So where do you look for your account number? Here’s the scoop on what an account number is, and how to find your checking account number easily.
Your checking account number may well be one of the most important account details in your financial life. You often need to know your checking account number to request banking transactions and easily delineate between your bank accounts.
The truth is most people don't have their full account numbers memorized. You're likely saving that brain space for more important activities — like planning tonight's dinner or blind guessing the Final Jeopardy question. But have no fear, you too can easily find your checking account and routing numbers on your unused paper checks, or by contacting your bank or credit union directly.
So where do you look for your account number when your brain is otherwise occupied with the minutia of life? Here’s the scoop on what an account number is, and how to find your checking account number quickly and easily.
What is an account number?
An account number is the series of unique numerals attached to a bank account to distinguish it from all other bank accounts. It's the number that banks and credit unions use to figure out where they should deposit or withdraw money from. The American Bankers Association requires banks and credit unions to assign account numbers to every account they hold.
If you're unsure how long your account number should be, you can check with your financial institution. In general, larger banks have longer account numbers. Your local credit union may assign an account number of just six digits, while a large, national bank might assign 12-digit numbers to the account for all its customers.
An account number doesn't apply to all your accounts as a whole. If you have multiple savings and checking accounts at your financial institution, each account will have its own bank account number.
You need to use the correct account number to accomplish tasks like:
Enrolling in direct deposits with your employer
Receiving your tax refund
Setting up an automatic payment to pay bills
Using the wrong account number in these situations can lead to financial complications like your funds being placed in another one of your accounts or even being sent to the wrong person altogether. If your account number is one of the shorter versions, and you’re required to submit it as a longer number, call your community bank or credit union and ask what numbers you should use. Often it is just a matter of adding a few numbers upfront to meet such requirements; although unfortunately, those numbers are not something that can just be guessed.
Account numbers alone can't be used to identify account details — such as who the bank account belongs to. If you want to figure out what bank or credit union holds an account, you'll need the routing number, too.
An ABA routing number identifies the specific bank that maintains an account. Every bank or credit union has a different routing number. Account numbers can't be repeated within a single bank, but they can be used by other banks.
If it helps, you can think of the routing number like your town and ZIP code, and your account number like your street address. There are plenty of buildings with a street address of 101 Main Street, however, there should only be one place with that street address in your town. If you have both the routing number and account number, another bank can identify the exact account and bank.
Some banks may have multiple routing numbers. This is often true of institutions that have merged with other banks or choose to use a different routing number to manage wire transfers. If you're unsure whether you've found the correct bank routing number, you can check your paper checks or look online on your bank's website.
How to find your checking account number
If you need your bank account number, the first step is to decide which account number you need. The number will differ depending on whether you're looking for your savings account or checking account number.
Most of the time, the number you want is your checking account number. This account type is designed to have money regularly added and removed. You can find your checking account number in several places.
If you have paper checks from your bank or credit union, you have an easy way to find your checking account number. All checks list the account number on the front.
Find a check and look at the bottom left corner. You'll see two or three long sets of numbers separated by a small amount of space. The second group of numbers is your account number. It may be anywhere from four to sixteen digits long. The check will also include a check number that is not part of the account number.
Banks use these numbers to identify from which account to pull money when a person, merchant, or company deposits a check you've written.
Another place you can look for your account numbers is your bank statements. Whether you receive physical (mailed paper) or e-statements (aka “electronic statements”) your account numbers may be printed in full. Some institutions, however, may only refer to the account by the last few numbers to keep that sensitive information secure should the file become vulnerable. If you have multiple accounts, each account’s list of transactions will be grouped separately on the statement for clarity.
If you've opted to receive e-statements, you should receive monthly emails. The email will either contain a PDF of your statement or direct you to your bank's online banking website so you can log in and view it. Can’t find your emailed statement but know you signed up for it? Check your spam folder. If you find them there, mark the “from” email address used as a “safe sender”. This way, those emails should start showing up in your regular inbox.
If you've chosen to receive physical statements, your bank will mail one every month. Some banks and credit unions may only send a statement every three months if you only have a savings account. (This is because many savings accounts allow only a limited number of transactions over a set period anyway.)
If you have multiple accounts, most banks will list all of them on a single statement. Your main (i.e., “primary”) account number will often be listed first, and the other account summaries will be listed further down. They might be listed in the order each account was opened, or by account types (a certificate of deposit, loan accounts, etc.) Each one will be labeled with its account type so that you know which number belongs to which account.
You may also find your bank account numbers online. If your bank or credit union has set up mobile banking, you can log on and see each of your accounts and their associated numbers in one place.
This is often the easiest way to find details about your checking and savings accounts. Most banks list all the accounts you hold with them on the home page after you log in.
It's important to note, though, that many banks censor most of your account numbers online as a security measure. That means you'll see a series of asterisks or small circles, then the last few digits of the account number. This protects you from people looking over your shoulder and stealing your account number. You may need to click "view" or a small, eye-shaped icon next to the number to fully reveal it.
Other security features your bank or credit union may use to protect your account numbers on its digital banking site include:
Regular password changes
Session inactivity logout timers
Debit and ATM cards
Your account information, including your account number, is embedded in the card's information, whether on the magnetic strip, the EMV chip, or even using NFC (near field communications) to tap and pay. The banking system will be able to retrieve your account information.
You cannot find your bank account number on your debit or ATM card, though. The long number on your card is just the card's number, not your actual account number. This allows the card number to be replaced if it's lost or stolen without changing your actual account number.
So, what are the rest of the numbers on your debit card for? Most debit cards are issued in collaboration with credit card companies like Visa® or Mastercard®. These companies handle financial transfers on behalf of your bank.
The first four digits of your card number tell the card or chip reader what company supports your debit card, so it knows where to look for your accounts. The remainder of the numbers are randomly assigned to give the card a distinct number for your card.
Other numbers associated with your debit card include:
The expiration date listed in a MM/YY format representing the month and year
The card security code, or CSC, on the back is used to confirm that you approve the use of the card
PIN, or personal identification number, a number associated, but not visible, on your card that allows you to authorize its use at point-of-sale machines
Your account information is connected to your debit card, so merchants know from which account at which financial institution to deduct your electronic payment. Since your information is connected to your debit card, be sure to protect it for your security and notify your bank or credit union immediately if it is lost or stolen.
If all else fails, you can call your bank or credit union to retrieve your correct account number. You will be asked to verify your identity by asking questions about your physical residence, such as your zip code, or even a verbal password.
As a security reminder, if you are contacted by phone, email, or text and asked for your account number as a form of verification, STOP! Your bank will not ask you for this information.
Find your account numbers easily
There are many places in print or digitally where you can find your checking and savings account numbers. If you keep your banking information in your digital wallet, these locations often do not include your account numbers, so rely on these other sources mentioned for your account details.
Once you find your routing and account number, you can easily set up direct deposits, make payments online, and track your spending by account.