Routine banking transactions like online bill payments, check processing and wire transfers require a bank routing number. Here’s an explanation of what a routing number is and how it works.
What is a routing number?
A routing number is a nine-digit bank identification number. Think of it as a numerical address that allows a bank to send and receive money from other financial institutions. The routing number identifies the financial institution responsible for the payment and ensures that funds go to the right place.
Routing numbers were developed by the American Bankers Association in 1910 for processing checks. They’re also known as ABA routing numbers or routing transit numbers. Today, routing numbers are used in numerous banking transactions, such as direct deposits, wire transfers, payments using applications like Venmo, payments made by phone and more.
Banks also can have separate routing numbers for different types of transactions — one for processing paper checks and another for wire transfers, for example.
When you’ll need your routing number
By knowing what a routing number is and where to find it, you’ll be able to complete a variety of banking transactions with ease.
Routing numbers are used for lots of everyday banking tasks, including:
- Setting up direct deposit of your paycheck through your employer.
- Setting up direct deposit of Social Security or other government benefits.
- Setting up automatic online bill payment.
- Check processing.
- Sending and receiving wire transfers.
- Making person-to-person payments using services like Venmo or PayPal.
- Making payments from your bank account by telephone.
- When reordering checks.
- For budgeting apps that are linked to your bank account.
How to find a routing number
Because bank routing numbers are used for so many transactions, it’s important that you know how to find your bank’s numerical identification.
How to find a routing number with a check
If you have a paper check, you can find the routing number easily. It appears in the bottom left corner of your check. It’s the first set of nine numbers and begins with a 0, 1, 2 or 3.
The second set of numbers is your account number and the third set of numbers is the check number. These sets of numbers are clearly separated.
How to find a routing number without a check
Fewer bank customers even use paper checks these days. Let’s say you want to pay your electric bill by phone or set up direct deposit of your paycheck with your employer, but don’t have a paper check to refer to. There are other ways to get a bank routing number.
Unlike personal account numbers, routing numbers are not private information, so your bank has to share it with you. Some banks make it easy to find routing numbers; with others, it can take a little more effort.
- Go online: Your bank may post its routing number online via its website or mobile banking app. Sign in to your online bank account and go to “account information” or “account summary.” The routing number should be clearly listed. Some banks post the routing number on the home page of their website, or it can be found by searching the site. It might be in the FAQs. You can also do an internet search of your bank’s name and the phrase “routing number.”
- Bank statement: You might find the routing number on your monthly paper or electronic bank statement, but not all banks include it.
- Call the bank. You can count on a customer service representative to give you the routing number or confirm the one you found online.
- Visit a branch. Some banks display the routing number in the lobby for customers’ convenience. If not, ask a teller to give it to you.
Bank of America routing numbers
|District of Columbia||054001204|
Source: Bank of America
Chase Bank routing numbers
|New York (upstate)||022300173|
|New York (downstate)||021000021|
Source: Chase Bank
Note: For states not listed, check with a local branch, call Chase to confirm your routing number, or refer to a check or the Chase mobile app.
Wells Fargo Bank routing numbers
|District of Columbia||054001220|
|Texas (El Paso)||112000066|
Source: Wells Fargo