Whenever you make any bank-related financial transaction, you’ll always be required to provide two crucial pieces of information. These include your Routing Number and Account Number. Both are provided as soon as you open an account with your bank.
But how do these two numbers differ? What is their purpose during financial transactions?
Well, you’re about to find out. Learning how to differentiate these numbers is important for setting up things like direct deposits or even order checks online.
In this article, we discuss the major differences between routing and account number, and how to find these numbers on your check.
Account vs. Routing Number
Also referred to as a Routing Transit Number (RTN) or ABA number, a routing number is a sequence of nine digits that are used by banks to identify certain financial institutions within the US.
This number also proves that the bank is a state-chartered institution and that it maintains an account with the Federal Reserve.
The routing number for checking accounts is usually printed on checks.
The routing number identifies the location where your account was first opened.
Routing numbers are usually required when setting up a direct deposit, when making payments online, when reordering checks, when paying for consumer bills, or when making tax payments.
Please note that the routing numbers used for both domestic and international wire transfers are not the same as those written on your check. However, you can contact your bank or obtain the routing numbers for wireless transfers from your online account.
Once you know what is a routing number, you will notice that it can be used for many things. This includes wire transfers, check processing, automatic bill payments or direct deposits, among many others.
An Account Number, on the other hand, is a sequence of digits that usually range between 8 and 12 and are specific to your account. (1)
Because the number is private and unique only to your bank account, you’ll only find the account number on your checks or when you log into your online account.
In a case where you have two bank accounts, your routing numbers will be the same, but the account number will be different.
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How to Find Account and Routing Number on a Check?
Is it possible to find the account and routing number on a check? Absolutely, every financial institution needs to add that, so try to keep it in mind if possible.
Spotting the account and routing number on a check might sound hard, but it’s very simple. The part that has an account and routing number is the magnetic ink character recognition line (MICR) at the bottom.
When you look at the bottom of your checks, you’ll see a total of three separate numbers. The first one is your routing number, which typically has a total of 9 digits. The second number is your account number which consists, typically, of 8-12 digits. The third number is the actual number of your check.
In some cases though, like in the case of official bank checks, these numbers may not follow this exact sequence. If you’re unable to differentiate the numbers, you can simply contact your bank.
We recommend you to check the website of that financial institution, as it will offer you a lot of comprehensive information about this process.
Use the Correct Routing Number
There is a possibility that your bank has several routing numbers, so it’s important that you only use the one that’s specific to your account.
Often, routing numbers may differ depending on the exact banking institution you opened your account with. Also, bank mergers can result in a wide range of codes for the same bank.
It’s also possible for some banks to use a separate routing number for direct deposits, ACH transactions, as well as wire transfers.
Because of this, it’s important to confirm with your bank on the correct number to use, especially when making electronic bill payments or wire transfers.
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Knowing how to find these important numbers and learning their uses is crucial for when you’re setting up direct deposits or automatic payments.
Additionally, using the correct routing and account number helps ensure seamless transactions to avoid unnecessary delays or prevent funds from landing into the wrong account.