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5 Best WordPress Membership Plugins (Compared) – 2021

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.

Best WordPress membership plugins compared

What to Look for 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.

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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.

1. MemberPress

MemberPress

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.

Sell Courses – MemberPress lets you to easily create and sell online courses. It offers an interactive learning experience for users that focuses on course completion rate.

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: Starting from $129 / year for the Basic plan and $249 / year for the Plus plan.

We think MemberPress is the most easy to use WordPress membership plugin for beginners. It is quick to setup with tons of powerful options.

2. LearnDash

LearnDash

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.

3. Teachable

Teachable

Teachable is an all inclusive online courses builder. It packs membership website, LMS, discussion forum, email marketing, and analytics all under one dashboard.

Pros of Using Teachable

Ease of Use Teachable is easy to set up and does not require any technical skills at all. Creating membership content is a breeze and includes built-in tools to quickly create and upload videos, text, PDF, and more.

Drip Content It includes flexible drip content feature, which allows you to roll out content based on a users’ progress or subscription level.

Built-in Engagement Features It offers discussion forums, quizzes, contact forms, certificates, and other features to boost user engagement and build powerful online communities.

Cons of Using Teachable

Not a WordPress Plugin Teachable is not available as a WordPress plugin. Instead, you can integrate it to your WordPress site by adding links or a sub-domain.

More Expensive Teachable includes everything which makes it more expensive than other WordPress membership plugins.

Pricing: Basic plan starts at $39 / month, professional $99 / month, and business $499 / month.

4. Restrict Content Pro

Restrict Content Pro

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.

5. S2Member

S2Member

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.

Conclusion:

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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Reader Interactions

158 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Awesome info…thank you! You just saved me a bunch of tedious searching. PS-there’s a tiny typo. The first orange words from the top says:
    “What to Look in a WordPress Membership Plugin?”
    I think it’s supposed to be “What to look FOR…”
    Just thought you’d wanna know. Thanks again!!

    • Glad our guide could be helpful and thank you for letting us know about the typo :)

      Admin

  2. Thank you for this article! I have a question for you guys, do you know of any membership plugins that allows the subscriber to choose how much they want to pay for their memberships as opposed to having set prices for how much their membership will cost?

  3. Can Restrict Content Pro prevent non-vip user to download file if they have a link? i want upload files into sub domain and it’s important for me to prevent non-vip user / non-logged in vip user to download file.

    • You would want to reach out to the plugin’s support and they would be able to let you know their current capacity and methods for protecting downloads :)

      Admin

  4. One thing we want to do is offer the individual lectures for people to buy as a ‘once-off’ instead of paying a monthly sub. e.g. they only want 1 out of the 9 lectures, they pay us a one-time fee for access to this specific lecture page.

  5. Thank you for this – do any of these come with mobile experience, or would users use the regular desktop wp version of the website (or mobile one) with the added privileges – OR does any of these plug-in offer a specialized app experience? Many thanks !

    • Unless I hear otherwise, these options should have similar tools to their desktop view when viewing mobile

      Admin

  6. Thanks for your great list. Do you know any membership plugins that can help password protect parts of the content?

    • If you mean a content drip, most if not all of these plugins should have that option available. If you check with the plugin’s support directly with what you’re wanting they should be able to let you know if they support that

      Admin

  7. Hi, I was just looking through this an I am very new to all this, I have a WordPress site with the divi builder and am looking to set up online courses and an online school that enables people to purchase a course and do payment instalments. Its important for me to be able to do it mostly myself as well as to customize the courses with photos and videos. do you recommend any one for me? just starting out so also needs to be affordable and sustainable long term to expand.
    I appreciate and tips you have thanks!

    • You would want to check with the plugin’s support for what types of invoicing they have available

      Admin

    • S2member’s support is on their specific site’s forums at the moment may be why it looks that way but the plugin should still be active.

      Admin

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  14. Hello,

    IS THERE a plugin that will allow a guest to subscribe for post changes?

    Lets say i publish a post with a coupon in it, the guest subscribe to the post and when the post is updated with a new coupon the guest user will receive an email notification.

    • While we do not have a recommended plugin for that specific usage, you could create a newsletter informing your users when you update a deal on your site.

      Admin

  15. Hi, does the membership plugins mentioned support large files video and documents upload? Does it support file and video download options for members as well?

    thanks for your response.

    God bless

    • The plugins should be able to handle files on your site, for specifically large files that would depend on how you have your site and hosting set up.

      Admin

  16. I am running the latest version of WordPress and have just purchased LearnDash and Divi 3.1.
    I want to have affiliates selling my courses (both subscription and one-time purchases) and was told by the LearnDash team I would need to use WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads to make that happen. I want to use AffiliateWP (which is compatible with both Woo and EDD). But when I asked about how the subscriptions happened, they said that I would need to get the membership and subscription plugins for Woo, or a membership system like Restrict Content Pro.
    I do not understand this as I thought LearnDash was the membership system for my courses. As I have already spoken to them and get why I need the shopping cart to add the affiliate function. Can you tell me why I need an additional, separate Membership system?

    • Hi Jon,

      LearnDash allows you to manage classes, courses, and students. You can sell courses with LearnDash and even add recurring payments. When setting price for your course you can select payment type (“Buy Now” or “Recurring”). After that you can select the billing cycle.

      To manage your affiliates you will need an Affiliate management tool.

      Admin

  17. I am having trouble integrating restrict comment pro membership subscriptions with Themify ultra. As a result, I am unable to test my stripe payment(s). The restrict content page says this is often a page builder error. I don’t want to revert to HTML (cut and paste). Any suggestions?

  18. I am looking for a plugin that lets me limit the amount of pages a user can read daily before he has to sign up (and pay).

    Any idea where I could find such plugin?

  19. Please I need plugins that will allow me to sell pages to my members for blog. Meaning they can write articles that will show online.
    Thanks

  20. Thanks for the nice article.
    I’d like to see some free alternatives. Which is the best free membership plugin for building a paid membership website with some nice profile page?

    • Hi Tom, You can use Ultimate member and paid membership pro combo. It is looks very professional and with a very secure and nice login page and registration page as well. I have it on website and it work in wonders.

      • Ultimate member is a horrible plugin riddled with bugs along with very poor support. STAY AWAY from them. Once you purchase, you’re locked in and they will not refund your money no matter how many issues you have with this crappy plugin.

        • Agreed. We’ve been with them for two years on their paid plan. When I asked how to transfer members to a new site (a staging site), I was told to basically “Google it.”

          We’re paying for support — just wanted to throw that in there again. Oh, and it was the founder who provides support and gave me that answer.

          Every time we’ve needed support from Ultimate Member, it’s nearly brought me to tears of frustration. So hard to customize, so full of problems, so not intuitive, so lacking in support. Stay away.

  21. Hello WPBeginner ! Thanks for your article.
    I’m thinking of migrating my existing membership website – it would need to have individual member profiles, photo albums, a site timeline, forums, and a searchable directory, as well as a few other general pages to insert HTML and links.
    Can you recommend any specific Plugin(s) that can achieve this for me ?
    Thanks in advance.

  22. Hey Guys,
    I’m a beginner looking for a membership site where I can divide content along lines of gender and also offer the members a chance to submit their own content but to their own area only – in the form of a journal and notes, for example. Is this possible.

    Thanks in advance,
    John

  23. I need a member area where I upload client specific invoices, estimates, drawings, tracking numbers and other information for only that client. Is that possible with any of these. I want to upload them myself and not put from something platform.

        • Hi Jeremiah,

          For that you will need to find out which payment providers are available in your country, and then see if the membership plugin has an addon that supports any of those payment providers.

    • I haven’t done it but I would go about doing this by creating a page on your site just for your client, and have that page access blocked with a username and password wall that you have for your client. Unless you have many such clients, in which case I don’t know I guess you’d need a more complicated solution.

  24. Hi, thanks for the great post, it was very helpful to understand some basic things for me.

    But I´m still a little bit confused about how to solve my need. Maybe you can help me, and I’ll be very grateful.

    I’m working on a WP site, to sell accountant services. I want customers to pay every month, lets say, 10 bucks. So what I need is to link Woocommerce (to upload my services/products), and a complete membership plugin to let them update their profile, check their payment status, edit personal information, etc. And, last, if this is possible, to link all that information to a CRM like Zoho or similar.

    Do you think is that possible?

    Any advices will be very welcome!

    Thank you a lot

  25. Good article!
    Im looking for solution to control access to pages,
    Interested in function to let users have multiple subscriptions for accessing multiple courses, and to have an option to control access to pages by groups and also per user in case someone haven’t done homework.
    Any of listed plugin with this functions? Or maybe it would be possible by combining some of them.
    Help please.

  26. Why are plugins for WordPress so overpriced?? How are bloggers and NPOs able to get decent functionality to run their site when plugins cost so much?

    • Why is it overpriced? If you would have to build the functionality yourself it wouid cost so much time.

      You want to have membership software so you can produce something once and sell it to members. That is what these plugin developers do as well….

  27. Many thanks for the presentation of the Membership plugins!
    I’m looking for a membership plugin where a paid membership level can provide different numbers of uploads. It should be a kind of photo community. The first level of membership should have one upload per week, the second should get 15 uploads per week, and so on. Unfortunately, I have not found a plugin which offers quota limits, only those with space limits. I do not know if one of your featured Membership plugins will support this.

  28. This is very helpful. Do you have insight on how these member plugins stack up in terms of where the member/subscriber pages live on my wordpress site? In other words, there’s a question of if the subscriber area is on a subdomain or a subdirectory. The former will allow me to have a separate search index and set of categories/tags so that subscribers can find things easier. That’s my preference, but I’m not sure if any of the plugins in this article support that, or if they work mostly with subdirectories instead. And in the case of a member subdirectory, can the site search index be partitioned to only apply to that subdirectory? Thanks for your time!

  29. I want to give my client life time access but before they pay for membership they have a chance to take a three days trial.
    Which plugin is best for me ?

    a) Lifetime access after trial
    b) Automatically take money and automatically upgrade level after trial period

  30. Hopefully someone can help. I have a website where I give cashback for offers that my members fill out. I need a membership plugin to keep a track of my members. I use getresponse so I would like the plugin to integrate with them. Also so my members can login and check their balance. That is really all I need from the plugin.

  31. Your blog date says January 2 2018, but the comments date back to 2016. As I write this reply, January 27, 2018, the pricing for Paid Memberships Pro that you state does not seem to be accurate. I wish it were. I guess they went up since you wrote your blog (2016?), but their website says that their PMPro Plus license is $297 a year. They have a free version which might be the PMPro. Then there is another version, Unlimited, which is $597. I appreciate the comparisons – thank you for this information.

    • Hi Pam,

      Thanks for pointing this out. We have updated the article. Their basic free plan now includes some addons and limited features and their paid plans now start from $297 / year.

      Admin

  32. Hi,

    I have a plan to make directory. in the directory itself is just list of people who specialize in graphic design (for example). there’s send message button over there, which is visitor can interaction. send message itself only on the website. can’t go outside like Gmail, or whatever. any suggestion for this?

  33. Hi, new to wordpress… I want to sell courses online. I want to sell packages that will contain a few video on a certain topic. I want the clients who paid for them to be able to come back at will, but I don’t want them to be able to share those video. if I create videos using unpublish feature on YouTube , is it possible to restrict the sharing of those video with LeanDash? If not, do you know what plugin I could use?
    Thank you
    Sylvie

  34. S2member Pro also has Clickbank integrated as payment gateway. great post. It seems not much membership plugins works with clickbank.

  35. Which of these is the best option if it is critical that my members are able to make selections in multiple categories? Also, since I am looking for something very specific, I know I will need to add extra code to add some features. Which of these is most flexible when it comes to adding features? Thanks.

  36. Struggling to find the right member plugin. Am trying memberpress but it wont allow my members to sign in and membership pro is too complicated. Restrict content pro sounds OK but nervous to try another plugin as it doesn’t help my popular site. I don’t want to do downloads either. Any suggestions.

  37. Another review site states this about Restrict Content Pro, “Limitations: The plugin lacks content dripping feature which is surely a fundamental feature for a membership site.”

    That’s not mentioned here.

  38. Am looking to be able to manage contact information in a not for profit that has 3800 members. Would want them to be able to login and update their own information.

    Also would want members to be able to login and be able to search (access) normally restricted information.

    Any thoughts?? You all are the go to place for getting objective information!!

  39. Thank you for such a comprehensive and informative review of the membership plugins. Your recommendations have definitely helped me make a decision.

  40. I am a newbie to wordpress. I am using bbPress for my site. I have an existing form that doesn’t have any approval process. I am manually adding the users after receiving the forms. I did some digging and found the “New User Approve” plugin. I went ahead and installed the plugin. But not sure how to link/connect the plugin to my form so that the new user registrations can be moderated (approve or deny). Any help will be greatly appreciated.

  41. Hi guys! I’m hoping you (or someone here) can help me.
    I’m using MemberPress and WooCommerce to set up a site that sells annual memberships to a local brick-and-mortar archery club. In order for someone to become a member of the club, they have to watch a safety video and pass a quiz on the video content (if they miss more than 2 questions it’s a ‘fail’, but they can re-take the quiz until they pass). Do you know of any plugins or add-ons that will add this functionality to MemberPress or any of the other membership plugins? Thanks in advance!

    • Hey Taylor,

      GravityForms would work great for this scenario.

      The easiest implementation would be to present the video before collecting payment for the membership (if user passes => redirect them to the checkout).

      But if you want to collect payment first you can restrict content until they pass the test, and then make it available. This method would be a bit more technical.

  42. We’re looking for a plug in or theme that includes a search function (several fields as well as scattershot search) for the directory of members. would any of these work in that way.? Thank you.

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