COVID-19 Update: Since the medical alert industry is considered to be “essential” during the COVID crisis, monitoring and customer service centers are still open and ready to help. To learn more about how a medical alert device can help keep you or your elderly loved one safe and connected during this pandemic, take a look at our list of essential products for seniors during COVID-19.

Medical alert systems are designed to let seniors remain independent without compromising their safety and security. These high-tech devices are quickly becoming must-have gadgets among those who live with medical issues, are at risk of falling, or simply want the peace of mind that comes with knowing help is always available — even if the phone is out of reach or the user is unable to speak.

Although wearable help buttons tend to be marketed towards seniors, users of any age may find that a medical alert system helps them to feel safe and enjoy an independent lifestyle. The small, water-resistant help buttons that come with most systems are lightweight, discrete and easy to carry, making them the ideal solution for use in situations where calling for help on a mobile phone is either impracticable or altogether impossible.

At first glance, it can be difficult to spot the differences between the growing number of medical alert devices and companies on the market today. All providers offer wearable pendants or wrist devices that instantly connect the user to a 24-hour call center, and most systems now offer a variety of service options that can make choosing the right system a challenge — that’s why we’ve conducted in-depth research to make comparing medical alert systems easy.

This guide compares two medical alert systems, Rescue Alert and Alert1. These companies each offer landline and mobile-based call services, fall detection, and GPS tracking, but there are some notable differences in plan pricing and add-on options.

Side by Side ComparisonRescue AlertAlert1
Up-Front Equipment$0-$199N/A
Monthly Monitoring$27.95-$44.95$19.95-$47.95
Activation FeeN/AN/A
ContractNo contract requiredMinimum of three months
Optional Monthly Add-On Services$5/month per fixed-mount wall button
$10/month for myActive Alert automatic fall detection
$10/month for a monitored smoke detector
Water-Resistant Wearable DevicesPendantPendant or wristband
ConnectionLandline or cellular (AT&T)Landline or cellular
2-Way Voice CommunicationOn cellular-based (mobile) systems onlyOn cellular-based (mobile) systems only
Range (From in-home base unit for landline service)Up to 600' in open, unobstructed spaceUp to 600' in open, unobstructed space
Battery life90 hours battery backup on in-home base unit
Up to 48 hours on GPS pendant
All other help buttons are non-rechargeable; battery life is 5 years
24 hours on base unit
Up to 48 hours on mobile, user-rechargeable help pendants
Fall DetectionAdd-on option available with all Rescue Alert systems except GPS systemAdd-on option available for both in-home and mobile systems
GPS LocatorAvailableAvailable
Coverage Away From HomeYes, with cellular-based mobile systemYes, with cellular-based mobile system
24/7 USA Call CenterYesYes
PIN-coded key safe
Additional help buttons
Wall buttons
Medication organizer and reminder device
Voice extender
Mobile fall detection pendant
Emergency lockbox
Wall-mounted emergency buttons

Rescue Alert Overview

Rescue Alert is a Utah-based, family-owned-and-operated medical alert company that offers in-home and cellular-based medical alert systems. The company has a long history in the industry, having developed one of the nation’s first in-home medical alert systems and monitoring services more than 30 years ago.

Pros of Rescue Alert:

  • Family owned American company established in 1990, based in Utah
  • All Rescue Alert operators are EMT trained
  • In-home MXD system is compatible with VoIP, traditional and cable telephone systems
  • Callers have access to service in over 150 languages through a third-party translating service
  • Company conducts remote system checks to ensure equipment is working correctly
  • No set-up or mandatory equipment charges
  • Discounts available for prepayment; users can purchase equipment outright for discounts on monthly monitoring fees
  • No monthly/annual contract

Cons of Rescue Alert:

  • Lost/damaged equipment fees are high ($234 for base unit, $35 per pendant)
  • No price guarantee — monitoring costs may increase over time
  • No free spouse help button

Alert1 Overview

Based in Williamsport, PA, Alert1 is a UL-listed and diamond-certified medical alert company that offers basic in-home and on-the-go, cellular-enabled medical alert systems. The company frequently has special offers, promotions, and sales on services and add-on features.

The home-based units use the speakerphone built into the base unit for two-way communication with the call center. While this makes the in-home call buttons much smaller and lighter than buttons with built-in speakers, it does mean users have to be within 600′ of the base for the system to work.

Pros of Alert1:

  • Water-resistant and pacemaker compatible
  • Two independent, TMA Five Diamond certified U.S. call centers
  • Simple plug-in installation — unit arrives preprogrammed
  • No limit on the number of calls for help
  • Service available in up to 190 languages

Cons of Alert1:

  • No wrist-wearable button
  • Users must pay shipping and activation fees when requesting a refund within 30 days of activation
  • After 30 days, no refunds on semiannual or annual plans
  • No option to pay month-to-month; minimum three-month prepaid plan
  • Activation fee is waived on annual prepaid plans only

Pricing Comparison

Pricing for Rescue Alert starts at $27.95 per month for basic, in-home service when users pay the entire $335.40 annual fee upfront, while month-to-month fees are $32.95 for the same equipment and service. All in-home plans include a free lockbox or additional personal help button that can be used by a spouse or housemate.

By comparison, Alert1 prices start at $19.95 per month for the basic, in-home system when users pay for a full year of service up front. The same plan costs $22.95 per month when paid semiannually, and $25.95 per month when paid quarterly. Adding a second user increases the monthly monitoring cost by approximately 50 percent, depending on the plan.

Our Pick

Although both Rescue Alert and Alert1 offer similar services, devices, and add-on features, we prefer Rescue Alert because the company’s pricing plans and services are more consumer-friendly.

With Rescue Alert, users can subscribe on a month-to-month basis rather than have to pay for at least three months of service up-front as required with Alert1. We also found that Alert1’s marketing contained pressure tactics, such as a countdown timer indicating that prices could increase in less than 14 hours, which may make seniors feel they have to rush to get in on a deal.

Pricing and marketing tactics aside, we like that Alert1 offers users the choice of a pendant or wristband-style help button. In comparison, Rescue Alert only offers pendant-style buttons, which may be unappealing to some seniors.

In terms of call response service, Rescue Alert also offers the advantage that their call center operators are EMT-trained and callers can receive help in more than 150 languages using a call-in translator service activated by the emergency operator. This may be a critical factor in choosing the right medical alert system for some seniors and their loved ones. In comparison, the operators with Alert1 aren’t EMT-trained, however, the company does offer service in up to 190 languages through a call-in translation service.

Overall, Rescue Alert and Alert1 offer similar devices and services at prices that are somewhat comparable. However, Rescue Alert is superior in terms of consumer-friendly policies and a call center staffed by trained medical professionals.

Compare More Medical Alert Systems

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