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Life Alert Systems Review

Thanks to its famous commercials, Life Alert has become the most recognized name in medical alert systems. In this review, we see if it lives up to its reputation.
Written by | Updated June 11, 2020
Life Alert logo

Life Alert

2/5
  • Two-way communication on all devices
  • Insured equipment
  • Pushy sales
  • Monitoring starts at $49.95/mo.

Info current as of 06/11/2020. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Bottom line: Quick emergency response, but expensive

“Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” has been quoted over and over again in TV and movies since the first Life Alert commercial debuted in the late ’80s. We wanted to get to know the company behind the catchphrase, so we did the research. 

Life Alert has three primary devices—the emergency pendant, waterproof shower button, and portable GPS emergency button. Each of these devices comes with a lifetime warranty and with two-way communication, a standout feature in the medical alert industry. 

Life Alert costs $49.95–$89.95 per month, which may be out of reach for many people. We also encountered pushy sales staff on the phone. We don’t recommend Life Alert as a first choice because the best medical alert systems are much more cost effective and up to date.

Pros

  • Two-way communication on every device
  • 30+ years in business
  • Insured equipment

Cons

  • Hidden prices and fees
  • Pushy sales
  • No fall detection

How we reviewed Life Alert

Before writing our Life Alert review, we started by digging through its website and customer reviews from other sites. We were able to find specs on some of the equipment, but no useful product pictures or demonstrations, so we called Life Alert directly. 

Once we reached a customer service rep, we took note of how they answered, what they said, and how satisfied we were with their answers. Learn more about how we review medical alert systems and other safety products in our full methodology.

Life Alert pricing

Monthly cost
Activation fee
Estimated 12-month cost
Estimated 36-month cost
Pendant-Only Plan Pendant + GPS or Shower Button Pendant, GPS, and Shower Button
Life Alert pendant only equipment Life Alert shower button and GPS Life Alert button
$49.95/mo. $69.95/mo. $89.95/mo.
$96.00 $96.00 $198.00
$695.40 $935.40 $1,277.40
$1,894.20 $2,614.20 $3,436.20
View Packages View Packages View Packages

Info current as of 06/11/2020. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

To put it plainly, Life Alert costs more than any other system we encountered. The pendant alone costs $49.95 per month on a 36-month contract. Only Philips Lifeline comes close to this price for one device, and it cost $5 less per month. There’s also an activation fee for each plan, but it comes with personal orientation for your equipment to sweeten the deal.

While researching, we noticed that Life Alert provides no pricing information. If you want to learn more about the company’s equipment and rates, you have to call them directly. Even then, prices vary from location to location, so the quote you get may be different from what a relative or friend in another state may get. Either way, you can expect to spend thousands of dollars by the end of Life Alert’s three-year contract.

Life Alert tech and equipment

Devices

Life Alert has a pendant that can be worn as a necklace or wristband, a GPS emergency button, and a shower button that you can buy separately or bundle together. The pendant and GPS are standard devices you’ll see in most medical alert systems, but the shower button is unique to Life Alert. 

Two-way communication

Each medical alert device has a two-way intercom that connects you to a professional at Life Alert’s monitoring center so you can get help wherever you are in your home. Showers, stairs, and yards can be dangerous places if you have mobility issues, so we like that you can speak directly into any nearby device to get help.

Long battery life

All three pieces of Life Alert equipment have a battery life of up to a decade, so you’ll never have to charge them.

No fall detection

It’s ironic that this medical alert company that coined the phrase, “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” doesn’t offer automatic fall detection. Fall detection is a common add-on in medical alert systems that detects speed and pressure changes that happen when a person falls.

Most medical alert systems charge $10 per month for this service because it contacts an emergency responder if you’re unconscious or can’t reach your call button. Falls are a serious issue for older adults, but Life Alert hasn’t added this feature to its equipment.

Life Alert customer service

Life Alert web page

Medical alert systems have two sides to customer service: sales and professional monitoring. With Life Alert, you’ll have to contact them first via telephone.

There’s no shopping cart feature on the company’s website, so you have to speak with a sales rep directly on the phone.

Our experience with the Life Alert sales team

We called Life Alert to get more information about the products, policies, and prices an average customer could expect.

Before we got to ask any questions, we had to provide information to get a free brochure (which we weren’t entirely interested in). Once we got in touch with a sales rep, they were pushy and barely gave us time to ask questions. The rep we spoke to used guilt tactics, dodged direct questions, and ran verbal circles around us. After only 20 minutes on the phone, we were exhausted.

Life Alert professional monitoring

It was a little harder for us to test Life Alert’s emergency response, so we turned to customer testimonials and reviews. From what we found, Life Alert is genuinely helpful in an emergency. We saw stories of subscribers able to get help in time after emergencies like falls and chest pain.

How Life Alert stacks up with the competition

Lowest monthly price
Lowest equipment price
Contract length
Minimum equipment package
Quick response
Best overall
Best value
Best for fall detection
Best for customization
Best for active lifestyles
Bay Alarm Medical logo GetSafe logo Philips Lifeline logo Medical Guardian logo
$49.95/mo. $19.95/mo. $24.95/mo. $29.95/mo. $29.99/mo. $19.95/mo.
$95.00* Included in plan $99.00 Included in plan Included in plan Included in plan
36 mo. None None or 24 mo. None None None
  • Neck or wrist pendant
  • Landline base station
  • Neck or wrist pendant
  • Cellular base station
  • Combo button
  • Standard wall button
  • Voice-activated wall button
  • Landline base station
  • Neck or wrist pendant
  • Landline base station
  • Neck or wrist pendant
  • Landline base station
  • Help button
  • Lockbox
  • View Packages View Packages View Packages View Packages View Packages View Packages
    Read review Read review Read review Read review Read review Read review

    Info current as of 06/11/2020. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
    *Found at MedicalAlertAdvice.com
    †Philips Lifeline fall detection requires a GoSafe2 device and cellular monitoring starting at $44.95 per month.

    Life Alert is more costly and requires more commitment than other medical alert systems. Other popular brands like Bay Alarm Medical and Medical Guardian don’t require a contract, have starting rates half of Life Alert’s price, and offer more equipment.

    We encountered other services, like GetSafe, that require one-time equipment fees like Life Alert, but it’s a rare feature. The monthly cost you pay Bay Alarm Medical and Medical Guardian goes towards the professional monitoring service, rather than the equipment. 

    Other systems use a base station connected by cellular or landline service to connect all the system’s buttons and mobile units (like pendants and GPS devices). Life Alert doesn’t use a base unit, which can be a good and a bad thing.

    The pendants alone can reach the base station from up to 800 feet. If you have a larger house or are more active, the GPS unit won’t need a base station to call for assistance. And if you have a smaller house, the pendant alone should be enough. 

    Final word

    Like all medical alert systems, Life Alert has an important goal: to help folks stress less about unexpected emergencies while providing timely assistance if an emergency happens. It’s similar to other systems like Philips Lifeline because of its price and emergency pendant, but it costs much more per month than top brands like Bay Alarm Medical.

    Life Alert is quick in an emergency and has equipment with some helpful features, but these are standard for a typical medical alert system. The pushy sales, outdated (and unhelpful) website, hidden fees, and sky-high prices eclipse most of Life Alert’s best features.

    With over three decades in the business, we expected more out of one of the first medical alert systems. We’d like to see some modernization in the form of new equipment, transparent pricing, and the ability to buy a system online.

    The longer Life Alert waits to update its sales practices and business model, the less relevant it will become among medical alert providers, and even its immortal catch phrase won’t save it.

    While we don’t recommend Life Alert for many, you can read about the companies we do recommend as the best medical alert systems.

    Life Alert FAQ

    How much does Life Alert cost?

    Life Alert prices start at $49.95 per month for one medical alert pendant. If you want to add a shower button or GPS unit to the package, expect to pay $69.95 to $89.95 per month. These prices don’t include activation fees, warranties, or other charges you might encounter from Life Alert.

    Can I use Life Alert in the shower?

    Yes, Life Alert’s wearable pendant, shower button, and GPS device are all waterproof. They also have two-way communication, allowing you to call for help from anywhere.

    Does Life Alert have an app?

    Life Alert has mobile features for smartphone and cell phone users. There is a speed dial number you can add (if you have an older cell phone) that connects you to the Life Alert center. If you have a smartphone, the Life Alert app is available on iOS and Android devices as part of your subscription.

    Does Life Alert have fall detection?

    No, none of Life Alert’s equipment comes with a fall detection add-on. Fall detection can contact emergency services in the event of a fall or accident where you cannot reach your pendant. 

    Written by Katie McEntire

    Katie McEntire has tested home security systems in her own apartment, installed GPS trackers in her own car, and watched her cat, Toki, nap all day through a live nanny cam feed. As an expert reviewer, she believes that firsthand experience is the best way to learn about new products (even if it requires being the guinea pig). She specializes in pet safety and DIY security and has contributed to publications like DigitalCare.org and TechGuySmartBuy. Learn more

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