Every bank-related financial transaction requires two critical pieces of information to identify customers: the routing number and the account number, both of which are assigned when you open an account.

Routing Number vs. Account Number: An Overview

Whether you need to set up a direct deposit, such as your paycheck, or order checks online, you will need both your bank’s routing number and your account number for those transactions.

Account numbers are a lot like a customer ID or fingerprint specific to each account holder. Routing and account numbers are assigned to indicate precisely where funds in a transaction are coming from and going to. Similarly, routing numbers identify each banking institution with a unique numerical ID. Any time you make an electronic funds transfer, for instance, the routing and account numbers must be provided to the relevant financial institutions.

Routing numbers are always nine digits long, and account numbers are usually between nine to 12 digits, although some may be longer.


  • Account and routing numbers work together to identify your account and ensure that your money ends up in the right place.
  • Financial institution routing numbers are known as RTNs (Routing Transit Numbers) or ABA (American Bankers Association) routing numbers.
  • Both numbers are required to complete many basic banking transactions.
  • The routing number indicates what bank your account is held in.
  • The account number is your unique identifier at that bank.

Routing Number

The routing number (sometimes referred to as an ABA routing number, regarding the American Bankers Association) is a sequence of nine digits used by banks to identify specific financial institutions within the United States. This number proves that the bank is a federal- or state-chartered institution and maintains an account with the Federal Reserve.

Routing Number vs. Account Number Examplehttps://youtu.be/Ek1TgeLjZxw?t=19

You should be able to find both your routing number and account number by logging into your online banking account. You can also find them on your checks. At the bottom of each check, you will see three groups of numbers: routing numbers (again, typically nine digits) appear as the first group, the account number generally comes second, and the third is the actual check number. Sometimes, however, such as on official bank checks, those numbers can appear in a different sequence.

How Do I Find My Routing Number and Account Number?

You can find both sets of numbers in a few places, including on your checks, bank statement, on your mobile banking app, or the bank’s website. All routing numbers are printed at the left-hand bottom of your check and your checking account number will follow it.4

Which Comes First, Account Number or Routing Number?

The routing number always appears first, followed by the account number. This is because a routing number is how a financial institution identifies itself and coupled with your banking account number it can be used to find your account.

Which Routing Number Do You Use for a Direct Deposit?

In order for you to receive money from a direct deposit, the person or institution making the deposit will need your bank’s routing number, along with your account number, in order for you to receive the funds.

Why Do I Have Two Routing Numbers?

While no two banks will have the same routing number, it isn’t uncommon for large financial institutions to have many routing numbers, which are specific to the state or location where your account is held.

The Bottom Line

If you are ever unsure which number is which, you can contact your banking institution and always remember to double-check both numbers whenever you provide them to another party. This will ensure a seamless transaction that avoids delays or associated bank charges stemming from the funds ending up in an incorrect account.

Compete Risk Free with $100,000 in Virtual Cash

Put your trading skills to the test with our FREE Stock Simulator. Compete with thousands of Investopedia traders and trade your way to the top! Submit trades in a virtual environment before you start risking your own money. Practice trading strategies so that when you’re ready to enter the real market, you’ve had the practice you need. Try our Stock Simulator today