Bank routing numbers are made up of a nine-digit code that is used to identify your financial institution in a transaction. It’s the first set of numbers printed on the bottom left side of your checks. An account number is usually 10 to 12 digits long and is specific to your personal bank account. It’s the second set of numbers printed on the bottom of your check, to the right of the bank routing number.
You might not often think about those little numbers on checks, but they’re critical to the banking system. Without them, money can’t be transferred electronically between institutions or through the Automated Clearing House network. If you have a bank account, it’s likely that at some point you’ll need to know how to read a check to find bank routing number information.
How Do I Find My Routing Number on a Check?
Routing numbers are nine digits long and appear on every check issued by all banks. Three numerical strings appear on every check, usually printed in MICR — block-like characters in magnetic ink — to make it easy for computers to read. These numerical strings are the U.S. bank routing number, the account number and the check number. The bottom left corner is where you’ll usually find the routing number on a check, as seen on the following check image.
Next comes the account number, then the individual check number. Check routing number location varies, and in some cases, as with some computer-generated payroll checks, the routing number and account number are not separated and are instead printed in sequence. In those cases, the check routing number is always the first nine digits of any numerical sequence printed on a check.
What Is a Routing Number?
Every bank is assigned a unique identifying numerical code, which is the routing number on a check that you write, deposit or cash. The routing number determines who will facilitate and who will receive payment in many kinds of transactions.
When Is a Routing Number Needed?
You won’t likely need your routing number on a daily basis, but you will need it from time to time. Instances in which you’d need to find routing number information include:
- Reordering checks: When you run out of checks, your check printer is likely to ask for your routing number before they give you new checks.
- Setting up direct deposit: In order to have payroll checks deposited straight to your account, you’ll have to submit the routing and account numbers on your check.
- Paying bills: Consumer bills paid through ACH also require account and routing numbers.
- Tax payments: Whether you’re paying a tax bill or receiving a refund, you’ll need to know your bank account routing number.
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How Are Routing Numbers Determined?
Most small banks and many online banks operate with just a single routing number. Large, multinational banks, however, often use many different routing numbers where the account holder’s state determining the check routing number.
Find Your Routing Number
Check out the following table to find the routing numbers for 50 of the largest brick-and-mortar and online banks:
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