The world of smartphones has made us all a little less likely to remember random strings of numbers.
While convenient, our reliance on them for everything from a significant other’s cell number to our own email passwords has made it more challenging to recall important banking numbers that are important to have on hand.
This includes your account number and routing number. You’ll need your account number and routing number for most banking transactions, including wire transfers, direct deposit setup, electronic transfers between banks and even payment apps like Venmo, PayPal and Cash App.
The good news is, most banks and credit unions offer mobile apps that have a secure way of providing you with both numbers. Typically, they’ll require two-factor authentication before allowing you to sneak a peek at your numbers via the app, meaning your financial institution will either text, email, or call you with a verification code.
But if you don’t have (or trust) a mobile app, or your mobile app just doesn’t provide that handy information, there’s a way of finding your bank account number and routing number that’s still tried and true.
Just check your checks.
Where to Find Your Account Number on a Check
With the advent of debit cards and mobile wallets, checks may seem like a thing of the past. But in many scenarios, whether for rent or a birthday present, you may still find yourself writing paper checks. That check is also handy for finding important bank account information, including your account number and routing number.
The 16-digit number on your debit card is not the same as an account number; this number is specific to your debit card so you can make purchases online or over the phone.
If you have multiple accounts with a bank, you’ll have unique account numbers for each. Your checks for each account will display those different account numbers, but if you hold all accounts at the same financial institution, the routing number will stay the same.
Confused? Let’s dive a little deeper into the set of numbers running along the bottom of your check:
Much like you use the Big Dipper to find the North Star, you’ll use the routing number to find your account number. Look at the bottom of your paper check. The first number in the bottom left is your routing number.
Every U.S.-based bank or credit union has its own unique nine-digit routing number to indicate that the financial institution is either federally or state chartered and has an account with the Federal Reserve.
You’ve found your routing number — awesome. Now let’s use it to find your account number. To find your account number on a check, look just to the right of that routing number.
After the nine-digit routing number, you’ll typically see a colon, then a string of more numbers. This second set of numbers, typically between eight and 12 digits, is your account number. This number is unique to you; no one else in your institution shares this number.
It is important not to confuse your account number with the check number, which is typically the third string of numbers at the bottom of the check. This number is just for easy reference purposes for you and the check recipient.
Don’t have checks? Contact customer service for your checking account. Most banks will offer your first set of checks free, but many institutions charge a fee for each additional set of checks.
Where Else to Find Your Account Number
Checks aren’t the only way you can find your bank account information. For me, the easiest place to get it is my institution’s mobile app. But not all mobile apps are created equal. If your bank doesn’t have an easy-to-use mobile app (or you simply don’t trust banking on your phone) and you don’t have a check on hand to reference, you have a couple other options.
The next option is to find a statement from your bank. These are typically sent monthly and can be found somewhere on the paper. If you receive electronic statements, log onto your bank’s website to access your account.
The final place to find your bank account number is at your bank itself. If you can’t find your checkbook, can’t log onto a mobile app and don’t have access to paper statements, you can call customer service or visit your bank in person, provide proof of identity and receive your bank account information.
Timothy Moore is a market research editing and graphic design manager and a freelance writer covering topics on personal finance, travel, careers, education, pet care and automotive. He has worked in the field since 2012 with publications like Codetic, Debt.com, Ladders, WDW Magazine, Glassdoor and The News Wheel. He lives in Ohio with his fiance.