According to the National Council on Aging, “falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans.” Although it’s impossible to completely eliminate the risk of suffering from a fall or other medical emergency, a medical alert system can make all the difference when it comes to getting help quickly. These small, personal medical devices are designed to be worn either on a pendant or on a wrist band which connects users with an emergency response call center immediately when activated.

Medical alert systems have become popular among seniors, adults with medical conditions and people who need the peace of mind that comes with knowing they can call for help by simply pressing a button. Most emergency help button systems require users to subscribe to a monitoring service, and in some cases, medical alert systems are covered by Medicaid and private insurance providers.

There are now dozens of companies offering a wide range of medical alert devices, services and monitoring options, which can make choosing the best medical alert system challenging. To help you narrow down your choices, we’ve researched all the major emergency response system providers and compiled comprehensive guides comparing different companies and services.

In this guide we compare MobileHelp and Life Alert, two established medical alert providers based in the United States. We’ve found that MobileHelp is a clear winner based on available add-ons, affordability and lack of long-term contract requirement.

Side By Side ComparisonMobileHelpLife Alert
Up-Front Equipment$0-$349.95$95-$198
Monthly Monitoring$19.95-$41.95$49-$68
Activation Fee$0$0
ContractNo contract; Monthly fees are lower, if prepaid for 3, 6 or 12 monthsThree-year contract; Can be cancelled if subscriber requires 24 hour care or passes away
Optional Monthly Add-On Services$10/month for automatic fall detectionWall-mounted help button
Water-Resistant Wearable DevicesAll wearable devices are waterproofPendant and wrist-worn help button
Connection4G LTELandline or cellular
2-Way Voice CommunicationThrough in-home base unit, Smart Watch or mobile device onlyThrough in-home base unit or mobile pendant/wrist button
Range (From in-home base unit to landline service)Up to 600' in open, unobstructed space800'-1000'
Battery life30 hours battery backup on in-home base unit
Up to 24 hours on mobile pendant
Up to 48 hours on Smart watch
Battery life on non-rechargeable neck pendant and wrist buttons is 5 years
Battery in pendant and wrist device is non-rechargeable and rated for 7 years
Battery in Life Alert Mobile pendant rated for up to 10 years
Fall DetectionAdd-on option for $10 per month with all systemsNot offered
GPS LocatorYes - with cellular-based mobile systemsIncluded in mobile devices
Coverage Away From HomeYes with cellular-based mobile systemsYes with cellular-based mobile systems
24/7 USA Call CenterYes - two call centers based in Syracuse, NY & Corona, CAYes
TRELAWEAR smart jewelry pendant
MobileHelp Smart watch
Up to 3 battery-powered, wall-mountable buttons can be linked to each system
PIN-protected lockbox
Wireless, waterproof wall buttons
Extra medical alert buttons

MobileHelp Overview

Headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, MobileHelp offers a full lineup of medical alert devices, including landline-based and cellular systems activated by a pendant or wrist-worn help button. MobileHelp also sells a senior-friendly Samsung smart watch that includes a heart rate monitor, fitness and weather apps, and It allows users to summon help and speak with the emergency call center.

Another innovative device offered through MobileHelp is the TRELAWEAR pendant. This small, stylish pendant is designed to look and feel like a piece of jewelry, complete with hand-cut resin stones set in either a gold or silver pendant paired with a small MobileHelp mobile device.

MobileHelp is committed to providing subscribers with high-quality emergency response services in English, Spanish and over 200 additional languages. The company operates two medical alert call centers staffed by operators who have a minimum of two years of post-secondary education or two years of military service.

Pros of MobileHelp:

  • The two call centers located in Syracuse, New York, and Corona, California, are staffed by emergency response specialists who have completed extensive preemployment background checks, drug screening and a 6-week in-house training program
  • The user-friendly line of TRELAWEAR jewelry-style emergency call pendants appeals to subscribers who want a discrete, fashionable alternative to traditional medical alert pendants
  • MobileHelp’s free app, MobileHelp Connect, lets authorized loved ones and caregivers access GPS location information when paired with a GPS-enabled medical alert device
  • MobileHelp Smart is an innovative device which combines fitness monitoring with the security of a medical alert device in a small, cellular-connected watch
  • MobileHelp has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and its medical alert devices are FCC certified and UL listed
  • Subscribers can cancel at any time without penalty, and any prepaid monthly fees are refunded on a prorated basis

Cons of MobileHelp:

  • To get the lowest monthly monitoring prices, subscribers need to prepay a 12-month contract
  • In order for the cellular-enabled devices to function, users must be in an area that has AT&T cellular coverage
  • Subscribers who want the MobileHelp smartwatch must pay for the device upfront

Life Alert Overview

Life Alert is the company that coined the famous tagline, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” making it one of the most recognized names in the industry. Its U.S.-based emergency call center handles over 2 million calls a year and is five-diamond CSAA and UL certified.

Life Alert offers three landline and cellular-based systems with waterproof call buttons that can be worn on a pendant or a watch-style wrist strap and has a non-rechargeable battery that lasts up to 7 years. GPS location tracking is included with all cellular-connected devices, and wireless service is available anywhere in the U.S. where GSM mobile phones work.

Pros of Life Alert:

  • All medical alert buttons are fully waterproof
  • Device batteries don’t need to be changed or charged for 7-10 years
  • One of the oldest and most recognized names in the industry
  • Life Alert was endorsed by former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Kopp
  • GPS location monitoring is available through cellular-connected devices
  • Spouse coverage is available at a reduced fee
  • The wireless, waterproof help button can be placed in a bathroom, on a bedside table or anywhere else within 800′-1000′ of the base unit

Cons of Life Alert:

  • Life Alert doesn’t offer fall detection service
  • Subscribers must sign a three-year service contract which can only be cancelled if the subscriber dies or requires around-the-clock care
  • Plan pricing isn’t posted on the company website — potential subscribers must phone a sales center for information on costs
  • Life Alert options and services are pricey when compared with other medical alert companies

Price Comparison

With up-front equipment costs ranging from $95-$198 and monthly monitoring fees starting at $49.95, Life Alert’s prices are significantly higher than comparable services through MobileHelp, which offers monthly plans starting at $19.95 per month. With the exception of the MobileHelp Smart watch and the TRELAWEAR pendant, equipment costs are included in MobileHelp’s prices, while Life Alert users must also pay an up-front fee for the basic landline-based devices.

Our Pick

Although both of these companies offer similar basic medical alert monitoring services, we prefer MobileHelp because it has much lower monthly costs, a wider range of devices and much more consumer-friendly policies than Life Alert. We also like that MobileHelp offers fall detection service, which isn’t offered by Life Alert.

Life Alert requires new subscribers to sign up for 3 years of monitoring service, which prevents subscribers from switching to another medical alert company as technology evolves. We also dislike the fact that Life Alert doesn’t disclose their prices online, and prospective subscribers must call a sales center for information while MobileHelp’s prices are clearly listed on the company’s website.

Compare More Medical Alert Systems

Click on the links below to read about Medical Alert system comparisons.