App version: 0.1.0

Bank Account Numbers, Explained

 Bank Account Numbers, Explained
Emma Diehl
Emma DiehlUpdated January 30, 2023
Share this article:
Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
When you open your banking app, you’re probably bombarded with numbers, from statement charges to account balances.One number that can be harder to find is the bank account number–the one identifying your specific account. This number is important for transactions ranging from direct deposit to cash transfers to bill payment, but it’s usually not very obvious. Banks downplay it to help you keep your cash safe, but you can find it if you know where to look.Here’s what you need to know to track down and make sense of these numbers. 

What Is a Bank Account Number?

A bank account number is a unique sequence of numbers generated by the bank as a way to identify an account. When you open an account, the bank assigns you the account number. Depending on the bank, bank account numbers can be up to 17 digits long, but the typical length is eight to 12 digits.  If you open multiple accounts with a bank, such as a savings and a checking account, you’ll get a separate bank account number for each one.

Where Is a Bank Account Number Found?

Because bank account numbers are private identifiers for account holders to use when communicating with a bank, security is key, so finding the number isn’t as simple as looking at your debit card. However, there are several other places to find your account number. 

On a Check

You can find your checking account number on a check, of course. If you have a paper check on hand, take a look at its bottom section. You’ll see three groupings of digits, separated by spaces or characters. The checking account number usually appears as the second group of digits. 

On Your Online Account

Figuring out how to find a bank account number for your checking or savings account online will vary based on the bank or credit union’s website. After you log into your account through the desktop or mobile app, look for an “account details” link or tab; the number is likely to be there. The bank account number might also be included right before your account name. Sometimes you may see your account name on screen with a bunch of Xs and a few digits right before it. That’s a security precaution. Often you can reveal the full account number by clicking on that sequence.

Bank Statements

Whether paper or online, bank statements for checking and savings accounts display the bank account number on each statement page, typically in one of the top corners. Recommended: How Long to Save Bank Statements

What Are Bank Account Numbers Used For?

As mentioned above, a bank account number is a unique sequence of digits. It’s generated by the bank and used to identify each account at that bank. Because the number is unique, the bank or other commercial institution can use it to specify, for example, the account that should receive your direct deposit paycheck or the account providing the funds for your auto-pay bills. 

What Do the Numbers on a Bank Account Represent?

An account number is just an identifying label for an account, telling the bank where to assign all of the account holder’s debits and credits. There’s rarely any meaning behind the order or the particular digits used – though some banks and credit unions might use certain prefix or suffix digits to indicate the account type.For many financial transactions, you’ll need not just your bank account number, but also the nine-digit routing number that identifies your bank.  

Bank Account Numbers vs Routing Numbers

Bank account numbers and routing numbers work hand in hand to identify your unique account. A routing number in the U.S. is a nine-digit number registered with the Federal Reserve that identifies the bank or institution where the account is held. A routing number is not unique to an account holder, but an account number is. Think of it this way. If a bank account is a home, the routing number is the street, and the bank account number is the house number. There are many houses on the street but only the one labeled with a certain number is yours.For example, if you want an employer to direct-deposit your paycheck, they need to know exactly where to send the money. They need both a routing number and an account number. The routing number narrows down the destination to a particular bank. The account number then specifies the account into which the money will be deposited. 

Bank Account Number vs Debit Card Number

Banks often package a checking account with an add-on debit card tied to it. A debit card is a form of payment linked to your bank account, often usable in place of a check. The debit card number, similar to a credit card number, makes in-person and online transactions easy. It’s faster and easier than writing a check or withdrawing cash at an ATM. The number on your debit card is not the same as your checking account number. Instead, the card will have multiple strings of numbers, including a card number, security code, and expiration date. 

Is It Safe to Share Your Bank Account Number?

Unlike the number on a debit card, which is frequently shared at online checkouts, a bank account number is much more private. That privacy is important. If a fraudster were to obtain your bank account number, they might be able to withdraw funds from it without your knowledge. There aren’t many occasions where it is necessary to provide a bank account number, except for the following:  
  • A direct deposit for a paycheck
  • An auto-pay arrangement for rent, mortgage payments, utilities, or recurring charges
  • A tax payment to the IRS
  • Transfers between bank accounts
  • A wire transfer
So before you share your bank account number, make sure the electronic transfer will be handled securely via an ACH (Automated Clearing House) transaction. 

The Takeaway

Every checking or savings account has a unique bank account number, which gets assigned to the customer when the account is opened. For security reasons the account number is not always simple to locate. Once you know where to look, though, you can find your checking account number on a check, through the bank’s website or app, or on your bank statement. Some transactions require you to share your bank account number, but to avoid fraud, be wary when people or businesses ask for it.Understanding your bank account’s identification numbers helps you transfer money between checking and savings accounts as needed. That way, it’s easy to keep money in a savings account to earn interest and then transfer sums to checking when needed.  Lantern can help you compare online savings accounts and find today’s best rate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can you find your bank account number?
How many digits are in a bank account number?
Is your bank account number on your debit card?
Photo credit: iStock/zoff-photo

About the Author

Emma Diehl

Emma Diehl

Emma Diehl is a nationally-published journalist with expertise in finance, real estate, and technology. Her work has appeared on NPR, The Huffington Post,, and numerous local publications. When she's not covering the world of personal finance with SoFi, she's probably rollerblading or planning her next meal.
Share this article: