utility company or a streaming company.
On top of that, you’ll need to locate your routing number when you file taxes. This allows you to pay a tax payment or receive a tax refund.
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If you ever conduct Automated Clearing House, or ACH, transfers between two different accounts at different banks, you’ll also need your routing number to ensure the transaction goes through smoothly.
Note that you will not need a routing number if you make a debit card or credit card purchase/funds transfer. Routing transit numbers are only required for wire transfers between financial institutions and similar electronic payments.
How to find a routing number
Fortunately, there are several different ways in which you can find your bank’s routing number if you don’t already know it.
Mobile banking app
First, open up your bank or credit union’s mobile app if you have one on your phone. You should be able to find your routing number by logging into your account and clicking on a button labeled “Account Information” or something similar.
Finding your routing number will vary from app to app, so what works for one app may differ from the steps for another.
Online bank site
You can find your bank routing number by visiting its online website. Log into your online bank account, select your account and then look at the top box of your account nickname.
You should see the last four digits of your account and routing numbers.
Remember, the routing number is nine digits long, so you should be able to distinguish it from your account number if you see them next to each other.
Every time you get a monthly statement from your bank, whether paper or digital, it will include the routing number for that bank.
You should be able to find this in the corner of your monthly statement; some banks have it in the upper right-hand corner, while others may have it in the bottom right-hand corner or elsewhere.
If you have a checkbook or individual checks from your bank, you can also find your routing number at the bottom of your checks. Your routing number should be the nine-digit number printed in the bottom left-hand corner of every check in your possession.
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Your checks should also have a copy of your account number. It’s the next string of digits to the right of the routing number. The last string of numbers to the right of the account number is the unique check number.
Don’t have these payment tools? Order checks from your bank’s website at the earliest chance.
Routing number directories
Lastly, you can visit online writing number directories. Every major bank in the U.S. has routing number directories you can access online. These are lists of the routing numbers for every branch in the company.
For instance, Chase Bank lists all the routing numbers for each branch in the U.S. and worldwide. The same is true for other member FDIC banks as well.
Routing numbers are crucial identification numbers that allow you to link your savings or checking account to an online platform.
Now that you know how to find a routing number on a check, you can provide this information quickly and easily whenever setting up a new online account.
Want to know more about checks, routing numbers and other banking info? Check out Entrepreneur’s other relevant coverage and resources today.