Difference Between ABA and ACH Routing Numbers (With Table)

Difference Between ABA and ACH Routing Numbers (With Table)

ABA and ACH are the two most common ways to handle automated payments, or “e-checks.” ABA is the more secure method; it requires a unique code to open a purchase order. ACH is less secure but less expensive.

ABA numbers are used for recurring payments — payroll, insurance premiums and utilities. These payments are reasonably reliable so that they can be settled almost instantaneously. 

ABA vs ACH Routing Numbers

The main difference between ABA and ACH Routing Numbers is that ABA Routing Numbers are used for check or paper transfers. On the other hand, ACH routing numbers are utilized for electronic transactions. ABA Routing Numbers are printed next to the account number on the check’s left-bottom corner, whereas ACH Routing Numbers are printed next to the account number.

Difference Between ABA and ACH Routing Numbers

ABA routing numbers are used for paper or check transfers, like sending your utility bill in with a check each month. The ABA routing number is also referred to as a Routing Transit Number (RTN) or an ACH Routing Number and can be easily found printed on the bottom left side of your check. It is used for electronic transactions such as direct deposits and electronic payments.

The ACH is an electronic clearing system that makes payments between financial institutions. It passes and receives credit, debit, and charges transactions to banks and other financial institutions. The most common way of sending money electronically is the Automated Clearing House (ACH). It’s an electronic payment system that makes it easy to transfer money from one account to another and is very safe.

Comparison Table Between ABA and ACH Routing Numbers

Parameters of ComparisonABA Routing Numbers ACH Routing Numbers 
Full formAmericans Bankers Association is the full-form of ABA Routing Numbers.Automated Clearing House is the full-form of ACH Routing Numbers.
DescriptionABA Routing Numbers range 00-32 for the first two digits.A nine-digit identifier called an ACH Routing Number is also used to guarantee that electronic transfers are sent correctly.
When it was first introducedSince 1911, the American Bar Association has used ABA Routing Numbers.Around the year 1960, ACH Routing Numbers became popular.
The range of possible numbersABA Routing Numbers have a range of 00-32 for the first two digits.ACH Routing Numbers have a range of 61-72 as its first two digits.
LocationThe check’s left-bottom corner has ABA Routing Numbers written on it.Next to the account number, ACH Routing Numbers are shown.

What is ABA Routing Numbers?

The American Bankers Association (ABA) created routing numbers in 1910 to specify the bank on which a check is issued, where it is moved from, and where it is sent.

In the United States, a bank routing number is a nine-digit number that identifies financial institutions. The number routes bank drafts and checks to the proper financial institution. On paper instruments that require an ABA routing number, such as checks or drafts, the routing number is always nine digits long and begins with a zero (0), 1, 2 or 3.

The American Bankers Association has standardized the routing number on checks since 1910. Initially, there were only five routing numbers, but today, banks use one of the 9,000 possible numbers assigned by ABA.

In today’s world of online banking, routing numbers are still significant because they uniquely identify banks and allow for the sorting and delivery of financial transactions. They also make it easy for people with multiple bank accounts to switch between them.

Routing number identification is vital for both personal and business accounts. For example, suppose you are writing a check from your checking account to pay your electric bill. In that case, you’ll need to put the correct routing number on the bottom of the check so your banking institution can properly debit your account when the bill is presented for payment.

What is ACH Routing Numbers?

The Automated Clearing House (ACH) system handles financial transactions and ensures that the financial transaction is proper. The ACH system is the most common way for banks to clear payments and other transactions.

If you have ever had to pay by ACH to your bank, chances are you were not dealing with your bank directly but with a third-party company that provides the service for free or at a lower cost. This third-party company is responsible for processing your payment transactions, including ensuring that the money goes from your account to the ACH participant’s account to be credited to your bank account.

The ACH Network’s goal is to provide a faster and more secure way for payments to be processed between participating institutions and for those payments to be credited by one institution onto another’s account on time. It does so through electronic funds transfers (EFT), electronic or electronic-like transactions between financial institutions or other entities that settle immediately upon receipt.

Of course, there are other ways to send money electronically, including credit card payments and direct bank transfers, but once you sign up for ACH, you never have to use anything else. The only drawback for your business is that some banks charge extra fees for ACH transactions. But it’s well worth the cost if you’re already using ACH and dealing with many customers.

Main Differences Between ABA and ACH Routing Numbers 

  1. ABA Routing Numbers are the complete form of the American Bankers Association, whereas ACH Routing Numbers are the complete form of the Automated Clearing House.
  2. ABA Routing Numbers are put on the check’s left-bottom corner, while ACH Routing Numbers are written next to the account number.
  3. ABA Routing Numbers are nine-digit numbers that ensure that paper transactions are accurately routed. On the other hand, an ACH Routing Number, a nine-digit identification, is used to ensure that electronic transactions are transmitted appropriately.
  4. The American Bar Association has employed ABA Routing Numbers since 1911, whereas ACH Routing Numbers gained popularity after 1960.
  5. The first two digits of an ABA Routing Number vary from 00 to 32, whereas those of an ACH Routing Number range from 61 to 72.


ACH payments are faster and less expensive than ACH withdrawals but less secure than ACH payments. The money transferred to the bank account is visible to anyone with access to your checking account or savings account records, which means it’s a lot easier to steal money using an ATM card than it is via an ACH payment. 

For companies that need faster payments, such as online retailers who have to ship orders quickly, ACH is more convenient than waiting for a 3-day settlement period for each transaction. But both methods can be used for recurring transactions.


  1. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0062472
  2. https://academic.oup.com/pcp/article-abstract/49/5/751/1910618
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