A Routing Number (or transit routing number) is a nine-digit number used to identify a United States bank or financial institution, and it is assigned by the ABA, or the American Bankers Association. It is used primarily for clearing funds for electronic transfers or for processing checks. Routing Numbers are also used for financial transactions in online banking and financial clearinghouses.
Your Routing Number always starts with 0, 1, 2 or 3.
What do I need a Routing Number for?
You need a routing number for many tasks, including:
- Payments using the Automated Clearing House (ACH)
- Payments using Auto Bill Pay
- Setting up Direct Deposit
- Receiving tax refunds or other benefits from the government
- Transferring money between accounts at different banks or financial institutions
- Domestic wire transfers
What kinds of banks have Routing Numbers?
Federally-chartered and state-chartered banks and institutions that qualify for an account at a Federal Reserve Bank are issued Routing Numbers by the American Bankers Association (ABA). Since the ABA assigns bank routing numbers, there’s no risk of errors or duplication between banks.
There are approximately 28,000 current active Routing Numbers.*
What is the ABA?
The ABA, or American Banker’s Association, is a banking standard association that uses the routing transit number system for paper checks and electronic funds transfers sent via Automatic Clearing House (ACH).
What do the numbers stand for?
|The first four digits||The Federal Reserve Bank of the district where the bank or institution is located|
|The next four digits||Unique number that represents the bank or institution|
|The last digit||The check or instrument as a mathematical calculation that prevents check fraud|
Can banks have more than one Routing Number?
Yes! In fact, most banks and financial institutions have more than one Routing Number, for example, one for wire transfers and others for direct deposit or ACH transactions.
In most cases, the Routing Number for your checking account is based on the state where your account was opened.
Do debit cards or credit cards use Routing Numbers?
No. Routing Numbers are only used for transfers between bank accounts. Your debit card is associated with a bank account but you do not need a Routing Number for debit card transactions.
Credit cards do not need Routing Numbers since they are not linked to a bank account. That said, there are situations where you might need your Routing Number handy, for example, when you go to pay your credit card online you may need your Routing Number to set up a link between your credit card and checking account.
What about international transactions?
Generally, SWIFT or IBAN numbers are used for international (non-U.S.) transactions.
*Information source: ABA