There are a multitude of banks across North America serving clients every week, both in person, over the phone, and online. Although not everybody has a knack for numbers, there are a few things that every North American should know about banking, and some of the information they utilize during each transaction, such as the routing number.

Finding banks by routing number is easy if you know what you're looking for. A routing number is actually an identifier for the financial institution through which you are a client. It helps your money find its way to the correct branch and account and is a necessary cog in the banking industry.

The Leading Zero:

Each number in a routing number serves a purpose, and you will notice that electronic payments contain a zero, three numbers which represent the institution, and five numbers which represent the branch. The zero in the item number is known as the leading zero, and it will pop up in direct deposits and other instant banking transactions.

If you are using a check the leading zero isn't utilized. Instead, you will notice a three digit number followed by a five digit number; this is the institution and branch number, which are all that are required on paper checks.

Finding Your Bank By Routing Number:

Finding your bank's routing number is easy, but finding banks by routing number calls for a little more skill. Fortunately, most banks who have gone online post these numbers for clients to find. Some are public, but most are private and require a client to use a special login and password to obtain such information.

You can use a financial institution directory, which may list routing numbers and their corresponding banks to determine what a bank is based on this number, but be careful when you begin searching that you aren't factoring in the leading zero or other unique numbers in the search.

Unique Banking Signifiers:

As with the leading zero, different numbers mean different things. 01-12 are used by Federal Reserve Banks, while 61 to 72 are used by non-banks. In North America, 0 represents the government of the United States, and can follow the leading zero in online transactions such as federal payments made by direct deposit.

If you require your routing number for a particular purpose, getting in contact with your bank, or the institution through which you require the number is the best way to get the information that you need. Don't make guesses when it comes to these numbers as it could result in a loss of money or late payment. For money coming to or from your standard checking account, a check will serve as proof of your routing number, but if you are using an account which doesn't handle many of your usual transactions, it is important to double check.

Whether you are looking for the routing number of a bank, or you are looking for banks by routing number, understanding the basic principles of these numbers and what they stand for can help tremendously.