I have a credit card from one of the top five largest banks in the United States. The credit card offers cash-back rewards. The credit card company offers that the cash back can be issued directly to any United States personal checking or savings account, if I supply them with the routing number and account number on one of my personal checks (along with the name of the bank):

personal check

The credit card company states that the routing and account numbers I supply will not be stored after the deposit of the cash-back takes place.

My checking account happens to be with another bank, which is one of the top ten largest banks in the United States.

Is it generally safe for me to give my checking account's routing and account numbers to the credit card company? Is it theoretically possible for the credit card company to use that information to withdraw funds from my checking account?

  • 2
    There is a risk that the person to whom you give this information, might accidentally put money in your account. Apr 15 at 23:02
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    Just make sure that the people you are giving this info to are actually your credit card issuer, especially if you were advised of the offer by email.
    – jcaron
    Apr 16 at 13:32
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    @user1271772 - That's a risk I'm willing to take :-)
    – Valorum
    Apr 16 at 14:07
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    @acestar Isn't a checking account just a bank account that is not a savings account? Or am I misunderstanding something? (I'm not from the US, so I may be missing context and/or misunderstanding something)
    – marcelm
    Apr 17 at 12:14
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    @acestar. Are you specifically talking about paying with checks? My kids pediatrician mails out bills with no way to pay online, and I pay by mailing a check back. Many youth activities require payment via checks, summer soccer programs, etc. I also volunteer at a nonprofit as treasurer, the majority of the donations come in via check, and the online donations take a 3% hit in fees, so checks are preferred.
    – rtaft
    Apr 17 at 13:04

6 Answers 6


You give those numbers to people every time you give them a check. So you are at no more risk than if you had written them a check. And if they're giving you a refund electronically, they need those numbers to route the money to the right account.

Yes, the credit card company could use those numbers to "write a virtual check" to themselves on your behalf. HOWEVER, in doing so they have to tell your bank exactly what account the "check" is being deposited to, and since it isn't a signed check you are able to challenge it and have the transaction reverted if it isn't one you authorized; it's then the receiving bank's problem to reclaim those funds from their customer. This may actually be less vulnerable to abuse than a physical check.

If you're still uncomfortable with giving them this information, you can check whether they'll let you apply the rebate to your credit card balance. My banks allow that option, and of course that doesn't need any information they don't already have.

  • 4
    Good point; rewritten. But I did want to emphasize that withdrawal via this mechanism is possible but has protections against abuse
    – keshlam
    Apr 15 at 14:08
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    And banks won't take kindly to a credit card company trying to make fraudulent transactions. The amount of fines and audits that gets triggered is an absolute nightmare to deal with, since there is now proof of guilt. I can guarantee you that the CC company will do everything in its power to prevent this from happening, plus everything is covered by insurances and liability laws so whatever happens, it won't be the customer holding the bag.
    – Nelson
    Apr 17 at 1:34

If you are logging onto your bank website and transferring money to the credit card company each month to pay your bill, they have some of your banking information. The money could be sent electronically, or they might mail them a check.

If you logging into the credit card company website each month and pulling money from your bank account they had access to your routing number and account number.

If you are mailing them a check each month, they have your routing number and account number. It is on every check.

The credit card company offers that the cash back can be issued directly to any United States personal checking or savings account, if I supply them with the routing number and account number on one of my personal checks (along with the name of the bank):

The name of the bank is redundant, because the credit card company can lookup the name of the bank with the routing number. Though having both eliminates a typo issue. My checks still have the old name of n=my credit union, because the routing number didn't change. It took several months for the name change to ripple though the financial system.

I am surprised that the credit card company is going to transfer money to a bank account that wasn't being used to pay the monthly bill. If somebody was able to log into the credit card account, they could redirect your cash back.

In my experience the credit card company has limited the cash back to:

  • statement credit;
  • physical check mailed to my home;
  • money transferred to the bank account paying the bill;
  • an checking/savings account with the same bank that issued the credit card.

Is it generally safe for me to give my checking account's routing and account numbers to the credit card company? Is it theoretically possible for the credit card company to use that information to withdraw funds from my checking account?

Yes it is safe to give them this information, they probably already have it.

Yes they can use that info to pull funds from your bank account. If the credit card company started pulling funds that they were not entitled to, they would have a serious issue that could destabilize their business.

  • "They probably already have it" is a bit stronger than "they've seen it, but did not store it because they didn't have a demonstrated need to do so".
    – chepner
    Apr 16 at 15:08
  • @chepner I would hope CC companies scan and store the check payment digitally these days and convert it to an eCheck. US Passport renewal does this currently, haven't mailed in a check to pay a CC in a long time.
    – rtaft
    Apr 17 at 13:37
  • What I said applies to payments made by any mechanism. The CC company shouldn't retain any reference to the cardholder's account information longer than it is needed to process the payment, without the cardholder's explicit request to keep it on file for future use. A paper check should be destroyed; a database record should be dropped. Proper data retention policies are an important issue for companies handling any kind of customer data (not just financial information).
    – chepner
    Apr 17 at 13:41

Is it generally safe for me to give my checking account's routing and account numbers to the credit card company?

It's 100% safe to give one bank's routing number and your checking and/or savings account number at that bank to another bank.

Since credit card companies are banks, it follows that giving your Bank A checking account info to Bank B is perfectly safe.

  • 1
    "safe" is a relative term. Had a CC many years ago where a software bug turned our online payment into a withdrawal equal to our CC limit instead of the specified payment. The bank was nice enough to reject it and not hit us with insufficient fund fees but it could have been worse if we actually had the funds there and were actually withdrawn.
    – rtaft
    Apr 17 at 13:43
  • @rtaft "safe" has always been a relative. Besides, your example isn't an example of identity theft.
    – RonJohn
    Apr 17 at 13:46

Yes, it's pretty safe. In a lot of ways, your bank account routing number and account number are unlike a credit card account number in that they're not, like, secrets that can be combined with a little other information to take your money whenever they want. All bank routing numbers are publicly listed (individuals can use the ABA's website to look one up). As far as your account number, each bank has a different practice, or lots of practices at once—often inherited from the other banks they acquired or merged with to form their current selves—but many do just count up by "1" for each new account at a given branch, for example. And yes, as others pointed out, they print both on the bottom of your checks, and you hand those to other people! To keep! And they can even download a scanned image of the check later if they want. Not only that, your payees often write their own account number on the back of your check when they endorse it, which you can see in the scanned image in your online banking.

Checks are a little relevant because as far as electronic payments via ACH go—they evolved from figuring out faster ways to clear checks—it's like a lot of the US financial system, in that everything boils down to mutual trust, especially huge economic and direct financial incentives not to spoil the trust of the public in a currently-trusted system.

How does it actually work? There are many players and bank associations involved, so this is an oversimplification, but essentially, banks gather a list of electronic credits and debits throughout the business day, and submit them up the chain—sometimes to a larger bank's ACH clearing desk, sometimes directly to the operators of a central clearing service, the ACH network. In the United States, there are two operators—one is a subsidiary of the Fed (the Federal Reserve System, the central bank of the United States) called FedACH; the other is private, but owned by several of the major US banks via a sequence of nesting-doll subsidiary corporations. That one is called EPN, the Electronic Payments Network. The rules for how all of this works on a day-to-day technical level, and also on a regulatory level to maintain the trust, are maintained by a somewhat separate oversight organization, Nacha. (A super-necessary and fun rebrand from their previous name, NACHA, which stood for the National Automated Clearinghouse Association.)

The functional system of mutual trust comes from the way banking power at the large institutions at the top (the federal government, and its central bank, and the equally-powerful folks running the largest US banks) devolves to the middle layers downwards, and eventually all the way to the smallest banks initiating ACH credits/debits every day for their retail customers. It's just like the layers of trust that keep most of us sure that those green pieces of paper in our wallets are a steady store of value. Each layer has an incentive from above to ensure their part of the system feels safe and works well enough that the layer beneath (their customers) will use it. In your case, both your checking account and that credit card are issued by banks in business with each other to operate the ACH system, which they both directly benefit from (revenue: they charge fees for access to the system; operations: they need a way to send money to each other either way). They probably also are partners in lots of other mutually-beneficial business lines to make money together. Simply put, the big credit card company has too many disincentives to ever try and defraud the big bank in such a blatant manner. It'd also be super illegal, of course. :)


Safe is a relative term, but I can say that it is normal. Virtually every credit card company, when setting up electronic payments, will ask for the routing and account number. There is no other way to do money wires.

Funnily enough, you're asking about cash back. Of course, knowing your routing and account no is also necessary for them to send you money. However, usually many credit cards with cash back let you apply the cash back to statement credit, so maybe you could get around having to give out your account no that way. You will still have to give it out if you want autopay.

There is technically a possibility that they could overcharge you. You can dispute that with your bank, and it would also be a pretty straightforward lawsuit. Usually, credit card companies do not do this.


If the name of your credit card company is Visa, Mastercard, or Capitol One, yes. If it's Kenny's Kredit, then no.

Having said that, I've never heard of "cash back" rewards to literally mean funds deposited into one's bank account. Does this card provider not offer point redemption for gift cards and other cash-like rewards? If they do, just go with that and avoid disclosing you bank details altogether. Good luck!

  • 4
    I've never heard of "cash back" rewards to literally mean funds deposited into one's bank account. Really? I get CC rewards cash back into my checking account every month.
    – RonJohn
    Apr 16 at 2:12
  • Different banks, different cards, different promotional offers. Cash back is one option. Points toward gift cards is another. Frequent flier miles is another. Discounts on specific products is yet another. Which options you can qualify for, like which interest rates and credit limits you can qualify for, varies based on your credit rating and how much the bank wants your business. It may or may not be worth shopping around to see what alternatives are available, with what restrictions, and whether you might qualify for one that fits your needs better.
    – keshlam
    Apr 16 at 5:07
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    Yes, I'm with a major bank that does exactly cash back to your bank account, face value on hundreds of gift cards, or 110% value on certain gift cards. Apr 16 at 5:57
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    In the US, Citibank and Wells Fargo both offer cards with a cashback option that can be redeemed as a credit to your card balance, a paper check or a deposit to a bank account. Apr 16 at 14:35
  • 1
    @LaconicDroid and Chase, too.
    – RonJohn
    Apr 16 at 16:57

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