5 Best WordPress Membership Plugins

Posted on January 24, 2021 by in WordPress | 14 comments

5 Best WordPress Membership Plugins

WordPress membership plugins are broader in scope than you may realize. These tools often include a broad range of features, such as content protection, payment processing, and much more. Considering how complex membership sites can be, you’ll need to make sure you choose the right plugin for your needs.

Fortunately, there are a lot of fantastic WordPress membership plugins to pick from. In this article, we’ll introduce you to our five favorite options, and break down what makes each of them unique.

Let’s get to it!

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What to Look for in a WordPress Membership Plugin

So, how do you choose a WordPress membership plugin? The simple answer is that you should pick a solution that includes all the features you want to implement on your website (and no unnecessary filler). For example, if all you need is a tool that helps you restrict content to specific user roles, installing a plugin that includes dozens of additional functionalities would be overkill.

Aside from content protection, here are some other common features to look for in a membership plugin:

  • Custom registration forms
  • The option to set up new user roles with custom permissions
  • Integration with payment processing services
  • The ability to set up multiple types of memberships
  • Community features such as forums
  • The option to launch an affiliate program

There are a lot of plugins that can help you implement each of those features individually. What’s so fantastic about membership plugins is that they manage to bundle all of that functionality into one cohesive package.

Of course, whenever you decide to use a plugin that alters WordPress’ functionality so drastically, it’s always a great idea to do some research (or a lot of it). That’s where we come in.

5 Best WordPress Membership Plugins

Membership plugins come in all shapes and sizes, so you can’t make a decision based on price alone. For this section, we’ve put together a list of diverse membership plugins, each with unique features that can benefit different types of users.

Although there are some free WordPress membership plugins available, they usually offer very limited functionality. For that reason, we decided to focus on premium options only for this roundup. The five plugins below are in no particular order, so let’s jump right in.

1. MemberPress

The MemberPress website

MemberPress is perhaps the most popular WordPress membership plugin on the market. It comes with a huge range of features and add-ons that help you do everything from restricting content to launching online courses.

Using MemberPress, you can create multiple types of memberships for your website and charge for registration. You’ll also get a high degree of control over which user roles can see what types of content, and even restrict specific pages.

Even better, MemberPress supports multiple payment gateways, forum plugins, drip platforms, and even Zapier. That means you can create forums that are as private as you want them to be.

The plugin also offers coupon functionality, which is great if you want to offer discounts.  Plus, MemberPress enables you to launch an affiliate program for your membership website if you use its Pro plan. Affiliate programs can be powerful marketing tools, so this is a feature to look out for if you want to grow your website aggressively.

A lot of MemberPress’ best features come as add-ons. Some advanced options are only available on the Pro and Plus MemberPress plans. However, the Basic MemberPress tier includes all of the plugin’s content protection, member registration, and courses functionality.

Overall, MemberPress is a plugin that does a little bit of everything. It’s one of our top choices if you want to launch an online academy without using a dedicated Learning Management System (LMS), as well as for basic membership sites.

Key Features:

  • Create multiple membership levels for your website
  • Restrict content types and specific pages depending on user roles
  • Create and offer online courses
  • Set up community forums for your membership site
  • Choose from multiple payment gateways
  • Use Zapier for advanced third-party platform integrations

Price: Plans start at $149 per year | More Information

2. Restrict Content Pro

The Restrict Content Pro website

Next up, Restrict Content Pro is a membership plugin that focuses on content restriction and user subscriptions. It comes from the same team behind Easy Digital Downloads and AffiliateWP.

Using this solution, you can restrict specific content and pages depending on membership levels. The plugin also enables you to hide content within pages depending on the user role, which provides a lot of flexibility.

In particular, Restrict Content Pro shines when it comes to subscription management. It gives you a great degree of control over how to price subscriptions, beyond traditional options such as per-month or per-year payments. You can charge one-time signup fees, offer users prorated fees if they upgrade or downgrade, and more. This plugin even enables you to create discount codes for your users.

As you might expect, Restrict Content Pro works well in combination with Easy Digital Downloads, and it’s also a great companion for WooCommerce. Plus, you get to choose from multiple payment gateways. If you’re looking for a membership plugin that you can use on an e-commerce website, Restrict Content Pro should definitely be near the top of your list.

Key Features:

  • Offer multiple levels of membership on your website
  • Restrict types of content and specific pages depending on user roles
  • Hide specific elements from some user roles within public pages
  • Offer prorated fees to users who upgrade or downgrade their memberships
  • Integrate the plugin with Easy Digital Downloads or WooCommerce
  • Choose from multiple payment gateway options

Price: Plans start at $99 per year | More Information

3. MemberMouse

The MemberMouse website

If you’re looking for the tool with the most features, it’s hard to beat MemberMouse. This is a Software as a Service (SaaS) membership solution. If you sign up for MemberMouse, you’ll need to pay for a monthly membership, and then you’ll get access to the WordPress plugin.

This particular solution comes with all the basic features you would expect, including membership tiers, user management, and content protection. However, it also includes a lot of functionality that other plugins don’t include, such as the option to fully customize your checkout pages.

MemberMouse also gives you access to a broad range of shortcodes that you can use to customize your pages and checkout process. For example, you can use shortcodes to show offers to users who have purchased specific products or subscribed to a particular tier.

What’s more, MemberMouse includes push notification functionality. That means you can use notifications to let members know when you upload new content, offer discounts via coupons, and more. It also works with multiple payment gateways. You can offer payment plans, give existing members discounts on new products, and enable users to gift memberships to one another. Just as with Restrict Content Pro, you even get access to prorating functionality.

Although MemberMouse provides a range of features that eclipses other options, it’s not precisely easy to use. It takes a while to learn how to make the most of this plugin. However, if you need enterprise-level membership functionality and you’re willing to put the time in, it’s a strong choice.

Key Features:

  • Use a SaaS solution to create a WordPress membership website
  • Set up multiple types of membership levels and/or bundles
  • Restrict access to specific pages, content types, and other elements
  • Use shortcodes to customize your checkout pages
  • Leverage push notifications to communicate with members
  • Offer discounts using coupons and dynamic pricing
  • Integrate your website with multiple payment gateways

Price: Plans start at $29 per month | More Information

4. WooCommerce Memberships

The WooCommerce Memberships plugin

WooCommerce Memberships is built from the ground up to work with WooCommerce stores. With this plugin, you can design membership plans that users can purchase through your store just like any other product. You can also include memberships alongside product purchases, assign perks to users, and more.

If you’re looking for ease of use, WooCommerce Memberships offers one of the more intuitive systems for creating memberships and configuring their lengths, prices, and privileges. This plugin also makes it easy to configure what content you want to restrict to which membership levels, and use a drip system to release content over time.

Since this is a WooCommerce extension, it also enables you to restrict the purchase of specific products to the membership levels you choose. Users without the right membership plans won’t even be able to see restricted products if you want to hide them.

Finally, WooCommerce Memberships gives you the option to add new shipping methods connected to each membership type, as well as tier-based discounts. This is a must-have for WooCommerce store owners, and for anyone who wants a tool that’s simple and quick to implement.

Key Features:

  • Create membership plans for your WooCommerce store
  • Enable users to purchase memberships as they would any other product
  • Include memberships alongside product purchases
  • Assign perks to customers and offer special shipping options to members
  • Restrict content or products depending on membership levels
  • Drip restricted content to users

Price: Plans start at $199 per year | More Information

5. Paid Memberships Pro

The Paid Memberships Pro plugin

Last but not least, Paid Memberships Pro includes a lot of the features we’ve seen so far, but also several that are unique to this solution. To get the ball rolling, it enables you to set up multiple membership types, process payments using several gateways, and restrict content in any way you see fit.

In particular, this plugin offers a very flexible system for content restriction. You can hide entire content types, but also individual pages. What’s more, you can make it so that non-members can see parts of those restricted pages, enticing them to sign up and get access.

Paid Memberships Pro also comes with its own theme, which is perfect if you want to use a template that you know will play nicely with this WordPress membership plugin. It’s also compatible with most popular page builders, including Divi. You’ll even get over 15 custom blocks that you can use within the WordPress editor.

Although there’s a free version of Paid Memberships Pro, the plugin also offers multiple license tiers. The Plus version includes all of the features we covered so far. It’s worth checking out if you want a complete-package solution that brings a dedicated theme along for the ride.

Key Features:

  • Create multiple membership levels for your website
  • Process payments using your preferred gateways
  • Restrict content depending on its type, and include elements that non-members can see
  • Use the plugin’s own theme, or customize your own thanks to integrations with popular page builders
  • Get access to over 15 custom blocks to use within the WordPress editor

Price: Plans start at $297 per year | More Information

Conclusion

There are a lot of WordPress membership plugins to choose from. However, if you’re looking for a solution that will provide you with all the features you need to create a scalable, flexible membership site, your choices narrow down significantly.

For a solution that gives you everything you’ll require, here are our top five recommendations:

  1. MemberPress: A fantastic tool for standard membership sites and online learning platforms.
  2. Restrict Content Pro: This membership plugin is a great choice for WordPress e-commerce websites.
  3. MemberMouse: This SaaS solution offers a staggering number of features, although it can be overkill for simple membership sites.
  4. WooCommerce Memberships: This membership plugin is ideal for WooCommerce websites.
  5. Paid Memberships Pro: If you’re looking for a membership plugin that plays nicely with most page builders, this is a top option.

Do you have any questions about which WordPress membership plugin to use? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!

Article thumbnail image by VectorMine / shutterstock.com

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14 Comments

  1. I’m being asked by a school to include a facility that will allow a teacher to edit the page for their class alone and no-one else’s class. Does anyone know if that’s possible?

    • I forgot to add that while MemberPress looks a possibility, the school would not want to run to such a high annual fee. Schools these days have very little money.

    • Hi Brian –

      This is definitely possible, although I don’t think a membership plugin would be the easiest way to go about it.

      One solution would be to assign teachers the Author user role in WordPress, which allows users to edit and publish their own posts but not those of other users. However, Authors cannot edit pages.

      Editors can edit pages, but can also modify content written by other users. So, if you want teachers to be able to edit pages and not just posts, but still need to prevent them from editing others’ content, you’ll need a plugin that enables you to change the default capabilities of WordPress’ user roles.

      The User Role Editor plugin is a free tool that enables you to do just that. You could also use it to create a custom user role that has the capabilities your teachers require.

      Hope this helps!

  2. My biggest frustration with MEMBERSHIP programs, and with articles like this that review them, is that they focus exclusively on the type of website that wants to charge people MONEY to join and focuses on greed and selling and making more and more money. Where are the plugins that let you manage an all-volunteer non-profit organization? The kind where you don’t focus on charging people money (but you can), where your main focus is NOT on selling things and making money any way you can, but rather on SERVING THE COMMUNITY and giving them an easy way to stay in touch and you and they both manage their memberships. I’m talking about things like news and alerts for club members, like assigning people to committees and allowing committee members to communicate with each other, with dividing the organization into groups based on any category you like, such as trumpet players or men over 60 or members of the party committee or the annual festival working group; where people can register to attend events and be logged in as having attended and have their attendance tracked over time so they can qualify for awards. Where are THOSE plugins?

    • Hi David! Thanks for bringing this up.

      In addition to Nathan’s suggestions, I’d also like to mention that you can use any of the plugins in this post to create free memberships (although some of them make it easier than others – for example, I probably wouldn’t recommend WooCommerce Memberships for this). This would enable you to create community-focused websites like you’re describing while giving you more advanced registration and account management features than WordPress provides out of the box.

      Some of the more specific use cases you mention (such as tracking event attendance) might be slightly more challenging to configure but are probably doable with some additional plugins (such as an event management plugin).

      Also, this post focused on premium/paid membership plugins, but for non-profits and community sites that may be on tight budgets, there are definitely free options. Members is basically a free version of MemberPress, there’s the free version of Paid Memberships Pro that we mentioned, Ultimate Member, Simple Membership, and more!

      Hope this helps!

  3. These are all excellent. (I’ve used MemberPress and really liked it.)

    However, none of them have the feature I needed: a metered paywall.

    After much looking, I found Leaky Paywall, and have used it for a couple of years. It seems to work well, even with heavy caching. So, I wanted to add it to your list.

    • Thanks for sharing, Bruce!

  4. I’m surprised you didn’t mention S2member. There is a free version and the paid version is only US$ 79.00 as a one-time payment. S2member can use PayPal and Stripe for payments and is very customizable!

    • Thanks for sharing your recommendation, Darrel!

  5. I’ve WooCommerce Memberships activated on my website , looks everything is set and works fine , I like the features and think it really works the way it should 🙂 , thanks for sharing this great article

    • Happy to hear it’s working well for you, Mahziba!

  6. The best WordPress membership that I have found is Digital Access Pass and includes a host of other features that make it well worth checking out. Plus the customer service has been exceptional.

    • Appreciate the suggestion, Judy! Thanks for sharing.

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