June 26, 2019

Routing Numbers and Where to Find Them


You’re in the middle of paying your water bill online when all of a sudden they ask for your checking account routing number. In a panic, you close the browser window. Is it time to start digging through your junk drawer looking for your checkbook? Which one is the checking account routing number anyway? And why in the world would they need that information?

Where is my Routing Number?

Your routing number is usually located on the bottom-left corner of your checks. Look for a nine-digit number. For instance, Tulsa Federal Credit Union’s routing number is 303986261.

You can also find any routing number quickly by typing “[Your Financial Institution’s Name] routing number” into your favorite search engine. Most banks and credit unions list their routing number online for just such occasions. You can also ask Google Assistant or Alexa if you have voice services.

What is a Routing Number?

This nine-digit number is a unique identification code assigned to that particular financial institution. This code is used for electronic transactions such as a funds transfer, direct deposit, digital checks and bill payments.

What About My Account Number?

Don’t confuse your routing number with your account number, which is also located in the bottom-left corner of your checks. The account number is usually listed immediately after the routing number.

For most transactions, you will need both your routing number and your account number in order to set up an ACH payment or to connect a deposit account for a service like PayPal or Venmo. If you don’t have any physical checks around, you can usually find your account number by logging in to Online Banking and viewing your accounts.

What’s the Memo Line for?

The memo line is just a place for you to put a note about the purpose of the check you’re writing. If it’s a rent check, write “rent” to remind you when you see a scan of the check in your online banking statement later. Or, if you’re old school, the memo will go on your carbon copy to be used when you balance your checkbook at the end of the month. But seriously, if you’re still doing that, you should sign up for Online Banking.

Who do I Pay to the Order of?

This line is where you would write the recipient’s name or the name of the company you are paying. It’s a good idea to check spelling or whether the person you are writing a check to operates under the name of a small business or other entity. “Who should I make this out to?” is a good question to get in the habit of asking before you put pen to watermarked paper.

Spell it Out in Dollars and Cents

Perhaps the most grammatically confusing part of writing a check is spelling out the amount that you’re writing the check for. It’s easy enough to write $150.67 in the Amount box, but it quickly becomes and internal debate between “One Hundred Fifty and 67/100” or “One Hundred AND Fifty and 67/100″ (hint: the first one is correct). Just know that the bank is less concerned with your grammar and more concerned with making sure that the number you wrote in the amount box matches what you spell out on the line. That way, the recipient can’t get away with adding an extra zero to the amount box.

Where Do I Sign?

The last thing you should do once you’ve filled out your check is to sign on the line in the lower-right corner. This proves your check is legitimate and the bank can compare your signature to past signatures on file to ensure that you actually wrote the check.

I Endorse This Message

If you’re the recipient of the check, you may need to endorse it on the back by signing on the faint line near the top of the check when it’s held vertically. If you’re performing a mobile deposit, your bank or credit union may require you to indicate this on the back of the check as well.