Struggling to find the WordPress membership plugins that are right for your needs? There's a lot that goes into a membership site, so finding the plugin with the perfect functionality can be difficult.
How does the plugin let you restrict your content? Can you drip out content? Are there built-in payment gateways? Can members manage their subscriptions from the front-end?
Those are a lot of questions that need to be answered – and that's only part of it!
To help, I've collected 9 of the best WordPress membership plugins in one spot. For each plugin, I'll specifically dig into how it lets you:
- Restrict content
- Sell memberships
Then, I'll also share some of the other relevant features you'll be interested in, as well as how much each option costs.
Let's get started, beginning with one of the best options…
MemberPress is a popular membership plugin that offers a deep feature list and set of integrations. It comes from the same developer as the Pretty Link Pro plugin, as well as the Affiliate Royale plugin (which integrates with MemberPress if you want to offer an affiliate program at your site).
MemberPress Content Restriction Options
MemberPress lets you get pretty detailed with how you choose which content to restrict.
You can restrict by:
- Individual post or pages
- Child pages
- Custom post types
- Other smaller markers
You can also partially restrict content using either shortcodes or PHP snippets, which is helpful if you still want to give non-authorized visitors access to some content.
As for timing, you can either just make all the restricted content available permanently. Or, you can use both:
- Content dripping (e.g. make available after two weeks).
- Timed content access expiration (e.g. make unavailable after two weeks).
MemberPress Payment Options And Gateways
You can create multiple membership pricing tiers, including an option to offer a free trial period.
Then, MemberPress can help you automatically generate pricing pages for your site. It offers multiple themes, or you can create your own custom styles if needed. You can also create multiple pricing pages to sell different memberships.
It comes with built-in payment gateway support for major gateways, including:
- PayPal Express and Standard
And once a member subscribes, MemberPress gives them access to their own subscription management area where they can upgrade, manage, or cancel their subscriptions without any involvement on your part.
Finally, MemberPress also lets you create coupons, including controls for:
- Expiration date
- Number of uses
Other Helpful MemberPress Features
Beyond the core features above, MemberPress offers plenty of other functionality.
First, it includes a detailed reporting dashboard where you can see revenue stats, as well as which options are bringing in the most money.
It also has plenty of integrations with third-party services/plugins. Some of the most relevant are:
- A variety of popular email marketing services
- A few LMS plugins, including LearnDash and WP Courseware
- Affiliate plugins, including Affiliate Royal and AffiliateWP
- WooCommerce (to restrict products by membership. There's also a beta function to use WooCommerce to sell memberships)
You also get this neat automation functionality that lets you send emails to members based on specific events (like an upcoming renewal).
Examples Of Real Websites Using MemberPress
Here are two live websites that use MemberPress if you want to see it in action:
MemberPress has three pricing tiers. Each tier affects the number of sites you can use it on, as well as which add-ons you get access to:
Paid Memberships Pro is another well-known option that comes packed with tons of functionality. One unique thing about this plugin is that there's actually a free version available at WordPress.org. With that being said, most serious membership sites will probably want one of the premium options.
Paid Memberships Pro Content Restriction Options
Paid Memberships Pro lets you create unlimited membership levels.
To restrict content, you can either use checkboxes for individual posts or pages. Or, you can restrict whole categories of content.
For a more targeted approach, you can also use shortcodes or PHP functions to restrict content, like a specific video on a page, or a widget in your sidebar.
If you don't want to make all content available at once, you can create a “Series” to drip content out based on the number of days since a user registered.
Paid Memberships Pro Payment Options And Gateways
Paid Memberships Pro comes with built-in support for six different payment gateways:
If you need access to more gateways, there's also a WooCommerce integration that lets you sell memberships via WooCommerce.
To entice new subscribers, you can offer both free trials or create discount codes.
And once members have a subscription, they can manage their own subscription from the front-end, including options to change their membership level or cancel their subscription.
Other Helpful Paid Memberships Pro Features
With the paid versions of Paid Memberships Pro, you get access to 60+ add-ons, which gives you the potential for a lot of modular functionality including:
- Integrations with email marketing services
- Option to sell access to individual posts or pages as an add-on package
- Email notifications, including automatic expiration/renewal reminders
- Zapier integration for automation
- Slack notifications
- Affiliate program integrations
Examples Of Real Websites Using Paid Memberships Pro
Here are three quality websites using Paid Memberships Pro so that you can see it in action:
Paid Memberships Pro Pricing
You can get your feet wet with the free version of Paid Memberships Pro at WordPress.org. After that, you have two options to get access to the premium functionality:
Restrict Content Pro is a WordPress membership plugin from Pippin's Plugins/Sandhills Development, which is the same team behind the popular Easy Digital Downloads plugin, as well as the AffiliateWP plugin.
That's a rockstar team backing you, which should give you confidence that Restrict Content Pro is around for the long haul.
Restrict Content Pro Content Restriction Options
Like the others, Restrict Content Pro lets you create unlimited membership levels to restrict access to your content.
To choose which content to restrict, you get a few options.
First, you can use a new meta box on each individual post, page, or custom post type. Or, you can also restrict entire categories or post types.
You also get shortcodes to restrict specific parts of your content. And if that's still not enough, you can always use the PHP functions to restrict anything via your theme's template files.
One nice thing is that Restrict Content Pro gives you multiple options to choose how the restriction works. You can restrict by:
- Any subscription level
- Only paid subscription levels
- Specific individual subscription levels
- A specific subscription level plus all subscription levels above that one
- Access level (you can assign each subscription an access level)
- WordPress user role
So that lets you get pretty flexible with exactly who can see each piece of content.
You can also drip feed content if needed. And there are also a couple other neat time-based restriction options that let you:
- Expire content in the future to remove access
- Restrict all content that was published prior to the member's join date
Restrict Content Pro Payment Options And Gateways
Restrict Content Pro comes with built-in support for five payment gateways:
You can get pretty creative with membership pricing, including free trials and both flat rate and percentage discounts.
And to save you time, members can both upgrade and/or cancel their subscriptions from their own front-end areas. For upgrades, you can offer a prorated credit based on the price difference.
Other Helpful Restrict Content Pro Features
Restrict Content Pro has add-ons for most popular email marketing services, as well as Help Scout to offer support to your customers.
You can also send automated emails, like welcome emails or renewal reminders. And there are some neat official add-ons to help you integrate with:
- WP Job Manager
- Easy Digital Downloads
As well as third-party add-ons for:
Examples Of Real Websites Using Restrict Content Pro
Here are two examples of websites running Restrict Content Pro:
Restrict Content Pro Pricing
Restrict Content Pro has three core pricing tiers, plus a fourth lifetime option:
MemberMouse is a turn-key WordPress membership plugin that makes it really simple to get set up with a detailed membership site.
There's just one thing to be aware of – it operates with a SaaS-style billing approach, which means you'll pay an ongoing fee based on the number of members at your site. That fee may well be worth it for the convenience, but it's definitely something to keep in mind.
Also, MemberMouse does not use GPL licensing, which some WordPress users might not like.
MemberMouse Content Restriction Options
MemberMouse lets you create unlimited subscription levels to restrict your content.
Like the others, you can restrict specific posts, pages, or custom post types. Or, you can restrict entire categories.
There are also more detailed controls that let you use specific shortcodes or PHP.
Drip content is built into the core of MemberMouse, which makes it really easy to set up detailed drip schedules for different membership levels. You can also save time by copying existing drip content schedules, which is a nice feature.
And it also offers the same neat feature you saw with Restrict Content Pro that lets you only give members access to content that was published after they joined.
Finally, you can even deliver restricted content to a specific user, which might come in handy for certain niche situations.
MemberMouse Payment Options And Gateways
MemberMouse supports popular gateways like:
It also has great-looking checkout pages that let you incorporate both free trials and coupons. And members can manage their own subscriptions, including an option to offer prorated discounts when they upgrade.
Beyond that, here are two areas where MemberMouse really excels:
First, you get a detailed upsell and downsell system. You can easily boost your revenue with one-click upsells or save-the-sale style downsells.
Second, you can split-test different pricing options to see which converts the best, which is another neat way to boost your bottom line. There's only one other option on this list that offers built-in A/B testing (OptimizePress).
Other Helpful MemberMouse Features
MemberMouse makes it easy to connect to most popular email marketing services. And it also includes one of the better reporting dashboards that you'll see in WordPress membership plugins.
If needed, you can also integrate with most affiliate platforms.
Examples Of Real Websites Using MemberMouse
Here are two real websites using MemberMouse:
There are two things that affect how much you'll pay for MemberMouse:
- The features that you want
- How many members you have
Plans start at $19.95 per month for up to 1,000 members and go up from there:
S2Member is a popular option that's available as a free version at WordPress.org, as well as a Pro option.
The free version is pretty generous with its functionality, which helps explain the popularity. With that being said, S2Member is not a great beginner-friendly option. The interface design is not beginner-friendly, and casual users will absolutely struggle to unlock all its functionality.
Here's an example of what I'm talking about:
If you can get over that, though, you do get access to a lot of functionality for one free (or affordable) price tag.
S2Member Content Restriction Options
S2Member gives you a good number of options for creating unlimited subscription levels (unlimited in the Pro version – the free version only allows 4 different levels). You can restrict by:
- Custom post types
- Categories or tags
- URL structures
- File downloads
There are also these helpful alternative view restrictions that let you handle restricting content in:
- RSS Feeds
- Search results
- Comment feeds
- Nav menus
The Pro version also supports content dripping.
S2Member Payment Options And Gateways
S2Member lets you sell both one-off and recurring access. To actually create your payment pages, S2Member recommends integrating with something like Responsive Pricing Tables, which is what was used to create the pricing tables below:
The free version lets you accept payments via PayPal Standard. And the Pro version adds support for:
- PayPal Pro
There is a roundabout way to offer free trials, though it's not as simple as other plugins. And the Pro version does let you create coupons.
I don't believe there's any way for members to change their membership level from the front-end, though.
Other Helpful S2Member Features
S2Member can integrate with popular affiliate programs like iDevAffiliate and ShareASale. And it also offers customizable email templates, as well as an option to protect streaming audio/video.
Examples Of Real Website Using S2Member
I was only able to find one website actively using S2Member, though I'm sure others exist. It's Scrapbook Campus.
There's a generous free version of S2Member available at WordPress.org. After that, paid plans start at just $89 with lifetime updates:
OptimizePress is unique because it's not just a WordPress membership plugin. It's also a landing page builder and funnel creator. If you do want that functionality, it's cool to have it all in one package.
But if you strictly want a lightweight membership plugin, you should probably stick with some of the other options.
OptimizePress Content Restriction Options
Because it's not exclusively a membership plugin, OptimizePress doesn't offer quite as detailed functionality for restricting content.
With that being said, it should still be enough functionality for most sites. Beyond restricting specific posts or pages, you also get shortcodes that let you restrict specific content inside a page, or even display different content to different membership levels.
Or, you also can use PHP directly in your theme template files.
OptimizePress does support drip content, but only for paying members, which is a bit odd. So if you have a free membership tier, you won't be able to drip content to them. Additionally, the drip content timer starts from the moment a user registers, rather than from when they purchase a specific membership level, which again might be limiting in some situations.
As the developers say, “The Drip Content system is best suited to sites where you are delivering an individual training course on one site.”
OptimizePress Payment Options And Gateways
Because OptimizePress has that built-in landing/sales page builder, it's very easy to create a checkout page that looks great.
And to accept payments, you can use PayPal or Stripe, or some external carts like ThriveCart.
Other Helpful OptimizePress Features
The big reason to use OptimizePress over the other WordPress membership plugins is if you like the other non-membership features, including:
- Landing/sales page builder
- Email opt-in forms and lots of email marketing service integrations
- A/B testing
Examples Of Real Websites Using OptimizePress
Here are two sites built with OptimizePress:
OptimizePress offers three different pricing tiers:
Coming in at just $39, Ultimate Membership Pro is the cheapest premium membership plugin on this list. It's also the only one sold through Envato, where it's been purchased over 13,000 times and has a 4.5-star rating out of 5 based on 460+ reviews.
It's developed by azzaroco, who also has a number of other popular plugins.
Ultimate Membership Pro Content Restriction Options
Ultimate Membership Pro lets you create unlimited membership levels, complete with options to control subscription periods (and what happens to expiring subscriptions):
Ultimate Membership Pro gives you options for both broad and narrow content restriction, including functionality to restrict by:
- Individual posts, pages, or custom post types
- Categories or tags
- Specific URLs
- Partial content using shortcodes
You can also restrict menu items to show different navigation options depending on a user's membership level.
If needed, it also includes drip functionality for content.
Ultimate Membership Pro Payment Options And Gateways
Ultimate Membership Pro is pretty flexible when it comes to payments.
First off, you get a lot of options for pricing. You can sell one-off or subscription plans, including options for both free trials and coupons. There's also this neat “pay what you want” option. Definitely a niche use, but that could come in handy sometimes.
As for payment gateways, you can use all the big ones, including:
There's also a WooCommerce integration if you'd prefer to use WooCommerce.
To manage their subscriptions, members get their own account page where they can cancel or renew their subscription (though I couldn't find anything about prorated discounts for changing membership levels).
Other Helpful Ultimate Membership Pro Features
Ultimate Membership Pro includes integrations for 9 popular email marketing services, as well as a social login integration for easy account signup.
You also get email notification functionality, as well as some niche features like:
- Membership badges
- Push notifications
- Public members directory
- Printable membership card
Ultimate Membership Pro Pricing
Ultimate Membership Pro costs $39 with standard Envato licensing.
Ultimate Member is a popular free WordPress membership plugin (though there are also paid extensions). According to WordPress.org, it's active on over 100,000+ sites, which puts it ahead of both S2Member and Paid Memberships Pro.
One thing to note is that Ultimate Member is much less focused on selling paid memberships and more focused on building communities. For example, there's no built-in paid membership functionality, though you can find third-party add-ons that let you hook up to WooCommerce.
Another cool thing is how open Ultimate Member is with its internal data, going so far as to publicly post its revenue and sales data.
Ultimate Member Content Restriction Options
Ultimate Member is more lightweight in its approach to restricting content than most other plugins. Again, that's because its focus is more on community building than hardcore content restriction.
You do get options, though…
If you want to go big, Ultimate Member lets you restrict your entire site. Or, you can go in and restrict content on a per page/post basis, or complete categories. And you can also control which menu items appear for different users.
Ultimate Member Payment Options And Gateways
Again, Ultimate Member really isn't focused on selling paid memberships. While you can find third-party add-ons like Um-Switcher which lets you sell memberships via WooCommerce, you're probably just better off going with a different membership plugin that is focused on selling memberships if you need that functionality.
Other Helpful Ultimate Member Features
Ultimate Member is a bit more focused on the social aspect of membership than many other plugins. For example, you can find add-ons for:
- Online users
- Social activity feed
- Social login
- Member directories
So if you want to build a social community, that might be a good reason to go with Ultimate Member over the other WordPress membership plugins on this list.
Examples Of Real Website Using Ultimate Member
Oz Tennis Leagues is a good example of the type of membership site that you'd use Ultimate Member for.
Ultimate Member Pricing
The core plugin is available for free at WordPress.org. Then, you can either purchase individual extensions for ~$25-$45 each. Or, you can grab a bundle of all add-ons for $199.
Wishlist Member is one of the older WordPress membership plugins. While it's been around for a while, it doesn't seem to receive as detailed attention as other membership plugins now. It is still under active development – for example, the developers just added GDPR compliance in early 2018.
But the developers don't seem to be actively improving and enhancing Wishlist Member beyond that maintenance.
Wishlist Member Content Restriction Options
Wishlist Member lets you create unlimited membership levels to restrict your content.
From there, you can restrict:
You also get shortcodes that help you further restrict access on a more specific level.
If you want to drip content in the manner most people think of, you'll need an external plugin. But Wishlist Member does let you “graduate” members from one membership level to the next after a certain period of time. They call this content dripping…but it's a bit awkward and an inferior implementation to most other plugins.
Similarly, you'd need to “downgrade” members if you want to use timed access expiration.
Wishlist Member Payment Options And Gateways
Wishlist Member integrates with many popular payment gateways, including Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net, and others.
You can offer free trials, but I don't believe there's any built-in functionality to offer coupons. I also couldn't find any details on front-end account management for users, which means you'll be the one responsible for upgrading or canceling their subscriptions.
Other Helpful Wishlist Member Features
Other features you'll like include:
- Protected RSS feed content
- Lots of integrations with email marketing services, plus some other tools
- Option to sell access to individual posts or pages
Examples Of Real Websites Using Wishlist Member
I couldn't find a ton of sites actively using Wishlist Member, but here are two I managed to dig up:
Wishlist Member Pricing
Wishlist Member offers two pricing tiers. The main difference is the number of sites that you can use Wishlist Member on, though there are also some bonuses in the higher tier:
Which WordPress Membership Plugin Should You Choose?
I tried to kind of order these how I would rank them. Based on my own experience and consensus from other experts, I think the three top options for most sites are:
With that being said, that doesn't mean that they're the only options.
For example, if you like the simplicity and built-in conversion-boosting options of MemberMouse, that might be one reason to go with the monthly SaaS billing.
Or, if you want something with a generous free version and are ok with a complex interface, you might want to try S2Member. Likewise, if you're on the lookout for a lightweight membership plugin for community-building, Ultimate Member might get the job done.
But in general, I would say start with one of those three options and branch out from there to find a WordPress membership plugin that offers the exact functionality that you need.