On a tight deadline to wire money or send an ACH transfer, but not sure what your bank’s routing number is?
Sometimes you need to send or receive money electronically, and you need it done yesterday. There’s just one problem: You need to know several crucial banking details, which you probably don’t have memorized. And first among them is your bank’s routing number.
Don’t worry — there’s no need to panic. It’s actually pretty easy to find these nine-digit numbers.
How to Find Your Bank Routing Number
You can find your bank routing number and account number in several ways. Use whichever method you find easiest to look up your routing number.
1. On a Check
Every personal check in the U.S. follows the same format. In the bottom left corner, you can find your bank’s nine-digit routing number. To the right of it sits your individual account number, and to the right of that, the check number.
Of course, many people no longer bother ordering checks when they open a checking account. On the rare occasion that I need to send a check, I just use my bank’s free bill pay service, and they mail a check for me.
2. Via Online Banking
Most banks make it easy for you to find your routing number when you log into their online banking portal or mobile app.
In many cases, you can click on the individual bank and it will instantly pull up the account nickname, last four digits of the account number, and the routing number. You may need to click on an option saying “Account Numbers” or something similar to view the routing number.
Each bank’s online banking portal works differently, so you might need to poke around the portal. Or just run an internet search for “how to find my routing number for X Bank.”
3. On Your Bank Statement
Bank account statements sometimes — but don’t always — include the routing number. I recently checked an old statement from Bank of America, for example, and my routing number didn’t appear anywhere on it.
If your statement does include the routing number, look for it next to your account number. If you don’t see it, you’ll have to use a different method to find your routing number.
4. Look Up Your Bank Routing Number
Before you run a quick Google search to find your bank routing number, a word of caution. Banks often use different routing numbers for accounts in different states, so one bank could have dozens of different routing numbers. Some banks even have multiple routing numbers within each state, or different routing numbers for paper checks versus wire transfers.
I’m from Maryland, so when I forget my Bank of America routing number, I usually just search “Bank of America Maryland routing number” on Google. You can do something similar to find yours: Just search for “[your bank] [your home state] routing number.”
Alternatively, click through this list of common U.S. banks to find the routing number for different regions:
Try to find your routing number on your bank’s actual website, rather than a third-party website. If you can’t find it on your bank’s website, call the bank to verify it.
When You Might Need to Know Your Routing Number
Developed by the American Bankers Association in 1910 for processing checks, routing numbers are also known as ABA routing numbers or routing transit numbers. When everyone just transferred money by check, the average consumer didn’t really need to know their routing number. But in today’s world of electronic funds transfers, you absolutely need to know it.
When you send or request an ACH payment, you need to provide both the routing number and the account number. For example, when you fill out your direct deposit form for your paychecks or government benefits, it asks for both.
The same goes for wire transfers. When you sell your home, for instance, the settlement company often asks if you want the money wired to your account rather than handing you a check for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Likewise, when you set up accounts with online payment processors or digital wallets like PayPal or Venmo, you need to connect your bank account. Which, of course, requires you to enter your routing number and bank account number.
Setting up automatic payments such as recurring bill payments can also require a routing number. If you choose to have money debited directly from your account, rather than paying by credit card or debit card, you’ll need to provide your bank’s number.
If you track your net worth automatically with services like Mint.com, they may ask for your bank routing number.
Finally — and somewhat ironically — if you order checks from a third-party provider rather than your financial institution, you’ll also need to provide your routing number.
Routing Number FAQs
The world of digital banking can make your head spin. If you’re new to electronic banking, you’ll find answers to some common questions below.
What’s the Difference Between a Routing Number & an Account Number?
Your account number is unique to you. At your bank, each account has its own unique account number.
But the routing number refers to the bank itself. Thousands of other account holders at your bank use the same routing number.
Can I Have More Than One Routing Number?
It’s possible to have a different routing number for wire transfers than your standard check and ACH transactions. That’s because wire transfers use the Fedwire system, which uses its own electronic pathways and addresses separate from the ABA system.
That said, in most cases, you use your standard ABA routing number for wire transfers. When in doubt, call your bank, or show up in person to ask — and maybe get a free lollipop.
What Happens If I Use the Wrong Routing Number?
If you use your standard ABA routing number for a wire transaction, the money should theoretically still get to you.
But expect problems if you mistype your routing number. In all likelihood, your payment will simply fail. But it’s possible that your money could end up in someone else’s account, in which case you’ll need to call the payment processor to have them try and reverse the payment.
To avoid a bad outcome, keep it simple. Copy and paste the routing number instead of retyping it.
Rather than looking up your routing number every time you need it, write it down somewhere safe. It’s not particularly sensitive, as routing numbers are all publicly available. But if you keep your account number in the same place, make sure it’s secure.
Lastly, note that savings accounts also have a routing number, likely the same as your checking account. While you probably don’t have checks for your savings account, you can find the account information in your mobile banking or online portal if you need to make a payment out of your savings account. Or you can just look it up online like your checking account.