A checking account is like a hub station for your financial transactions. You need it to efficiently bring money in and then send it out. In order to use a checking account for electronic checking transactions you need a few key pieces of information, including your name, bank name, account number and the routing number. You might know your account number by heart, but probably not the routing number, so learn its location for quick referencing.
What Is a Routing Number?
A routing number is a nine-digit code assigned to a banking organization. It identifies the bank so that it can receive, accept and process electronic transactions. When processing an ACH (automated clearing house) transaction, the processor first uses the routing number to connect with the banking organization, then uses the account number to make the withdrawal from the correct account. Some banks have multiple routing numbers that apply to branches in different regions throughout the country.
You need to know your checking account routing number for two common financial applications. First, when making an online ACH payment to a billing company, you must enter both your checking account number and the routing number to process the payment. Secondly, if you try to set up a direct deposit arrangement with your employer, you must provide the payroll department with the routing and account number, as well.
You can find your checking account routing number printed on the bottom of your checks. Look at the line of numbers at the bottom left directly under the "Memo" area. The first nine digits printed on the check are the routing number for your bank. You can also call your bank to ask for the routing number if you are unsure about which digits to choose.
There is little danger in giving out or publishing a routing number alone. It is only a risk to you when it is displayed in conjunction with a valid checking account number. However, it is still a smart idea to guard your routing number so that unauthorized parties will not know where you hold a bank account.