If you’ve ever performed a wire transfer or a simple direct deposit, you may have come across the term, ‘routing number.’ Routing numbers play a crucial role when it comes to transactions and monetary exchanges made between certain financial institutions.
So, what are they? Why do you need routing numbers at all? Are they the same as your account number? And do credit cards have routing numbers?
Today, we offer you a breakdown of concepts and answers that will put all these questions to rest and help you become a more informed and financially able reader.
What are Routing Numbers?
A routing number is a series of digits that help identify a specific financial institution that’s involved in a transaction. They often appear as 9-digit numbers that are located at the bottom of your check.
This number allows systems to identify where the money is coming from (the financial institution’s source) and where it’s going (the destination institution/bank). So, any electronic payments you make from your account will carry the routing number for quick identification by banking systems.
Routing numbers find their use in a variety of banking applications that include wire transfers, making direct deposits, or ordering checks. As banks and financial institutions send, receive, and exchange monetary values, the routing number behaves like a numerical address that identifies and acknowledges the bank that houses your account.
You may also come across terms like routing transit numbers which mean the same thing. It’s also called the ABA routing number sometimes because it was the American Bankers Association (ABA) that first developed and instituted the concept of routing numbers back in 1910-11.
Understanding Credit Cards
Credit cards are, essentially, provisions where banks allow holders of credit card to purchase or pay for goods/services by using funds that the bank temporarily loans to them.
The condition is that cardholders have to repay the used funds to the bank (along with the additional interest) within the agreed terms and duration or risk facing further penalties. It’s basically a standard credit line that the bank extends to customers who exhibit more likelihood of paying back the bank.
In some provisions, banks may also allow credit card holders to borrow a line of credit in the form of cash. However, this additional credit often comes with a relatively higher interest rate and stricter terms of repayment.
If you’re trying to reduce debt while having to borrow, a personal loan with lower interest rates may serve you better. On the other hand, it’s common for users to apply for credit cards with the objective of making timely repayments to build their credit scores.
However, if you’re only looking to cover unexpected expenses, opting for a comprehensive insurance plan or, at least, an auto insurance plan for accidents may be a more practical approach.
These matters aside, credit cards still offer a great deal of convenience and easy advance funds for people responsible enough to clear their dues on time.
Do Credit Cards Have Routing Numbers?
No. Routing numbers are not present on credit cards because they don’t need the utility of a bank routing number to function.
Credit cards don’t carry routing numbers because their transactions don’t involve transferring funds from your account to another (or vice versa)
However, credit cards do carry identifying information that distinguishes them from ordinary cards or account numbers. Every credit card normally carries a 15 or 16-digit number on one face. This series of numbers reveal information about your bank, your account, and the purchases you make through the card.
For instance, if you own a credit card, you’ll find that the first number/digit listed on this series reveals your card issuer/type. So, a six at the beginning means you have a Discover card, and a 3 indicates an American Express Card.
Then, the following 7-8 digits/numbers show the financial institution that authorizes your card. Finally, the 5-6 digits at the end form the unique number that identifies you and your card from other credit cards owned by customers of the same bank or financial institution.
So, while credit cards do carry an identifiable series of numbers on their face, routing numbers are not present on them.
Why Doesn’t a Credit Card Have A Routing Number?
Credit cards normally don’t carry a routing number because the payments made are not from your account. It’s the bank that clears the dues you incur while making a purchase with the credit card.
In contrast, any wire transfers or electronic payments you make personally require funds to be transferred from your checking or savings account. Here, the routing number is included because participating banks have to identify which customer is authorizing the transaction and to whom.
With a credit card, you’re essentially creating a debt that your bank or financial institution pays on your behalf. So, the receiving bank or institution also has no need for a routing number since the money isn’t directly from your account.
Credit cards already carry the information required to identify which customer or holder made the purchase. That’s why routing numbers aren’t needed on credit cards.
Can Credit Cards Receive Money?
No. Credit cards mostly work as one-way modes of payment traffic where you can pay but cannot receive.
Credit cards serve to facilitate payments that banks make on your behalf, which you have to repay later. So, they can technically work even if you don’t own a checking account.
However, owning and linking an active bank account to your credit card makes it easier to manage repayments. But it still doesn’t mean that you can receive money in your credit card.
Any spending you do with the credit card is done in debt. So, there’s no money technically being transferred to your card. Even if you opt for an extra line of credit, it’s still in terms of cash that directly goes to your hand, not the card.
The most benefit you can get from a credit card is to use it judiciously and build your credit score via healthy balances and timely repayments. That aside, there’s no money or funds that you can receive on the card because it’s designed and meant for spending only.
Routing numbers fulfill a crucial identifying role when you’re transferring funds to or from your bank account. However, operating your credit card doesn’t require routing numbers.