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 October 1, 2019
Life Alert logo

Life Alert

2/5
  • Two-way communication on all devices
  • Insured equipment
  • Pushy sales
  • Monitoring starts at $49/mo.

The 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 ranges from $49 to $89 per month, which may be out of reach for many people. We also weren’t impressed with the company’s outdated website that has very little information and the pushy sales staff we spoke to on the phone.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.

Life Alert Pros and Cons

Pros

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

Cons

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

Life Alert Pricing

Pendant-Only PlanPendant + GPS or Shower ButtonPendant, GPS, and Shower Button
Life Alert pendant only equipmentLife Alert shower button and GPSLife Alert button
Monthly Cost$49$69$89
Activation Fee$96$96$198
Estimated Annual Cost$684$924$1,266
36-Month Estimated Cost$1,860$2,580$3,402

To put it plainly, Life Alert costs more than any other system we encountered. The pendant alone costs $49 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 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

Each device has a two-way intercom that connects you to a monitoring pro 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. All three pieces have a battery life of up to a decade, so you’ll never have to charge them either.

It’s ironic that the company that coined the phrase, “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” doesn’t offer 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 emergency services if you’re unconscious or can’t reach your emergency pendant. Falls are a serious issue for older adults, but Life Alert hasn’t added this feature to its equipment.

Life Alert Customer Service

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.

Life Alert web page

Life Alert Sales

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 woman 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

Life AlertBay Alarm MedicalMedical Guardian
Bay Alarm Medical logoMedical Guardian logo
Equipment Fees$95-$198*$0$0
Contract Length36 mo.NoneNone
Lowest Monthly Price$49$19.95$29.99
Minimum Equipment PackageNeck or wrist pendantLandline base station, neck or wrist pendantLandline base station, neck or wrist pendant
Learn MoreVisit Life AlertRead ReviewRead Review

Data effective 07/22/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.
* Found at MedicalAlertAdvice.com

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 have 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 station, 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. 

FAQs

How much is Life Alert?
Life Alert prices start at $49 per month for one emergency pendant. If you want to add a shower button or GPS unit to the package, expect to pay $69 to $89 per month. These prices don’t include activation fees, warranties, or other charges you might encounter from Life Alert.

Can I wear Life Alert in the shower?
Yes, Life Alert’s pendant, shower button, and GPS unit 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 with 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. 

Conclusion

Like all medical alert systems, Life Alert is designed to give people peace of mind. 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 most medical alert systems. 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 new equipment, transparent pricing, or the ability to buy a system online.

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

How We Reviewed Life Alert

To learn more about Life Alert, 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 she answered, what she said, and how satisfied we were with her answers. Learn more about how we review medical alert systems and other safety products in our full methodology.

Written by Katie McEntire

Since 2013, Katie has written marketing copy, long-form posts, reviews, and blogs. She began her career as a writer and reviewer with the mission to recommend only the best products for her readers. She’s designed tests, evaluated products, and written reviews on a range of subjects such as appliances, power tools, and software. Today, she applies these research and writing skills on the SafeWise team to explore the world of home, auto, and internet security. Learn more

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