how to transfer money using routing number and account number

How to Transfer Money Using Routing and Account Number

June 8, 2022

It has become effortless to send and receive money either domestically or internationally in the modern world. It is possible to transfer money within your bank from one account to another or transfer from your bank to another. When transferring funds between two banking institutions, two main numbers are crucial. They include the account and routing numbers. I will discuss how to transfer money using routing and account number shortly.

The ability to transfer funds within and without financial institutions has made the world a happy place to live. Nowadays, you can work far away from your family and find it easy to send money to your family. Even though banks are the main avenues of sending and receiving money, we have credit unions that also require you to use the same money transfer methods as banks.

Sending money to a bank requires you to open a bank account with the most preferred institution. That can be online or at a physical branch. When opening your account online, things are easy since you only have to fill out an application form and upload the required documents. You need your Social Security Number, identification document, phone number, email, etc. You can either open a checking or a savings account.

What are account and routing numbers?

how to transfer money using routing number and account number

If you hear about routing and account numbers for the first time, you must be wondering what they are. A routing number is a nine-digit set of numbers that help identify a specific financial institution. Every financial company has a routing number. You can get the routing number when you log into your account online. You can also find the number in your checks, as it is the first set of numbers printed at the lower part of the check.

A routing number allows you to send money from one bank to another. The number allows you to send money to a specific financial company when sending money. Financial institutions are many, and failure to uniquely identify each one can bring a lot of confusion when people want to move money. Banks can also use a routing number to track where the funds came from and what is being transferred.

The nine digits of a routing number have specific meanings. The first four digits show the Federal Reserve Bank of the district where the financial institution is located, while the next four denote the financial company itself. The last digit is a classifier for a check or negotiable instrument.

On the other hand, an account number identifies your account. It helps to identify your account details among other account holders in a banking institution. The number is usually between 10 and12 digits, although it can be as long as 17 digits. Even if you have multiple accounts within the same institution, the routing number remains unchanged.

Usually, an account number allows you to transfer money to someone else’s bank account if they belong to the same branch as yours. You have to combine it with the routing number when sending money to someone from another bank.

Account-to-account transfer within the same bank may be free, but bank-to-bank transfer attracts some transaction fees in most cases. However, the transfer fees are usually a small percentage of the amount under the transaction. Remember that you can send money with a checking account number or even the savings one. However, savings accounts allow limited access.

Where Is your Account Number on a Check?

Where Is your Account Number on a Check

Apart from the routing number, a check also contains the account number. The account number is the second set of numbers, just after the routing number, and is printed on the bottom of your check. It is usually 10-12 digits, and as I said earlier, it is specific to your account.

The other place you can find your account number is on your monthly statement, be it paper or e-statement. You can also locate your account number online when you sign in to your account. Debit cards also have the account number, and you can either find it embossed or laser-printed on the front of the card.

How to transfer money using routing and account number?

You can utilize three major ways to transfer money using routing and account and routing numbers. They include the following.

1) ACH transfer

ACH in full means Automated Clearing House. The transfer involves sending money from your bank to another bank through the clearing house, a third party. The platform facilitates transactions on behalf of the sending and receiving accounts.

You require the routing number plus the account number since you are transferring money from one bank to another. The process usually takes between 1-2 business days to complete. However, it may take longer depending on various aspects concerning the receiving institutions. 

Interestingly, you can have instant ACH transfers facilitated by some systems and have to part with transfer fees for the process. Generally, ACH transfers are safe, cheaper, and more reliable. Again, the transfers can happen both domestically and internationally. Also, you can carry out the process online or at a branch.

2) Wire transfers

Another way you can send money using the routing and account numbers is through wire transfers. Wire transfers are faster than ACH transfers. Again, unlike ACH, which relies on the Automated Clearing House to facilitate money transfers, wire transfers involve the direct participation of the sending and the receiving financial companies. Therefore, the transfers are faster compared to ACH.

Domestic wire transfers can take 24 hours or less to complete. The wire transfers are more costly than ACH because they are faster. To wire money to a bank account within the U.S., you have to part with fees between $20 and $30. When wiring outside the United States, you might part with between $40 and$50.

Wire transfers are ideal for bank-to-bank transfers that require extensive and urgent money transfers. However, the transfer method is less secure than ACH. In most cases, you cannot get your money back once you hit the send money option.

Remember that the costs apply to both the sender and the recipient. Wire transfers are ideal for transferring large amounts of money quickly despite costs. That is contrary to the ACH transfer, which is suitable for sending small amounts of money to friends, receiving paychecks, and paying bills.

Direct deposit is an ACH transfer. The money transfer option allows you to receive your salary from your employer, get government benefits, etc. 

3) Transfering money using a check

A check is a written and signed document that allows the beneficiary to get money from the writer’s account. When you receive a check from someone, you have to deposit it in your bank, credit union, or mobile wallet. You can also cash it out where necessary.

When you write a check, it usually goes with the account and the routing number. The details help financial companies where the check is deposited to know the institution where the check is coming from and the account that they should deduct money from. There is no way you can write a check without the two numbers. There is also a check number that determines the validity of the check.

To see your account and routing numbers on a check, you can hover down to the bottom of the document. The first set of numbers represents the routing numbers, while the middle set is the account number. The last set represents the check number. Check processing requires some fees, and thus you may not get the exact amount of money written on the document.  

How to avoid or reduce transfer fees?

There are various ways one can save on transfer fees or even avoid them altogether when sending money. The following are ways you can avoid fees. Have a look.

i) Transfer money online

Banks charge fewer fees when you carry out online transfers than in-branch transactions. You can part with only between $5 and$10 to wire funds online. Online transfers are cheap because you carry the process yourself, unlike branches where you have to seek the teller’s assistance. 

Online banking is becoming popular day by day. You can send money to the bank’s website or use mobile apps. The process is fast and convenient since you do not have to go anywhere. As long as your account has sufficient money, you can send funds from the comfort of your house. 

Ensuring that you use a secure internet connection is crucial when sending finances to others. That way, you can prevent losing money to fraudsters who can phish your banking details when you log in to your account using an insecure network connection.

ii) Meet some requirements to avoid fees

A bank or credit union may give you requirements that, when you meet them, you can make free transfers either domestically or internationally. You should utilize such opportunities where necessary. These can include maintaining a particular balance in your account, receiving some direct deposits per month, or having an account for a specific period. You may even receive free wires upon meeting the requirements.

Again, setting up a recurrent wire transfer may also save you from fees. Your bank may decide to eliminate some fees after allowing periodical transfers of some amount of money to someone else or a service provider.

iii) Use ACH

As I mentioned earlier, ACH transfers are free. If there are charges, then they can’t be that much. ACH transfers allow you to move money between banks. Even though the transfers could take longer than wire transfers, you will save substantial money.

iv) Use a student account

You can send or receive wire transfers for free if you use a student account. Most financial institutions exempt student accounts from fees such as monthly maintenance fees, annual fees, foreign transaction fees, and even wire transfer fees. If you have a student account, you can use it and save a lot of money. You can even utilize a friend who is your friend or relative to send or receive money.

The only limitation of such a fee waiving is that financial companies allow it for a limited number of times per month. After that, you may pay fees like ordinary account holders. You may get the free option to send once or twice per month.

v) Convert the currencies appropriately

You can consider currency conversion if your bank allows it. Converting currencies can save you from high fees when making international transfers. However, do not forget that banks may charge you currency conversion fees. Converting currencies may save you because USD tends to be expensive to use for your money transfers compared to some other currencies.

vi) Use payment cards

There are various payment cards that you can use to pay for goods and services and send money. They include debit, credit, and prepaid cards. Most cards allow you to send money without charging fees. If they have to charge, it is usually small. You can have a card with zero foreign transaction fees that allow you to transfer money to international merchants when buying goods and services.

It is easy to get a payment card. For a debit card, you can apply for it as soon as you open your checking account or during the checking account application. If you want a credit card, you can get one from your bank or credit union as long as you qualify.

Prepaid cards do not necessarily require any bank or credit union account to get them since they are independent. However, you may link them with your bank or credit union account.

vii) Use third-party platforms

Various third parties in the United States charge low or no fees. For example, Popmoney and clearXchange are some of the popular third-party platforms you can use today for your transfer. You need to provide the email or phone number of the recipient to make your transfer.

The recipient will get an email or SMS message with guidelines for accessing the funds. Popmoney is popular in the country, with hundreds of banks supporting its services. Another third-party platform you can use is Zelle which charges no fees for transfers.

Another importance of sending money via third parties is that they allow you to send money faster than wire and ACH transfers.

How do you get routing and account numbers?

I have discussed how you can use the account and routing numbers for your transfers. However, it is essential to know how to get the digits to utilize them when needed. The following are the various ways you can get the numbers. Have a look.

a) Get them from your checkbook

A checkbook contains checks that you can write to make payments. When you open a checking account and apply for the checkbook from your financial company, you usually get it. When you look at the check at the bottom, you will find three sets of numbers.

The first set containing nine digits is the routing number, while the second set is the account number which usually has around 12-15 digits. Lastly, as you move towards the right, is the check number.

b) Call your bank

Another way you can get your checking number is by calling your bank through their customer care line. You need to supply them with the necessary details to give you your account number plus the routing number. Usually, you must give them your identification document number so that they can cross-check the accounts attached with the identity document.

Remember that an identification document is one of the essential requirements when opening a bank account. Others include the Social security Number, physical address, email, and phone number.

Your customer care may send the details via SMS or require you to note them down. You can then use the details in the most appropriate manner.

c) Get them online

It is easy to get your account and routing number when you log into your online banking via the website of your bank or credit union. You need your account information, such as your username and password, to log in to your account online. Once logged in, you can navigate here and there doing various activities.

In most cases, you will find the account and routing numbers in the account information center. In some cases, you can find the numbers displayed on the header of your profile, and thus you do not have to waste a lot of time looking for them.

d) Check your monthly statements

Another sure place you can see the account and routing numbers is by checking your monthly statements. These can be your e-statements or the paper ones. You should first enroll for the statements to be able to receive them. Financial companies usually send paper statements to your mailbox while the e-statements arrive at your email address.

Can you send money without routing and account numbers?

The routing and account numbers are significant when making a bank-to-bank transfer. However, there is a way you can make your transfers without the need for the two sets of numbers.

You can use Zelle, a money transfer platform that allows you to transfer money across banks and credit unions. Zelle does not require routing and account numbers. You need the registered user’s phone number, and you are good to go.

Zelle operates online, and you have to enroll to use the service. If your bank supports Zelle, the platform is already in your online account. You only need to enroll with your banking information to proceed. You can send money through Zelle in the following manner.

1. Enroll on Zelle

You should first enroll on the platform to start sending money. You should start by enrolling your email address or U.S. mobile number using your mobile banking application or the Zelle app.

2. Pick a person to pay

After enrolling on the platform, you can enter the recipient’s email or U.S. mobile number. With the platform, you can move money to almost anyone you trust with a bank account within the U.S.

3. Enter the amount

The third step is to enter the amount of money to send. After that, you can authorize accordingly. The recipient gets a notification guiding them on how to complete the payment quickly and get their money. If they are enrolled on Zelle, they do not have to do anything.

The funds will automatically reflect in their accounts. Remember that you can send money to someone not enrolled on Zelle. They need to enroll in the service to get the funds. If they do not enroll within 14 days, the transaction will expire, and the funds will return to your account.

Zelle transfers are instant as funds reach the recipient as soon as you send them. However, the service does not allow users to transfer money internationally. It only operates within the United States.

Is routing and account numbers necessary for international transfers?

You do not need the routing number to make an international transfer. The details are only needed for bank-to-bank transfers within the United States. The routing number is essential when receiving money from a foreign bank. However, you will need the account number of the receiving account. When making transfers outside the U.S., you require the IBAN or SWIFT code of the receiving bank.

The IBAN or SWIFT code acts as the routing numbers since they identify the receiving bank. Other details necessary for international transfer include the recipient’s bank name, country, and address. You will also need to include the purpose of sending the funds. You can make international transfers online or at your bank’s branch.

How do you send money safely?

When it comes to money transfers, safety is paramount. Nothing is more annoying than learning that your money did not reach the intended person. Various tips can help you to send money safely. They include the following.

  • Always make sure that you use secure internet connections to send money. That way, you can prevent phishing of your banking information by hackers. An insecure internet connection can expose your details to fraudsters leading to loss of money.
  • Where possible, send money to people you know. Thousands of people have been lured into sending money to people under the pretense that they are your relatives and friends. It is wise to call and confirm.
  • Never assign the responsibility for sending money to anyone by giving them your logging details. They may turn against you and steal your money.

Bottom line

Money transfer has become easy nowadays due to efficient money transfer services. When transferring money from one account to another in a bank or credit union, you only need the account number.

However, you need the routing and account numbers when sending funds to another bank or credit union. The routing number identifies the institution receiving money. When sending money internationally, you need the IBAN or Swift code of the receiving financial company.

Posted by Spencer Tierney
Spencer Tierney is a writer and expert on certificates of deposits at His work has been featured by USA Today, MSN, SF Gate, the Los Angeles Times, NerdWallet and more. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English at UC Berkeley.