Looking for the best membership plugins for WordPress? Here's our list of the best plugins to build a WordPress membership site.
Approximate read-time: 6.5 minutes
What are the best membership plugins for WordPress? Great question! Membership sites are extremely popular these days.
Although there are some built-in features in WordPress that are helpful, a serious membership site needs a plugin behind it.
But before you can pick a plugin, you have to ask yourself one important question.
What type of membership site are you building?
There are a number of different types of membership websites. Having the right software can make things a lot easier.
Why? Different membership plugins are suitable for different purposes.
- Associations: Any type of free or paid association that requires a membership (think the American Automobile Association).
- Product or Service: A website that connects to a product or service (think Fitbit Premium).
- Content related: Content drip-feed delivered usually delivered by paid membership subscription (think Patreon).
- All-Access Sites: Paid memberships that unlock gated content behind a paywall (think Netflix).
- Online Courses: Websites associated with an online course or educational program (think Coursera).
- Online Communities: Private community and/or forums with free or paid memberships (think niche community sites).
Which WordPress membership plugin is the best? It all depends on what kind of site you are building.
With that in mind, let’s start by talking about why you would use a membership plugin for your WordPress site. Then we’ll countdown our list of the best WordPress membership plugins.
Why use a membership plugin in WordPress?
So why would you need a membership plugin for your WordPress site? After all, a WordPress site can have users, right?
While that is true, there’s a difference between a user and a member. A member is a user as part of a membership site. And a membership site requires a membership infrastructure.
What does that include? More than you might think:
- Automated emails & notifications
- Login & welcome pages
- Third-party integrations
- Mobile ready & responsive design
- Website security & SSL
- Payment options
- Custom post types
- Member analytics
- Community forums
- User-friendly interface
The fact is that a membership site has a lot of moving parts. Unless you are a professional developer, building a membership site from scratch will be really difficult.
And honestly, even if you are a pro developer... building a membership site is still really difficult!
In reality, it pays to allow a WordPress membership plugin to do the hard work in the back-end. Having membership features automated will give you the freedom to focus on what you do best.
Long story short, building a membership site is not easy. This is one area where a WordPress plugin can really help.
👉 Read more: How to Know When You Need a Membership Plugin
What is the best membership plugin for WordPress?
Beyond the major features listed in the section above, each of the following plugins offers something a little bit different for your WordPress website.
Let’s get into it, starting with our top-rated plugin, MemberPress.
Premium (from $249/year per site)
If you are serious about your WordPress membership website, MemberPress is the best plugin out there. It has all the features you need, plus many more you didn’t know you needed!
Not only does it have all the features you expect in a WordPress membership plugin, but it comes with an easy to use interface. Installing the plugin is easy too.
Among its major features, you’ll find content restriction. This feature allows you to restrict access to different types of content based on a users’ membership. With this feature, you can set up tiered memberships with ease.
As far as integrations go, MemberPress has loads of them. All the big ones are here: MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, and more. It also integrates seamlessly with our form plugin, Formidable Forms, and payment systems like PayPal and Stripe.
For ease of use, features, reliability, and value, MemberPress is our top choice among WordPress membership plugins.
Here's the deal: the best membership plugins have a WordPress form builder inside them. The trouble is that those form builders can't always do what a full-featured, dedicated form builder can.
So then, why not just use a form builder instead of a membership plugin? Actually, you can do that! You just need to be sure what kind of membership features you need.
If you want to speed up WordPress, you want to use as few plugins as possible. So you need to ask yourself: what do you need more? A form builder or a membership plugin?
If you need advanced membership features, then you should get a membership plugin like MemberPress.
Premium (from $159/year per site)
Remember earlier when we said that the best WordPress membership plugin for your site depends on what kind of site you are running?
Here’s a great example of that. If you are running a WordPress site that sells online courses, LearnDash should be your top choice.
The beauty of LearnDash is that it’s more than a membership plugin. It’s a full-featured LMS (learning management system). That means it has tools designed to help you build courses too. Their drag and drop course builder allows you to build courses from top to bottom.
That means you can build lessons, topics, quizzes, exams, projects, and everything you would expect an online course to feature.
LearnDash is also known for its ability to function well within the vast majority of WordPress themes. Their support team recognized as top-notch as well.
Top it off with all the membership features you’d expect in the best WordPress membership plugins and you’ve got a real winner. Integrations, payment gateways, user profiles, drip content plus more.
Premium (from $19.95/month per 1,000 members)
MemberMouse is another fine choice for those looking to set up a membership website with WordPress. One feature that makes it stand out: membership bundles.
Membership levels are fairly standard in most of the plugins on this list. A bundle is a refreshingly different approach that allows for more possibilities.
Membership levels usually allow members “all-access” to certain membership levels. Bundles, on the other hand, allow you to sell different “groups of content”. This way, you could get really targeted with your offers.
For example, you could sell a high-value bundle to your lowest level members. This way, they don’t need to pay for the highest level of membership, but they can still get a taste of the action. These bundles can even be given away for free.
Another cool feature within MemberMouse: they allow you to create a membership to use for testing. This way you can experience membership just as a paying member would, making testing a breeze.
One downside of MemberMouse, however, is that it’s not a GPL plugin. Essentially, that means that developers won’t be able to tweak any of the code in the plugin. That’s kind of mortal sin in the world of WordPress...
Free and premium (from $99/year)
Paid Memberships Pro is the first plugin on this list that could work for you totally free. Its free features are very generous.
The downside to this plugin is its steep learning curve. That’s why their premium plans prominently feature support as a major selling point. Still, it’s worth checking out for the “try before you buy” approach common among WordPress plugins.
As with other plugins, you’ll find great features like reporting, drip content, email notifications, and much more.
6. WooCommerce Memberships
Premium (from $199/year)
Given that many membership websites operate on a subscription model, that’s kind of a bummer. Despite this fact, the WooCommerce Memberships add-on is super easy to use if you already work with WooCommerce.
For example, if you already have an online store but want to extend your offerings to include memberships, this option would work really well. You could even sell your existing customers on access to content that they may find appealing.
This plugin features content dripping, member rewards, and many of the usual membership features. Just don’t expect it to function well on its own. Another point of consideration: it costs $199 for just a single site license, which is quite pricy.
Free and premium (from $125/year)
WP-Members is yet another great WordPress membership plugin. It works a little differently than others in one fundamental way. Instead of restricting some content on your site, it restricts everything by default.
Although you can reverse this setting, it might be annoying if you spent a ton of time unlocking your free content piece by piece. You’ve been warned!
If you’re a developer, you’ll be more at home with WP-Members than the average user. That’s because this plugin is intentionally designed to be modified and tweaked.
While that may leave beginners out in the cold, it will make this plugin desirable to the code masters in our midst. Still, it does have some nifty features out of the box, like custom landing pages and login forms for example.
Free and premium (from $99/year per site)
The last plugin on this list comes with a bit of drama. The free version of Restrict Content has a number of 1-star reviews that point to its lack of features. Despite this, you'll find the pro version is highly recommended by some of the top WordPress experts.
What a dilemma! The most trustworthy accounts point to this being a great plugin, but when you read the 1-star reviews... it’s difficult to argue with them.
Still, Restrict Content Pro has some neat features. For starters, it allows you to create unlimited subscription levels, including free, trial, and premium models. Since restricting content is the major feature in this plugin, it allows you to easily restrict whatever you want, posts or pages.
It also allows you to charge a signup fee in addition to a monthly membership fee, giving you creative control over your pricing model. Beyond that, it comes with many of the membership features you’d expect: coupon codes, digital downloads, email marketing integrations, plus more.
Free and Paid version (starting at $69)
Variety is the spice of life! With that in mind, here is another WordPress membership plugin for you to try. It's a fairly decent one too.
Sometimes you need to try a few plugins until one feels right. This might be the one for you then - especially if the ones above haven't struck your fancy.
Paid Member Subscriptions is another plugin that offers a free and a premium version for you to choose from. The free version actually can get your membership site going at no cost to you. You'll be able to register users and accept one-time payments with PayPal.
If you want advanced features, you'll need to go pro. This includes things like drip content, advanced payment options, and more payment gateways like Stripe for example.
10. Magic Members
Premium (starting at $97)
Magic Members is yet another decent choice for those looking for a WordPress membership plugin. There are some pros and cons to be aware of before checking this one out though.
As far as the pros are concerned, this plugin doesn't limit you. You can make unlimited membership levels instead of the standard three, for example. And you can include trials and as many pricing combinations as you want to.
One issue that many users have pointed out: the dated interface. If you can get over that, this could still work well for you! Even though it's not pretty, everything is handled from one dashboard, which is a plus.
Like other plugins on this list, you can restrict content by post or page. You can also release content drips based on membership level. It also allows you to set content to pay-per-post rather than putting it behind a membership paywall.
Free and Pro version (starting at $89)
Are you still looking for your dream WordPress membership plugin? Well here's another one to test out! It's no dud either. It can do everything you would need to create a fully functioning membership website with WordPress.
It allows you to restrict the standard pages and posts, while also allowing you to restrict custom post types, categories, media files, and even streaming of media files.
Here's a bonus you won't find with many other membership plugins: security features. This plugin can actually prevent brute-force attacks on your WordPress site!
The free version limits you to 4 membership levels, but that may work for some users. Give this one a try if the others on the list have fallen short.
There you have it - our list of the best WordPress membership plugins. The best thing about this list? There really isn't any filler.
We hope you've found your new plugin today. And we wish you nothing but luck with your new membership website.
Remember to follow the Formidable blog for WordPress tips, tricks, facts, and news. Until next time, friends!