Are you planning to create a WordPress membership site, or wanted to launch your premium content for your registered users? In any such situation, WordPress membership plugins can help you to create a WordPress membership site. Here I am going to compare the best WordPress membership plugins out there.
Using a membership plugin, you can restrict access to your website or your content to only those visitors that are registered. Additionally, WordPress membership plugins can help you create a paywall to earn income by having paid membership.
You can also create a database of loyal users or even sell online courses, content, downloads among others. It is also possible to restrict user communication to only registered members, something we are all used to especially on social media.
Selecting the right and the best WordPress membership plugin for your membership site needs is essential because it is usually hard to change to another.
You will also find it difficult to switch from one plugin to another. This is because, the functionalities these plugins provide on the frontend are quite similar, however, at the backend they are different from each other in many ways.
At the same time, these WordPress membership plugins also offer diffident features. So, choosing the right one, as per your current need with a scope of scalability, from the onset is always the best approach.
How to Choose the Best WordPress Membership Plugin
Whether you are looking for an opportunity to earn income through a membership site, creating a mailing list or stamping your authority in a niche, you need to know how to choose the right plugin.
Here is what to look for in your preferred WordPress membership plugin:
- Ease of use: The plugin must be user-friendly, easy to set up and use. Ease of use is important so that you can manage your site’s membership backend yourself instead of involving another tech guy (developer/freelancer).
- Compatibility: Compatible with your WordPress installation, theme, other plugins. Check compatibility issues to ensure smooth flow.
- Features and Design: The plugin you choose must have the features and design options per your requirement. Design and features allow you to decide how you want your users to interact with your site.
Best WordPress Membership Plugins for Website/Blog
Assuming that you have a decent WordPress setup which includes a good hosting plan, a good domain, and the latest WordPress installation, here are the eight best WordPress membership plugins you can choose from.
# MemberPress: The “All-In-One” Membership Plugin for WordPress
MemberPress is simple to use and one of the best WordPress membership plugin that will help you to start charging your users in order to get access to your content.
Additionally, the plugin helps you to create, manage and monitor subscriptions and sell your preferred content.
You can confidently grant or deny access to pages, categories, posts, videos, photos, files and anything else on your site.
Getting access to these resources on your site will depend on the level of membership the user belongs to.
MemberPress integrates well with your WordPress installation, themes, plugins and third-party services such as communities and forums.
Why You should consider MemberPress
- Automatic setup of login, account, pricing and thank-you pages.
- Restricting access to content for a certain period. This content dripping is especially important when selling digital products.
- Built-in payment gateways such as Stripe and PayPal. You can also get Authorize.net on upgrade.
- Integration with popular email services, web services, and podcasts.
The Limitations of MemebrPress
- Only three popular payment gateways built-in and a few popular web services. However, you can get a developer to add others.
- A free version of the MemebrPress plugin is not available.
- No Trial version or plan is offered.
- The basic package of MemebrPress plugin starts from $149 per year. However, for all the advanced features you need to pay $349 per annum for the Pro package of MemeberPress WordPress plugin.
- No questions asked, 14 days Money Back Guarantee.
# LearnDash: Most Trusted WordPress LMS
LearnDash is the best WordPress membership plugin for those looking to sell online courses and other educational materials. It is one of the most popular WordPress Learning Management System (LMS) plugins in the market today.
Additionally, the LearnDash plugin is loaded with robust membership features and enough powerful integration capabilities.
If you are looking for a top WordPress membership plugin for your educational site, this is the one to go for.
In addition to being easy to set up, it offers advanced membership features that allow you to categorize your membership into groups, levels, and other categories.
Things I like in LeanDash – Pros
- Restrict content – You can grant access to members depending on their levels. Additionally, members can earn points and unlock access to more content, therefore, increasing retention and engagement.
- Community features – LearnDash comes preloaded with powerful community features. These features offer opportunities for your members to create profiles, access badges, tests, forums, and other community-related interactions.
- Payment gateways and other integrations – With LearnDash membership plugin, you can connect your members to many popular payment gateways. Additionally, you can even connect to WooCommerce, Slack, bbPress, and even other membership plugins like MemberPress.
- LearnDash works with all the popular page builder plugins without any issue. Even the popular WordPress themes like Astra and Elegant Themes also offers premade layouts for seamless LearnDash integration.
The Limitations of LearnDash – Cons
- It is specifically created for purposes of selling online courses. If you are not into that, then some features may be just useless in your case.
- No Free version of the LearnDash plugin is available.
- There are no trials as well.
- You can install and use LearnDash on a single site for $159 per year. The Pro package of LearnDash is suitable for up to 25 sites for $329 per year. There is no major difference in features in Basic, Plus and Pro packages of LearnDash plugin.
- A 30 days refund policy is being offered as per the terms and conditions, which means No Guaranty of full refunds.
# Membership & Content Restriction – Paid Member Subscriptions
Paid Member Subscriptions is another popular WordPress membership plugin. Paid Member Subscriptions come in both free and pro versions.
The plugin allows you to accept payments from members. Additionally, you can create subscription plans and restrict your premium content based on different subscription plans.
This plugin is easy to install and configure. It also supports different shortcodes for easy customization. Using this plugin, you can create an eCommerce experience on your website similar to Netflix and Amazon-Prime.
Paid Member Subscriptions plugin is a great alternative to Restrict Content Pro.
The Pros of Paid Member Subscriptions plugin
- A free version is available at WordPress repository with many powerful features.
- Easily integrates with your current WordPress installation, MailChimp, Excel, WooCommerce, PayPal, Stripe and other popular gateways.
- Restricts access to pages, posts, categories, shop, products, purchasing and all-important parameters that you set on your membership plans.
- Ability to create Hierarchical Subscription Plans of your choice such as Free Membership, Silver, Bronze or Gold. Members can also upgrade, downgrade or even quite any plan at any time.
- Ability to create and export membership, transactions and other reports with ease.
- Additional features with the Pro version that includes bbPress, discount codes, navigation menu filtering, discount codes, and other exciting features.
The Limitations Paid Member Subscriptions plugin
- Some of the most powerful membership features are only accessible using the paid version of the plugin. These include group membership, content dripping, PayPal Express and invoices among others.
- No trial of premium features available.
- No straight forward refund policy. You can ask for a refund on in the first 15days with a caveat that if they are not able to resolve your reported issue.
Pricing of Paid Member Subscriptions Plugin
- For a single site, you can use the Hobbyist plan of the plugin by paying $69 per year. For unlimited plans, you need to use the PRO version which will cost you $149 per annum.
# Restrict Content Pro: Membership Plugin for WordPress
Restrict Content is another free Membership plugin for WordPress in the market today. While using this plugin, you can restrict your content to only logged in users.
If you are looking for a WordPress membership that lets you restrict content in a partial or full mode, Restrict Content could a great choice for you.
The plugin uses shortcodes to restrict access to pages, posts and other custom post types. The best thing about this plugin is the ability for your users to access features on the frontend.
Your users can log in and reset passwords using front end forms provided by the plugin. That helps you to limit the access of WordPress admin or login pages to your subscribers.
The plugin is created by the same developers behind the popular Easy Digital Downloads and AffiliateWP plugins.
The best part about Restrict Content WordPress membership plugin is the free availability of advanced features.
Why consider Restrict Content
- Easy to install, configure and use.
- Multiple in-built integrations to popular web services and payment gateways. The pro version comes with built-in PayPal, Stripe, Braintree, MailPoet, MailChimp, CSV exports for files, and email manager among many others.
- Many add-ons that include PayPal Express, PayPal Website Payments Pro, Stripe Checkout, and 2Check.
- It also offers features to promote discount codes.
- Great customer support services.
- Integrates with Easy Digital Downloads (made by the same developers).
The Limitations of Restrict Content Pro
- Limited integrations compared to other membership plugins. It has fewer third-party services integrations, especially on the email side.
- They do not offer any trails for premium features.
- A first 30 days refund policy with some conditions.
Content Restriction Pro Version Pricing
- It starts from $99 per year for a single site and goes up to $249 per year for unlimited sites and access to all the pro-add-ons.
- You can also pay a one-time fee of $499 to access the lifetime updates and supports with all the features and add-ons on as many sites you want to.
# Paid Membership Pro
Paid Membership Pro is another important contender when it comes to the best WordPress membership plugins. Both free and paid versions of this membership plugin are available.
Similar to the other membership plugins, it helps you built an additional revenue source for your website using paid subscriptions.
The Paid Membership plugin is one of the best alternatives to the Restrict Content plugin as it shares many similar features with the same.
If you are running a premium content website, club or association, newsletter or subscription products site and many more, this plugin can fulfill all your needs.
Things to consider Paid Memberships Pro
- Easy to install, configure and manage with different membership levels and multiple subscriptions.
- Integration with six different payment gateways and email marketing platforms that include PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Braintree, 2Checkout, Mailchimp, Constant Contact, AWeber and GetResponse among others.
- Member dashboards and the ability to generate and export reports. You can also manage thousands of members using this plugin.
- Create private groups and communities for different interests.
- Ability to sell e-learning or course work products in addition to many other uses.
- Restrict access to pages, post types, forums, downloads, events, courses, products, and other categories depending on the membership types.
- 100 percent open source and you can extend it using over 60 premium add-ons depending on your user preferences.
The Limitations of Paid Membership Pro
- Some of the most useful features are available only as add-ons. These include recurring orders and multisite membership among others.
- No trial plan is available.
Paid Membership Pro Pricing
- There are two paid plans available Plus and Unlimited for $297 and $597 per year. The only difference between the two paid plans is the use of the plugin on a number of sites i.e. On 1-5 sites and unlimited sites respectively.
- A 100% Money-Back Guarantee can be accessed with the first 30 days of the purchase without any questions asked.
# Ultimate Member – User Profile & Membership Plugin
Ultimate Member is one of the top WordPress membership plugins that are available in the market today. This plugin gives you an opportunity to allow your members to sign up and create beautiful frontend profiles on your site.
Using this lightweight plugin, you can create advanced online communities, groups and allow membership interactions on your website.
Additionally, the users can register and become a member on your site on the frontend without necessarily using the WordPress register and login pages.
The Ultimate Member plugin can be downloaded from the WordPress repository for free. In addition to that, you can purchase the paid extensions for premium features.
The paid extensions offer many unique features, which none of the plugins on this list offers i.e. Follow and/or rate other users, post on their timeline, create and/or join groups, etc.
Why you should consider Ultimate Member Plugin
- Allows the frontend use for user accounts and access.
- Developer-friendly with multiple extensions, filters, and actions.
- Creating different user roles, user directories and access to user emails.
- Restricting content depending on user roles as well as conditional navigation menus.
- Free extensions that include integration with ForumWP plugin, Terms & Conditions, Online Users and Google reCAPTCHA.
- Integration with multiple payment gateways, email services and eCommerce plugins that include WooCommerce, bbPress, Instagram, MailChimp and many more.
- The plugin can be used to build large scale websites like Buzzfeed. However, a high-speed managed WordPress hosting Kinsta is recommended to avoid any issue during traffic spikes. Read our in-depth Kinsta review here.
The Limitations of Ultimate Member Plugin
- Most of the important integrations and features such as groups, profile completeness, profile pictures, bookmarking and others are available as paid extensions.
Ultimate Member Extension Pricing
- The plugin offers two paid options. (1) The initial one is Extensions Pass, which will cost you $249 per year which can be used on unlimited sites and come with all the extensions. (2) The second option includes all the features of Extensions Pass plus a Theme pass, this can be availed in just $299 per year. I personally would recommend to go with the first option and use a third party premium theme along with that.
# Simple Membership
Simple Membership is another popular plugin and one of the best free WordPress membership plugins to choose from. If you are looking for an opportunity to protect your content, this plugin lets you do exactly that.
You can protect your content such that only registered members of your site can browse and view. Registration provides access to pages and posts with restricted content. In this way, you can set different membership levels that include free membership, Silver, Bronze, Gold or any other type you prefer.
If a non-member on your site attempts to access protected content, the plugin will prompt them to login or register.
Pros of Simple Membership WP Plugin
- Simple Membership is quite a user-friendly WordPress plugin.
- You only need to choose whether or not to protect the page or post when editing on the WordPress editor.
- The plugin allows integration with PayPal, Stripe, and Braintree.
- Email activation or confirmation for a free membership on your site.
- Developer-friendly with many filters and action hooks to extend the plugin.
- Compatible with all WordPress installations.
- It offers multilingual options.
- It allows you to setup Frontend profiles, logins, and registration for your site users.
Cons of Simple Membership WP Plugin
- Requires some level of WordPress development knowledge to extend the plugin to suit advanced feature needs.
- It is recommended to take a backup of your site using the popular WordPress Backup plugins before implementing any code-related functions.
Simple Membership Plugin Pricing
- Simple Membership Plugin is an open-source plugin that can be downloaded for free from the WordPress repository.
# WP-Members Membership Plugin
WP-Members Membership Plugin is another simple to use but one of the best WordPress membership plugins in the WordPress plugin repository. It is a good alternative to the Simple Membership Plugin.
This plugin can easily convert your website into an instant membership platform. You can use it to protect premium content, create custom registration fields as well as restrict access to only registered members.
If you are looking for an opportunity to have a membership site and still concentrate more on your business rather than the plugin, WP-Members is the plugin to go for.
This is because the plugin is simple to install, configure and manage. It also offers its premium features for less than $5 a month.
Why consider WP-Members Membership Plugin
- Restrict or hide pages, posts, and other custom post types.
- Provides access from the frontend rather than the native WordPress login and register pages.
- It provides a login widget to put on the sidebars.
- Use of simple shortcodes for registration, login and account pages.
- Premium support for plugin pro version users.
- Integration with major payment gateways and other web services such as PayPal, MailChimp and WooCommerce.
The limitations of Free WP-Members Membership Plugin
- The most important features and integrations are accessible only by premium version users. These include PayPal, email services, as well as protecting downloads among others.
WP-Members Membership Plugin Pricing
- WP-Members membership plugin is available for free at WordPress plugin repository with basic yet usable features.
- For premium features, there are three options that start from $59 per year.
Conclusion – The Best WordPress Membership Plugins
The WordPress membership plugins discussed here are some of the best plugins you can get in the market today if you are looking for a plugin to create a membership website.
Depending on your needs, you can choose any of the above. However, if you are in need of selling online courses and educational materials, LearnDash should be your choice, because it is designed specifically for online courses and related sites.
Additionally, you must have noticed that MemberPress is the most popular among all of these plugins. So you can give that a try. In spite of that, I would recommend you to check out Ultimate Member for all of your membership needs.
Which free WordPress membership plugin do you use? Is there any premium WordPress membership plugin you would like us to add in this list? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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