What Type of Contract Length Can I Expect from Security Providers?

Alarm monitoring contracts can last from anywhere from 12 months to 60 months, but the industry standard is about 36 months. The length of the contract can often dictate the amount of your monthly payments, to an extent. The longer you are in the contract for, the lower your monthly fees should be. This is usually because you are spreading out the security system's costs and paying them over time.

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Pros and cons of longer security contracts

In addition to a smaller monthly payment, a longer security system contract (usually) offers the following perks:

But here's the trade-off:

  • You'll face cancellation penalties if you back out of the contract early.
  • You can't keep the equipment if you move. 
  • You have to pay for the equipment if you fail to return it once the contract ends.
  • You usually have to be a homeowner and pass a credit check.

Make sure you understand what you're getting out of a security contract before you sign. 

hand with pen signing contract

Month-to-month (no contract) security

Ever since SimpliSafe burst onto the scene in 2006, it's been easy to find month-to-month or no-contract security systems.

You pay for the monitoring service on a month-to-month basis, so you're never on the hook for hundreds of dollars if you cancel. Some companies, such as Abode, let you buy monitoring in 3-day or 7-day bundles.

But you can't lease security equipment for free without a long-term contract. Instead, you'll have to pay for all of the equipment upfront, finance the equipment with a loan (usually through a third-party lender), or already have some equipment that the security company can connect to and monitor. 

Check out the best security systems for renters to see our recommended month-to-month security systems.


Compare the best home security systems

Brand
Best for
Monthly costIcon Tooltip  Dark
Starter equipment price
Contract required
Smart home compatibilityIcon Tooltip  Dark
Learn more
Read review
Best overall$599.00
Icon Yes  LightNo *
Amazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
Budget pick$245.00
Icon Yes  LightNo
Amazon,
Google
Quality DIY pick$129.00
Icon Yes  LightNo
Amazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
Most experienced$0.00
Icon No  LightYes
Amazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
Best DIY automation$279.00
Icon Yes  LightNo
Amazon, Apple, Google, Z-Wave, Zigbee

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

*$0 due up-front with consumer financing.

†No-contract options available with outright equipment purchase.

‡Landline monitoring only. Some restrictions apply. (Full disclaimer)

**With $99 installation charge and new monitoring agreement. Early termination fee applies. See full disclaimer for full offer details, terms, and conditions.

Cathy Habas
Written by
Cathy Habas
With over seven years of experience as a content writer, Cathy has a knack for untangling complex information. Her natural curiosity and ability to empathize help Cathy offer insightful, friendly advice. She believes in empowering readers who may not feel confident about a purchase, project, or topic. Cathy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Indiana University Southeast and began her professional writing career immediately after graduation. She has contributed to sites like Safety.com, Reviews.com, Hunker, and Thumbtack. Cathy’s pride and joy is her Appaloosa “Chacos.” She also likes to crochet while watching stand-up comedy specials on Netflix.

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