The Best WordPress Membership Plugins to Match any Budget

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If you want to know how to setup a membership site with WordPress then the plugins covered in this article will help you with your objective. Not only are these plugins packed with features, but they are, for the most part, very easy to setup and use. The tools listed cover a range of budgets, from free to premium, and they are ideal for those just starting out, through to site owners looking for a high end professional solution.

In fact, if you need to add a members’ area to your website, and are using WordPress then you will be pleasantly surprised by some of the tools available to help you accomplish this. Keep reading to discover the best membership plugins for WordPress and get your site up and running today.

MemberPress – Membership Plugin

Membership Plugins MemberPress

This is a well-regarded professional membership plugin for WordPress. It’s not free but it should have all the features you need and more to setup a fully functional membership website.

Once installed, this plugin allows you to restrict access to all the content on your WordPress site including pages, posts, categories, tags and files you’ve uploaded. Some other top features of MemberPress include:

  • Management of unlimited members
  • Create unlimited access rules
  • Offer unlimited pricing pages
  • Sell an unlimited amount of digital products
  • Accept payments with PayPal Express Checkout and Stripe
  • Automatically grant and revoke access when members join or unsubscribe
  • Content dripping with timed release of access
  • Premium support

When it comes to pricing, there are two plans available: business and developer. Both are billed yearly, but you can choose to pay just once and go on using the plugin without support and updates.

If you want a premium membership plugin that covers all the bases and gives maximum flexibility then MemberPress is a great choice.

Pros: This is a well-regarded option that is very easy to use. The support for digital products as well as managing a membership site makes this a versatile plugin.

Cons: The annual billing could add up to be expensive over time, but the option to renew and use the plugin unsupported is there.

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aMember Pro

Membership aMember logo

This is a premium membership service that can be used on many online platforms including WordPress. It’s not an online service, but is a PHP script that you pay for access to, and then install on your own webhosting server. Non-technical users will be pleased to know that a free installation is included in the one-off fee and for WordPress users, there is a free plugin for easy integration with your site.

Membership aMember

Some of the highlights from the feature list of aMember include:

  • Unlimited membership levels and items
  • Incremental content delivery for drip release
  • Integrated with PayPal, ClickBank, 2Checkout and more
  • Select fail-back payment processors
  • Automated member signups and expirations
  • Integrated modules including email newsletter, helpdesk and affiliate management
  • Create coupon codes

This plugin certainly seems to have all the requisite features to manage a fully featured membership site. However, the user interface did feel quite dated, so it’s worth thinking about whether this option is the right choice for portraying your brand in the best possible way.

Pros: Available for a one-off fee, full access to source-code with ability to customise it to your needs, supports multiple payment options, comes with a few support videos for help with setup, integrates with other platforms such as vBulletin forums.

Cons: A comparatively expensive option, user interface not consistent with WordPress UI and appears dated.

Get aMember Pro

MagicMembers

Membership Magic Members

If you are looking for a solution that will enable you to deliver an online course, or need a way to drip feed content over time, instead of making all your premium content available to your members in one go, then the content dripping abilities of MagicMembers are top notch.

While some other plugins feature this ability, including MemberPress, MagicMembers continues to draw praise for doing it the best. However, that is not all this plugin does, other top features include:

  • Multiple payment gateway compatibility
  • Integration with email newsletters such as Aweber and MailChimp
  • Payment subscription support including daily, weekly, monthly and more
  • Download manager for restricting file access
  • Sequential course delivery for content dripping
  • Pay Per View for paid access to specific content such as videos
  • Automated expiration email reminders

The list of features is outstanding and is well-worth checking out. This is a premium membership plugin for WordPress, so you will have to pay to get access to it, but hopefully the revenue generated by your membership course will cover the cost in no time. There are three price plans to choose from and each comes with detailed support to help you get up and running in no time at all.

Membership Magic Members Dashboard Small

The only downside with this plugin is that the control panel doesn’t use the standard WordPress interface. This means the settings have the feel of being tacked on to your WordPress dashboard rather than seamlessly integrated. While this isn’t a major issue, it can make using the plugin feel less intuitive than it should be and might be something to consider when deploying MembershipMagic for clients.

Overall though, if you want a feature packed plugin that excels at content dripping and sequential course delivery, as well as everything else associated with running a membership site, then MembershipMagic is a highly recommended option.

Pros: The strong content dripping and sequential content delivery make this plugin ideal for those looking for offer a premium or members only online course. Also supports multiple payment gateways for making it even easier for your customers to sign up.

Cons: The interface uses a custom design, rather than following the standard WordPress interface, which might be confusing for some users.

Get MagicMembers

OptimizePress 2 – WordPress Membership

We recently published a full OptimizePress 2 review, covering the best features and usability of this landing page builder for WordPress. However, it’s worth another mention here as it does allow you to enhance the membership functionality of your WordPress site.

Membership OptimizePress

OptimizePress 2 comes with a number of templates specifically for dealing with membership sites and is a great tool for those looking to optimise the signup pages of their site. The page builder makes it very easy to setup and customize the landing pages for your membership offering, and the membership portal aspect of the plugin works with a range of membership plugins. If you want to customize the sign up pages, login forms and membership lesson and module listings then OptimizePress, used in conjunction with a supported membership plugin equals a powerful combination.

Pros: Comes with a very large selection of templates. The page builder is also very easy to use, giving you access to an unlimited amount of designs. Ideal for any type of landing or registration page, not just membership sites.

Cons: Does not delivery membership management functionality to your site, and must be used in conjunction with a supported dedicated plugin.

Get OptimizePress 2

Wishlist Member Plugin

Membership Wishlist Member

Wishlist Member is a premium membership plugin that is renowned for being able to give you lots of control over how your content is restricted and made available, and to which members. This also means that there are lots of options to explore, which can sometimes be confusing for new users. However, lots of settings and expansive menu systems are often the price you pay for this level of control over your membership site and premium content.

Membership Wishlist Dashboard

Some of the features of this premium WordPress membership plugin include:

  • Create unlimited membership levels
  • Sequential content delivery and auto-upgrades of membership levels
  • Easy ability to hide or restrict individual pieces of content from non-members
  • Handles free, trial and paid memberships
  • Integrates with PayPal and ClickBank
  • Secure RSS feeds
  • Subscription length control with auto-expire
  • Free previews with protection after the ‘more’ tag
  • Partial content display for protecting as little as one sentence within a post

The plugin also comes with a good selection of support material to help you get started such as video tutorials, support guides, one year of unlimited updates and one year of unlimited support. Wishlist Member is available for $97 for the single site license, or $297 for the multisite license.

Membership Wishlist Members

Developers might want to give this one a miss though, as the plugin code has been encrypted. This means you can’t easily dive in and make any adjustments to the plugin to help it better fit your needs. Also, it’s worth pointing out that if you are an existing customer of Pressable (formerly ZippyKid), or plan to use their managed WordPress hosting service in the future, they do not allow use of the Wishlist Member plugin due to performance issues.

The Wishlist Member plugin can be integrated with your WooCommerce store using a premium extension and there are also a few other addons for the plugin available here.

This WordPress membership plugin does have everything you will probably ever need when setting up and managing a membership site or restricting access to content using registered user accounts.

Pros: Lots of control over how your membership site works, comes with a risk-free 30 day trial and integrates with PayPal and ClickBank.

Cons: Unable to view or edit the plugin code so making custom alterations is not an option, not supported by some managed hosting services.

>> WishList Member Plugin for WordPress Review and Tutorial

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Cart66 Cloud

Membership Cart66 logo

Cart66 Cloud allows you to do many things with a WordPress installation, including managing an eCommerce store which sells physical products or digital downloads. It also functions as a membership plugin for WordPress, allowing you to sell and restrict access to your site using subscription payments and recurring billing.

Membership Cart66 subscriptions

Some of the top membership features of the Cart66 Cloud plugin include:

  • Sell membership access using the recurring billing engine
  • Make content available on a drip basis
  • Allows subscribers to manage their own billing information in the customer portal
  • Supports over 50 payment processors
  • Restrict access to pages, posts, sections of content or entire categories
  • PCI compliant with no requirement for having your own SSL certificate
  • Auto-membership expiration email reminders for members

Membership Cart66 Portal

There is also a 30-day no risk money back guarantee so you can take Cart66 for a test drive.

Pros: Also features eCommerce functionality for multipurpose sites, works with lots of payment processors, multiple pricing plans available, options including monthly or annual payments, attractive admin interface

Cons: Purchase requires monthly or annual recurring payment subscription which can soon add up over time,

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Restrict Content Pro

Membership Restrict Content Pro Logo

This is another premium option, this time from Pippin’s Plugins. The admin user interface is well designed and it fits right into the appearance of the WordPress admin area, creating a seamless integration on the backend. Restrict Content Pro is very easy to use and there is helpful documentation displayed throughout the settings pages to ensure you are able to get started as quickly as possible.

Membership Restrict Content Pro

Some of the features of RCP include:

  • Create unlimited membership levels
  • Create free, trial and paid subscriptions
  • Create and offer discount codes
  • View all payments from all members in one place
  • Restrict access to whole posts, pages or just sections of them
  • Easy membership management for current and expired members
  • Set expiration dates for memberships
  • Integration with PayPal as standard and other gateways via extensions

Membership Restrict Content Pro Payments

While this plugin might not be as flash or fancy as some of the other options out there, it’s an affordable and easy way to restrict access to content on your site, while also taking payments on a number of subscriptions levels.

Pros: Very affordable, thoughtful user interface that slots right into the standard WordPress admin area, range of extensions available for expanding feature list.

Cons: Some features standard on other products are available here as extensions, no option to time release content or drip content to users, lacks integration with other services and platforms out of the box.

Get Restrict Content Pro

Premise

Membership Premise Logo

This premium plugin is a ‘point-and-click tool for creating membership sites and landing pages’ from the Copyblogger team. It certainly looks good, but how do the features stack up against the competition:

  • Accepts recurring payments
  • Automatically drip content out over time
  • Sell access to ebooks and other digital downloads
  • Split-test your landing pages from within WordPress
  • Create private forum areas with vBulletin
  • Process payments with PayPal and Authorize.net
  • Offer promotional coupons

Membership Premise Members

It’s a well-rounded package that has a strong leaning towards marketing and giving you the tools to encourage your readers into signing up for your membership content.

As for the landing page functionality, Premise comes loaded with the ability to create eight landing page types, giving you control over their appearance from fonts to custom graphics, without the need to touch any code.

Membership Premise Styles

There is just one pricing option, which is a one-time payment of $165. This gives you access to unlimited use, updates and support. Premise also has a 30 day risk free money back guarantee should you be unhappy with the product.

Pros: Includes a landing page builder for increase your number of members, works with other services such as vBulletin, bbPress, and PayPal, sign new members up directly to your AWeber or MailChimp list.

Cons: Only supports payments via PayPal and Authorize.net, price tag comparatively high.

Get Premise

Paid Memberships Pro

Membership Plugins Paid Memberships Pro

This is a great option that will cost you nothing to get started with. Yes, this is a free membership plugin that you can begin using today in order to restrict access to the content on your WordPress site to selected users. There are also two premium options for this tool. The premium price plans will give you access support including documentation, premium content and members-only forums, but apart from that, it’s the same functionality.

As for the plug in itself, it’s got a great feature set making it a solid choice for anyone looking for a no-budget tool. Some of the standout features include:

  • Unlimited Membership Levels
  • Easy Payment Gateway Integration
  • Flexible Pricing and Free Trial Periods for your members
  • Accept recurring subscriptions
  • Set access and membership levels for individual pages and posts
  • Customise the notification email messages
  • Edit or replace the default plugin pages for login etc.
  • Offer discount codes
  • Drip release content over time
  • Expand the features with free extensions and add-ons

Membership Plugins Paid Memberships Pro Levels

While Paid Memberships Pro is lacking the ability to drip content over time, out of the box, there is a free add-on that has been made for just this feature. The plugin has been released by the PMPro development team and is available from GitHub. Information about the other free extensions and add-ons can be found on the add-ons page.

Pros: The main draw of this plugin is that it is free to use on as many sites as you want, it also comes packed with features. The third party add-ons allow for easy integration with a range of other services you are probably already using.

Cons: Need to install additional plugins and add-ons to get access to some standard features, however they are free and easy to find.

Get Paid Membership Pro

Quick Membership Plugin Comparison Table

Membership Plugin Comparison
Content Dripping Digital Downloads Recurring Subscriptions Price
MemberPress Y Y Y $99*
MagicMembers Y Y Y $97*
Paid Memberships Pro Y Y Y Free†
Wishlist Member Y Y Y $97*
aMember Pro Y Y Y $179.95‡
Cart66 Cloud Y Y Y $25 per month
Restrict Content Pro N Y Y $42
Premise Y Y Y $165

* one year of support and updates
† no support with free option
‡ six months of updates

Conclusion: The Best Membership Plugin for WordPress

With high quality free and premium options available, anyone can start offering restricted access content on their site to their members and subscribers. Whether you want to build a private community or a premium online course, you should be able to setup your site in a very short amount of time using one of these plugins.

While the above plugins only represents a small sample of the many membership tools out there for WordPress, they should be enough for most user’s needs. Unfortunately there is no one size fits all best WordPress membership plugin, as while the above are all well rounded products, they have their own strengths and weakness, not to mention price tags.

Before making a choice, it’s a good idea to be clear on exactly how you plan to manage your members area and what features you will need, such as content dripping, course delivery, recurring payments, ease of use, custom landing pages or pay per view access. Once you know your requirements, making a decision will be much easier.

Have you setup a membership site and if so which plugin did you use?

About the Author: Joe Fylan has been working with WordPress for many years and now offers his services as a web designer building WordPress based sites for clients. He also enjoys writing about this popular CMS as well as visiting new places and trying new foods. Hire him via his website. Get more from Joe on  and Twitter.
24 comments… add one
  1. Lee says

    Cart66 Cloud includes a pretty robust set of membership features including both the e-commerce of selling the membership (or subscription) on a recurring basis as well as the content restriction including the “drip” functionality you mentioned was lacking in some of the other solutions. You also get a built-in customer portal for your subscribers to manage their own billing information. Everything is built-in including the security so you don’t even have to worry about installing your own SSL cert. It’s a pretty comprehensive solution – would be cool to see it listed as another option to consider. http://cart66.com

  2. Michael says

    One that we’ve been using for awhile is aMember. It’s been pretty good to us and it works well with other softwares like vBulletin.

  3. Drew Strojny says

    Great summary Joe. We feel like we’ve got a pretty unique solution over Memberful. You can start selling memberships with no up front costs, and it only takes a few minutes to integrate with WordPress.

  4. Rasmus Lindgren says

    I can’t see how you can create such a list without the master if membership plugin Wishlist Member.

    The plugin uses quite a lot of resources so I can see how it from a hosting perspective is not the best plugin, but from an end user perspective it’s fantastic.

    Also including OP2 on the list kind of crazy since it has nothing to do with a membership plugin. If you really wanted to review something like this you should probably have reviewed OptimizeMember that is actually a free membership plugin from the creator of Optimize Press.

    I’ve tested several of the products on your list (and a few more including OptimizeMember) and while it is a resource hog, I still recommend Wishlist Member to anyone wanting to build a membership site on WordPress.

  5. Jill Renee Feeler says

    Thanks for this info and your other helpful posts, Joe. I have some additional questions hoping you can answer.

    1. I’m looking for a solution in which my customers experience the purchased product content directly on the page (no emailed download links). For each product I include audio players (for live and archived audio access to the class), pdfs, embedded video, and an area for customer interaction/community forum that is product specific. Looking for an option where all of this can be available within each product.

    2. What do you recommend for the customer interaction aspect, where customers of that product can interact with each other on that page, creating a virtual experience for the customers (sharing what they enjoyed most, questions for me or others, other general comments).

    3. Which of these has product/membership options that can show up as Store items, along with any other products, including those that are not memberships? I don’t do code, so hoping this is out of the box.

    4. Can I offer payments for some membership products (some are pricey)? With Cart66 Cloud, in order to offer payments, they force you into subscriptions (with expiration dates) yet the product content is actually more like all the other membership items (unlimited access).

    5. Is there a way to limit how many devices/IPs my customers can use to access the content, to minimize piracy/login sharing? (I know wishlist member offers this and that Cart66 Cloud does not.)

    6. Which of these membership plugins allows me to organize the products, shown in a Store type menu, into categories or some other form of grouping? With so many classes offered, it’s important for me to be able to group them to keep things organized in the offering, which I hope is the Store. With Cart66 Cloud I learned I cannot organize my product posts into Categories within Store.

    7. Is there a membership plugin that allows me to offer memberships that links the dates of the customer’s specific membership and to dates product was published/created? I’m not talking about content dripping here. I’d like windows of time for membership matching present window of material that matches their membership dates. Since we offer about 4-6 events per month, some regular customers purchase all that we offer, so this membership would be a big convenience for them to just know they have access to new products offered in that time window, but not to everything created in prior time windows. For my staff, we wouldn’t have to do anything special, just knowing the system is matching their membership dates with the workshop published dates.

    8. Which of these allow customers to have “accounts” which saves their info for future purchases?

    9. Which members offer PCI/SSL out of the box or what additional is needed to achieve this?

    Sorry if some of these are basic and for so many questions. My use case is specific and with so many options it’s been a lot of researching to try and find what meets my needs. Not sure if I need an eLearning solution (like WP courseware) with a membership plugin or whether I can just find the right membership plug-in. Have been trying to make Cart66 Cloud work for the past 2 months and I’m realizing it just isn’t a fit for me. For now still muddling through with Ning plus my website but want one WP site solution.

    Thank you!!

    • Joe Fylan says

      Hi Jill,

      I’ll try to answer your questions as best I can!

      1) I think all of the main options should allow you to give your customers access to your content as soon as they register/make the payment. WishList Member would be one option, which I covered recently here: http://www.wpkube.com/wishlist-member-plugin-wordpress-review-tutorial/

      2) Would the standard post comment functionality of WordPress suffice for this? Or do you want more of a forum experience? If the former then with these membership plugins, you can display the protected content on a post and then allow those with access to discuss it in the comment section. If the latter then you might need to use an additional forum plugin/service.

      3) One option is to use WooCommerce with WishList Member to do just that: list memberships and other products for sale. There is an extension for that which can help you: http://docs.woothemes.com/document/wishlist-member-integration/

      4) I don’t understand this, sorry. Who would you be offering the payments too?

      5) Yes with WishList Member you can set the number of IPs per customer to any number of your choice. MemberMouse is another plugin that has this option. I don’t think many of the other plugins have this featured as far as I’m aware.

      6) You can do that with WooCommerce as your eCommerce platform and integrating it with a membership plugin such as WishList Member. With WooCommerce, products are created in a similar way to posts (using a custom post type) and you can assign them a product category.

      7) Sorry, I’ve no idea about that one!

      8) I think most of them have user profiles that are created when a user signs up/registers.

      9) A lot of them integrate with PCI compliant payment gateways including MemberMouse, MemberPress, MagicMembers, etc.

      Hope this has been some help. It might be a better idea to write down a required feature list and send it to all the vendors and see who can meet your needs. Let me know how you get on.

      Joe

  6. Ray Cassidy says

    Well Jo! that was a very thorough review. I was surprised not to see S2 Membership plugin in the list though ;-) Any particular reason (non-libellous) that it wasn’t included?

    My requirement is to have membership level control over content and resources on a crowd funding site. The architecture so far is to use Astoundify’s Fundify theme which hooks into their Crowdfunding and Easy Digital Downloads Plugins; to control the sales and membership.

    Unfortunately the info on those plugins is relatively scant. Have any of your readers had any experience with the membership aspects of the plugins mentioned above, or have any experience of marrying them to the functions of a classic membership plugin?

    Thanks for the excellent review. Good work.

    • Joe Fylan says

      Hi Ray,

      Thanks for your comment. No real reason why S2 wasn’t included, just haven’t had any experience of it yet. Will try and include it if we do an update.

      Same goes for EDD. I hear that is a great plugin but haven’t used it yet. I’m sure it will be fine for your needs.

      Joe

  7. Rick says

    Good article! Are there any security issues with using such plugins? Are there any vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit? Thanks.

    • Joe Fylan says

      Hi Rick,

      No different from any other plugin I would imagine. The above are all widely used so any weaknesses would’ve been quickly ironed out. As with any software, plugin, or theme, make sure they are updated as soon as possible (after testing the update of course). Running outdated software can lead to problems with security.

      Good luck.

      Joe

      • Rick says

        Joe, thanks a lot for the reply. I’m confused by the variety out there and I need to make a decision soon. What would be you #1 choice for an easy-to-use plugin that offers simple integration with Paypal, a feature to notify members about new posts and ability to restrict content at any place within a post?

  8. Oscar says

    Hi all
    I need some plugins to develop my WP site, so could you please recommend which plugins I should use to achieve these functions below (I have the latest version of WP):
    1-It will be an online casting agency site. Where member film producers will search and book member actors.
    2-There are 2 member types: Producers and Actors. Both members are free members, there wont be any paid members on the site. Actors membership will be authorized my email confirmation. But producers’ authorization will be made manually by admin.
    3-Actors:Web site visitor that decided to be an actor in my site’s portfolio, click sign up button and fill a small form with name, email so after his email confirmation -or signup by Facebook – he comes back on landing page that has long form that consists of age, physical details, skills etc, and upload 6 photos of himself/herself, then when he sends the form he is registered actor member, now he has his profile page with all info about him/her and has 6 photos (1 profile pic the rest his/her other photos). And on the user profile page there are 2 buttons: Add to Favorites and book this user buttons which only producer members can see these 2 buttons.
    4-Producers:Web site user that he is in real life a film producer or production company rep, clicks for sign up button (this button is different that above sign up button in a another page or can be the same sign up button as above then there may be option saying actors click here to sign up and producers click here to sign up). So producer fills a form that has name, company name, email, tel no, address, so when he sends the form, admin receives the warning in admin panel also receives email about this signing, and sees that it is a producer so admin manually makes some phone calls and confirm that he is a real producer so admin manually authorize that producer’s membership to the site as “producer member”. So now producer member can search and view all actor members, view theri full profiles, and view those 2 buttons (fav and book buttons) and when he clicks book button on a user’s profile page a small popup modal window opens with a small form saying: Event name, event date, event hour. So when he fills and sends this form, these data is saved on DB: Producer’s ID, name, event date, name, hour. So admin can see that in event or booking calendar in admin site only, and admin manually informs that particular booked user about this booking.
    5-Non-member public users can do search as well and see actor members’ thumbs on search results, but they cant view their profile pages, so only thumbs they can view and when they click on a thumb a popup windows appears saying you should sign up to view user profiles.
    6-In few months I may make the actor members registration process through payment. Basically to be an actor member they have to pay an annual small fee by Paypal only. So membership plugin should be compatible with Paypal payment gateway. ( I m thinking only 1 payment option which is Paypal, nothing else).

    So please tell and recommend and give advice; which WP plugins I should use to achieve above? Thanx very much to all helpful people in advance.

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