Are you looking to build a membership site in WordPress? Want to know which is the best WordPress membership plugin? Choosing the right membership plugin is crucial for your business because a better platform means more opportunity for growth. In this article, we will compare 5 best WordPress membership plugins to easily create paid membership websites.
What to Look in a WordPress Membership Plugin?
There are plenty of WordPress membership plugins, but not all of them have specific features that you may need for creating your membership site.
Some of them are good for selling subscriptions on a single level while others offer more diverse membership levels and subscription management features.
Some plugins offer drip content feature which allows you to slowly release new content to a user. While others are restricted to only offering hidden content.
You will also need to figure out which payment gateways you will use. Do you want to accept credit cards only, PayPal, or both? Your membership plugin should have support for your preferred payment gateways either built-in or through an addon.
Having said that, let’s see what you will need to start a WordPress membership site.
What Do You Need to Run a WordPress Membership Site?
Membership websites are resource intensive, and choosing the wrong host can be detrimental to your overall performance. That’s why the first thing you need to do is choose the best WordPress hosting that you can afford.
If you’re on a budget, then you can start with Bluehost. Their Business Pro plan comes with a SSL Certificate which you need to securely collect payments, dedicated IP, and a dedicated support line.
If budget is not an issue, and you want the best performance, then we recommend using a managed WordPress hosting provider like WPEngine.
If you don’t already have one, then you will need to choose a domain name for your website. Here is our guide on how to pick the right domain name for your membership site.
Lastly, you will need to choose essential business plugins such as OptinMonster which helps you capture leads and boost subscriptions.
Now that we have covered what you need to start a membership site in WordPress, let’s take a look at our top WordPress membership plugins.
MemberPress is one of the most popular WordPress membership plugins. It is also the easiest to use and the most robust when it comes to features.
Pros of MemberPress WordPress Membership Plugin
Easy to Setup – MemberPress makes it simple to setup a membership website with WordPress. It can automatically setup pricing, login, account, and thank you pages for your users. Adding membership plans is also very straight forward.
Content Access Control – MemberPress comes with powerful access control, which allows you to restrict access to any content including posts, pages, categories, tags, files, etc.
Content Dripping – Content dripping allows you to show restricted content to members after a certain time. This is a very useful feature for selling online courses or learning materials.
Integrations – MemberPress integrates with AWeber, MailChimp, GetResponse, and MadMimi email services. It also integrates with Amazon Web Services and BluBrry for podcast hosting.
Payment Gateways – MemberPress comes with built-in support for PayPal and Stripe payment gateways. Developer plan also adds Authorize.net support.
Cons of Using MemberPress Pro
Limited Payment Options – MemberPress only supports the three most popular payment gateways. This would be a deal breaker for site owners who live in countries not supported by these payment gateways.
Limited Integrations – While the plugin has enough support for popular services to run a membership site efficiently, it still lacks integrations with some other popular services. The plugin is easily extensible, and you can pay someone to integrate a third-party service you would like to use.
Pricing: Business Edition $99/Year, Developer Edition $199/Year
We think MemberPress is the most easy to use WordPress membership plugin for beginners. It is quick to setup with tons of powerful options.
Next contender in our list of best WordPress membership plugins is Paid Memberships Pro. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of choosing it as your membership plugin.
Pros of Using Paid Memberships Pro
Basic Free Version – Paid Memberships Pro has a basic free version available for download. It has very limited features, but it gives you an idea of the software and can help you make your choice.
More Payment Gateways – It supports many popular gateways like PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Braintree, 2Checkout, and Cyber Source.
More Integrations – There are free and paid integration addons available for Paid Memberships Pro, which help you connect to third-party tools like email marketing services, CRM, other WordPress plugins, etc.
Extension Addons – A good range of extensions are available as addons for Paid Memberships Pro. These addons bring support for many advanced features that you may want to add to your membership website such as drip content, link tracking, affiliate program, variable pricing, etc.
Cons of Using Paid Memberships Pro
Ease of Use – Paid Memberships Pro is a powerful plugin, but it is not very beginner friendly. Setting it up will take some time for most users.
Pro Plan with no Plus Addons – If you need to use any of the Plus addons, then you need to buy their PMPro Plus plan. The PMPro plan only gives you support and some extra features, but the PMPro Plus plan gives you access to 42+ other addons.
Pricing: PMPro $97. PMPro Plus $197.
We think Paid Memberships Pro is a great choice for a WordPress membership plugin. It has a comprehensive set of integrations, addons, and features which make it a complete solution for a premium membership website.
Restrict Content Pro is a powerful contender for the title of the best membership plugin for WordPress. It is created by same team that’s behind the popular Easy Digital Downloads and AffiliateWP plugins.
Pros of Using Restrict Content Pro
Easy to Use – Restrict Content Pro beautifully integrates with the WordPress user interface. This allows you to easily figure out how to use it.
Built-in Integrations – Unlike other membership plugins, Restrict Content Pro comes with built-in integrations that other plugins ship as paid addons. It has Stripe, PayPal, MailChimp, MailPoet, email manager, CSV export, and many more features.
Payment Gateways – Stripe, PayPal, and Braintree come as free addons. Other supported payment gateways include 2Checkout, PayPal Website Payments Pro, PayPal Express, and Stripe Checkout.
Works with Easy Digital Downloads – If you are running Easy Digital Downloads to sell digital products, then Restrict Content Pro is the perfect companion for that.
Excellent Support – There is extensive free documentation available for all users. You also get professional support by email with very fast response times.
Cons of Using Restrict Content Pro
Fewer Integrations – It has fewer integrations with third party services such as email service providers than some other plugins on this list.
Pricing: $99 with 12 addons and single site license, $149 for 5 sites, and $249 for all addons and unlimited sites. There is also a $499 lifetime plan.
We found Restrict Content Pro to be one of the most easy to use membership plugin. It is also developer friendly, and comes with a great set of features that are perfect for all kind of membership websites.
LearnDash is a super flexible and extremely easy to use WordPress LMS plugin. It comes with advanced membership modules and tons of integrations.
Pros of Using LearnDash
Easy to Setup LearnDash is quite easy to setup and adding content to it much more simpler. It also comes with advanced tools to easily organize your membership content into levels, groups, etc.
Easy Content Restrictions LearnDash allows you to easily hide any content and restrict it to different membership groups.
Sell Courses – LearnDash allows you to easily create and sell online courses. It has advanced modules that allow you to better manage learning material than other WordPress membership plugins.
Drip Content – It comes with powerful drip content feature allowing you to roll out content to users on regular intervals or upon completion of levels.
Built-in Community Features It comes with tools to create highly engaging membership sites with quizzes, user badges, course specific forums, certificates, user profiles, etc.
Integrations & Payments LearnDash offers an amazing set of integrations and payment gateways. You can even connect it to MemberPress, WooCommerce, bbPress, Slack, etc.
Cons of Using LearnDash
Lacks some membership features – If you are trying to build a membership website without selling courses, then some of LearnDash features may not be useful to you.
Pricing: Starting from $159 for a single site license with 1 year of support and updates.
LearnDash is the perfect solution if you want to sell online courses on a paid membership website. It’s extensive set of addons and integrations allow you to build a highly-engaging platform.
S2Member is a popular free WordPress membership plugin with pro version available as well. It has been around for quite a while and has a devoted userbase.
Pros of Using S2Member WordPress Membership Plugin
Free Base Plugin – The s2Member base plugin is free. Anyone can download and give it a try. It is limited in terms of features and support but gives you a good starting point.
Content Dripping – S2Member Pro comes with content drip feature.
Payment Gateways – The free version supports PayPal. Pro version of the plugin supports Stripe and Authorize.net as well.
Integrations – Works with MailChimp, bbPress and BuddyPress.
Documentation & Support – S2Member has an extensive knowledgebase available to all. Pro users also get email based support.
Cons of Using S2Member WordPress Membership Plugin
Not very user-friendly – We found s2Member to be a little more difficult to use than other membership plugins.
Free Version Limitations – Free version only supports PayPal, limits to only 4 membership levels, and does not have drip content feature.
Pricing: The base plugin is free, then Pro version for a single site license costs $89 USD. For unlimited sites pro version costs $189 USD.
We believe that MemberPress is the best option for WordPress membership plugin. It has all the features that you would need with great documentation and support.
If you want something simple and flexible, then Restrict Content Pro is a great option. The team behind has a proven track record for producing excellent products.
If you want to sell courses on your membership website, then we recommend using LearnDash, it comes with powerful features to create and sell courses online.
We hope this article helped you find the best WordPress membership plugin for your site. You may also want to see our step by step WordPress SEO guide for beginners.
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