What Is a Routing Number?

Christian Worstell
In this article...
  • A routing number is a nine-digit code you can use along with your account number to safely and securely transfer money. Learn how to identify, use and protect your routing number for secure banking experiences.

In this guide, we will explore the significance of routing numbers and their functions within banking systems.

Learn more about routing numbers and account numbers so you can confidently manage your finances while ensuring that your transactions are secure and efficient.

Table of Contents:


Understanding Routing Numbers

Routing numbers are a code used to identify financial institutions in the United States. Routing numbers are issued by the American Bankers Association (ABA) to make it easy to recognize where funds are being sent or acquired.

Routing numbers can be found on checks, deposit slips, online banking portals and other forms of payment.

Identifying a Routing Number

A routing number consists of nine digits that can be broken down into three distinct parts.

  • The first four digits represent the Federal Reserve Routing Symbol. This identifies indicate which Federal Reserve district it belongs to as well as its geographical location within the U.S.

  • The next four digits indicate the particular bank holds which holds the account. 

  • The last digit serves as a check digit, ensuring accuracy when entering information about a specific account holder’s funds.

Using Routing Numbers

When sending or receiving money through electronic means such as direct deposits or wire transfers, banks will require you to provide your routing number along with other identifying information, like your name and account number, so they know exactly who should receive those funds.

Without providing accurate details regarding both parties involved in any given transaction, it could take longer than necessary for them to process correctly – if at all.

Be wary of malicious actors seeking to unlawfully access someone else's accounts. Before responding to any requests asking for sensitive information, always double-check the legitimacy of the request.

Do not give out full details unless you have confirmed the authenticity beforehand. Make sure that only trusted individuals have access to physical documents containing these codes; do not leave them lying around carelessly.

Additionally, look out for HTTPS at the beginning of URLs when submitting payments. This indicates that the website is secure enough to process confidential data safely without compromising its security measures.

Monitor credit reports periodically since fraudulent activities related to stolen identities may show up here first before appearing anywhere else. If anything looks unusual, contact authorities right away so they can investigate further and help prevent further damage being done by criminals.

Where to Find Your Routing and Account Numbers

Your routing and account numbers can be found on the bottom left-hand side of paper checks that are tied to your checking account.

Log in to your online banking account or ask a representative of the financial institution for help if you're having trouble finding them. Make sure you double-check any information you get from other websites, as it may not always be accurate.


How do you explain a routing number?

A routing number is used to process electronic transfers like direct deposits and wire transfers between banks.

The first four digits identify the Federal Reserve district in which the bank is located, the next four numbers identify your specific bank and the last digit serves as a check sum of all preceding digits. 

What is the purpose of the routing number?

A routing number helps ensure that payments are sent to the correct bank and account, allowing money to be transferred securely and quickly between accounts. It is required for electronic fund transfers, such as direct deposits and wire transfers.

What is the difference between a bank account number and a routing number?

A bank account number is a unique identifier assigned to an individual's financial account. It can be used to identify and access the funds associated with that particular account.

A routing number is a nine-digit code that specifies the financial institution where an individual's banking accounts are held, facilitating electronic transfers between banks and direct deposits or withdrawals from certain accounts.


Routing numbers are necessary to ensure the safety and precision of payments, allowing for rapid and secure transfer between banking institutions. Understanding how a routing number works can help you protect yourself from fraud or other mistakes when making transactions with your bank accounts.

Christian Worstell
About the Author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with HelpAdivsor.com. He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

While at HelpAdvisor, Christian has written hundreds of articles that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. You can find Christian’s most recent articles in our blog.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at Mike@MyHelpAdvisor.com.

Read More
Hands On Hands Giving Comfort
Uncover the three basic ways life insurers stay profitable when you discover how life insurance companies ...
A couple smile while she uses her smart phone
Do you get money back on term life insurance? In most cases, the answer is no. Explore traditional ...
Girl Puts Produce In Grocery Cart
How much money can a parent make for a child to get SSI? If your child needs financial support from ...