Do credit cards have routing numbers?

Every so often in online forums or other communications we see people asking where to find the routing number for their credit card. Sometimes a poorly-designed piece of financial software that treats all accounts the same will ask for a routing number, starting the confusion. Bottom line: credit cards do not have routing numbers.

That said, banks do have routing numbers. But those numbers are used as a way to track and organize the paper checks and other deposits/debits that move between banks millions of times every day in the United States.

When you cash my check at your bank, your bank needs to know how to route that check back to my bank for payment — the routing number tells which bank the check came from and the account number tells which specific customer wrote the check. This is shown in words on your check, of course, but the routing and account numbers allow this process to be easily automated. (If you have a checking account, you’ll find your bank’s routing number in the lower left-hand corner of the check. To the right of the routing number will be your checking account number.)

Credit cards, on the other hand, have an account number printed on them and that is it. Yes, the bank that issued your credit card has a routing number, but, since one bank does not process the credit cards of another bank, there is no need to have a routing number for the card.

Don’t be confused, though. If you are setting up automatic payments to pay your credit card balance each month and you are asked for the bank’s routing number, this is the routing number of the bank where payments will be drawn from, not the bank that issued the credit card. You are telling the credit card company how to access your bank account in order to withdraw money electronically to pay your bill.

Having written this, we admit it is easy to get confused. Hopefully we did not confuse you further.