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Medical Guardian vs. Medical Alert Reviews: Comparison in 2022

Jun 24, 2022

By Jennifer Walker-Journey
Medically Reviewed by Christopher Norman, MSN, APRN, APHN-BC, GNP-BC
Reviewed by Kathleen Cameron, BSPharm, MPH, Senior Director of NCOA’s Center for Healthy Aging
Fact Checked

Affiliate Disclosure
This content and its featured products and services were independently reviewed by a third-party, credentialed Reviews Team. If you make a purchase using the links included, our partners may earn a commission. NCOA, however, does not receive a commission for purchases.

Key Takeaways

  • Monthly costs vary, from $30–$170 for Medical Guardian, and $23–$43 for Medical Alert.
  • Both companies offer 24/7 monitoring as well as at-home and on-the-go devices.
  • While Medical Guardian and Medical Alert are similar in terms of products and services, our Reviews Team recommends Medical Guardian as the better choice based on its faster response time, premium features, and larger variety of device choices (such as a smartwatch).

Trying to decide between Medical Guardian vs. Medical Alert? They’re two of the best known medical alert systems on the market, but which is better? That will depend on your individual needs.

Medical alert systems work using a small base unit paired with a wireless help button to connect to a company’s 24/7 monitoring center, using either a landline (for at-home systems) or cellular network (for on-the-go systems). A cellular network is the same connection smartphones use. When you press the device’s help button, the base unit receives the signal and connects you with the monitoring center, where trained operators dispatch emergency services to you if you need them. 

Finding the right medical alert system that fits your needs can be difficult, since there are so many plans and models to choose from, and many medical alert companies offer similar products. 

To help make it easier, we conducted in-depth research on Medical Guardian vs. Medical Alert reviews. Ultimately, our Reviews Team recommends Medical Guardian over Medical Alert, but both companies have pros and cons to consider. 

Keep reading for a comprehensive overview of Medical Guardian vs. Medical Alert to find the best product for you.

Why you can trust our Reviews Team’s expert reviews

2,500+
Hours of Research
1
Surveys Deployed
13
Brands Tested
9
Experts Consulted

Our Reviews Team spent more than 2,500 hours conducting in-depth research on medical alert systems. During our process, we:

  • Engaged in ongoing independent research
  • Consulted with licensed adult caregivers and doctors who specialize in senior care
  • Mystery shopped 13 medical alert system brands
  • Surveyed 1,000 medical alert system users
  • Tested various medical alert systems
  • Read hundreds of verified customer reviews from trusted third parties, such as Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot

Read more about our medical alert systems review methodology.

Why we chose to review Medical Guardian vs. Medical Alert

To help you decide which medical alert system is best for you, we compared two well-known companies. We chose to review Medical Guardian for its premium features and Medical Alert for its low prices and all-in-one device. 

Our Reviews Team created a side-by-side comparison of these companies based on costs, customer service, and special features. Both companies offer similar products and services, but there are some differences that distinguish one brand from the other.

Our Reviews Team surveyed 1,000 medical alert system users, and results showed 82% of Medical Guardian users had a good experience with their medical alert system purchase, compared to 71% of Medical Alert users.

If neither Medical Guardian nor Medical Alert are a good fit, there are several other medical alert systems to consider. For example, in our best medical alert systems review, we named Bay  Alarm Medical “Best for the Price,” and MobileHelp “Best All-Around System.”

Medical Guardian review

Pros No long-term contracts Options for monthly, quarterly, and annual payments Prepaid plans are refundable Free activation and installation with no hidden fees Fall detection available for an additional $10 per month Fast response time (1–15 seconds) App lets users communicate with caregivers directly Offers Limitless Icons line to disguise your wearable alert device as jewelry Occasionally offers promotional discounts
Cons No free trial Equipment purchases are required for some plans May require a restocking fee of up to $50 for returned equipment if you cancel the subscription

Medical Guardian was founded in 2006 by Geoff Gross, a young entrepreneur looking for a way to help his grandmother live independently for as long as possible. Since then, the company has expanded to become one of the country’s leading medical alert providers.

The Medical Guardian website is easy to navigate and clearly summarizes its products and services. It also includes a product quiz to help identify which model is best for your needs and lifestyle. When reaching out to customer service, our Reviews Team found the staff to be courteous and helpful. 

Medical Guardian has one of the fastest response times in the industry at 1–15 seconds, based on our Reviews Team’s internal testing. The industry average is about 30 seconds, according to our Reviews Team’s research. The app is another differentiating factor for Medical Guardian—users can contact their caregivers directly through the app, making it convenient for those who have multiple caregivers, such as friends, neighbors, and family. Medical Guardian also has a longer maximum device range than Medical Alert—with Medical Guardian’s 1,400 feet almost double Medical Alert’s 800 feet.

Medical Guardian offers five different devices (described below), including one smartwatch. Its five options include two at-home models: the Home 2.0 and Classic Guardian; and three on-the-go models: the MGMove Smartwatch, Mobile 2.0, and Mini Guardian.

Another thing that sets Medical Guardian apart: It’s one of the few companies that offers attractive jewelry accessories to complement its wearable help button necklaces. Its Limitless Icons jewelry line includes black onyx, white mother-of-pearl, and turquoise color options. All are the same price: $2.99 per month.

 

Medical Guardian Classic Guardian medical alert system

Classic Guardian

  • Medical Guardian’s entry-level at-home system
  • Starting monthly cost: $29.95
  • Activation fee: $0
  • Equipment fee: $0
  • Dimensions: 6” L x 6” W x 2.8” H
  • Weight: 1.23 pounds

Medical Guardian Home 2.0 medical alert system

 

Home 2.0

  • Medical Guardian’s advanced at-home system
  • Starting monthly cost: $34.95
  • Activation fee: $0
  • Equipment fee: $124.95
  • Dimensions: 6.4 x 2.3 x 3 inches (length x width x height)
  • Weight: 1.27 ounces

Medical Guardian Mobile 2.0 medical alert system

Mobile 2.0

  • Medical Guardian’s more powerful on-the-go system
  • Starting monthly cost: $39.95
  • Activation fee: $0
  • Equipment fee: $124.95
  • Dimensions: 2.6” L x 1.5” W x .62” H
  • Weight: 1.7 ounces

Medical Guardian Mini Guardian medical alert system

Mini Guardian

  • Medical Guardian’s smaller on-the-go system
  • Starting monthly cost: $39.95
  • Activation fee: $0
  • Equipment fee: $124.95
  • Dimensions: 2.72” L x 1.38” W x .57” H
  • Weight: 1.3 ounces

Medical Guardian MGMove medical alert watch

MGMove

  • Medical Guardian’s smartwatch
  • Starting monthly cost: $39.95
  • Activation fee: $0
  • Equipment fee: $199.95 
  • Shipping fee: $12.50
  • Dimensions: 1.25-inch-diameter watch face
  • Weight: 2 ounces

Medical Guardian customer service and payment options

The customer service team at Medical Guardian is available by phone, email, or chat on its website. The team is available by phone at 800-295-9350 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. 

You can also email the customer service address at MGCustomerCare@medicalguardian.com.

For quick questions, Medical Guardian has a chat service on its website that quickly connects you to an agent. Chat availability is the same as phone availability. 

Medical Guardian accepts payments in the form of check, credit card, or check by phone. 

Read our in-depth Medical Guardian review for more detailed information on its products and services.

Medical Alert review

Pros Free installation with no hidden fees No equipment fees No long-term contracts 30-day risk-free trial Fall detection available for $10 per month Lower starting monthly costs than Medical Guardian
Cons Only one on-the-go mobile option available Very few add-ons Activation fee for some devices

Medical Alert was founded in 2004 by Connect America, a 45-year-old organization that partners with medical professionals and health plans to deliver services that assist older adults in living independently. Today, Medical Alert is one of the country’s largest independent providers of medical alert systems.

The company’s website clearly explains the costs for its products and services, and ordering online is a simple process. Despite the easy-to-use website, our Reviews Team found that Medical Alert has fewer options for customer service than Medical Guardian—Medical Alert offers only a customer service phone and a contact form on its website, while Medical Guardian offers phone, email, or online chat. But our Reviews Team did use the contact form on the Medical Alert website and received a satisfactory response to their question within one hour. 

Medical Alert offers a 30-day risk-free trial period, and cancellations are simple: A free return label is included for the equipment if you decide to cancel. The company does have a longer response time (15–25 seconds) based on our Reviews Team’s testing, although it’s still below the industry average of 30 seconds. It also has a shorter maximum device range (800 feet) than Medical Guardian (1,400 feet).

Medical Alert offers three packages: a landline at-home system, a cellular at-home system, and an on-the-go mobile system.

Medical Alert Home System medical alert system

Home system (landline and cellular)

  • Medical Alert’s at-home system
  • Starting monthly cost: $22.95 (landline) or $32.95 (cellular)
  • Activation fee: $49
  • Equipment fee: $0
  • Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.8 x 2.7 inches (length x width x height)
  • Weight: 0.9 ounces

Medical Alert Mobile System medical alert system

Mobile system

  • Medical Alert’s on-the-go system
  • Starting monthly cost: $42.95
  • Activation fee: $49
  • Equipment fee: $0
  • Dimensions: 2” L x 1.5” W x .75” H
  • Weight: 1.3 ounces

Medical Alert customer service and payment options

The customer service team at Medical Alert is available by phone or a contact form on its website. The team is available by phone at 800-800-2537 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

Medical Alert accepts payments in the form of credit cards.

Table 1 Comparisons of Medical Guardian vs. Medical Alert, as of May 2022

Medical Guardian

Medical Alert

Starting monthly cost

$30–$45

$23–$43

Equipment cost

$0–$199

$0

Activation fee

$0

$0–$49

Installation fee

$0

$0

Range

1,400 feet

800 feet

Battery life

32-hour backup battery for at-home; 3–5 days for mobile devices

30-hour backup battery for at-home; 5 days for mobile devices

Fall detection option

Yes,

additional $10 per month

Yes,

additional $10 per month

Contract

No

No

Connection type

Cellular or landline

Cellular or landline

Water-resistant

Yes

Yes

GPS tracking option

Yes

Yes

Two-way voice communication

Yes

Yes

Mobile app

Yes

Yes

Optional monthly add-ons

Fall detection, lockbox, and OnGuard Alerts

Fall detection and protection plan

Special features

Jewelry accessories to conceal wearable necklaces

30-day, risk-free trial allows customers to try before buying

How do I choose the best medical alert system for me?

Choosing the best medical alert system starts with considering the different device types, such as at-home vs. on-the-go systems, monitoring assistance, and battery life. 

According to Teri Dreher, a registered nurse and the founder of NShore Patient Advocates, a home health care service, choosing the best medical alert system for you means finding one you’ll actually use. “Adult children are always concerned about safety, and their older parents are always worried about independence…so some older adults object to medical alert systems because of the perception that it makes them seem feeble or infirm,” said Dreher. But ultimately it’s up to the person who will be wearing or using the device, since if they refuse or forget to use it, you might as well not be using a medical alert system at all, cautioned Dreher. So when searching, be sure to get the features you need, that you have a full understanding of the medical alert costs, and that you’ll actually use the device.

Here are several things to think about when deciding which medical alert system is right for you.

At-home vs. on-the-go systems

At-home medical alert systems include a base unit that connects to a monitoring center via landline or cellular service, and a wearable or wall-mounted button that communicates with the base unit. When you press the help button, you activate the system and connect to the monitoring center where an operator will ask if you need assistance. If you need help, the operator calls emergency services to your home.

An at-home system relies on having the help button close enough to the base station to pick up a signal. The Medical Guardian system has a maximum 1,400-foot range from the base unit, while the Medical Alert system has an 800-foot range.

Mobile, or on-the-go, systems are wearable devices that use cellular networks and GPS (satellite) tracking to locate and connect you to a monitoring center operator wherever you are, as long as you are within range of cellular coverage.

Monitoring assistance

The main benefit of having a monitored medical alert system is the 24/7 monitoring, which both Medical Guardian and Medical Alert offer. That means monitoring center operators are ready to assist should you need them, 24/7 and 365 days per year.

The Monitoring Association (TMA) has certified both companies as TMA Five Diamond, which means the companies have agreed to allow random inspections and adhere to quality control criteria.

Battery life

To protect users during a power outage, both Medical Guardian and Medical Alert include backup batteries in the at-home base stations to keep the system running. The Medical Guardian batteries last up to 32 hours, and the Medical Alert batteries last up to 30 hours. 

Wall-mounted and wearable devices use rechargeable batteries that need to be recharged every few days.

Bottom line

Our Reviews Team chose Medical Guardian as the better overall option due to its faster response time, longer device range, and ability to communicate with caregivers directly through the app—although Medical Alert does have lower monthly charges and no equipment fees. 

Both Medical Guardian and Medical Alert are good companies, and both are transparent about pricing, with no hidden fees, no long-term contracts, and easy cancellation. During our Reviews Team’s mystery shopping experience, the customer service representatives for both companies were helpful and answered all of our questions, without using aggressive or pushy sales tactics.

If you’re on a budget, Medical Alert might be a better option since it’s less expensive. Medical Alert offers plans starting at $5–$10 less per month than Medical Guardian, a one-year prepayment discount, and no equipment fees. 

In our Reviews Team’s survey, more than 35% of respondents said their medical alert system wearable didn’t look attractive. If you’re concerned about the way a medical alert device will look on you, Medical Guardian might be the better option—it offers a jewelry accessory line to conceal its wearable necklace device.

Frequently asked questions

 Have questions about this review? Email us at reviewsteam@ncoa.org.

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