10 Best WordPress Membership Plugins

So you want to start a membership site, huh? It’s a daunting task, but one that pays off if you choose the right niche and execute the plan properly. I would recommend starting your strategy with some of the wonderful membership site tips from the folks at Copyblogger. After that, it’s time to get to work on building your membership site with the proper plugins.

Unfortunately, the market is flooded with WordPress membership plugins, making it somewhat difficult to figure out the right one for you. Are you most interested in saving money or creating an easy to use site, content dripping (the delivery of your content over time – like for courses or memberships) or using your own custom code? You may even want to integrate the membership site into your current ecommerce website to bring in additional revenue streams.

All of these questions need answering before starting out on your journey, so that’s why I put together a comprehensive list of the best WordPress membership plugins. That’s not all. Even choosing from a list of ten plugins can prove troubling. That’s why I compare each of the membership plugins and tell you which ones to select depending on your wants and needs. Keep reading to get started on your membership site.

Paid Memberships Pro

Paid Membership Pro

Paid Memberships Pro is a wonderful first plugin to take a look at. The plugin allows you to setup your own membership levels for helping your members discover different content and if they can afford the payments. You can also create flexible payments and trials, along with member reports for checking in on which of your customers are providing you with the most money.

Content access is determined by level, so the more people pay you, the more content they have access to. The plugin lets you customize your advertising for bringing in additional money, and it has email notifications to keep people informed and coming back to your site. The plugin’s pages are completely customizable which makes for easy building and a pretty branding strategy.

Choose This Membership Plugin If…

You don’t have to pay a dime for Paid Memberships Pro, making it the most affordable option on the list. Therefore, if you’re pressed for cash, this is the ideal option for you. It’s also nice if you want to implement your own custom code or reuse some of the custom code that is already created for you. I also like it for people who are thinking about advertising on their site, since it includes modules for that.

Restrict Content Pro

Restrict content Pro

The Restrict Content Pro plugin offers one of the simplest setups when it comes to membership plugins. After you have it completely implemented, use the membership management area to see what your members are accessing on your site and what membership levels they are on.

Create an unlimited amount of subscription packages, and integrate with some of the most popular payment systems like PayPal, Stripe and Braintree. Along with discount codes, reports and data exports, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Choose This Membership Plugin If…

Since the plugin starts at $42 for a single site, it’s a nice solution for saving cash. It also supports Stripe, PayPal and other payment options, which is great for international payments. If you want to build extensions for the plugin or even use extensions from other people, Restrict Content Pro allows all of the above.

Exchange from iThemes

Exchange from iThemes

Exchange is a powerful membership plugin from the folks at iThemes. It’s actually a full ecommerce solution, with support for digital downloads, coupons, Stripe, PayPal and a clean shopping cart.

Along with all the cool ecommerce features, you can buy the membership add-on. This add-on lets you sell paid or free memberships and protect your content based on member levels. Include numerous member products, and sell your content when people sign up for different levels. Digital downloads are also supported.

Choose This Membership Plugin If…

You have the option to choose between the free or paid version. The $197 Pro Pack is a little pricey, but you can always try out the free plugin to save cash. Keep in mind that the Membership Add-on is $97, but that still isn’t terrible considering it provides a fully functional membership system. This is the best solution is you require an ecommerce store along with your site and a powerful payment processor..

MemberPress

Member Press

MemberPress is a rather popular solution, since it’s easy to understand, you can give out coupons and the product groups allow for dynamically generated pricing pages. The membership access rules ensure that only paying members receive your content, and frontend login and user account areas are customizable and easy to place on the site.

Feel free to play around with subscriptions and transactions, and bring up reports to fully understand how customers are moving around your site and using it to access your content.

Choose This Membership Plugin If…

If content dripping is important to you, MemberPress is one of the ideal solutions. You receive tons of features for dripping your content, making your customization a little easier. I also recommend MemberPress is you want direct access to clean code. Not to mention, the membership pausing works if needed.

WP eMember

WP eMember

The WP eMember plugin features a wide selection of tools, starting with a quick and easy installation and a fully automated membership system for simple payments, upgrade notifications, cancellations and more. Select which of your content can be viewed by your customers, and make these selections based on items like categories, pages, posts or comments.

Unlimited membership levels are available, and you can manage your members to see membership levels, payment statuses and more. Partial content display is a standout feature for teasing your users to bring them in as paying customers. Your members can also bookmark certain pages on your site to come back later and access the best content.

Choose This Membership Plugin If…

The plugin sells for $59.95, making it a viable option for those on a budget. You also receive the ability to pause your memberships, so you would have to choose between this or MemberPress for that feature.

Try-Shopify

Cart66

Cart66

If you’re selling more than memberships, consider checking out Cart66. It’s a full ecommerce solution, meaning that you can sell products as well as memberships. The membership system is built-in, so you don’t have to install an additional add-on. This lets you restrict content based on membership level, and you can even setup a recurring billing program to keep people on a consistent payment plan.

Choose to drip your content, and send out notification emails whenever something new is released that you members have to see.

Choose This Membership Plugin If…

I like this option for people who are interested in setting up both an online store and a membership site. Cart66 is also one of the easier to use platforms on the market, considering it’s all packaged into one cookie-cutter system.

Member Mouse

MemberMouse

The Member Mouse plugin serves as an easy to setup solution, with a 14-day free trial and all of the essentials you would expect out of a membership plugin. It’s not the least expensive plugin, at $19.95 per month, but you get standout features like coupons, trial offers, upsells, smart tags, content dripping, piracy auto locking and more.

The coupons come in handy, and the churn and retention reporting is essential for figuring out how long your members are sticking around and why they are leaving.

Choose This Membership Plugin If…

Member Mouse is designed so that developers can come in and tweak the code. This means that you can hire a programmer or work on the code yourself to make the membership site work just for your company. It’s also handy if you really need top notch reports and nice-looking coupons.

Magic Members

Magic Members

The Magic Members plugin starts at $97, and it offers tons of payment module integrations like Stripe, PayPal, Checkout, Authorize.net and more. Autoresponders are perfect for sending out emails through services like Constant Contact, and flexible membership options let you charge on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis.

Multiple membership levels are available, and you can also offer downloadable content, which is a plus if you want people to be able to put the content on their computers. Coupon creation is unlimited, and you can drip content depending on the timing setting you specify.

Choose This Membership Plugin If…

Magic Members is best for those who need international payment systems like PayPal, MoneyBookers, WorldPay and 2CheckOut. It’s worth mentioning that you receive S3 Amazon Support for no extra charge. This means that Magic Members works with S3 Amazon to protect your content from being compromised.

WooCommerce with Groups

WooCommerce with Groups

If you haven’t heard of WooCommerce, it’s about time you do. This is one of the most popular plugins for turning a simple WordPress site into a fully functional ecommerce platform. That said, Woocommerce also sells an add-on called Groups.

This starts at $79, and it allows for memberships based on subscription fees or one-time payments. Create an unlimited amount of user groups, and play around with group hierarchies to send your content to the right people. Group capabilities are controllable from the easy to use dashboard, and the bulk actions create a fast way to make changes to your groups or members without having to go through and make the modifications one by one.

Choose This Membership Plugin If…

The Groups plugin works wonders if you integrate it with WooCommerce when trying to sell items through your website as well. Keep in mind, however, that if you don’t want to create an ecommerce website, the Groups plugin is available for free, making it a great choice for those who want to save a little money.

S2Member

S2Member

S2Member has huge potential for scaling up a membership website fast. The various payment processing solutions help with choosing the one you like best, and the brute force login protection ensures that your content isn’t compromised in any way. File download restrictions help prevent people from downloading too many times, and the customizable email templates and login welcome pages assist in branding your site.

The affiliate program integrations help you generate some buzz about your site and rewards those who are sending paying customers your way. The plugin is also compatible with plugins like bbPress and BuddyPress for making the ultimate community.

Choose This Membership Plugin If…

If you want to test the waters with your membership program, S2Member provides a free plan. After that the paid plans start at $89, which isn’t awful, but i wouldn’t put it in the low cost category. International payments are available with tools like PayPal, Stripe and Authorize.net.

I would also argue that this is one of the best solutions for those who require content dripping, because it gives you shortcodes to scatter throughout your site, cutting down on your workload and helping out beginners who don’t know how to code.

Now, Let’s Put This Comparison into a Summary

If Your Biggest Concern is Price, Go With:

  • Paid Memberships Pro
  • Restrict Content Pro
  • Groups (Without the WooCommerce integration)

If Your Biggest Concern is Several Payment Processing Options (International,) Go With:

  • Magic Members
  • S2Members
  • Exchange from iThemes

If Your Biggest Concern is Content Dripping, Go With:

  • MemberPress
  • S2Member

If Your Biggest Concern is Ease of Use, Go With:

  • Exchange from iThemes
  • Paid Memberships Pro
  • Cart66

If Your Biggest Concern is Pausing Memberships, Go With:

  • MemberPress
  • WP eMember

If Your Biggest Concern is the Ability to Custom Code, Go With:

  • Restrict Content Pro
  • Paid Memberships Pro
  • Member Mouse

If Your Biggest Concern is Having an Ecommerce Store, Go With:

  • WooCommerce with Groups
  • Exchange from iThemes
  • Cart66

That’s it for finding the best WordPress membership plugins! If you have any questions, or particular requirements from a membership plugin, leave me a comment in the section below so I can help you decide on the right solution.

Catalin Zorzini

I'm a web design blogger and started this project after spending a few weeks struggling to find out which is the best ecommerce platform for myself. Check out my current top 10 ecommerce site builders.

5 Responses

  1. This is a good list. I have found that s2 member is difficult to scale though. I think it would be great to do a post on plugins that integrate with automation tools like Infusionsoft. This allows you to deliver a better member experience and ultimately keep more members. I customize the site integrations.

  2. I am involved in two sports club, would you have any advice on which way to head with a membership plugin?

    1) there are three tiers of member prices ($10; $20; $40); but once a member everyone can do the same stuff. Membership is paid when you join and then becomes due at a particular date annually (ie January 1)
    Members will have special access to some content; although most of the site is public. Members will also be able to register for events (public should only be able to see events)
    We also want to be able to sell t-shirts!

    2) The second club has a “family membership” of 2 adults and any number of juniors. Only one form needs to be completed but we need to capture the name and Date of Birth for each person.
    The membership categories are more complex too:
    Juniors (under 21 years at 31 Dec)
    Senior (over 21 years but under 65)
    Over 65 on 31 Dec
    Family (no more than 2 adults, any number of juniors)
    Student –in full time tertiary education
    Some content is restricted to members

    In both options there should be a link to WooCommerce and MailChimp signup; plus ability to export a membership list

    1. Hi Martin, did you ever figure out a nice way to do “family memberships” with different logins for family members? Thanks.

  3. Hi Catalin!

    Great post:)

    Wondering if you can help me find a plug-in that offers the following:

    *easiest to use (no custom coding or steep learning curve.) and automated i.e. in terms of cancellation, referrals etc.
    *multiple ways to pay and international
    *re-occurring monthly billing
    *referral (i.e. a friend refers you when they sign up and your next month is free kind of thing)
    *cancellation (if they cancel within 5 days of billing- refund and no access. If the cancellation starts at next billing cycle, they will still have access to the site until then.)
    *ability to customize their account- i.e. update their info, email notifications etc.

    Important but not absolutely necessary.

    -drip campaign
    -email notification option for new content if they would like.
    -not letting multiple people login in multiple places… (i.e. one user per membership)
    -membership pausing if possible but not necessary
    -possibility to download, but not necessary at this time

    Thank you!

  4. Thanks for the wonderful list of the best WordPress membership plugins. Paid Memberships Pro looks great, I will definitely try it out.

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