Routing Number: Everything You Need to Know

Irina Tsymbaliuk

Regardless of which bank you choose, you get a unique account identifier, and also have to use a specific routing number for your transactions. But what is a routing number? To put it simply, it is a nine-digit sequence used by the US financial institutions to mark their operations. This number is always used when a financial transaction is performed. The approach was first developed in 1910 to increase the efficiency of transactions, and it remained in use ever since. 

What is great about this method is that even if there are online banks with similar names, a routing number ensures that they are not mistaken for one another. It should also be noted that large banks often use more than one routing number in their operation. If a bank is assigned several numbers, they can be used for different locations, so it’s something to keep in mind.

If you’re asking yourself, “What is my routing number?”, “How can I use it?, or “Can I change it?” it’s your lucky day, as we will answer all of those further in the article.

Where Can You See Your Routing Number?

A rare person can recite their bank’s routing number off the top of their head, so knowing where to look it up is important. 

Where is the routing number on a check? When you look in the bottom left corner of a check, you will see a long line of digits. The first nine numbers are your routing number, so it is not all that difficult to find. 

How do you find your routing number without a check? This also doesn’t require anything special. There are several ways to find out this information:

  • It doesn’t matter what bank you use, a routing number is always provided either on the bank’s official website or in its app. 
  • If you have a bank statement nearby, you can see a routing number there. 
  • Another option is to refer to the ABA routing number lookup. 
  • You can always contact the bank’s customer support, and they will provide their routing number without any effort on your part. 

It is important to note that banks may occasionally change their routing numbers due to the closing of branches or restructuring. Bank clients have to be informed, but it’s easy to miss this information. If you need to make essential transactions, you should first check whether a certain routing number is still relevant. 

Where Do You Use a Routing Number?

There are many situations when knowing the routing number is beneficial or even crucial for you:

  • You need to provide this nine-digit number when you file taxes to receive a tax refund in the form of a direct deposit. 
  • If you decide to send money from your account to another person’s account in a different bank. The same goes for money transfer requests, as you need to provide an individual with your routing number.  
  • Setting up a direct deposit or recurring bill payments. 
  • Another important use of a routing number is for connecting your bank account, either to an accounting software or a payment app. 
  • Business owners also have to use routing numbers to open online stores and set up business websites so they can accept payments from clients.

These are the main situations where you need to enter your routing number or request it from someone. This number is not used for credit card or debit card purchases, so you only need it when money is sent directly to or from your bank account. 

Is It Possible to Change a Routing Number?

Unlike account numbers, the routing number stays the same even if you close an account and open a new one with the same bank. In this aspect, the choice of a number is entirely up to the bank and cannot be changed.

In a situation when you enter a wrong routing number during a transaction, and you want to change it, it depends on whether a bank catches the problem and rejects the transaction or not. If your transaction has been rejected, you can simply create a new one with a correct routing number. 

If your money was deposited into the wrong account, you need to contact your financial institution directly and explain your problem.

Final Thought

Plenty of people wonder, “What is a bank routing number, and where can I find it?” A routing number is designed for the identification of banks and credit unions, so it is used for various transactions, setting up a direct deposit, connecting a bank account to specialized software, and so on. It’s easy to look it up either on a check, the resources provided by your bank, or by contacting customer support.

However, it is vital to find the correct routing number; otherwise, your transactions will either be invalid or your money can be sent to a completely different financial institution. If this happens, you have to act quickly to withdraw the transaction by contacting customer support.


What is the difference between a routing number and a SWIFT code?

Routing numbers are used for identification of banks on the territory of the United States. SWIFT codes, on the other hand, are used for distinguishing banks when international transfers are involved.

How many numbers are in a routing number?

The routing number always consists of nine digits, regardless of where you live in the United States and what bank you prefer.

How many routing numbers can a bank have?

If we’re talking about a small bank, it is likely to use a single bank routing number in their work. Larger banks tend to use several routing numbers, but typically no more than five.

What happens if I use the wrong routing number?

If you make a mistake in a banking routing number, your money may be sent to a different bank. However, it is more likely that a number will be invalid, or a transaction will be denied because other transaction information won’t match.