What’s the Best WordPress Membership Plugin? 5 Options Compared

Looking for the best WordPress membership plugin for your site?

In this post, we take a deep dive into five of the most popular options:

  1. Paid Member Subscriptions
  2. MemberPress
  3. Restrict Content Pro
  4. WooCommerce Memberships
  5. Membermouse

For each plugin, we’ll take a deep look at the payment side – subscription plan options, payment methods, etc. – as well as the content side – restriction options, content dripping, integrations, etc.

Let’s dig in so that you can launch your WordPress membership site in no time…

1. Paid Member Subscriptions

Paid Member Subscriptions might be the best WordPress membership plugin

Paid Member Subscriptions is a complete membership site solution that comes in both a free version at WordPress.org, as well as an affordable premium version that lets you pick and choose exactly which add-ons you want to use.

You’ll be able to set up one-time or recurring paid membership plans, restrict content, and drip out your content on a fixed schedule if needed.

You can try the free version at WordPress.org. After that, paid plans start at $69 and go up to $149. That makes Paid Member Subscriptions one of the more affordable options on this list.

Subscription Plan Options

Paid Member Subscriptions gives you a good amount of flexibility over how you set up your subscription plans.

At a basic level, you can create both one-time and recurring memberships. But you also get a lot of flexibility for how you structure your plans. You can set up:

  • Fixed period subscriptions – you can make a plan expire on a certain date regardless of when someone purchased it.
  • Free trial periods – let people try a plan for a certain duration before they have to pay.
  • Signup fees – charge a separate one-time signup fee in addition to the membership plan. For example, $50 to get started and then $10 per month for continued access.
  • Pay What You Want – let subscribers choose how much to pay.
  • Discount Codes – offer discounts for new signups or upgrades.

Individual users also have the option of having multiple subscription plans, and users get a frontend area where they can manage their own subscriptions and payment information.

Payment Options and Supported Gateways

Paid Member Subscriptions supports all the popular payment gateways, including:

  • PayPal Standard
  • PayPal Pro and PayPal Express
  • Stripe

You can also add payments manually if needed and generate invoices for customers.

Beyond that, you get access to detailed payment logs, which helps you troubleshoot failed payments at your site. This is important because it lets you catch potential issues and avoid missing out on money.

Content Restriction and Dripping Options

Paid Member Subscriptions gives you multiple levels of content restriction. You can restrict:

  • Entire post types or taxonomies, including WooCommerce products or bbPress forums
  • Individual posts or pages
  • Specific parts of an otherwise public piece of content (via shortcode)

When a non-authenticated user tries to view restricted content, you can:

  • Show them a message
  • Redirect them to a different page
  • Use a different template

And you can also set up content dripping, which lets you “drip out” restricted content on a schedule that you set, rather than making it all available at once.

Integrations

Paid Member Subscriptions offers detailed integrations for WooCommerce and bbPress:

  • WooCommerce – restrict access to your entire store or individual products. You can also offer a special discount on products to members at your site.
  • bbPress – restrict access to topics or entire forums.

Finally, it also integrates well with the Profile Builder plugin, which lets you create more detailed user profiles, member directories and lots more.

2. MemberPress

MemberPress membership plugin

MemberPress is a popular WordPress membership plugin that exclusively comes in a premium version. It offers an all-in-one approach, covering everything from content restriction to payments.

All that functionality can get quite pricey, though. The cheapest plan starts at $258 and plans go all the way up to $698.

Subscription Plan Options

MemberPress lets you set up both one-time and recurring payments.

For one-time payments, you can make the membership:

  • Give lifetime access
  • Grant access for X amount of time
  • Expire on a specific day, regardless of when it was purchased

Or, you can set up your own recurring schedules to sell recurring memberships.

Other helpful features here include:

  • Free trial functionality
  • An option to offer discounts

Payment Options and Supported Gateways

On the basic plan, MemberPress supports payments via:

  • PayPal
  • Stripe

And if you upgrade to higher-tier plans, you’ll also be able to use Authorize.net.

MemberPress also offers a helpful Churn Buster add-on that lets you respond to failed payments with email campaigns to reduce your churn rate.

Content Restriction and Dripping Options

MemberPress lets you restrict content by:

  • Post type
  • Taxonomy
  • Shortcode or PHP function

For advanced users, you can also use Regex to restrict content based on any pattern that matches your expression.

If needed, you can also set up content dripping to release content on a specific schedule. Or, you can also go the other way and expire content on a set schedule.

Integrations

MemberPress has a good list of integrations, with options to integrate with:

  • A number of popular email marketing services
  • WooCommerce
  • bbPress
  • Blubrry PowerPress (for podcast membership sites)
  • Multiple affiliate services/plugins

3. Restrict Content Pro

Restrict Content Pro plugin

Restrict Content Pro is a membership solution from the same developer of the popular Easy Digital Downloads plugin.

It has a limited free version at WordPress.org that works for basic content restriction, but most of the functionality resides in the Pro version.

The cheapest Pro version starts at $99, but you’ll need to pay at least $249 for all the functionality. There’s also a lifetime plan for $499.

Subscription Plan Options

Restrict Content Pro lets you create unlimited subscription levels that can be either:

  • One-time payments
  • Recurring subscriptions

You also get more flexibility, like the ability to offer a free trial or set a hard expiration date regardless of when someone starts their subscription.

Customers can manage their own subscriptions. And if they make a change, you can automatically prorate the payment.

Payment Options and Supported Gateways

Restrict Content Pro supports the following payment gateways:

  • Stripe
  • PayPal
  • Authorize.net
  • Braintree
  • 2Checkout

It also includes a complete payment API that lets you integrate with a different processor, though you’ll need some development chops to set that up.

Content Restriction and Dripping Options

As the name suggests, Restrict Content Pro comes with plenty of options for content restriction.

You can restrict content by:

  • Post type
  • Taxonomy
  • Individual pieces of content
  • Shortcode

You can even set up content restriction directly in your theme’s template files.

You can also drip content out on a set schedule, and there are some other niche features that let you automatically:

  • Restrict content in the future, or un-restrict content in the future (regardless of when someone signed up).
  • Restrict all content published prior to a member’s join date.

Integrations

Restrict Content Pro offers official add-ons to help you integrate with:

  • Some email marketing services
  • bbPress
  • WP Job Manager
  • AffiliateWP
  • WooCommerce, including an option to give product discounts to members

4. WooCommerce Memberships

WooCommerce Memberships plugin

WooCommerce Memberships is a membership plugin from SkyVerge that, as you can probably guess from the name, adds content restriction functionality to your WooCommerce-powered site.

As such, you’ll be able to benefit from WooCommerce’s many payment gateways, extensions, etc.

The plugin costs $149 for use on a single site, but you’ll likely need to spend more to access important functionality (more on this below).

Subscription Plan Options

WooCommerce Memberships does not include subscription functionality by itself. That is, with just the core plugin, you can only sell one-time memberships that:

  • Are active for X amount of time
  • Expire on a fixed date

However, it does integrate with the separate WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin which lets you create your own recurring subscription plans that way. Keep in mind that WooCommerce Subscriptions costs $199, so that’s another big cost on top of the core WooCommerce Memberships plugin.

You’ll also need the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin if you want to offer:

  • Free trials
  • Plan upgrades/downgrades, with prorated payments

Basically, you should really just budget $348 for both WooCommerce Memberships and WooCommerce Subscriptions if you go with this plugin.

Payment Options and Supported Gateways

Because it’s based on WooCommerce, WooCommerce Memberships gives you access to all of WooCommerce’s regular payment options and gateways, which is one of the perks.

You’ll be able to use all the big names – PayPal, Stripe, etc. – as well as lots of smaller regional payment gateways.

However, if you’re using WooCommerce Subscriptions for recurring memberships, not all of those payment gateways will support automatic subscription payments, which is something to keep in mind.

Content Restriction and Dripping Options

WooCommerce Memberships lets you restrict content by:

  • Post type
  • Taxonomy
  • Specific posts
  • Shortcode

You can also drip content out on a set schedule.

When a non-member tries to view content, you can:

  • Hide the entire page
  • Hide just the content (but leave things like the title and featured image)
  • Show a message
  • Redirect users to a different page

One area where WooCommerce Memberships excels is restricting access to WooCommerce products. Whereas most other plugins give you one way to restrict content, you get two with WooCommerce Memberships. You can restrict:

  • Viewing – non-members cannot see products.
  • Purchasing – non-members can see products, but they cannot purchase them.

Integrations

WooCommerce Memberships has a very basic integration for bbPress, as well as support for other WooCommerce-powered plugins like:

  • Sensei, the LMS plugin
  • WooCommerce Brands
  • WooCommerce Product Vendors

5. MemberMouse

MemberMouse

MemberMouse is a turnkey WordPress membership plugin that uses more of a SaaS-style approach to billing.

It packs a ton of features into one package. However, it can quickly become pricey because you’ll pay a recurring monthly fee based on how many members you have at your site.

This contrasts with all the other membership plugins on this list where you pay a one-time fee for access to the plugin (no matter how many members you have).

Plans start at $19.95 per month for basic features and up to 1,000 members.

Subscription Plan Options

MemberMouse lets you create both one-time plans and recurring subscriptions.

For one-time memberships, you can set the membership to expire after a certain amount of time. However, you cannot set a fixed expiration date regardless of when someone signs up.

You can also offer:

  • Free or discounted trials
  • An option to set a limit on how many recurring payments to process, which lets you offer payment plans. For example, you can break your $300 membership up into three $100 payments, and then stop billing after that.

There’s not a direct feature to charge a one-time signup fee. But, as long as you don’t want to offer a free trial and a signup fee, you can use the trial functionality to charge more instead of less to account for the signup fee.

Members can also sign up for multiple plans and manage their own plans from the frontend, and you can also offer one-click upsells to convince members to upgrade to higher tiers.

Payment Options and Supported Gateways

MemberMouse supports the following payment gateways:

  • PayPal
  • Stripe
  • Authorize.net
  • Braintree
  • Clickbank
  • Lime Light

And one unique feature with MemberMouse is the ability to split-test different prices to find the price point that works best.

Content Restriction and Dripping Options

MemberMouse lets you protect individual pieces of content or entire categories. Or, you can also use a shortcode to restrict certain parts of your content.

However, unlike most of the other plugins, MemberMouse does not let you restrict entire custom post types. Instead, you’d need to manually restrict each content item in that post type.

You can also set up your own custom content dripping schedule, as well as perform actions like restricting all content prior to a member’s join date.

If a non-member tries to view restricted content, you can either redirect them or show them a teaser message using MemberMouse’s shortcodes.

Integrations

MemberMouse offers integrations with most popular affiliate networks, as well as various email marketing services.

It also has a direct integration plugin with bbPress.

However, unlike most of the other plugins, MemberMouse does not have a WooCommerce integration, which is another thing to keep in mind.

What’s the Best WordPress Membership Plugin? Conclusion

Unfortunately, there’s no way to recommend a single membership plugin that’s the best in 100% of situations. WordPress membership sites are complex things, and a lot of this comes down to your budget, as well as what you need and value the most.

However, if you’re looking for a good starting place, and one that lets you create a membership site for free, consider Paid Member Subscriptions.

Beyond the free version at WordPress.org, even the premium versions are more affordable than all of the other options. But more importantly, Paid Member Subscriptions also has all the essential functionality that you need, including:

  • Flexible subscription options
  • Support for all the popular payment gateways
  • Flexible content restriction options, including an option to drip content
  • Integrations with popular plugins like WooCommerce and bbPress

Have any questions about the best WordPress membership plugin for your needs? Ask away in the comments section!

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3 thoughts on “What’s the Best WordPress Membership Plugin? 5 Options Compared

    1. Thanks Fabio, we’ll probably look into adding it in a future update of this post.

      Did you get a chance to test all of them? What makes you say (in terms of features and functionality) that PMPro “nails” the others?

  1. Where is Paid Memberships Pro? The only membership system people should actually be using. Strange list.

    More features, more extensions, and its community of users creating “recipes” that do all kinds of cool things is great. Far more flexible than anything on this list.

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