What Are the Numbers at the Bottom of a Check?

Typical check

The numbers at the bottom of a check are important to both you and the bank. These numbers indicate the account a check is drawn on and from which bank. It is important that you know what the numbers are if a financial institution requests them.

1 Routing Number

The routing number, also know as the ABA number or routing transit number, is a nine-digit number that identifies the bank that holds the account of the check. The routing number is usually the first set of numbers on the bottom of the check.

2 Account and Check Number

The remaining numbers on the check are the bank account number on which the check is drawn and the individual check number. The check number, usually at the end of the second series of numbers, will match the number in the upper corner of the check. The remaining numbers make up the account number. The order of the account number and check number is not always the same, so make sure you know which is which.

3 Using the Numbers

The numbers at the bottom of a check have several uses. Primarily, electronic banking equipment reads them during processing to determine where to draw the specific funds. The routing and account numbers are also used to transfer money and to set up direct deposits to or automatic payments from a checking account.

4 Special Print

The numbers on the check are printed with a special font and magnetic ink so electronic bank machinery can process them automatically.

5 Warning

The ABA routing number on the deposit slips included with your checks is different than the routing number on your checks. Make sure not to grab a deposit slip if you need to give someone the routing number for your checking account.

Tim Plaehn has been writing financial, investment and trading articles and blogs since 2007. His work has appeared online at Seeking Alpha, Marketwatch.com and various other websites. Plaehn has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the U.S. Air Force Academy.