The two biggest expenses that you will see with medical alert systems are equipment fees and monthly fees. Providers will either rent or sell their equipment. When they sell their equipment, monthly fees are sometimes a bit lower, but the equipment can cost as much as a few hundred dollars upfront. If renting the equipment, the provider absorbs the rental cost within the monthly fee, usually between $20 and $50, eliminating the need for upfront payments.
FYI: For more general information on what to look for when shopping for a medical alert system, read our Medical Alert Systems Buying Guide.
If you’re shopping for just an at-home system, keep in mind that providers typically offer a less expensive landline option and a cellular option. (The cellular system is typically about $10 higher in price.) Also, most at-home as well as on-the-go systems offer optional fall detection, a feature that we think is essential.
Providers usually offer fall detection as an optional add-on, charging an additional $5 to $10 monthly fee. A few systems include fall detection in their monthly fees, but these fees tend to be slightly higher. So it’s a good idea to ask about the cost of fall detection when shopping. Our analysis of the best medical alert systems with fall detection is a great place to start.
Pro Tip: For most at-home systems, fall detection is embedded within a pendant that also includes a help button and is worn around the neck. With on-the-go systems, fall detection is most often embedded within the mobile device.
In addition to fall detection, providers offer other products and services. Some have a one-time cost while others incur additional monthly fees. In addition, be aware that providers sometimes charge one-time activation, initiation, or even membership fees. Shipping might be another additional upfront cost, which may not be covered by all providers.
After reviewing and comparing the costs and features of a dozen or more medical alert systems, we have compiled a list of four relatively cheap alert systems that stand out for both their protection and their affordability. Take a look at our list below.
After completing numerous medical alert system reviews, we have consistently found Bay Alarm Medical to be one of the most affordably priced. This is due to their low monthly fees which start at just $19.95 for at-home systems and $24.95 for on-the-go systems. We also like their customer- friendly policies, like free at-home monitoring for spouses, that can result in more money in your pocket.
Bay Alarm Medical rents most of its equipment, and still keeps its monthly fees low. All of their at-home and on-the-go systems start at under $30. These are fantastic prices, especially for the mobile systems, which typically run $10 to $15 higher. Bay Alarm also offers several hybrid packages combining an at-home product with an on-the-go product. All three of these dual systems cost a relatively low $39.99. See our Bay Alarm Medical pricing guide for a thorough explanation of their packages.
Bay Alarm does not charge an equipment fee for either its landline or cellular at-home systems. It does charge an equipment fee for two of its three on-the-go systems. Its traditional GPS help button costs $79 while its more sophisticated cousin, the SOS Smartwatch, runs $179. Bay Alarm also offers the Splitscnd In-Car Alert, which does not have an equipment fee.
Notably, Bay Alarm does not charge any hidden fees like activation or initiation. The only extra you may need to cover, depending on which package you choose, is a one-time shipping cost.
It offers other financial benefits, too. With every order comes a lifetime price- lock. In other words, your monthly fees will never increase as long as you maintain your system. In addition, Bay Alarm offers free at-home monitoring for spouses. You will need to purchase an additional pendant, but the monthly fee is waived. And finally, Bay Alarm offers a 30-day free trial period — something to consider if you are unsure that you will like the system.
If we have piqued your interest, learn more in our Bay Alarm Medical review.
Medical Guardian systems are affordable and reliable. They offer two systems that are really cheap — the Classic Guardian, which is the lowest cost and the Home Guardian, which offers the best value. The Classic Guardian starts at $29.95 a month and works with a landline. The Home Guardian is $35.95 a month. This system is cellular-based. You can learn the full cost breakdown by visiting our Medical Guardian system cost and package page.
Medical Guardian also offers on-the-go medical alert systems at a reasonable price. These start at just $39.95 a month and include a variety of features, such as location tracking with GPS, clear-2-way communication and cellular backup.
One of the advantages of Medical Guardian over other similarly-priced systems is the range. The Classic Guardian offers a range of 1,300 feet away from the base station. That makes this system great for customers who work outside in the yard or garden.
As we covered in our full Medical Guardian review, this medical alert system is a great option for customers who want an at-home personal alert system at an affordable price. They offer two different systems — one cellular based and one landline based — for you to choose from.
The Mobile device from Medical Guardian is a slightly cheaper than similarly-priced systems from competitors, which makes these systems great for those who want on-the-go protection.
Lively, formerly called GreatCall, has carved their own niche in the medical alert market. They only sell on-the-go systems consisting of: a traditional help button, a watch that works in conjunction with a smartphone, and two cell phones adapted for older adults. Although many may be initially turned off by the fact that all of their products have equipment fees, we think they deserve a place on this list due to the value their products bring. Not to mention that they offer very low monthly fees, starting at $24.99 for all four of their offerings.
Lively’s feature products are the Jitterbug Smart3, a Samsung Android smartphone, and the Jitterbug Flip2, a Samsung folding cellular phone, which come with equipment fees of $149.99 and $99.99 respectively. While it’s not inexpensive, it’s a considerable bargain when compared to other cellular phones on the market that will likely run in the hundreds of dollars. These phones include everything that other Samsung phones include, plus adaptations and special features for older adults. So if you need to buy or replace your current phone, you will actually be saving money by purchasing your phone and medical alert system together.
We should mention that Lively both hits you up with a few extra charges yet provides places for decent savings. We’ll start with the good stuff. Lively’s pricing system is flexible. At the time of this writing, Lively was offering a limited-time monthly fee starting at $19.95, marked down from $24.95. So it pays to keep an eye on their website. Also, from our experience speaking with Lively’s sales team, their equipment fees have flexibility, too. So definitely inquire about any promotions or discounts that you could tap into.
As far as extra costs go, you can expect to pay a $35 activation fee if you purchase either phone. (The Lively Mobile Plus and Lively Wearable2 do not require activation fees.) In addition, you will be paying an additional monthly fee for talk, text, and data. However, this cost is something that you would pay anyway with any other cellular service.
Overall, we think Lively offers affordable systems given their low starting monthly fees and comparatively low equipment fees. But, Lively offers yet a few other enticements. If you’re an AARP member, you can save $5 per month on select health and safety packages with the purchase of a Lively Wearable2 or a Lively Mobile Plus. And, with their Refer-a-Friend program, when a referral activates their Lively phone or device, both you and your referral will receive a one-time $25 credit on your monthly bill.
Read more about these affordable and comprehensive on-the-go systems in our in-depth Lively analysis.
MobileHelp makes our list of most affordable systems due to its relatively low monthly fees coupled with no equipment charges. In addition, it offers two really appealing bargains: an on-the-go system for couples or two members of the same household and a hybrid system with both at-home and on-the-go devices. And it also includes MobileHelp Connect, an online portal, as part of all of its packages. This definitely brings added value to their systems. Speaking of systems, MobileHelp offers seven of them: three at-home (mobile and cellular), two on-the-go, and two hybrid (at-home and on the go).
With seven MobileHelp at-home and on-the-go systems to choose from, you are likely to find something that fits your needs at an affordable price. The cost of MobileHelp’s at-home systems come in at bargain-basement monthly prices: $19.95 for the MobileHelp Classic and $24.95 for the MobileHelp WiredHome. But, the low $19.95 Classic monthly fee is in addition to a $49.95 activation fee, a real turnoff for us. Still, if you use the system more than five months, it beats other systems that charge $10 more per month. And these are highly rated at-home systems with excellent ranges of 1,300 to 1,400 feet.
The basic on-the-go system is the MobileHelp Solo. The device’s design is not the most discreet we have seen, but it contains all of the important safety features we expect, like two-way talk, location detection, and optional fall detection for a $37.95 monthly fee. (Most mobile devices come with monthly fees between $37 and $40.)
Where you will really see some savings is with a few of their two-for-one systems. And while they are not exactly two-for-one, they still offer fantastic savings. For example, the Mobile Duo for spouses offers two of the Solo devices for only $44.95 per month. And the MobileHelp Duo offers the Solo plus an at-home base unit and help button for only $41.95 per month. That is complete protection at a low cost. And don’t forget — no equipment fees. But be aware that you will be charged for shipping.
You’ll also have an opportunity to save some money through MobileHelp’s referral program. If you refer someone to MobileHelp, they will reward both you and your friend with a $200 service discount after the friend purchases a system and remains enrolled for at least 60 days.
You can find more information about MobileHelp’s pricing and packages in our MobileHelp review.
LifeStation offers versatile and affordable medical alert systems for both the home and on the go. Their tiered pricing system provides a variety of options to fit any budget. Prices for their at-home systems start at $21.95 while their on-the-go systems start at $37.95. These are both competitive for the medical alert industry, and the reason that we consider this provider one of the most affordable. LifeStation does not charge equipment fees, which is also a big plus. However, they do tack on extra fees on some of their basic (least expensive) packages.
We think LifeStation’s at-home systems will provide solid protection for most seniors at prices that they will find affordable. The landline system starts at $21.95 while the cellular system starts at $30.95. To really get a bang for your buck, if you have a spouse or roommate who could also benefit from the system, the cost is a meager $3.99 additional monthly charge.
Like most systems, the cost of a LifeStation system increases if you decide to add other services/products like fall detection or a protection plan. If you opt to stick with the basic system, you will unfortunately be charged a $10 activation fee. But this is only a one-time charge.
The mobile system also comes in at a monthly price a few dollars lower than many other systems. At $37.95, you will have full protection wherever you roam. Like the at-home systems, if you choose to stick with a basic plan, you will need to pay a one-time $10 activation fee. However, the low monthly price includes an extended five-day battery life and advanced location detection that utilizes not only GPS but also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which can be accessed by caregivers.
Aside from a potential activation fee, you will be required to pay for shipping. Note a few potential savings, too. LifeStation tends to run specials around holiday seasons, so keep an eye on their website. Also, if your insurance plan partners with LifeStation, you may be eligible for a medical alert discount. It is worth inquiring! Finally, LifeStation provides a 30-day free trial period in case you want to give one of their systems a test run.
For their price savings and other benefits, take a look at our LifeStation testing and analysis.
If you are an older adult living on a tight budget, you may be tempted to dismiss medical alert systems as “too expensive” or “not necessary.” Let’s start with the “not necessary.” The truth is, medical alert systems can save a life in the case of a heart attack, stroke, hypoglycemic episode, head injury, slip or fall, or other serious medical event. The quicker that emergency personnel respond, the better your chance for a positive outcome.
And if your device has fall detection and you are not able to communicate, an alert will be sent to the monitoring center anyway, and emergency services will be sent. No one knows when an adverse medical event will occur, but if or when it does, wearing a medical alert device will increase your odds of recovery or survival. Medical alert systems provide peace of mind for both you and your family.
FYI: The length of time, or “lie time,” that someone who has fallen and is unable to get up on their own is significant. Researchers determined that a lie time of 72 hours or more increases mortality by 67 percent.1
The expense of a medical alert system is a bit more complicated. Those who are living on a fixed income are balancing lots of needs and expenses. After evaluating most systems out there, we can say with confidence that not all medical alert systems are priced the same. Some providers offer pricier-than-average plans, and we have steered clear of them in our discussion. But others offer economical plans. It is also important to point out that any one particular system can offer several packages of varying prices.
Before selecting a medical alert system, compare the various features available to determine which offers you the most features at the lowest price. Here are some things to look for when selecting an affordable alert system.
Affordable medical alert system providers offer 24/7 emergency response. This feature is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. After all, what good would an alert system be if the monitoring center closed at dinnertime? However, not all monitoring centers and emergency personnel are created equal. Look for a TMA Five Diamond certified monitoring center for the best service for you or your loved one.
“Cheap” and “low-quality” often go hand in hand — but not in the world of alert systems. The market abounds with high-quality, affordable systems that deliver reliable peace of mind for seniors. With that said, no system is perfect. That’s why some providers now offer a lifetime warranty. With this feature, you’ll get a free replacement should your alert system malfunction. Most warranties cover only normal wear and tear and exclude devices that are lost or stolen.
Get 24/7 monitoring from well-trained agents without breaking the bank. That’s the promise of many alert system providers. This, of course, is a good thing! Most aging adults live on a fixed income, so it’s nice to stretch dollars and save where they can. Thankfully, there are several affordable alert systems on the market that offer rock-bottom monitoring fees — some starting at $19.95 per month or less.
No English? No problem. You still have a range of affordable medical alerts to choose from. Multilingual support enables assistance in your mother tongue. Sometimes this means that a monitoring center agent who speaks a language other than English (usually Spanish) is available to provide assistance. More often, providers are outfitting their support departments with a translation service that can accommodate hundreds of languages — from German to Swahili. Chances are you’ll find help in your native language.
A money-back guarantee takes 100 percent of the risk off of your back by essentially allowing you to test their product. It’s not uncommon to find 30-day, money-back guarantees, also known as free trial periods. If you don’t love your alert, just send it back for a refund. Most often these refunds cover equipment and monthly fees, but some providers refund shipping costs, too. Look for this feature to protect your pocketbook and eliminate buyer’s remorse.
Several medical alert providers make it easy and affordable to add free or discounted coverage for your spouse. Most of these offers are for at-home systems, but we have seen one or two for on-the-go systems. It happens all the time that a loved one sees the value and peace of mind that alert systems deliver, and suddenly they desire one of their own. So look for this feature — one that offers seamless integration of a family member into your plan.
Affordable coverage matters. That’s why nationwide coverage is an important feature for seniors who desire low-cost, on-the-go cellular monitoring. Whether travelling across the state or the country, you don’t want to be caught in a dead spot during an emergency. These affordable medical alert companies are constantly expanding their coverage area. From Florida to Minnesota, and California to Maine — look for this feature to get the nationwide coverage you need and deserve.
Is it possible to find a low-cost alert system with no strings attached? You bet it is. No-contract monitoring plans are incredibly popular among seniors on fixed incomes. That’s why it is unusual for providers to require contracts. (Although we do still occasionally see it.) No-contract plans offer minimal commitment, with month-to-month coverage for those who value flexibility. Remember, you’re not married to your alert system. Don’t like it? Try a different system.
Don’t be too surprised if you come across a “free equipment” offer. This feature is commonly advertised by the cheapest alert system providers. Know that providers either rent or sell their equipment. So while an upfront cost may be eliminated with a rental agreement, the equipment isn’t actually free. The cost is often absorbed in the monthly fees. Still, cash-on-hand today is better than cash-on-hand at some future point in time.
Gurley, R J et al. (1996, Jun 27). Persons found in their homes helpless or dead. National Library of Medicine.
After earning a degree in journalism, Jenny Wisniewski spent much of her professional life in education; however, she returned to writing in earnest in the senior care space, acting as caregiver to her mother. She has hand-tested the industry’s top medical alert systems, writing nearly 50 in-depth articles that help seniors age safely in place. Jenny also covers caregiving, Medicare, assisted living, memory care, and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Previously, she’s written for national publications such as Country Magazine and Sierra Magazine. Jenny holds dual bachelor’s degrees in English/Journalism and Political Science from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She currently resides in Milwaukee, WI.