What is an ACH routing number & how do I find it? (2024)

Every year, Americans make 24 billion ACH (Automated Clearing House) payments: a simple, cost-effective form of account-to-account fund transfer.

ACH payments allow businesses to pay suppliers and employees, as well as receive payments – from both customers and other businesses. Whenever you settle your utility bills or insurance premiums, pay your employees, or charge your customers for ongoing membership fees, you dip into the versatility and affordability ACH payments offer.

ACH payments are a simple, convenient way to move money – if, that is, you’re getting them right. You’ll need the correct bank and payee details for an ACH to reach its intended recipient – or risk errors which could delay or invalidate the transaction.

That means you’ll need to know exactly what an ACH routing number is, what it does – and why it’s vital for ensuring the smoothest, most seamless ACH transactions possible.

We’ll explain all this below, along with the key differences and similarities an ACH routing number shares with an ABA (American Bankers Association) number. We’ll show you how to locate both of these routing numbers – and how to accept ACH transfers, alongside a diverse array of other payment methods, with Checkout.com.

What is an ACH routing number?

An ACH routing number is a nine-digit number assigned to each banking institution in the US. It acts as a form of unique numeric identifier – helping banks throughout the country understand where to send electronic payments to and from.

Developed in the 1970s, ACH routing numbers heralded the US’s first shift away from a cumbersome reliance on paper checks – and towards the speed and convenience of electronic payments. So, every time you send an ACH payment online, you’ll need your ACH routing number. We’ll discuss exactly where you can find your ACH routing number below.

An ACH routing number is categorized as an ABA number.

The two are similar, although ACH routing numbers – unlike their ABA counterparts – are used for electronic account-to-account transactions. ABA routing numbers are for processing paper checks. For more information about the difference between ACH and ABA, scroll on!

Use cases for ACH routing numbers

ACH routing numbers may be just nine digits, but they’re what make billions of ACH payments – involving a wide range of different banking institutions – possible.

Some use cases for ACH routing numbers include:

  • Direct deposits: ACH routing numbers are required to set up direct deposits – for example, paying staff wages. Employers require their employees’ ACH routing numbers to pay into their accounts each month via ACH – without the need for paper checks.
  • Bill payments: to authorize a company or service provider to debit funds from their account – for utility bills, mortgages, loans, or similar recurring payments – customers must provide their bank’s ACH routing number (alongside their account number).
  • Business-to-business payments: when it comes to B2B payments – such as paying suppliers, service providers, or vendors – ACH routing numbers are required.
  • Online purchases: some online retailers offer their customers the option to pay via ACH transfer for a more familiar, cost-effective payment method. Instead of providing their credit or debit card information, the customer instead offers up their ACH routing number and account number to complete the purchase.
  • International transfers: ACH routing numbers are required to facilitate cross-border ACH transactions. That said, international ACH has its limitations: it isn’t the fastest way of sending money overseas, and you’ll have to pay in the local currency. (And not all banks offer international ACH transactions in the first place.) If you make a lot of international payments, you may be better off sending them via wire transfer.

For a comprehensive rundown of the differences between ACH and wire transfer, our guide will help.

ACH vs ABA routing numbers

ACH and ABA routing numbers are often used interchangeably. And sometimes, depending on the banking institution, these numbers are the same.

However, that doesn’t mean they’re the same thing.

Both have nine digits, and act as unique numeric IDs facilitating seamless account-to-account payments. The key difference, though, is that ABA routing numbers are used for paper check transfers, while ACH routing numbers are for electronic payments.

An ABA routing number:

  • Has nine digits.
  • Is also known as a ‘transit number’.
  • Identifies a financial institution in the US.
  • Is used for paper check ACH transfers only.
  • Typically starts with two digits between 00 and 12.
  • Can usually be found in the bottom left corner of your checkbook.

An ACH routing number:

  • Has nine digits.
  • Identifies a financial institution in the ACH network.
  • Is used for electronic ACH transfers only.
  • Typically starts with two digits between 61 and 72.
  • Can be found on your bank’s website.

Basically, the key difference between ABA and ACH routing numbers is what they have, historically, been used for – whether that’s paper check processing, or electronic fund transfer.

Since many banks now have the same ABA and ACH number, the difference is less relevant, in practice, today. But it’s still worth understanding – and remembering – the ABA vs ACH distinction when it comes to making your next ACH payment.

How to find your ACH routing number

The quickest and most effective way to find your ACH routing number is to give your bank a call – or head to its website. (Just be sure to double-check it is your bank’s actual website, and not that of a fraudster or imposter – or the wrong bank!)

Your ABA number is located on your checkbook, and you may also be able to find your ACH number there – although, as we’ve discussed, this won’t always be the case.

ACH payments at Checkout.com

Now you know what an ACH routing number is, why it’s important, and where to find it, you can accept ACH payments with greater confidence and peace of mind.

Here at Checkout.com, we empower you with the tips, tools, technology to make ACH payments a key part of your payment processing strategy. To tap into the more than 130 million US bank accounts in the ACH network, take payments across a huge range of industries, and offer your customers a way to pay that’s both fast, familiar and fee-friendly.

To learn more about accepting ACH payments with Checkout.com – and get to grips with the what, why, and how of adding ACH to your payments flow – click through to our website.

Or get in touch with our team today for a chat about how taking ACH payments can benefit your business.

What is an ACH routing number & how do I find it? (2024)
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