“Even if you pay all your bills online, you still need your routing number to set up payments. Steve Debenport/Getty Images
Most customers pay by for goods and services by credit card, phone apps or via the computer, so paper checks are going the way of the dinosaur. But you still need information from your old-school checkbook in order to set up automatic monthly bill payments or direct deposits online. That includes your bank account number and the routing number listed on your checks.
The routing number is also known as the ABA (America Bankers Association) routing transit number (RTN), a nine-digit code that’s printed on the bottom of checks and other types of financial documents. It essentially denotes the state or region where the bank account was opened and the name of the bank on which the check was drawn.
Routing numbers aren’t secret or sensitive information. They’re simply a way for banks to sort payments. Here are four ways to find it:
- The fastest way to find a routing number is to simply open your checkbook and look at the bottom. The routing number is typically printed on the bottom-left corner, bookended by two little symbols that look a bit like colons with a bolded vertical dash. You’ll find the same numbers on deposit slips, if you have those handy.
To the right of the routing number is your account number, but keep in mind that the position of the account and routing numbers is reversed on some checks. Most account numbers are 10 to 12 digits, while the routing number is always nine.
- Can’t find your checkbook? Log into your online banking account and go to your account summary or user profile. Many banks list the routing number there. You can even call the bank to get the info if you’re really old-school.
- If you don’t have your login for your bank account nearby, you can do a general search for routing number at your bank’s website. The website MagnifyMoney has links to the eight biggest banks in America where you can search for the routing number.
- Still stumped? Search for your financial institution on the ABA routing number website. You can type your bank’s name and location, and it will kick back the routing number for your branch.
NOW THAT’S INTERESTING
Check writing skyrocketed in the U.S. after World War II. Within a few years, billions of checks were flowing through banks all over the country, and branch managers were forced to employ several people just for the purpose of processing checks. That’s when engineers developed those funky numbers on the bottom of the checks – they can be read by machines, and thus, checks can be processed much more quickly.