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What are bank routing numbers?

Bank routing numbers are essential to making our money system work, but few people know what they are until they’re asked to give theirs. If you’ve been asked for your bank’s routing number, it’s important to know what kind of information you’re giving.

In order for checks to be processed electronically, every bank in the United States has been assigned a routing number unique to that institution. Essentially, this number acts as an ID number for the bank in any computerized transaction. Because of this, anyone who is signing up for a service that requires money to be withdrawn or deposited into their bank account must provide a routing number for their bank.

Finding your bank’s routing number isn’t too hard. Most people find it by looking at the numbers printed at the bottom of their checks. Practically all checks in America are processed electronically, so every check has the bank’s routing number and the account number the checks are tied to printed at the bottom. The very first string of digits is the bank’s routing number, the second string of digits is the account number, and the third string of digits is the check number.

It is very common for a variety of places to ask for a bank routing number. The most common place people usually have to give this information out is to their employer when they are signing up for direct deposit. This number, along with the account number of the employee is essential for their computer system to transfer money into the account of the employee.

Of course, because these transfers are done electronically, it is important to make sure that no digits are left out or written down wrong when signing up for a service that requires money to be transferred in and out of your account. Getting a number wrong will cause the computer to find the wrong account, and could result in fees from your bank.