For those with checking accounts, debit cards, or even accounts with online financial apps like CashApp, knowing what the transit number is, is crucial to being able to send and receive money through automated clearing house transactions or wire transfer services. It's also known as the routing number and is used in a wide variety of financial transactions, from getting your paycheck to paying utility bills. In some cases, however, knowing what it is and when you should use it is important.
Your bank transit number, also known simply as a transit number, ABA RTN, or routing number, is a unique number given to every financial institution authorized by the American Banking Association. It is a nine-digit number used to identify the specific bank branch where your account is located.
While many people may have a vague idea of what a transit number is, there is a lot to know about your particular transit number. There are circumstances where you may need to use it and situations where you won't need it. We're going to take a close look at just what your transit number is, how it relates to a routing number, and when you may need to use it to complete a financial transaction.
What Is A Bank Transit Number
A bank transit number is often referred to simply as a transit number. It is a nine-digit number that is assigned to each financial institution in the country that has been authorized by the American Banking Association. It is also known as the ABA RTN, or the American Banking Association Routing Transit Number, and is unique to the banking or financial institution that you work with. Each commercial bank branch will have its transit number, which primarily serves to show where and to whom your account number is directed.
You will often see your bank transit number at the bottom of paper checks, both personal and business. Near the bottom of physical checks, two groups of numbers are separated by symbols, and the bank transit number is the group of numbers on the left. Your account number is the group of numbers on the right, including any leading zeros, is unique to youand is not shared with anyone else.
Each ABA-authorized institution in the US is given a bank transit number specific to that institution. This includes not only commercial banks, but brokerages, investment banks, and even local and national credit unions. Any time one of these institutions issues a negotiable instrument, that instrument will bear the bank transit number for that location. A negotiable instrument is anything that guarantees or authorizes a transfer of funds to or from an account held by that institution, and common examples include checks, both business and personal, as well as things like promissory notes.
In the case of smaller banks and community institutions, there may be one transit number for the entire array of branches owned and operated by that bank. With larger banks, often those that have a national presence, there will generally be many different transit numbers held by the institution. Sometimes larger financial entities will combine all of the branches within a state, for example, under the same transit number.
This means that while you may have one transit number for your local branch, a branch of the same bank 20 minutes away across the state line will likely have an entirely different transit number. Your account number, however, will never change and will remain static, unless you close the account and open another.
What Is A Routing Transit Number
The routing transit number is the same thing as the bank transit number and is simply the formal name for the numerical sequence. The full designation of the number is the American Banking Association Routing Transit Number, and you may see a routing transit number abbreviated as RTN. It may also be called the routing number, ABA RTN, transit number, or even just the ABA.
The entire purpose of this number is to designate at which bank and where your account is held or managed. It will always be nine digits, though the exact number may vary depending on what service you will be using it for. Some banks have individual routing transit numbers for things like paper checks, electronic or ACH transfers, and wire transfers. If you are unsure if your routing transfer number will be necessary for a specific task, it's often best to contact your local bank and give them the details of the situation, just to be sure.
What Is A Transit ABA Number
The transit ABA number is the transit number issued by the American Banking Association and often goes by many names. Some people refer to it as the routing number, the transit number, the ABA RTN, or just the ABA number. No matter what it's called in your situation or location, the purpose is the same. It is a unique nine-digit number assigned to your bank or financial institution to identify the location where your account is held. Some banks may have different transit numbers for personal and business operations, while some banks have different transit numbers for nearly every potential electronic transfer possible.
Transit Number On Check
If you need to find your bank's or credit union's transit number on one of your physical checks, it is incredibly easy, and they will be printed directly on every check that comes in your checkbook. Along the bottom of the check, there are two groups of numbers listed in one long string, separated by some rectangular symbols.
The first group of nine digits will be your transit number, while the second group will be your account number. In some cases, there will also be a check number listed to the right of the account number. The symbols that separate the numbers are called magnetic ink character recognition, or MICR characters, and can be read by special check-reading and check-sorting machines that can sense the magnetic characters.
When To Use Bank Transit Number
You will need to use your bank transit number anytime you are setting up funds clearance through electronic means. If you are writing a paper check, the numbers on the check will be read by the receiver, however, in situations where you're not using a physical check, only the data from it, you'll need to enter the number manually.
You will need your bank transit number for setting up your direct deposit payments for a new job to ensure your paycheck goes to the bank holding your account. You may also need your bank transit number to set up automatic bill payments for things like utility bills, auto loans, home mortgage payments, and tax payments. If you need to reorder checks from your bank, you'll also need to enter your bank transit number during the order process and will usually need it regardless of the method that you reorder your checks, be it by mail, phone, or online form.
Will I Need A Transit Number To Send Money Internationally?
If you are sending money internationally, you won't be using the American Banking Association Routing Transit Number format, but you will need a similar designation to make sure your money ends up in the right place. There are two common types of international numbers that you may see there are IBANs and SWIFT BIC numbers, and depending on where you're sending money you'll need one or the other.
The most common is the SWIFT BIC, which stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication Bank Identifier Code. It is a standardized funds transfer network that operates across more than 10,000 banks in over 200 countries across the world. These numbers dictate not only what bank will be receiving the transfer but where they are globally located, as well. The first four digits indicate the bank code, the next two are the country in which the bank is located, and the next two tell you where the bank's central office is located. There may also be three additional digits that identify the specific branch location.
An IBAN is an International Bank Account Number. It is the standard way that funds are sent and received electronically across most of Europe, North Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. It is just like the SWIFT and ABA RTN process, where each number will serve to identify what bank is sending or receiving, as well as where they are located.
Knowing How To Use Transit Numbers Can Keep Your Money Safe
Understanding the difference between your transit number and other numbers in use by your bank, like your account number, is crucial to making sure your money is sent or received by the correct party. If you set up your direct deposit with an incorrect transit code, you may find that your employer sends your paycheck to someone at a different bank. Making sure you know how to use the transit numbers properly can help you keep your money safe and help it get to where it needs to be.
Shawn Manaher is a former financial advisor, has founded 5 online businesses, and is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and author. He's been featured on Forbes, The Consults Corner on TAE Radio, The Writing Biz, What's Your Story, and more.