Based on our reviews, we’ve found that Monitronics isn’t your typical alarm company, as its focuses primarily on monitoring while relying on authorized dealers to provide installation and equipment setup. You can only get equipment and installation through an authorized local dealer and rely on Monitronics to handle monitoring, so understanding how Monitronics operates as a whole can be difficult.
To help clear things up, we’ve taken a look at how Monitronics stacks up as a complete home security company compared to our #1 home security pick, Frontpoint. Let’s dive in to see the main similarities and differences between these two companies to understand why we ranked them the way we did.
Monitronics and Frontpoint offer a lot of similar equipment because both companies use equipment from Alarm.com (though because Monitronics uses authorized dealers to install equipment, there is no guarantee of the brand of equipment that will be available to you). Both companies offer the same basics:
- Door and window sensors, keychain remotes, and video cameras
- Fire, heat, freeze, and carbon monoxide sensors
- Smart door locks and appliance and/or lighting controls
The biggest difference regarding the two companies’ equipment is your ability to customize your equipment package. Frontpoint offers a more personalized approach, letting you choose only the security equipment you need while also offering a full range of home automation options and environmental sensors. Check out our Frontpoint equipment post to get more specifics on equipment options.
Conversely, the equipment packages from Monitronics are tied to the monitoring package you select. We outline the specifics of what equipment comes in each package in our Monitronics review. It’s important to remember that while you can purchase additional equipment for your alarm system or to automate your home, Monitronics requires you to have the mid-level HomeTouch Security or top-level HomeTouch Premier monitoring plan in order to select additional equipment. Beyond that, you’re not able to deny any of your package’s equipment that you don’t want or need.
Frontpoint’s customization makes it the standout winner in this category, especially when you consider that the equipment for both companies comes from the same supplier.
As with equipment, Monitronics and Frontpoint have similar monitoring plans, each with three levels of monitoring for similar prices.
Frontpoint’s basic Protection plan costs $34.99 per month and it best suited for those who would like to have the reassurance of a security system for their home but do not want remote access or home automation. The Interactive plan costs $44.99 per month and is the plan for you if you would like to be able to control your alarm system and your lights from your smartphone or laptop. The geo-services can be set to arm and disarm your alarm when your smartphone reaches a certain distance from your house which is a great feature if you are forgetful and leave home without setting your alarm. Finally, the Ultimate plan costs $49.99 per month and is ideal if you want to have much more than an alarm system. Ultimate lets you control lights, locks, and more from your smartphone. It monitors and controls your smart home and you can watch live video from your wireless cameras, even at night.
Monitronics’ Basic level costs $34.95 per month.This is the plan to choose if you would like a basic alarm system to secure your home, without any sophisticated add-ons and is similar to Frontpoint’s Protection plan. Monitronics’ next level is HomeTouch at $44.95 per month and gives you everything you get with Basic, plus:
- Remote arm/disarm
- Email and text alerts
- Local weather alerts
This mid-level plan gives you control of your alarm system from your smartphone or computer, wherever you are in the world. You can disarm the alarm to allow others entry when you are not there and arm the system remotely. The top of the range for Monitronics plans is HomeTouch Premier. At $49.99 per month it has everything HomeTouch has, plus smart home capabilities—if you purchase additional equipment.
Both Frontpoint and Monitronics provide a similarly impressive range of equipment and monitoring plans to choose from, but there are a number of significant differences between the companies.
As mentioned, when you choose a Frontpoint system you deal directly with Frontpoint representatives who help you choose a system that is right for you. The security sensors and control panel are sent to you via next-day delivery and you install everything yourself. There are no wires, so no drilling is required and the equipment is easily taken down again if you move, so it is a great system for renters.
Monitronics, on the other hand, requires professional installation of its systems by one of its authorized Monitronics dealers. The installers are the people you deal with when installing your equipment and Monitronics is only responsible for the monitoring of your system. Because of this, the quality of the installation varies across the country. One nice point is that, even with professional installation required, there is no installation fee when you sign with Monitronics. (There is also no installation fee with Frontpoint because you install the system yourself.) Both companies have activation fees (from $99 to $200, depending on your plan) and upfront equipment fees (which also vary from $100 to $200 based on which plan and equipment you choose).
Even without an installation fee for the professional installation, we still recommend Frontpoint over Monitronics because of the potential inconsistency of service when dealing with different Monitronics dealers across the country. Additionally, Frontpoint’s DIY installation is easy.
Contracts are another area where Frontpoint outshines Monitronics. Frontpoint offers the choice of one-, two-, or three-year contracts with a requirement to pay 80% of the outstanding cost if you end the contract early. The exception to this is the option for military personnel to suspend their service if they are deployed overseas.
With Monitronics you sign a three- or five-year contract and have to pay 100% of the outstanding amount if you choose to end the contract early. There are also no provisions for military personnel who are posted overseas. Because not everyone can commit to staying in one place for three to five years, we think that Frontpoint’s more flexible contract options are a significant asset which places it far above Monitronics.
The biggest difference between the two companies is that Monitrontrics requires you to be the owner of the home in which you are installing the system and will not sell to renters. Monitronics also restricts their systems to people with a credit score of 625 or above.
Conversely, Frontpoint will sell to both renters and homeowners and, in fact, the ease of moving the system and the simplicity of the wireless DIY install makes it one of our top rated and recommended system for renters. Frontpoint also has a money back guarantee that allows you to try out the system and return it within 30 days of purchase if you are not satisfied. This restriction of who it will sell to is one of the major reasons we rated Frontpoint so far above Monitronics.
How they compare for customer service
Considering the varying experiences people could potentially have with Monitronics equipment installation, customer service is an area that becomes very muddy when comparing Monitronics to other companies. We chose to focus on complaints surrounding customer support and billing instead of installation so that we could really see how Monitronics and Frontpoint compare.
Across the board, customer reviews for Frontpoint are overwhelmingly positive and when a negative review is posted, Frontpoint does its best to answer and address the issues raised. For example, on ComplaintsBoard.com Frontpoint has addressed several complaints in an open, public forum which for me demonstrates a refreshing attitude to customer care.
Monitronics, however, has a varied history of customer reviews. The Better Business Bureau temporarily suspended Monitronics BBB rating, saying:
On April 27, 2016, BBB identified a pattern of complaints. Specifically, there are a number of complaints that allege that Monitronics continues to auto-bill and/or auto-debit consumers’ accounts after they have cancelled services.
This information aligns with the general impression I was left with after exploring the web for customer reviews. Although they appear to be very helpful if the alarm is activated they are less responsive when a customer wants to end their service. Personally, I would be wary of a company that has had its BBB rating suspended over a significant level of customer complaints.
The Verdict: Frontpoint is still way out in front
While both Monitronics and Frontpoint have similar equipment offerings, equipment supplied by Alarm.com, and near-identical pricing for their monitoring options, the ways in which they differ are so significant it is no wonder Monitronics doesn’t even break the top 5 on our list of best home security companies. On the other hand, Frontpoint’s excellent customer service, reasonable contract lengths, personalized equipment offerings, and flexibility with both installation and who it sells to solidifies its place at the top of that list.
Who would you choose to protect your home and why? Share your top pick with us in the comments.