Pretty much everyone has handled a check at one point or another. Whether they’re for a tax refund, from an employer, or from your uncle at your bar mitzvah, checks always find their ways into our hands and leave us wondering, Why didn’t they just Venmo me instead? Luckily, most banking apps now include check-scanning features that simplify the process and save us a trip to the bank. But in the modern world of electronic transfers and crypto wallets, why do we even still use paper checks?
Believe it or not, while you’re more likely to see someone balancing a checkbook in an ‘80s movie than in real life these days, these unseemly pieces of paper still have their place in today’s world. Many employers pay their employees with checks. Sometimes the best way to pay your utility bill is with a check because certain landlords will charge a fee if you pay with a credit card. Plus, checks are a surprisingly secure transaction method.
The security of checks comes down to the unique features that are inscribed on each one. The unique codes written on your checks can also help you recall certain information about your own checking account if need be. So, while most people have transacted with checks before, you should also learn how to read a check.
Your routing number is the nine-digit code that appears on the bottom-left part of your check. Every bank has its own unique routing number that’s used to identify where the specific checking account being used was opened.
Being able to find your routing number is helpful when setting up direct deposit with an employer, transferring funds, paying bills electronically, and sending digital checks.
Your account number follows directly after your routing number on the bottom-left part of your check and contains between nine and twelve digits. This code is the unique identifier for your checking account and tells your bank which checking account to take money from when you write a check.
Your account number is also typically necessary if you want to set up direct deposits, transfer funds, pay bills, or send an electronic check.
Every check written from your checking account will have a unique number related to that check written in the top-right corner and also after your account number. This number is used for record keeping and can be helpful if you’re keeping your own records of checks you’ve written or trying to balance your own checkbook (which people don’t really do much anymore).
Fractional Bank Number
Your fractional bank number is written under the check number in the top-left corner of the check and is also used to identify the bank where the checking account is held that corresponds to the check. This number doesn’t have much practical use anymore since the same information is contained in the routing and account numbers, but it’s still written there nonetheless.
Where Else to Find This Information
Honestly, there’s no real reason that you need to know how to read a check anymore other than convenience. If you have your checkbook sitting next to you and you need to find your routing number, it’s nice to be able to read it quickly on a check.
However, if you don’t have your checkbook handy, you can also find this information on your online banking portal or by going into a local branch of your bank with a personal ID and requesting it.