Meaning of the Bank Numbers on the Front of Checks

All the numbers on a check mean something.

Checks often have several numbers on the front. These numbers help the account holder's bank identify the account from which to debit the amount shown, and identify for intermediary banks the bank or branch where the account is maintained. Each number on the check has a specific meaning and is required for the banks to properly account for written checks.

1 Dollar Amount

The dollar amount on the check is how much the person issuing the check wants the check to be worth. For example, if a person writes a $100 check then the dollar amount on the check will be $100.

2 Routing Number

The routing number is a nine-digit number in the lower left-hand corner of the check. This number is one of three numbers usually on the bottom of the check. The routing number identifies the bank of the account holder, enabling the receiving bank to collect the money from the correct source.

3 Account Number

The account number is on the bottom of the check to the right of the routing number, separated from the routing number by a colon. This is the personal account number of the person who wrote the check and the number used when depositing money into or withdrawing money from the account.

4 Check Number

The check number is on the upper right-hand corner of the check and follows the account number on the bottom of the check. This is typically a four-digit number. This number identifies the individual check. It enables the account holder to track checks written.

5 Fraction

The fraction or fractional looks like "9-4536/1243." This number, which appears beneath the individual check number, identifies the bank branch where the account is maintained.

6 ACH Routing Number

A bank's ACH routing number identifies the branch that serves as a clearing house for checks. It may appear just above the "For" line in the lower-left hand corner. It consists of nine digits preceded by "ACH RT."

Carter McBride started writing in 2007 with CMBA's IP section. He has written for Bureau of National Affairs, Inc and various websites. He received a CALI Award for The Actual Impact of MasterCard's Initial Public Offering in 2008. McBride is an attorney with a Juris Doctor from Case Western Reserve University and a Master of Science in accounting from the University of Connecticut.