Last updated on: June 26, 2020
Do you want to prevent site visitors from accessing certain posts or pages in WordPress? Restricting access to members is an effective way to monetize your content and reward loyal readers with exclusivity. In this article, we’ll share the best WordPress membership plugins for creating a members only site.
But first, let’s dive in with answering the big question…
What is a Membership Plugin?
A membership plugin lets you restrict parts of your website so only members can access it.
They’re often used to create VIP areas to reward visitors who opt-in to your email list with exclusive content. And in other cases, you can offer restricted content to members who pay a subscription for the privilege.
But the best WordPress membership plugins have a wide range of other features such as:
- Access rules to protect new content as it’s published
- The ability to drip content access over a set period of time
- A range of membership plans and levels to allow upsells
- The ability to add membership subscriptions to WordPress
- Support for discount codes
- Automation of important tasks like forgotten passwords, subscription pausing, and more
- Options to help you sell digital products from your website
As you can see, membership plugins have the power to truly transform any WordPress site into a fully-fledged membership site.
How to Choose a WordPress Membership Plugin
With so many membership plugins to choose from, how do you pick the best one for your website? Ideally you should look at the following 3 key areas when making your decision:
- Ease of Use
- Design and Features
Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail.
Ease of Use
When choosing a membership plugin you can either purchase a lightweight plugin, or opt for a fully featured one.
Lightweight membership plugins give you all the basic features you need and are built to be fast. Many lightweight plugins offer addons to extend the functionality of the plugin and give you access to more features.
With fully featured membership plugins you get all the features you could possible need. You may even end up with some you won’t use at all. So your interface could end up being crowded and harder to navigate.
You can test the compatibility of a membership plugin by installing it on a local WordPress install. If it works with your WordPress theme and plugins, you can install it on your live website.
Design and Features
To decide which features you need, think about what you want to offer your customers. Will they need to be able to checkout using PayPal or add multiple payment options?
You should also consider how you want your membership site to look. What will your pricing page look like? And do you want to drip content to members over time?
Once you know what you need for your website, you’ll know which features to look for in a membership plugin.
Best WordPress Membership Plugins
There are several excellent WordPress membership plugins built with WordPress in mind. Here are 7 of our favorites:
|1. MemberPress||Best WordPress Membership Plugin||$129 / y|
|2. LearnDash||Best WordPress LMS||$159|
|3. Restrict Content Pro||Flexible Membership Plugin||$99 / y|
|4. Teachable||Best All-Round LMS||$29 / m|
|5. S2Member||Best Free Membership Plugin||Free|
|6. aMember Pro||Best Membership Software||$149|
|7. Paid Membership Pro||Simple Membership Plugin||$297|
|8. Paid Member Subscriptions||Best Subscription Plugin||$69|
|9. WooCommerce Memberships||WooCommerce Member Plugin||$149 / y|
MemberPress is a popular membership plugin for WordPress. And it’s also one of the easiest to use too. It comes with heaps of great features that work effortlessly with the WordPress platform. So you can transform any website into a membership platform.
Pros of MemberPress Membership Plugin for WordPress
- Easy to Use – MemberPress makes it super-easy to set up a membership site using WordPress. It’s as simple as installing the plugin, entering your payment gateway details, adding some products, and you’re good to go.
- Control Access to Content – The powerful access control features allow you to restrict access to posts, pages, categories, tags, files, login forms, and more.
- Drip Content – With MemberPress you can drip restricted content to members over a set period of time. This is a handy feature for sites offering courses and educational material.
- Sofware Integration – You can integrate MemberPress with email marketing services like AWeber, MailChimp, Constant Contact, and GetResponse. You can even connect it with MonsterInsights to monitor site activity and Amazon Web Services for organizing your business.
- Payment Gateways – There is built-in MemberPress support for popular payment gateways like PayPal and Stripe. You can even use Authorize.net if you choose the Plus or Pro plans.
Cons of MemberPress WordPress Plugin
- Payment Options Limited – Only 3 payment gateways are available in MemberPress. So site owners from countries where they’re not supported might face difficulties.
- Lacking Integrations – Even though this plugin supports the most popular services for running a member site, it misses out on other popular integrations to form a complete package. However, if the need arises, it is possible to pay someone to integrate the service you require.
How Much Does MemberPress Cost?
The pricing for MemberPress begins at $129 per year for the Basic plan. The Plus plan is $249 per year.
MemberPress is the perfect all-in-one solution for beginners due to its easy setup and powerful features for building membership websites.
LearnDash is the most trusted WordPress LMS plugin as well as being a popular WordPress plugin. It’s packed with a large variety of features for creating member sites, as well as advanced admin capabilities.
Pros of Building Member Only Sites with LearnDash
- Easy to Use – Setting up LearnDash is pretty simple while using it is even easier. There’s a variety of tools to help you organize member content, add it to varying member levels and even offer courses for free.
- Content Restriction – With LearnDash hiding any content is easy. You can also restrict access to certain member groups.
- Advanced Course Selling – LearnDash is useful if you’re selling online courses because of its intuitive drag and drop course builder. By using this you can build multi-level courses with assignments, categories, and topics.
- Community Features – This membership plugin comes with tools to keep community members engaged with course forums, user badges, interactive quizzes, user profiles, and certificates.
Cons of LearnDash on WordPress
- Lacking Membership Features – If you’re not interested in creating a membership site to sell courses, the many LearnDash features won’t be much use to you as they’re mostly focused on course building and selling.
- Lots to Learn – Because LearnDash has so many features, there’s a lot to get to grips with. This might be too much to handle if you only need a simple membership site.
How Much Does LearnDash Cost?
The pricing for LearnDash starts at $159 for use on a single site, with 1 year of support and updates.
LearnDash is the perfect WordPress members-only plugin if you’re interested in creating an online course to sell on your website. The wealth of addons and integrations will help you build an exciting platform.
Pros of Restrict Content Pro Membership Plugin
- Ease of Use – This plugin easily integrates with the WordPress interface, so it’s easy to learn how to use it.
- Built-in Integrations – The built-in integrations you get with Restrict Content Pro are a game-changer. With other membership plugins, you have to buy them as add-ons. The integrations include Stripe, Braintree, 2Checkout, Authorize.net, and PayPal to name a few.
- Unlimited Subscription Packages – Create any number of subscription levels including free, trial, and premium subscriptions.
- Discounts and Promotions – You can offer an unlimited amount of discount codes. As well as percentage and flat rate based discounts to your members.
Cons of Restrict Content Pro
- Limited Integrations – Integrations with third-party services are more limited in comparison to other content restriction plugins on this list.
How Much Does Restrict Content Pro Cost?
The pricing for this plugin starts at $99 per year for a single site license with the inclusion of 12 free addons.
Restrict Content Pro is a good choice for website owners who need a solution to lock content that doesn’t interfere with their existing site.
Pros of Teachable or WordPress Membership Sites
- Easy to Use – Getting to grips with Teachable doesn’t require any technical skills. Creating member content is simple and the built-in tools help you to quickly upload all manner of materials.
- Membership Site Customization – Teachable lets you personalize your content and transform it into a stunning online course. You can work on your existing WordPress site, or build course landing pages on teachable using the drag and drop builder, plus everything is mobile responsive.
- Engagement Tools – It includes discussion forums, quizzes, certificates and other tools to boost member engagement.
Cons of Using Teachable for Online Member Courses
- No WordPress Plugin – Teachable doesn’t currently have a WordPress plugin. Therefore to use it on WordPress to create a member’s areas, you’ll need to add links or use a sub-domain.
- Expensive – Everything is included with teachable, and this makes it a more expensive membership solution than the other options on this list.
How Much Does Teachable Cost?
The pricing for Teachable starts at $29 per month, billed every year.
If you’re looking to create stunning online courses with a heap of personalization options and don’t mind the price tag, Teachable is a great choice.
s2Member is a free WordPress membership plugin with a paid version for site owners who want more features. Plus it’s a well-known subscription solution with a loyal user base.
Pros of s2Memebr Free Membership Plugin
- Free Plugin – The base plugin for s2Member is free to use. While the free version is limited in terms of functionality it’s a good place to start with building your subscription site.
- Drip Content – Pre-schedule the release of premium content to paid members of your site and implement them with the use of WordPress shortcodes. This is only available with the paid version.
- Payment Gateway Options – With the free version of s2Member, you can use the PayPal payment gateway. Yet you’ll need the paid version to use Stripe and Authorize.net.
- Third-Party Integration – s2Member is pre-integrated with MailChimp, AWeber, and GetResponse. It also integrates with bbPress and BuddyPress for forum and social network functionality.
- Documentation – Because this plugin has been around for a while, there’s extensive documentation to help you out with building your premium member site. You also get access to email-based support.
Cons of Using s2Member to Build Restricted Access Sites
- Difficult to Use – This WordPress plugin isn’t as easy to use as many of the others on this list.
- Limited Base Version – The free version of s2Memeber is pretty limited. It only supports PayPal payments, has only 4 membership levels, and doesn’t include content dripping.
How Much Does s2Member Cost?
The free version of s2Member doesn’t cost anything to use. For a single site license of the pro version, you’ll need to pay an $89 one-time fee.
This plugin is ideal if you’re looking for something more robust that’s been around for a while, and which has heaps of documentation to expand your knowledge.
6. aMember Pro
Pros of aMember Pro for WordPress
- Automation – With aMemember Pro you can automate the customer signup process. Just choose the fields, products, payment gateways, and the rest is automatic.
- Content Dripping – Drip content day-by-day to easily keep customers engaged, subscribed, and billed.
- Muti-Level Memberships – You can set any number of subscription levels and products, with different prices and subscription terms for your members.
- Integrated Modules – The modules in this membership software includes an opt-in email newsletter, helpdesk, affiliate management, and a shopping cart module.
Cons of aMember Pro for Building Subscription Websites
- Dated Interface – The interface for aMember Pro is fairly basic from a design perspective and doesn’t compare with the many modern alternatives.
- Lacks Advanced Features – aMember Pro is lacking in features like event management and it’s not suitable for typical associations and clubs. There’s also no donation functionality included.
How Much Does aMember Pro Cost?
You only need to pay a single one-off fee to take advantage of aMember Pro. It costs $149.36 and you can use it on as many websites as you’d like.
The one-time payment and the included member features make the simple membership software a good choice for member-based blogs, retail websites and membership forums. While site owners with more complex member needs will need to look elsewhere.
Paid Memberships Pro is a simple membership plugin with over 80,000 active WordPress installations.
Pros of Memberships Pro WordPress Plugin
- Free Version – If you’re wondering if Paid Membership Pro is free, you’re in luck. There’s a free version that comes bundled with 19 free addons.
- Unlimited Membership Levels – Control access to content for any number of member levels. Members are added as WordPress users at the subscriber level and you can structure the hierarchy in any way you see fit.
- Payment Gateways – Paid Memberships Pro comes with 6 key payment gateways including Stripe, Authorize.net, PayPal, and Braintree, all of which are included in the free version.
Cons of Paid Memberships Pro Plugin
- Limited Free Version – The free version of this WordPress plugin is limited for use on only 1 website and doesn’t include unlimited support tickets.
- Expensive Paid Version – While the paid versions are only one-off payments, they’re still pretty pricey considering you get most of the features with the free option.
How Much Does Paid Memberships Pro Cost?
There is a free version of Paid Memberships Pro, so it won’t cost you anything. However to use it on more sites and for more support, pricing starts at $297.
So if paying for a membership plugin isn’t on the cards for you, Paid Memberships Pro is a feature-packed choice that doesn’t have to cost a penny.
Paid Member Subscriptions is one of the best subscription plugins for WordPress that lets you restrict product viewing and purchasing to paying members.
Pros of Paid Member Subscriptions Plugin
- Subscription Management – You can manage your member’s subscriptions, revoke and grant access to pages, categories, etc, all based on the user subscription level.
- Easy Integration – Paid Member Subscriptions won’t disrupt your WordPress website because it seamlessly integrates into your content and site.
- Easy to Set Up – This plugin is also easy to set up. Simply add your PayPal email address, your subscriptions, and set restrictions individually on each page or post’s meta box.
Cons of Using Paid Member Subscriptions for Your Member Site.
- Limited Integration – While this plugin includes all the features needed for a membership website, it lacks integration into third-party services like Authorize.net and Zapier.
- Refund Policy Clarity – This plugin does have a 15-day refund policy, however, they first advise you to contact their support team to see if they can fix your issues. In our opinion, this could be made clearer.
How Much Does Paid Member Subscriptions Cost
There is a free version of this plugin available with limited options. But to get all the features you’ll need for a fully functioning WordPress membership website, you’ll need to upgrade. Pro versions begin at $69 for a single site with 9 basic addons.
Pros of WooCommerce Memerbships for Member Only Sites
- Flexible Member Levels – Create different types of membership options including stand-alone product purchases, monthly subscriptions, and yearly subscriptions.
- Drip Content – With the content dripping feature you can choose when members get to see your content and control how those users access the content on your site. If you like, you can run a free trial that locks after the trial period, prompting users to subscribe to regain access.
- Membership Rewards – To reward loyal members, WooCommerce Memberships lets you offer free shipping, coupons, and special discounts.
- Easily Manage Members – Managing memberships is easy for both you and your members. Users can view all the content they have access to, see future releases and see their membership details.
Cons of Using WooCommerce Memberships Plugin
- Requires WooCommerce Subscriptions – This plugin isn’t a complete membership solution. To accept recurring payments, you’ll need to use the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin. You’ll need this plugin to upgrade and downgrade subscriptions too.
How Much Does WooCommerce Memberships Cost?
The cost of this WordPress Membership plugin starts at $149 per year for a single site license.
And there you have it! You’ve discovered the best WordPress membership plugins you can use to completely transform any WordPress site into a powerful membership platform.
If you enjoyed reading this and would like to discover even more of the best WordPress plugins, take a look at our ultimate guide.