What is a routing number and where can I find it?

What is an ABA routing number?

An ABA routing number is a nine-digit code that identifies financial institutions in the USA. Read on to learn how they work and where you can find them.

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A routing number, or more specifically a US routing number, is a 9-digit number that’s assigned to each financial institution in the United States. The 9-digit code shows that a bank has an account with the Federal Reserve. More practically, a bank routing number plays a key part in making sure your money arrives in the right place.

When you enter it alongside a payee’s account number it helps identify the exact bank account for your money transfer. Larger banks can have multiple routing numbers, so the one you need will depend on the state in which the account was opened. Smaller financial institutions will usually just have one bank routing number.

What is an ABA routing number?

ABA stands for American Banking Association, which originated the bank numbers system in the United States. As a result of this history, a routing number is sometimes referred to as an ABA routing number. A routing number can also be called a routing transit number (RTN). If you’re sending money to the United States it doesn’t matter if the routing number is referred to as an ABA number or RTN as it means the same thing. This terminology is used interchangeably but simply refers to a bank routing number.

Do you need a routing number for a US money transfer?

You don’t need an ABA routing number and a SWIFT code to make SWIFT payments; you only require a SWIFT code and an account number. It doesn’t matter if it’s a payment within the United States or an international money transfer to a US bank account, you’ll need a US bank routing number. This is because the routing number locates the specific bank branch that will receive the payment.

As previously mentioned, the bank routing number for a financial institution can vary between states. It can also be different depending on the type of money transfer you’re making. There are different ABAs for wire transfers and ACH transfers (Automated Clearing House Transfers).

Wire transfers are generally preferred, but some banks and smaller credit unions only accept ACH (First Century Bank for instance). It’s worth double checking the bank routing number with the payee or their bank before making your money transfer.

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Where to find a routing number

If you have an American bank account you can find the routing number on the bottom of your cheques. The numbers printed on the bottom left-hand side are the bank routing number and the account number is usually next to it. The person receiving the money transfer should also be able to find the routing number by logging into their online banking platform. Routing numbers aren’t confidential, so as well as finding a routing number on a cheque you can also try a bank’s website as they often publish their bank routing number.

Send money with WorldFirst

At WorldFirst, we can make both ACH and SWIFT/wire payments, so it is worth knowing which kind of transfer the recipient can receive as this can depend on the ABA they have. If you're sending money to the USA with a World Account, all you need is an account number with either a SWIFT code or ABA routing number, and the account holder's name. There is no transfer limitation or cap.

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Niki Sehmbi
Senior Content Specialist | 8 years' experience in content marketing within the tech and finance space.
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