When looking to transfer money to someone, most people use popular P2P (peer-to-peer) transfer apps like Cash App or Venmo.
Quick P2P apps are great for small, one-time transfers, but how would you transfer a large amount of money? Better yet, how would you transfer money to another one of your own accounts?
By using your routing and account numbers! There are four ways to transfer money using your routing and account numbers:
What Are Routing and Account Numbers, and Where Can You Find Them?
Before I delve into exactly how you can use your routing and account numbers to transfer money, let’s go over exactly what they are and where you can find them.
Your account number is unique to you and your specific account. If you have four different bank accounts, you have four different account numbers. If you want to transfer money in or out of any one of them, make sure you have the right account number.
At Chase Bank, the standard account number for checking accounts is nine digits long. In fact, mine is… I’m kidding. Never give your account number out, fraudsters can use it to siphon money out of your account in an instant. Plus, creating a brand new account is a long and difficult process.
Trust me, when I worked for America’s biggest bank I had to close and reopen hundreds of accounts because the account owner accidentally gave out their account numbers. We had to go over each of their automatic payments and deposits and redirect each and every one of them to the new account. Not fun.
Routing numbers are a little different. Most banks have a routing number designated to an entire state or region.
For example, the routing number for Chase Bank customers who opened their accounts in California is 322271627. Would you believe me if I said I still have that number memorized?
Routing numbers are public information.
If you’re ever unsure about a routing number, you can always call your bank, or you can Google it.
Most banks have their routing information on their website, so you can double check your info before making a transfer.
Where Exactly Can You Find Your Routing and Account Numbers?
There are four places to look for your routing and account number:
- Bank’s mobile app
- Bank’s website
- Bank statement
Bank’s Mobile App
Speaking from experience, Chase’s mobile app is one of the handiest out there. I used it well before I worked there and helped thousands of customers install it on their phones as well.
On the Chase Bank Mobile App, your routing and account numbers can be found just beneath your balance. It’s easy to navigate, it’s free, and it has all the information you need.
If your bank doesn’t have a mobile app, then you can just go to their website or call them for help.
If you have online access to your account, it’s much easier to find your routing and account number.
Simply log into your online bank, go to the “Account Summary” page, and look for the numbers in bold at the top of that page.
Most banks print your routing number and account number on the lower left-hand corner of your checks.
If you don’t have a checkbook, your bank will usually be able to print some out for you.
Chase Bank prints 3 checks per page for $2, not a bad deal if you just need a couple checks.
If you still get your statements mailed to you every month, you can find your routing and account number on them.
At Chase Bank they’re in the upper right hand corner in bold text. Most other banks I’ve seen have them before any other information on the statement, so don’t worry about missing them.
1. How to Transfer Money Using Your Routing and Account Numbers Through Direct Deposit
We’re starting our list today with the most common use of routing and account numbers: direct deposit.
Direct deposit is popular because it works. Workers enrolled in direct deposit get their paychecks on time and without hassle.
But direct deposit is also popular because it’s easy to set up. All you need is your routing and account numbers, which is exactly what we’re going to talk about!
Setting up direct deposit is incredibly simple.
Some banks will give you a pre-filled form when you open your accounts, others – like Chase Bank – allow you to print a form from your app.
There are only a few steps to follow when using a form to set up direct deposit.
First, you’ll need to fill out the form with your name as it appears on your account. This is so your employer knows where to send your money and who exactly it’s going to.
Next, you’ll need to write the name of your bank (if it’s not already on there) and sometimes to the physical address of the bank. This can be the branch you go to most frequently.
From there, all you have to do is hand off your direct deposit form to your employer and you’re all set to have your payday checks go straight into your checking account!
2. How to Transfer Money Using Routing and Account Numbers Through an ACH Transfer
ACH transfers aren’t super common, but they do have their use.
They’re a great way to transfer money between bank accounts, so long as the banks are set up for ACH transfers.
You can also use an ACH transfer if you want to send money from your account directly to someone else’s account (like if you want to pay them back). To do this, all you need is their routing number and account number!
Sometimes, ACH transfers are used for payroll as well. It’s actually how I get paid!
ACH transfers are great for payroll as once you have the account and routing numbers for your recipient, you simply need to log into your bank’s website and head to your transfer center.
Most banks allow you to create a “contact” of sorts when sending money. The “contact” saved on your bank’s website will usually include your recipient’s name, account, and routing numbers.
Click on that and all you’ll have to do is enter in how much you’d like to send.
3. How to Transfer Money Using Routing and Account Numbers Through a Wire Transfer
Wire transfers are much more popular than their ACH counterparts. They are faster, more secure and can be used to send money internationally. They can also cost less than ACH transfers, making them a popular option for businesses that need to transfer large amounts of money.
However, wire transfers can be more difficult to set up and take longer to process than other methods.
While most ACH transfers can be repeated from a bank’s website, you may need to head into your local bank’s branch to send a wire.
During my time at Chase, we only allowed our wealthiest clients the ability to transfer large sums of money from home. If you weren’t a “Private Client”, you’d have to walk into the branch and sit with a banker like me.
The fees for wires aren’t cheap either, usually coming in around $35 for a domestic wire and $50 for an international wire. Some banks will waive this fee depending on how much business you give them.
Wire transfers are mainly used for large purchases or international transfers.
During my time helping customers in a branch, I sent a ton of wires to title companies like Chicago Title to help my customers put a down payment on their homes.
Other times my customers would need to send funds to their families abroad, either in USD or in the currency of the country we were wiring.
Either way, the funds usually arrive in one business day, so long as the wire was sent before the daily cutoff time.
If you ever need to send a wire, either to buy property or make an international transfer, make sure your bank has a banker available before you stop in the branch.
Or better yet, check online to see if your bank will let you just send the wire on your own.
I know Chase offers a discount to customers who send wires online, maybe your bank will too!
4. How to Transfer Money Using Your Account and Routing Numbers Through an External Transfer
External transfers are usually the go to option for customers who want to transfer money between their own accounts at separate banks.
Almost every major bank and credit union has some way to add external accounts onto a customer’s app or online banking.
External transfers are similar to ACH transfers in that once you’ve entered the information once you should be all set for future transfers.
Most online banking platforms will even allow you to name your accounts. Instead of seeing “Account …4536” you can choose to see “Chase Bank Account” or whatever bank that account is associated with.
To create an external transfer, you’ll need the routing and account numbers of the account you want to transfer to.
In your bank’s app, there is usually a button or section entitled “external transfer”. Click on that and your bank will ask you for the name of the bank they’re helping you transfer your funds to and your account and routing number connected to that account.
After your information is entered, it needs to be verified. Most banks don’t refund any funds sent through an external transfer, so they verify the account before moving forward.
They do this by making several small transactions in both accounts, sending just enough funds to make sure the accounts are connected without breaking the bank.
Usually, you’ll see three transactions in either account for amounts less than $1. If you see the same amounts in both accounts, you should be fully connected and ready for external transfers!
The first transfers may take a business day or two, but once both banks see the recurring or regular deposits, they should have no problem speeding that process up.
Can You Change Your Routing and Account Number?
This one is a bit tricky.
During certain situations, you can change your account number. At Chase Bank, the only time we would change someone’s account number was when that person was going through serious fraud.
More often than not, as bankers we could stop the fraud by simply ordering a different debit card for our customers.
Unfortunately, if a scammer gets their hands on your actual account number, there is a lot of work to be done in order to fix the problem.
When you change an account number, you need to inform everyone who uses it.
That goes from bills and automatic payments to any direct deposits you had coming your way.
It is a hassle, and I always recommend doing everything you can to protect your account number from falling into the wrong hands.
Your routing number is different. It’s decided based on the region or state you opened your account in, so your bank can’t change it.
If you wanted a different routing number, your best option would be to open your account in a different state.
You shouldn’t ever worry too much about your routing number as it is public information. To prove it, you can Google “Wells Fargo Routing Number” and you’ll get a list of their routing numbers. Google knows I’m writing from snowy Colorado, so the first one I saw was 102000076, Wells Fargo’s routing number for any account opened in the Rocky Mountain State.
You should only be using someone’s account and routing number to make a transfer in very specific instances.
Most times, small one-time transfers are easier to make though popular P2P transfer apps like Zelle or Paypal.
If you are in the market for a large, international, or internal transfer between your own accounts, using routing and account numbers may be your best bet.