What is a Routing Number?


Your bank account number is one of many numbers you need to keep track of when it comes to your finances; you also should know a little about your banking routing number. You need your routing number for direct deposit or a wire transfer. What is a routing number, and what does it mean? 

What is a routing number and why is it important?

Routing numbers were established in 1910 by the American Bankers Association (ABA). When a transaction occurs, a nine-digit routing number is used to identify which financial institution is responsible for the payment or credit. The number is made up of other symbolic numbers based on where your account was opened.

The first four digits on the routing number identify the Federal Reserve routing symbol; the following four are the number used by the ABA to identify your specific bank. The last digit is the check digit. 

How is a routing number used?

Routing numbers are used for standard banking transactions. 

Routing numbers and direct deposit: Got a new job and want to set up direct deposit? You’ll need your routing number. The routing number allows funds to be transferred between banking institutions. 

Routing numbers and wire transfers: Routing numbers are used to initiate a wire transfer. The routing number tells the financial institution where the funds are supposed to go. 

When do I need my routing number?

You’ll need to provide your routing number whenever you allow a third party to move money directly to or from your bank account. However, you won’t need it when you withdraw money from your own bank since you are not transferring funds between banks.

Setting up direct deposit, automatic loans, credit card payments, wire transfers, reordering checks, tax payments, and bill payments requires a routing number.

It is common to use your routing number when setting up services used for online payments like Venmo, Cash App, and PayPal.

How do I find my routing number?

It is easy to locate your routing number.

At the bottom of a check

The check routing number is the first of three number combinations on the bottom of a check. It is in the left bottom corner. In the U.S., checks use a special Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) font called E13B to allow recognition by the OCR/magnetic ink reader systems used by banks in North America.

On a bank statement

Many financial institutions that offer online banking allow you to obtain the routing number directly in their app or website. You’ll likely be able to choose an option to see your whole account number for specific accounts that you have open. The bank will provide its routing number and your account number. To view your bank statements, you will need to log in to your app and find the spot where your electronic bank statements are stored. Once you locate it, you can view it directly within the app or download the statement as a PDF.

By contacting your bank

You can call your bank or visit your local branch to find the routing number. Contacting your local bank branch will be the best way to find the number. If you’ve moved since opening your account, contact the branch where you originally opened the account.


Since routing numbers are public information based on the location where you opened the account, it’s easy to find the number online. Search your bank name and the city or state. Many banks publicly post the specific routing number for your location on their website.

The American Bankers Association

The ABA provides an online directory of routing numbers for local banks and financial institutions. You can use this directory for an easy routing number lookup. 

To use the directory, agree to the terms of service and type in the name of the financial institution, the state, and the zip code if requested. 

Why do I have two routing numbers?

Each bank routing number is unique; however, there are two types of routing numbers, and sometimes banks in the U.S. use both. In addition to the ABA routing number, there is also the nine-digit Automated Clearing House (ACH) routing number. Some banks use the ACH number specifically for electronic transfers like wire transfers. If you’re receiving a domestic wire transfer, you may need to check which routing number to use directly with your bank.

Another less common reason some people may find two routing numbers being used is if two banks have merged or an acquisition of a bank has been made. In some instances, it may be possible for people to continue using the old routing number that they previously had. 

The Routing Number — Nine Important Digits

This nine-digit number is an essential piece of your bank information but not one you need to commit to memory. Keep your routing number handy for bill payments, direct payments, and wire transfers. A routing number is an important element that allows your bank to communicate with other banks and accurately get your funds to or from their destination.


Is my routing number the same for all accounts at my bank?

Generally, your routing number will be the same for all of your accounts at your bank or credit union.

How do I find my routing number without a check?

You can find your routing number with your bank, on a check associated with that account,t or by performing a search for your routing number online searched by the financial institution as well as the state in which you opened your account. 

Is my routing number the same for different types of transactions?

Generally, yes. However, in some cases, a financial institution may require a different routing number for certain types of transactions.

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