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Routing Number vs Account Number: How to Find Both

By Sheryl Nance-Nash · February 23, 2023 · 8 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Routing Number vs Account Number: How to Find Both

If you’re looking for your bank routing and account numbers, they are likely easier to find than you may think: You can locate them on your checks or by logging into your financial institution’s app, for instance.

That said, you probably don’t want to broadcast these digits to too many people. Your routing and account numbers are the keys to your banking kingdom.

Your account’s routing number designates which financial institution holds your money, while your account number identifies your own unique checking or savings account. As you go about your financial business, you will require these numbers for many financial transactions, such as enrolling in direct deposit at your workplace to signing up for online bill pay.

Learn the details on these important digits, including:

•   What is a routing vs. account number?

•   Where can you find your routing number vs. account number?

•   How can you protect your bank account number and routing number?

What Is a Routing Number?

A routing number is a sequence of nine digits that identifies a bank or credit union, and each banking institution has a unique number. Here are some facts about routing numbers and how they work:

•   A routing number is also sometimes referred to as an ABA number, in reference to the American Bankers Association, which assigns them. Routing numbers are only issued to a federal or state-chartered financial institution that is eligible to maintain an account at a Federal Reserve Bank.

•   Your bank’s routing number and ACH routing number may or may not be the same digits. Check with your bank to be sure.

•   The routing number required for making a wire transfer is probably not the same as the routing number that is printed on your checks, however. That number can be found online or by contacting your bank.

•   A small bank may only have one routing number, while a larger financial institution may have several (they typically vary by region or state).

Routing numbers are generally required when reordering checks, paying bills, setting up direct deposit, or making tax payments. Making sure you have the right digits will help ensure smooth transactions.

Recommended: How to Transfer Money From One Bank to Another

What Is an Account Number?

While the routing number identifies the financial institution where your account is held, the bank account number represents your specific account. While anyone can find your bank’s routing number, your account number is private; that’s a key difference in routing vs. account numbers. Here are some other points about account numbers to know:

•   Typically between 10 and 12 digits, your account number acts as a road map of sorts for your bank, letting them know where to deposit or withdraw money.

•   If you have two different accounts at the same financial institution, you will have two different account numbers. The routing number for these accounts, however, will be the same.

•   Because your account number can unlock access to the funds in your account, it’s critical that you keep it safe.

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When You’ll Need A Routing Number or Account Number

You’ll need to know your account number and, in many cases, also your routing number for a variety of everyday financial transactions. These may include:

•   Setting up direct deposit of your paycheck

•   Setting up autopay

•   Making a withdrawal

•   Depositing cash or checks into your account

•   Filling out a rental application

•   Linking external bank accounts

•   Filling out a loan application

•   Scheduling payments (such as ACH (automated clearing house) payments from vendors you do business with

•   Sending or receiving a wire transfer

•   Paying a bill online

•   Sending or receiving money to family and friends

•   Requesting a stop payment on a check

Finding Your Bank Routing and Account Numbers

Here are some ways to find your bank routing and account numbers. These three methods ought to get you the information you need:

Contacting Your Bank

If you need your bank routing and account numbers, you might call or chat online with your bank’s customer service representative to see if they can provide the information. Or you could visit a local branch if you bank with a brick-and-mortar financial institution.

It’s worth mentioning that your financial institution’s routing number is public information and should be easy to find online. But the account number, as mentioned above, is private. You will likely have to provide identifying details to prove you are who you say you are in order to gain access to this number.

Accessing Your Online Account

If you log into your bank account online, you should be able to get your banking details. Your account number may be encrypted (and you can only see the last four digits), in which case you may be able to get the full number by downloading a recent bank statement. Or there may be a prompt you can click in order to see the full number.

Looking at a Check

You can find your routing number and account number printed on the bottom of your checks.

You’ll see three groups of numbers. Typically, reading left to right, the first number (usually nine digits) is the routing number. The next group of numbers (usually 10 to 12 digits) is generally the account number. The third is usually the actual check number.

Smart move: When you have obtained and are ready to input your routing and account numbers for a financial transaction, it’s a good idea to check your numbers at least twice to make sure you get them exactly right. This will ensure a seamless transaction that avoids delays or any associated bank charges stemming from the funds ending up in an incorrect account.

Protecting Your Routing and Account Numbers

Although anyone can locate your bank’s routing number, your account number is not public information. Just like you are mindful about who sees your Social Security number, the same goes for your bank account number.

To avoid potential bank fraud, it’s wise not to share your account number with any person or business unless you absolutely need to, and also to keep your checkbook in a safe place. Any old checks should be shredded before they get discarded. Also wise: not sharing pictures of checks you’ve written on social media, even if it is for the first payment on your dream car.

You’ll also want to make sure your bank account password is secure. You can do this by using a mix of numbers, letters, symbols, upper and lower case letters, and not using any personal information someone might find on social media, such as your birthdate or pet’s name. This is an important step in keeping your account and your mobile banking secure.

Recommended: What Can Someone Do With Your Bank Account and Routing Number?

The Takeaway

Your account and routing numbers work together to identify your account and ensure that your money gets transferred from the right place or that you receive funds intended for you.

The routing number indicates at which bank your account is held, while the account number is your unique ID number at that bank. Knowing the difference between these numbers and being able to locate them when needed is vital to your financial transactions, from setting up autopay to sending people money, go off without a hitch.

Another way to make money transfers and other everyday money moves go smoothly is to open an online bank account. With SoFi Checking and Savings, members can quickly transfer money straight from their phones using the mobile app, making everything from paying bills to splitting the dinner bill fast and simple.

What’s more, you’ll earn a competitive annual percentage yield (APY) and pay no account fees, which can help your money grow faster.

Better banking is here with up to 4.00% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

3 Great Benefits of Direct Deposit

  1. It’s Faster
  2. As opposed to a physical check that can take time to clear, you don’t have to wait days to access a direct deposit. Usually, you can use the money the day it is sent. What’s more, you don’t have to remember to go to the bank or use your app to deposit your check.

  3. It’s Like Clockwork
  4. Whether your check comes the first Wednesday of the month or every other Friday, if you sign up for direct deposit, you know when the money will hit your account. This is especially helpful for scheduling the payment of regular bills. No more guessing when you’ll have sufficient funds.

  5. It’s Secure
  6. While checks can get lost in the mail — or even stolen, there is no chance of that happening with a direct deposit. Also, if it’s your paycheck, you won’t have to worry about your or your employer’s info ending up in the wrong hands.


Do you need both a routing and account number?

As you do your banking, it’s not likely to be an account vs. routing number situation. To complete many financial transactions, you will need to know both your bank account and routing number. This includes setting up direct deposit of your paycheck and signing up for a P2P payment service, like PayPal or Venmo.

What comes first on a check, a routing or account number?

Typically, when you look at the lower portion of a check, reading left to right, you will see the routing number, then the account number, and then the actual check number.

Do I give my account number or routing number for a direct deposit?

When setting up direct deposit, you will likely need to provide both the routing number, which identifies your bank, and your account number, which indicates your particular account with the financial institution. You may also be asked to provide a voided check.

Photo credit: iStock/SeventyFour

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