In this era of plastic cards which can be used to access your money, many people have fallen out of the habit of transferring money or making payments through other methods. You might use your online banking app to move money from account to account, but you probably don’t know much about the accounts themselves other than what you have chosen to name them in your banking app.
It is all too common to find out that you have no idea what the routing number of your financial institution is, or to realize that you do not know what you bank account number is. This can be a problem if you need to sign up for direct deposit, or to make a digital payment from your bank to another person’s bank.
If you want to learn more about transferring money using a routing and account number, read on to increase your knowledge about this important topic.
What is the Routing Number?
Every banking institution in the US has a routing number. This is a 9-digit number that was assigned to the location of your bank or credit union that is used to refer to it for transactions. This number is actually inserted into the information that is used for every banking transaction that you complete online through an app or through a card payment, but for convenience, you are not required to enter the routing number each time you make a payment.
The routing number is tied to the location that your account was opened in some instances. Larger banks will often have many routing numbers that are linked to locations or to different kinds of banking processes. If you are banking with a small entity, it is less likely that there will be many different possible routing numbers associated with your account.
If you are trying to make a payment to a different banking institution, you will need to know the routing number of your bank. This number is available online on your bank’s website, or you can locate it on checks that you have that are associated with the account. The routing number is always on the bottom left of your checks.
Without the routing number, payment cannot be withdrawn from your account. Having the right routing number associated with your payment is mandatory for it to process correctly.
What is the Account Number?
The account number for your banking account will appear to the right of the routing number on your checks. You can often find the full account number in your online banking app as well, but you may have to call your bank or stop by a branch to get the full number if it is not available through your online profile.
Your bank will open each new line of credit or bank account with its own unique number. This means that you might have a single account number or many numbers that are associated with your banking needs at your institution. A savings account and a checking account are often indicated with different numbering systems in order to keep them separate, but there is no national standard for account numbers.
Many institutions use account numbers that are 10-12 numbers long, but a smaller banking entity might use shorter numbers. This number should never fall into the hands of someone you do not know because routing numbers are common knowledge, but account numbers are kept private to prevent fraud. If you need to get your account number from your bank, they will first ask you a series of security questions, and then they will write the number down for you on a card.
Keep any written bank account numbers in a secure location so that you do not fall prey to fraudulent charges on your account. It is difficult to prove fraud when a checking number is used to access the money in your accounts. You may not be able to get your money back if someone uses your account number to make a debit from your account without your permission.
How to Get Your Routing and Account Number Off a Check
If you look at a check from your banking account, look for the vertical line and two dots. This symbol brackets your routing number. The account number will be to the right of the second set of dots. There might be additional account information to the right of the account number. These are usually internal indicators that are used to discern between different kinds of accounts within your bank.
Make sure that you always look at the routing number for checks from each account that you have access to.
How Do I Use This Information to Make Transfers?
Most of the instances where you will need this information about your accounts are related to transferring money to other bank accounts that are not at your primary bank or in the case that you want to set up automatic payments. Automatic payments might be a car payment, a mortgage payment, or some other kind of recurring payment that you must make each month.
It is often very simple to set up and make both of these kinds of payments, especially if you know your routing and account number before it is needed for the payment to be made. Always make sure that you read the automatic payment form that you are signing before you agree to make the transfer. Providing access to the routing and account numbers for your bank accounts can open you up to fraud if the information is not kept secure.
These payments are also called ACH payments. Most of these payments are actually transfers that are made from your bank account to the account of the entity who you owe money to.
To set these payments up, you will usually be given a form to fill out. It will ask for the routing number of your bank and the account number that you want the payment to come from each month. Make sure that you have the right account number on the form, or your payment might come from an account that does not have enough money in it. Most of these payments should be made from a checking account as checking accounts are not technically allowed to be debited from more than six times a year.
Any time that you set up an ACH payment, you will want to be certain that the form shows the right payment date and payment amount on it. Once you sign the form saying you will make a payment, you will be agreeing to pay the amount on the form, even if it is incorrect. Make sure to double-check the entire form before you sign it.
Transfers to Other Banking Institutions
Another common case where you will need the routing and account number of your bank, is if you want to use an app to make a payment from your bank to an account at another bank. This might be your own account at another bank, or you might be needing to make a payment to a friend’s bank account. This process is the same as walking into one bank with a check in hand from the other bank, but you will not have to actually drop in to make the transfer.
Much like in the case of ACH payments, you will need to fill out the information in the app that is needed to make the payment possible. You will need to provide the routing and account number inside the banking app, and the app will likely have you sign electronically saying that you approve the transfer. As with an ACH payment, make sure that you verify that the payment amount and date are correct before you agree to the payment.
What Other Reasons Might You Need to Use Your Account and Routing Number to Make Payment?
There are some other reasons that you might need to use your account and routing number to make payments. If you want to set up bill pay, you will need the same information to be able to set up these payments. Bill pay sends out a check to the people or companies that you are making payments to, but the same information will be needed as in the case of an ACH payment.
If you want to avoid transaction fees, you might also need to use your account and routing number to make a payment. This is a great way to avoid a fee if you are making a payment to a company that charges for the use of debit or credit cards, you can often pay via ACH instead.
Knowing your account and routing number can also remove checks from your life for good! People don’t write checks very often these days, and being freed from carrying a checkbook is often really nice. The same information on the checks is used for ACH payments, but without all the hassle of having to write a check each month.
Banking Transfers Using Your Account and Routing Number Are Easy
Despite the fact that checks are becoming less and less common these days, knowing your routing and account number for your bank account is very helpful when you are trying to transfer money or make payments. Automatic payments are secure and are also the easiest way to make payments on loans and other bills.
If you take the time to make note of your baking account information for use on ACH payments, or for transfers to other banks, you will have this information when you need it. Being prepared can save you time, and it can save you from having to pay transaction fees that might really add up. Knowing all of the information that is related to your bank account is an important part of proper money management that everyone should know.