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Do Savings Accounts Have Routing Numbers?

Matthew Frankel, CFP, The Motley Fool

Here’s what a routing number is and why all savings accounts have them.

A bank teller smiles to a customer from behind her desk.

Image source: Getty Images.

The short answer is yes. U.S.-based savings accounts all have routing numbers.

A routing number corresponds to a banking institution, not to a specific type of account. Routing numbers are used for several purposes in addition to check-writing, such as setting up direct deposit or transferring money between banks -- both of which are common practices in savings accounts.

With that in mind, here’s some more information on what a routing number is, how to find the routing number for your own savings account, and what you may need your savings account’s routing number for.

What is a routing number?

A routing number -- its technical name is an ABA routing transit number -- is a nine-digit code that identifies the financial institution where a bank account is held. Along with your account number, a routing number is used to identify your individual U.S.-based bank account.

Routing numbers came into existence in 1910 in an effort to make transactions faster and more efficient. Every U.S. bank has at least one specific routing number assigned to it, as this helps to accurately distinguish between banks -- especially those with similar-sounding names. There are tens of thousands of routing numbers in the United States, so you can see why using them can be easier as a quick identifier than trying to manually look up a bank’s information.

Routing numbers are most commonly associated with checking accounts, where they appear on the bottom of every check along with the account number. They appear in order to tell the receiving financial institution where the check writer’s account is held. However, all U.S. savings accounts also have a routing number associated with them, as they are issued to all banks that have an account with the Federal Reserve.

Where can you find your savings account’s routing number?

If you have a book of personalized savings deposit slips, your routing number is likely on them. Look for a nine-digit code towards the bottom left of one of the slips.

If you don’t have any deposit slips handy, you can also typically find your routing number on your account statement or on your bank’s website. If you’re still having difficulty, or if you aren’t 100% sure that the number you’re looking at is the correct routing number, call your bank to find out.

What savings routing numbers are used for

As I’ve mentioned, routing numbers have lots of potential uses. In checking accounts, routing numbers are often used to set up bill pay by direct debit, but things like this aren’t too common in savings accounts. However, there are numerous situations where you’ll need to know your savings account’s routing number.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list, here are a few common reasons you may need to use your savings account’s routing number:

  •         If you want to set up a direct deposit for some, or all, of your paycheck to automatically deposit into your savings account.
  •         If you need to transfer money between banks. For example, if you’re buying a house and need to transfer money from your savings account to an escrow account, you’ll need to know your routing number.
  •         If you want to have some or all of your tax refund deposited into your savings account.
  •         If you want to link two accounts from different institutions. For example, if you have a high-yield online savings account and a checking account with a different institution and want to be able to make savings deposits easily with your checking account, you’ll need to know your routing number to link the accounts.

To sum it up, not only do savings accounts have routing numbers, but you’ll need to know this important piece of account-identifying information in several possible scenarios.

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