Do Credit Cards Have Routing Numbers? Account and Routing Numbers Explained
According to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s 2021 findings, only 4.5% of U.S. households were unbanked—the lowest rate since the first survey was conducted in 2009.
With the increasing use of banking services, it’s important to understand different aspects of banking. For instance, if you’ve ever tried sending a wire transfer or paying your bills online, you’ve likely been asked to provide several numbers, including the routing number—but do you know what the number means?
In this article, we’ll answer the following common questions:
- What is a routing number?
- Do credit cards have routing numbers?
- How do you find the routing number?
What Is a Routing Number?
Routing numbers are nine-digit sequences used to identify financial institutions during transactions. The concept was developed in 1910 by the American Bankers Association (ABA). You might also know routing numbers as Routing Transfer Numbers (RTNs) or ABA routing numbers.
All U.S. banks and credit unions that are part of the Federal Reserve have routing numbers. Most of them have only one routing number, but large financial institutions can have multiple numbers. They’re usually dedicated to specific areas of operation or types of transactions.
The routing number indicates the bank associated with your checking or savings account. You’ll be asked to provide it for the majority of your transactions, typically between institutions. You’ll need it for:
- Setting up and receiving direct deposits (tax refunds, stimulus checks, and government benefits)
- Sending and receiving wire transfers
- Paying your mortgage and other bills online
- Scheduling electronic ACH payments
- Linking your bank accounts to apps
- Sending or receiving money to/from family and friends
- Opening a new account
- Processing and reordering checks
Does a Credit Card Have a Routing Number?
Credit cards (and other payment cards) don't have routing numbers. RTNs are associated with banks and bank accounts, not payment cards.
People tend to mix up routing numbers with account numbers, which identify specific cardholders within the institution.
Which Types of Accounts Use Routing Numbers?
Source: Cytonn Photography
The three main types of accounts that use routing numbers for transactions include:
- Checking accounts (personal and business)—This type of account is used for everyday financial transactions. With personal accounts, you’ll need a routing number for direct deposits, electronic fund transfers, or automatic bill payments. If you have a business account, you’ll need the number for client payments, payroll, or electronic transfers to suppliers.
- Savings accounts—This account type allows you to store money and grow it over time. It requires a routing number only occasionally, such as when you need to initiate a wire transfer or connect your savings account and checking account for overdraft protection.
- Money market accounts—Although similar to a savings account, this type of account offers better interest rates. It also has stricter requirements, such as a higher minimum deposit and balance. It typically requires a routing number for external transfers or when you need to move funds to a different account.
How To Find the Routing Number for a Financial Account
Unlike an account number, a routing number isn't considered private information, so you can typically find it without doing too much digging.
Still, every bank is different, so the methods for finding the number may vary. You should also note that some larger financial institutions have more than one routing number and may vary by location or transaction type. Make sure to check with your issuer to identify the number that applies to your particular case.
If you use personal or business paper checks, the simplest way to access the RTN is by looking at one of the checks. You can find the routing number in the bottom left corner, with the account number next to it on the right.
In case you don’t have paper checks nearby or don’t use them at all, you can try finding the routing number by:
- Looking at the provided bank paperwork—You can usually find it in the account details section, welcome letter, account agreement, or terms and conditions.
- Looking at a deposit slip—The number will likely be in the bottom left corner.
- Visiting the bank’s website—Many banks display the routing number on their website, usually on the homepage or in the FAQ section.
- Searching online—A simple online search should reveal the routing number associated with your bank.
- Referring to your online banking platform or mobile app—The number is usually located in the account details section or in the settings.
- Contacting customer service—You can get in touch with the bank’s customer support via phone, email, or live chat and ask them directly to acquire the most reliable info.
Routing Number vs. Account Number
Most transactions, especially external ones, will require you to provide both routing and account numbers.
For a summary of the differences between these two numbers, refer to the table below:
The Risks of Revealing Routing and Account Numbers When Shopping Online
Although paying with cards doesn’t require the end user to expose his or her routing or account numbers, there’s still a high chance of fraud. The Federal Trade Commission reports that over 87,000 U.S. citizens experienced credit card fraud in 2022. The frequency of these frauds has been slowly rising, and new scams are becoming more intricate and subtle as technology advances.
When it comes to physical cards, fraudsters can steal them and get hold of sensitive information using special skimming devices and cameras. Over the last few years, card-not-present fraud has been taking center stage, accounting for about $5.72 billion of losses in 2022.
Online shopping, although convenient, poses its own set of risks. Fraudsters employ various tactics, such as phishing and pagejacking, to hack individuals and businesses and access their financial and personal data. They then use it to make fraudulent transactions, open new fake accounts, and perform various other illegal activities.
Besides causing distress, these actions often lead to financial loss or affect the victim’s credit history.
- Avoiding public Wi-Fi networks, suspicious websites, and links
- Enabling multi-factor authentication and transaction alerts
- Using a strong password for each account
- Masking your payment card details with a virtual card
How Virtual Cards Help Secure Your Transactions
Source: Karolina Grabowska
A virtual card is an electronically generated payment card with a unique 16-digit number, an expiration date, and a security code (CVV). It is connected to a funding source, such as your bank account or debit card, but allows you to make purchases without exposing your real financial information to the merchant.
A potential hacker that infiltrates the merchant’s servers will only have access to your virtual card information. That minimizes the risk of having your real card or bank data stolen in case of a breach.
Depending on the virtual card provider, you can enjoy various customization options enabling secure and seamless transactions. You can typically set spending limits, lock a card to a specific merchant, and close or pause the virtual card instantly without affecting your real bank information.
If you want to enjoy these and many other benefits when shopping online, sign up for Privacy.
Protect Your Payments With a Privacy Virtual Card
You can create two types of virtual cards—Single-Use and Merchant-Locked Cards. A Single-Use Card closes after the first transaction, ensuring a potential hacker accessing your virtual card number can’t misuse it. A Merchant-Locked Card can be used multiple times but only at one merchant. This type of virtual card also provides protection in case of a data breach as it prevents the hacker from using it elsewhere.
You can set spending limits on your virtual card to remain within budget and prevent overcharging and undisclosed fees. Privacy also allows you to pause or close the card instantly without affecting your real card or bank data. This allows you to react quickly if you notice any suspicious transactions on your virtual card or to prevent charges from an unwanted subscription service. Note that Privacy will only decline the charges, and you will still have to cancel the subscription directly with the merchant.
Privacy holds BBB® accreditation, meaning it complies with customer service standards and ethical business practices. It uses various security measures to safeguard your sensitive data, such as split-key encryption, PBKDF2 hashing, and single-tenant hardware in private networks.
Enjoy Speedy Checkout, Real-Time Alerts, and More
Check out some other benefits you can enjoy with Privacy:
You can share your Privacy Card with trusted family members. This can be beneficial for managing your children’s online spending as you remain in full control of the card settings.
Start Using Privacy and Enjoy Safer Shopping
Here’s how to get started with Privacy:
- Fill out the required KYC information
- Connect a funding source, such as your debit card or bank account
- Request and create a Privacy Card
With the base tier, which is free for domestic transactions, you can generate up to 12 virtual cards a month. You can also set spending limits, pause or close the cards, and use the browser extension and mobile app.
In case you need additional features, such as more virtual cards, cashback, priority support, or dedicated account management, consider going with the Pro ($10/month) or Teams ($25/month) plans.