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Tellus Review – Tapping Into Real Estate to Boost Yields


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Tellus Full Logo

Our rating

4.7/5

Pros

  • thumbs-upExcellent yields on deposits
  • thumbs-upNo fees or lockup period
  • thumbs-upInterest paid daily

Cons

  • thumbs-downDeposits aren’t FDIC-insured
  • thumbs-downNo checking account

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Even as inflation roars, banks are as stingy as ever. The best high-yield savings accounts yield maybe 2% annually.

That doesn’t even come close to keeping up with price increases.

Good thing you don’t have to settle for whatever your bank deems you worthy of. Better returns await at Tellus, a financial technology company that taps the massive U.S. residential real estate market to pay yields you deserve.

Read on to learn more about the Tellus app and how it compares to other deposit apps.


How Tellus Stacks Up

The Tellus app’s business model is unique thanks to its exposure to the U.S. residential real estate market. But the user experience has a lot in common with other financial technology apps that enable easy spending and funds movement on the go.

One such competitor is Chime. Let’s see how the two stack up in a head-to-head comparison.

Tellus Chime 
Yield on DepositsUp to 4.50% APY, and 10% for short durations1.00%
Interest Payment FrequencyDailyNot disclosed
Automated SavingsYesYes
Possible FeesNoneSome 

How Tellus Works

Tellus is not a bank. It uses your deposits to fund residential home loans and shares the profits with depositors like you.

Tellus earns a predictable return on these loans. That allows Tellus to offer impressive yields to depositors like you. To start earning, deposit at least $125 — the minimum balance — into your Tellus Boost account.  

These yields are backed by the underlying real estate itself, not the loans Tellus makes. In other words, your return is independent of Tellus’ return.

Tellus loans have much shorter terms than the typical mortgage or home equity loan. Terms generally range from six to 18 months, reducing the risk that comes with longer time horizons. And Tellus has an unmatched 100% loan repayment rate since 2020, which is obviously a good thing for its bottom line — and yours.

Tellus doesn’t invest in volatile assets like stocks or crypto, but real estate isn’t risk-free either. Tellus protects your deposits with a system it calls the Triple-Layer Protection™ framework:

  • Collateral on Loans. Every dollar lent to borrowers is backed by at least $1.20 in U.S. residential real estate collateral. 
  • Reserve Capital Buffer. For every dollar deposited, Tellus holds a proportional amount of cash on its balance sheet. That provides another layer of protection and liquidity while still enabling Tellus to make loans.
  • Security and Risk Management. Tellus uses bank-level security (AES 256) and has sophisticated treasury and risk management protocols.

To date, Tellus has met every member payment obligation. In other words, anyone who’s tried to withdraw funds from Tellus in the past has done so successfully, and every interest amount owed to Tellus savers has been paid.


Is Tellus FDIC-Insured?

No. According to a disclaimer on Tellus’s website, your Tellus account is not FDIC insured. Tellus is a financial technology app, not a bank, and only banks are FDIC insured.

To provide banking services to its customers, Tellus partners with Chase Bank and Silicon Valley Bank, both of which are FDIC members. However, the funds you deposit with Tellus are not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Tellus’s yields are not guaranteed by any government entity. 


Is Tellus Legitimate (Trustworthy)?

Yes, Tellus is a legitimate financial technology company. 

Tellus works with two member FDIC banks — Chase Bank and Silicon Valley Bank — to provide banking services. Chase Bank, in particular, needs no introduction.

Tellus provides payment services through two other reputable, well-known companies: Stripe and Plaid.

Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, Tellus has a 100% loan repayment success rate since launching Boost in 2020. According to Tellus, this perfect record is unmatched in the industry. It’s due in part to Tellus’ Triple-Layer Protection™ framework.


Key Features of Tellus 

Wondering what to expect from Tellus before you open a cash account in the app? These are Tellus’ most important features and capabilities for depositors like you.

Account Yields (Base Yield)

Tellus’ business model allows it to offer much better yields than most banks. The base yield on deposits in the Reserve Account is 4.50% APY, though this is subject to change with market conditions.

Daily Boosts

Tellus offers free daily Boosts in its Boost Account products. These Boosts increase your interest rate above the base rate of 3.00% for between one and seven days — up to 10% APY. Boosts come online all the time, so it pays to log into the Tellus app every day to ensure you don’t miss any.

Vaults

Vaults is a game-changing new cash account that can deliver a higher interest rate than the Boost account’s base yield. All you have to do is lock up your money for a fixed period of time — the higher interest rate applies for the entire period.

There’s no maximum account limit with Vaults, and you can open one with a minimum deposit of $1,000. Choose from 6, 12, or 24-month durations, with the 24-month duration offering the highest yield at present. 

Immediate Access to Deposits

Tellus doesn’t have a lockup period. And Tellus offers Instant Interest, a pay-in-advance feature that ensures your deposit begins earning interest and is eligible for withdrawal as soon as it hits your account. Just keep in mind that every bank is different and some ACH transfers take a few days to complete.

No Fees

Tellus doesn’t charge fees for anything. There’s no monthly fee or annual fee here and none of the other nickel-and-dime fees most banks find a way to charge.

Daily Interest Payments

With Tellus, your interest earns interest — fast. Tellus pays interest daily, boosting your deposit account every day. This daily compounding frequency steadily increases your balance eligible to earn interest.

Referral Bonus

Tellus offers a referral bonus for every friend or family member you successfully send its way. Each referral earns you 10% APY for a week once the referred party funds their new account with the Tellus app. There’s no limit to how many rewards you can earn through referral bonuses.


Advantages of Tellus 

Tellus has a lot of advantages over traditional deposit accounts, online banks, and other yield-generating investments. These are among the most notable.

  • Excellent Yields on Deposits. Tellus offers excellent yields on deposits. The current base rate is 4.50% APY for Reserve, and taking advantage of every Boost opportunity could up your return to 10% APY for weeks at a time. These rates are subject to change with market conditions.
  • 100% Loan Repayment Success Rate Since 2020. Tellus has an unmatched loan repayment success rate since 2020. That could change in the future, but it’s undeniably impressive.
  • 100% Payout Success Rate. Tellus also has a 100% payout success rate. If you need to withdraw funds, you can, no strings attached.
  • No Fees. Tellus doesn’t charge account fees, period. Contrast that with the typical traditional bank’s monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, check fees, ATM fees, and more. 
  • No Lockup Period. Unlike many asset-backed deposit accounts, Tellus doesn’t have a lockup period. You can access deposited funds whenever you need them, even if it’s the day after they hit the account.
  • Interest Paid Daily. Tellus pays interest daily — not monthly or quarterly, as many banks do. This gives your money a tailwind by increasing your effective compounding rate.
  • No Exposure to Stocks or Crypto. Tellus doesn’t invest your money in stocks or cryptocurrencies — two volatile asset classes vulnerable to gut-wrenching price declines. Although residential real estate is no sure thing either, the sector’s price action tends to be more restrained and holds up well during periods of inflation.

Disadvantages of Tellus 

Tellus doesn’t have many downsides, but these two could give you pause if you’re looking for FDIC insurance or bill-paying capabilities.

  • Your Tellus Account Is Not FDIC Insured. The biggest disadvantage of Tellus is the fact that funds deposited with the app are not FDIC-insured. Yes, the yields are far better than most member FDIC banks, but the risk is higher as well.
  • No Checking Account. Tellus doesn’t (yet) have a checking account option. It’s a great place to earn passive income on your spare cash, but it can’t replace your day-to-day bank account right now.

Final Word


Tellus offers an impressive annual percentage yield backed by U.S. real estate collateral. It’s significantly better than what traditional banks and credit unions can offer — even those that claim to offer higher interest rates than the competition. And Tellus achieves this return without exposing depositors like you to volatile stocks or crypto.

Tellus has another side too: a powerful and totally free property management app that makes it easy to manage rental properties, find and manage renters, and tap the equity in your real estate investments. These property management tools help Tellus bring new real estate owners into the fold and ensure it can continue to deliver the impressive yields it’s known for.

So if you own rental real estate in the United States, you might just find yourself using both capabilities in the near future. And that should count as a win in anyone’s book.

Tellus Full Logo

Our rating

4.7/5

Pros

  • thumbs-upExcellent yields on deposits
  • thumbs-upNo fees or lockup period
  • thumbs-upInterest paid daily

Cons

  • thumbs-downDeposits aren’t FDIC-insured
  • thumbs-downNo checking account
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

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