Do you want to create a membership site where users can sign up for exclusive benefits, restricted content, and other such premium access?
The easiest way to set up a membership site with all the bells and whistles is by using a WordPress plugin.
It will allow you to create and manage a professional membership program that’s complete with tiered pricing, subscription levels, auto-renewals, drip content, and so much more.
In this guide, we’ll help you choose a WordPress membership plugin that will best suit the kind of membership site you want.
Before we get to the list, if you want to skip the homework and let us choose for you, you can move straight ahead to our step-by-step tutorial to create your WordPress membership site with our #1 pick. Follow our easy guide: How to Create a WordPress Membership Site.
Also, if you’re looking to sell digital products without setting up a whole membership site, then you should check out: Easy Digital Downloads.
How to Choose a WordPress Membership Plugin for Your Site
Creating a membership website allows you to grant access to premium content only to those that sign up or pay a fee to join as a member.
A membership program is a great way to earn money through your website. You can charge a one-time payment or a recurring subscription for access to online courses, digital products, exclusive network/forums, and priority support to your registered users only.
Now if you haven’t yet set up your WordPress site, you’ll need a domain name, web hosting, and a membership plugin to start.
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Next, you need to choose the right WordPress subscription plugin. Before you dive in, below are a few things you need to keep in mind when choosing a WordPress membership plugin for your site.
Ease of Use:
If you don’t want to hire a professional developer to set up your membership site, you’ll need a plugin that is easy to use. Some plugins come with a complete set of features out of the box. While this might sound good at first, the downside is that the user interface will be bloated with too many options that you’ll never need.
However, there are a lot of lightweight plugins out there that won’t bloat your interface by providing only the important features out of the box. And, if you want additional features, you can easily install the respective addons.
Before installing the membership plugin on your production site, make sure it is compatible with your existing WordPress membership theme and plugins by testing it on a local WordPress install. If everything goes smoothly, then you can install the plugin on the production site.
Design and Features:
Membership plugins often come with many customizable pricing page templates, member management, user roles creation, and other features to make your site look unique.
A good feature to have is creating multi-level memberships such as basic, premium, and ultimate member plans.
Take a note of the essential features you’ll need on your site and figure out if the membership plugin you’re considering can meet your needs.
You’ll want to make it easy for users to pay for memberships using their preferred mode of payment such as credit card, net banking, or e-wallets. Make sure the plugin lets you integrate with multiple gateways to offer a variety of payment options on your site.
Now let’s compare some of the best WordPress membership plugins, so you can decide which one is the right choice for your site.
Best WordPress Membership Plugins
Below, you’ll find high-quality premium WordPress membership plugins. Each plugin offers unique features to create a membership site with WordPress.
MemberPress is the most popular WordPress membership plugin and comes with all the features you’ll need to create a robust membership site with ease.
Unlike other plugins, MemberPress lets you transform your existing website into a fully-featured membership site. It works great with all popular WordPress themes.
The plugin is also great for beginners because it’s so easy to use – all you have to do is install the MemberPress plugin on your WordPress site, tweak a few settings, and enter your payment gateway details. You can choose from payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.net.
Next, MemberPress lets you create multiple membership levels, add products, and create a custom pricing page with details of membership benefits.
Then you get options to restrict content access to specific pages, posts, custom post types, or any existing files from your regular visitors (non-members). And once your users sign up, they can easily manage their membership plan through their self-service account page where they can renew, upgrade, or even downgrade their plan.
If you’d like to sync your website with your email service provider, the MemberPress plugin integrates seamlessly with popular email marketing services like AWeber, MailChimp, GetResponse, etc.
And that’s not all! There’s a built-in Courses addon that lets you create, manage, and sell online courses with MemberPress.
Using the fully visual drag and drop builder, you can quickly build your course curriculum. It comes with features like course progress tracking, exams/tests, and a Classroom Mode to automatically style your course pages.
Other standout features of MemberPress include:
- Content dripping
- Community forums
- Coupon codes
- Affiliate program
- Zapier integration
- Custom integrations
Price: MemberPress offers three plans:
- Basic – $179/year for a single site license
- Plus – $299/year for up to 2 site licenses
- Pro – $399/year for up to 5 site licenses
While there’s no free version or trial period, MemberPress offers a 14-day risk-free moneyback guarantee.
For more details, you should check out our complete MemberPress review.
LearnDash is ideally built for online course memberships.
It makes it easy to create a one-of-a-kind learning experience for your members. It even supports the latest gamification, social learning, and micro-content trends.
Since it’s more of an LMS (learning management system) plugin, you get multiple ways to sell your online courses. They are:
- Memberships: Create multiple levels of membership plans with different access to your online courses
- One-time price: Let users buy individual courses or pay a single fee to join your platform
- Subscription: Earn recurring payments through subscription-based selling
LearnDash allows learners to unlock new courses based on the points they earn as they complete their courses. This helps increase retention and makes users more engaged in your online courses.
What really makes you look professional though are the customized certificates and badges that you can award based on a learner’s performance. You can also offer front-end user profiles where members can track their activity.
We must also mention that this plugin supports multisite installations if you want to run a network of online course websites.
Some of the key LearnDash features include:
- Course builder
- Drip-feed lessons and modules
- Advanced quizzing
- Course forums
- Email notifications
- Free integrations
- Automated renewals
Price: LearnDash offers three plans:
- Basic – $159/year for a single site license
- Plus Package – $189/year for up to 10 site licenses
- Pro Package – $329/year for up to 25 site licenses
Here’s a complete LearnDash review for more details on this WordPress membership plugin.
Paid Member Subscriptions is one of the best membership plugins WordPress developers have to offer. It allows you to restrict product viewing, purchasing and offer special product prices to certain members. Think of this as offering an Amazon-Prime style eCommerce experience to your users.
With this plugin, you’ll be able to manage member subscriptions, grant and revoke access to posts, pages, categories as well as custom post types based on your users’ subscription plan.
The best part is that the plugin doesn’t force you into a predefined structure because the plugin seamlessly integrates into your WordPress site and content.
To set up the plugin, you need to specify your PayPal address to accept payments, set up subscription plans for users, and protect your content with a meta box that appears in individual posts, pages, and custom post types.
The most notable Paid Member Subscriptions features include:
- Email templates
- Account management
- Tax calculation addon
- Payment methods
- bbPress integration
Price: It offers two plans:
- Basic – €69/year for a single site license
- Pro – €149/year for unlimited sites licenses
Teachable is an all-in-one platform for creating and publishing beautiful online courses. It’s a standalone platform, so you can integrate your online courses into your existing WordPress website or host them on the Teachable subdomain.
There aren’t many free WordPress membership plugins, but Teachable is one that offers a basic forever free plan.
Teachable comes with a powerful editor that enables you to create and launch stunning sales pages to convert your visitors into paying users.
It lets you easily create quizzes and discussion forums on your Teachable site. You can also issue certificates of completion to reward your students.
The plugin is packed with features that let you create discount codes, affiliate programs, advanced pricing options, and more to improve your sales.
Here are a few features that set Teachable apart from its competitors:
- Learning tools
- Marketing tools
- Coupons and discounts
- 100+ currencies support
Price: Teachable offers four plans:
- Free – Forever free
- Basic – $29/year
- Pro – $99/year
- Business – $249/year
Restrict Content Pro is a lightweight WordPress membership plugin that lets you easily create a fully-featured membership site. You can create private forums as well to foster online communities.
To make sure your site doesn’t become bloated, it bundles the set of features you’ll need for your membership site as addons. So you can choose just the ones you want to activate on your site.
The plugin lets you create a premium content library and provide access to members only. And you can use many built-in payment options such as Stripe, Braintree, 2Checkout, Authorize.net, and PayPal.
Restrict Content Pro offers a free membership plugin in the WordPress repository.
This lite version comes with the ability to create custom user registration and login forms and limit access to content with a shortcode.
A few different ways to use Restrict Content Pro are:
- Club memberships
- Magazine subscriptions
- Private forums
- Member blogging
- WP-CLI integration
Price: The pro version comes in four plans:
- Personal – $99/year for a single site license
- Plus – $149/year for up to 5 site licenses
- Professional – $249/year for unlimited sites licenses
WooCommerce Memberships is an addon for the popular WooCommerce plugin. It allows you to limit your content only to the registered members of your site. Every new member will get user access and exclusive permissions to the premium version of your site.
Keep in mind that it’s not a single plugin solution for creating a membership site. You’ll need to use the free WooCommerce plugin to list your products with cart and checkout options. And you’ll also have to install the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin for accepting recurring payments.
This plugin is well-suited for online magazines, e-learning sites, membership sites, online forums, and more.
Some of the WooCommerce Memberships features include:
- Club memberships
- Shipping options
- Member discounts
- Import/export members
- Drip content
Price: It offers a single plan that costs $199 per year.
aMember is a comprehensive membership plugin that has been around for over 2 decades. Before you jump in, you should know that aMember Pro is not a native WordPress plugin.
However, it’s a membership site software built with PHP that allows you to integrate it with WordPress.
Since this plugin was not specifically created for WordPress sites, you might find compatibility issues with other WordPress plugins and themes.
Some of the key aMember features are:
- Unlimited membership levels
- Content restriction
- Membership management
- 200+ payment systems
- Automated signups
- Multi-language support
Price: The cost of the plugin is $149.36 (one-time fee). After purchasing the plugin, you can install it on an unlimited number of sites.
Bonus: Other Membership Plugins for WordPress
If you’re looking for more options, you may want to check out these membership plugins too:
- Paid Memberships Pro: Lets you restrict content and manage memberships with ease. It lets you automate user registration, add custom profile fields, and accept payment through multiple gateways. The plugin also integrates with BuddyPress to your community forums by membership level.
- S2Member: Protect posts, pages, tags, categories, and even specific URLs. You can even restrict portions of content within your pages, posts, and WordPress themes and plugins.
- WP-Members: A free and simplified membership plugin for WordPress with content restriction, custom registration, and powerful customizations.
- MemberMouse: Lets you sell protected content and customize the access you want to grant to every piece.
That’s our list of the best membership plugins for WordPress. Want to know our #1 pick? We give you our verdict below.
Which WordPress Membership Plugin is Best for You?
MemberPress is the best WordPress membership plugin you can have on your WordPress site. It’s the most comprehensive plugin and comes with powerful LMS functionality. It has powerful integrations, a premium affiliate program, coupon codes, and more.
WordPress users will also love the interface since it’s very similar to the native WordPress admin dashboard.
If you want a plugin that focuses on retaining members by providing a robust learning experience, quizzes, and certification, then LearnDash could be the right choice for you.
If you need to offer special pricing for selected members of your WooCommerce store (like Amazon Prime, for example) and show certain pages and products exclusively for them, then Paid Member Subscriptions plugin is the best choice.
We hope this article helped you find some of the best WordPress membership plugins for your needs. Want to get started with creating your membership site right away? Follow our easy guide: How to Create a WordPress Membership Site.
Next, you’ll be interested in reading our list of the Best WordPress Plugins that reveal the top tools for speed optimization, SEO, page builders, and social media tools. There’s even the best form builder in there to help you create registration and login forms for your membership site.
You should also check out these useful resources:
- Best WordPress Plugins for Selling Services Online
- 11 Best User Login and Registration Plugins for WordPress (2022)
- How to Sell a Product on Your WordPress Site (Without an Online Store)
We handpicked these guides for you to get the right set of tools to better your membership site. And if you’d like to sell physical or digital products in the most simple way, the last post will do the trick.