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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, peer-to-peer payments like Venmo transactions, 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
- Getting set up with peer-to-peer payment services such as Venmo or PayPal
- Initiating transfers between accounts you have with different banks
- Making payments from your bank account by telephone
- Reordering checks
- Linking a budgeting app to your bank account
How to find a routing number
Because bank routing numbers are used for so many transactions, you should know how to find your bank’s.
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 is the check number. These sets of numbers are clearly separated.
How to find a routing number without a check
Fewer bank customers 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 but don’t have a paper check to refer to. There are other ways to get a bank routing number.
Unlike personal account numbers, a routing number is not private information, so your bank has to share it with you. Some banks make it easy to find routing numbers; with other banks, 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 bank account and go to “account information” or “account summary.” The routing number should be listed. Some banks post the routing number on the home page of their website or elsewhere on 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, although not all banks include it.
- Call the bank: You can ask 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
|District of Columbia||044000037|
|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