Have you ever been in a situation where a new landlord or employer asks for your routing number, but you have no idea what it is? Then when you think you've figured it out, it turns out that you've written down your account number instead? Don't feel foolish, because very few people understand the difference between a routing number vs. account number!
With digital banking and debit cards, we rarely need to remember our routing or account numbers. But these two numbers are extremely important if you want to protect your bank accounts from ill-willed individuals.
What You Need To Know About A Routing Number vs Account Number
So what's the difference between your routing number vs. account number? And why do you need two different numbers for your bank accounts anyway?
Many situations require two forms of identification, and accessing your bank account is no different. When you first open an account, you get two numbers. These are your account and routing numbers.
Don't worry if you don't know your routing number vs. account number. After all, you certainly aren't the only one.
In fact, at this point, more people probably have their debit card numbers memorized than their routing or account numbers!
Still, knowing the difference between your routing number vs. account number is crucial to keeping your finances safe and identity secure.
What is a routing number?
Your routing number, sometimes called an ABA number, is a sequence of nine digits that identifies a specific financial institution in the United States. If you're confused, think of it as a Social Security number for your bank.
This number proves that the bank is a federal- or state-chartered institution and that it maintains an account with the Federal Reserve. It also clearly identifies one bank from another of a similar name or location.
You'll need your bank's routing number to reorder checks, pay bills, set up a direct deposit, and even for some tax payments.
Small banks typically only have one routing number. However, large, national banks may have several numbers set up for different purposes.
What is an account number?
While a routing number is used to identify an entire bank, your account number identifies a single account. Even if you control two accounts under the same name, like a checking account and a savings account, they will have different account numbers.
Account numbers can be any length, though most are between 8 and 12 digits long. Each bank chooses a unique format and length for its account numbers, unlike routing numbers, which are standardized across the nation.
Because this number is unique to you, you should never give it out to anyone or write it down somewhere public. Anyone with this number will be able to access your bank account information, including withdrawing money from your accounts.
How To Find Your Banking Numbers
People often get confused when looking for their routing number vs. account number, even if they're looking in the right location.
Personal checks are the easiest place to find these numbers, but that requires you to own checks for your accounts. Since checks are becoming obsolete, fewer people order checks for their bank accounts in the first place.
If you do have personal checks, though, you'll find your routing and account numbers along the bottom.
Why do checks have these numbers printed on the bottom? Because anyone who accepts a check from you needs this information to access the money guaranteed by the check. If checks didn't have that information, you'd pretty much just be handing over an I.O.U.
Another good place to look for your routing or account number is on your bank's website. Most bank websites have a place where you can log in and access your account information.
Actually, since the entire bank uses the same number, some banks will even post their routing number on their website's homepage. But finding your account number will be more difficult.
That is purely for security reasons, as they don't want just anyone to have your login information and find all of your private numbers. That being said, if you can find where your monthly e-statements are, you will be able to find your account number there.
If all else fails, your local branch will be able to share your numbers with you. Just give them a call or go into the branch and ask the teller to look them up.
Turn forget-me-nows into forget-me-nots
Despite the differences between your routing number vs. account number, they're both extremely important. While you can call your bank or hunt down a personal check to learn your numbers, memorizing them is much easier.
Whether you're dealing with a routing number vs. account number, both numbers are too long for many people to remember off the top of their heads. Writing them down somewhere safe is also an option.
One place you can store your routing and account numbers is in a personal budget planner.
Budget planners are also a great idea to, well, keep yourself on a budget. These can hold all of your financial information, along with any expenses you expect in the near future.
However, make sure you understand the risks of misplacing your planner before writing your banking information inside!
Keep Your Numbers (And Your Money) Safe!
Image via Pexels
Remembering your routing number vs. account number can be annoying, but learning the differences can make this task a little easier.
Keep in mind:
Routing numbers are like an ID for your bank, and you can find them on your checks or bank website.
Account numbers are unique for each individual bank account. You can find yours on bank statements, checks, or by contacting your local branch.
If you do choose to write down either of these numbers (but especially your account number), be sure to keep this information in a secure place. The last thing you want is for your banking numbers to fall into the wrong hands!
So, what are your account and routing numbers? Just kidding! As we said, you should never share them with anyone.
Instead, do you have any tips or tricks for remembering your routing vs. account number? Let us know in the comments below!