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Difference Between ABA and ACH Routing Numbers

ABA vs ACH Routing Numbers

Routing numbers
Money transfers by consumers from their banks can be achieved in many ways. Money can be deposited directly by writing checks, which is also called paper transfers, wire transfers, and electronic transfers. To make sure that the transfer has been routed properly, we need information which is provided to us by bank routing numbers.
The routing numbers are called “routine transit number” or RTN and “bank routing number.” These numbers are nine-digit numbers printed at the left side of the bottom of the check. They help in informing the financial institutions in the U.S. where the money is being transferred to or where it is being transferred from. Every bank or financial institution has a unique code which identifies a specific bank in a specific state.

ABA Routing Numbers

ABA routing numbers, or the American Bankers Association routing numbers, were designed in 1910 to facilitate the identification of banks and financial institutions. They were designed by the ABA and given the name in their honor. These numbers were used basically for clearing checks and transferring money by wire transfers. They have been in use since to identify the bank it has been drawn upon.

Assigning ABA routing numbers
Today, about 30,000 ABA numbers are in use. They are assigned by Accuity which is a source media company. The routing numbers are published semi-annually by Accuity in the “ABA Key to Routing Numbers” publication.
In the nine-digit ABA routing number, the first two digits must be between 00-12 or 21-32 or 61-72 or 80. What these range of numbers mean is as follows:

The U.S. Government uses 00.
Normal routing numbers range from 01-12.
Until 1985, 21-32 were used by thrift institutions. Now any bank may use them but mainly credit unions use them.
Electronic transactions use 61-72.
Traveler’s checks use the routing numbers with 80 as the first two digits.

ACH Routing Numbers
Automated Clearing House routing numbers are nine-digit routing numbers which are assigned for electronic transactions between financial institutions. This number is unique to banks and their branches and identifies the clearing house.
Every bank has many routing numbers, and each branch has a unique code.

Finding Routing Numbers

ABA routing numbers are printed at the bottom left of the checks.
ACH routing numbers are also nine-digit numbers, but one needs to confirm with the bank if the ABA and ACH numbers are the same.
They can be checked and determined on websites. ABA is listed as “check routing number” and ACH is listed as “electronic” or “direct deposit” on the bank’s website.
One can call customer service and find out about these routing numbers too.


1.ABA routing numbers are used for paper or check transfers; whereas ACH routing numbers are used for electronic transfers.
2.ABA routing numbers and ACH routing numbers may be the same for some institutions or they might be separate.
The first two digits of the nine digits in ABA numbers range from 00-32; ACH routing numbers range from 61-72.

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