When you open an account with a bank, they’ll assign you two identifiers: a routing number and an account number. While these numbers may seem insignificant, they’re actually very important. Basically, the routing and account numbers act as a road map ensuring that necessary funds are heading into the right account. You’ll likely need this information when setting up direct deposit for your paychecks, syncing your checking account with alternative forms of payment, and more. If you don’t know where to find your routing and account numbers, there’s no need to worry as we’ve got you covered. They’re very easy to find once you know where to look.

What are they and where to find them

First, the routing number is a nine-digit code used to identify banks and financial institutions. Some larger banks will have different routing numbers depending on their location, while smaller financial institutions may only have one. If you have multiple accounts with the same bank, you’ll likely have the same routing number. Your account number, however, will be different.

The account number is the code for your individual account. This number works along with the routing number and is usually composed of eight to 12 digits. These two numbers work together to identify customers who are either sending or receiving funds.

To find your routing and account numbers, you’ll need to get your hands on a paper check. When you open a checking account with a bank, they’ll likely give you a few starter checks. Keep these starter checks on hand in order to easily access your routing and account number. Once you have a check in hand, look at the sequence of numbers at the bottom of the check. On the far left, you’ll see your routing number. The next code, located to the right of your routing number, is the account number. Simple enough, right?

If you don’t have any starter checks, you can also find this information by calling your bank. If you end up calling your bank for your routing and account numbers, make sure you store this information in a safe spot. If you happen to misplace these numbers, someone could easily drain the money in your account.

When you’ll need these numbers

If you begin working with a new employer and prefer the ease of direct deposit over paper paychecks, you’ll need both your routing and account numbers. Other forms of automatic withdrawal, say for a car or student loan payment, will also require your routing and account numbers. If you happen to owe state or federal taxes, you’ll need to locate your routing and account numbers in order for the funds to be taken out of your checking account, too. You can pay via paper check and credit card, but these options are less convenient. Not to mention, the government will charge you a fee just for using your credit card.

You may also need to provide your routing and account numbers if you link your checking account with alternative forms of payment. These include PayPal, Venmo, Apple Pay, and several other services. Alternative forms of payment are super convenient to use, as you can split the cost of goods or services evenly with friends, family, or peers when necessary. What’s more, people rarely carry cash on them anymore, making alternative payment services even more useful. You’ll want to link your checking account instead of a debit or credit card, as these services tend to charge a fee every time you transfer a balance back to your credit or debit card. To avoid racking up fees, just link your checking account instead.