Routing Number: Your Complete Guide


 

Routing numbers are used when you send or receive a wire transfer, pay a bill or order a new check book. Your routing number is used along with your account number, as a unique identifier to help guide payments and keep your money safe. 

Read on for all you need to know about routing numbers, including how to find and check a routing number before making a payment.

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What is a Routing number?

Your routing number is a unique 9 digit code which shows the bank branch where you opened your account. Along with your account number, your routing number is used to guide payments and identify your account when you're writing a check, wiring money, or paying a bill. 

Routing numbers have been in use since 1910, and are managed by the American Bankers Association. Originally routing numbers were simply used to show which branch of a bank was responsible for paying a check written by a customer - but over time, the system has developed so routing numbers are now also used when sending money online and making ACH payments. Routing numbers are only issued to eligible institutions, and show that your bank is state or federally chartered, and has an account with the Federal Reserve.

You might also hear routing numbers called an ABA routing number, routing transit number or an RTN. 

Routing number example

Your routing number is 9 digits long. An easy way to find your routing number is by looking at one of your checks. On the bottom of every check, you'll typically find 3 numbers:

  • The first number is usually your 9 digit routing number. 
  • The second series of numbers will be your account number. 
  • The third number will be the check number within the book.

It's worth noting that some banks print the account and routing numbers in a different order on checks. Make sure you have the right number with one of the helpful routing number checkers available below

Routing number FAQ


Let's take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to ABA routing numbers. You'll also be able to find more guidance from your own bank by logging into online banking.

What happens if you put the wrong routing number?

It's important to double check the routing number you use for a transaction. If you use the wrong number, the payment may be rejected or delayed - or even end up being sent to the wrong account. 

In many cases, if you accidentally enter the wrong routing number when making a wire transfer, your payment will be rejected and the money returned to you. That's because the banks involved will look at the account number, name and routing number, and if these pieces of information don't match, cancel the payment. Getting your money back will take a few days, and you are unlikely to have any fees refunded.

If you think you have processed a transaction with an incorrect routing number, contact your bank's customer service team to get specific advice for your situation.

Do I need a SWIFT code or routing number?

If you're making a payment within the US, you need a routing number. If you're sending an international transfer, you're more likely to be asked for a SWIFT/BIC code. 
SWIFT codes are used in the same way as routing numbers to identify individual accounts when making payments. These codes show the country, bank and location of the account in question, and are used by banks processing payments which are travelling across country borders.

How to find your routing number?

If you're looking for your own routing number, you can log into your online banking, take a look at a check or bank statement, or ask your bank's customer service team for help. 
Some of the major US banks also have online support for finding your ABA routing number, which can be handy if there are multiple routing numbers in use for your bank. You'll be able to enter the transaction type you want to make, and review the routing number options for that specific transaction to check you have the right one.
Don't forget you can also find or check your routing number using the helpful routing number tool available above.
How to check a routing number?
You'll need a routing number if you're making a payment to someone in the US. If you're about to make a wire transfer it's worth double checking you have the right routing number for your recipient, to avoid delays or other transaction problems.
Use this routing number checker to make sure the routing number you have is correct.

How to check a routing number?

You'll need a routing number if you're making a payment to someone in the US. If you're about to make a wire transfer it's worth double checking you have the right routing number for your recipient, to avoid delays or other transaction problems.
Use this routing number checker to make sure the routing number you have is correct.

Routing numbers for main banks in the US:

Some banks have multiple routing numbers in use according to location, or ask customers to provide different routing numbers for different transaction types. For example, you might need to use a different routing number when making a wire transfer, compared to the one you'll use to order new checks or settle a bill online. If you're unsure, you'll need to check the numbers required by logging into online banking or visiting your local branch. 

Here's how to find out more about some of the most common routing numbers needed for banks in the US.

Can't spot what you're looking for? Use this dedicated routing number finder tool for more routing numbers.