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Do Credit Cards Have Routing Numbers?

GOBankingRates 11/21/2022 Sarah Sharkey
Shopping online. Young man using laptop with credit card at home © Poike / Getty Images/iStockphoto Shopping online. Young man using laptop with credit card at home

When wading into the world of banking, it’s easy to wonder if credit cards have routing numbers. After all, other accounts have routing numbers and your credit card has a 16-digit number slapped on it. But unlike other types of banking products, credit cards do not have routing numbers.

Let’s take a closer look at why credit cards don’t have routing numbers and what this means for your credit card usage experience.

Do Credit Cards Have Routing Numbers?

No, credit cards do not have routing numbers. Instead, credit cards have a 16-digit account number.

When you use a credit card, a routing number is not necessary to complete the transaction. Instead, your credit card is attached to an account number that allows banks to keep track of their charges.

Although the bank that issues your credit card may have a routing number, the credit card itself will not have a routing number.

Why Credit Cards Don’t Need Routing Numbers

Credit cards don’t have routing numbers because they simply don’t need them. Routing numbers are required for completing transactions between two bank accounts. For example, a wire transfer or check would involve a routing number to finalize the process. However, a credit card uses an account number to link your card transactions to your account.

As you likely know, credit cards have an account number. Typically, this is printed directly onto the front or back of the card. If your physical card doesn’t display an account number, then check out your card’s online portal to find your account number. The account number is used for processing payments. But there isn’t any need for a routing number because funds are not moving from one bank account to another. Instead, the credit card issuer will keep a running tab of your charges, which you can pay off at a later date.

What Is a Routing Number?

A routing number, or Routing Transit Number, is an identifying number for a financial institution. According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, the routing number is “the number identifying the bank where you have your checking, savings or business account.” Sometimes routing numbers are labeled ABA routing numbers, with a nod to the American Bankers Association.

What Kind of Accounts Have Routing Numbers?

If you are working with a large bank, some accounts will have routing numbers. For example, you should expect to see a routing number tied to your individual checking and savings accounts. As business owners, business checking and savings accounts will also have routing numbers attached.

Why Do Banks Have Routing Numbers?

The point of a routing number is to identify banks while completing financial transactions. When a transaction is initiated, a clearinghouse will use the routing number to properly process the financial transaction. In order for a financial institution to obtain a routing number, it must deemed eligible for a master account by a Federal Reserve Bank. Before receiving a routing number, the financial institution must prove that it has the credentials of a federal or state-charted institution.

Without routing numbers, finalizing financial transactions in a streamlined and accurate fashion is challenging. Back in 1910, the routing number system was started. With an easily identifiable 9-digit code, it’s more manageable to keep track of different financial institutions during a financial transaction.

In addition to a routing number, you’ll also need to provide your account number for a transaction to be completed. Both pieces of the puzzle are required for the modern banking transaction system to operate efficiently.

Where Can I Find My Routing Number?

Some large financial institutions have several different routing numbers for different areas of operation. In some cases, financial institutions will create different routing numbers for different types of transactions. With that in mind, finding your routing number can sometimes be a bit of a challenge.

However, you should be able to find your routing number at the bottom of your checks. The 9-digit routing number will be the first string of numbers on the bottom left side of your check. If you don’t have a check handy, you may be able to pull up your routing number through your online banking portal. For example, your banking platform might have your routing number obviously tied to your account.

Many financial institutions also keep their routing numbers easily available at the bottom of their website. It should either indicate the routing number or the ABA number. If you still can’t find your routing number, that’s okay! Simply call your financial institution’s customer service team. They should be able to quickly provide the numbers you need.

What Is a Credit Card Account Number?

A credit card account number is a 16-digit string to identify your credit card.

Within the string of numbers, there are identifying features that indicate more details about your credit card. For example, the first digits of the card number indicate what credit card issuer you are working with. All American Express account numbers start with a 37 or 34, while credit card account numbers issued by Mastercard start with a 5.

After those first numbers, the next six to eight digits indicate which financial institution issued the card. And the rest of the digits in the account number are unique to your specific account. Ultimately, your credit card account number is a unique string of numbers that ties your credit card transactions to your credit card statement.

What Is the Difference Between a Routing Number and a Credit Card Account Number?

The routing number tied to your financial institution is a code that’s unique to your financial institution. However, multiple accounts from the same bank will use that routing number to complete transactions.

In contrast, your credit card account number includes a unique string of numbers only associated with your credit card. Since credit card transactions involve different payment processing protocols and channels, a routing number isn’t necessary for credit cards.

Summary

When you use your credit card, you won’t need to provide a routing number. If you are looking for the account number to complete a transaction with your credit card, you can often find the necessary 16-digit code directly on your credit card.

Information is accurate as of Nov. 21, 2022. 

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Do Credit Cards Have Routing Numbers?

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