10 Best WordPress Membership Plugins Compared: Free and Paid (2020)
Looking to create your own membership site with WordPress? Membership sites help you achieve the Holy Grail of running a business – automatic recurring revenue. But if you want to turn WordPress into a membership site, you need a WordPress membership plugin.
And when it comes to membership plugins, you’re spoiled for choice, which is why we’ve tried to winnow things down to just the 10 best WordPress membership plugins.
I’ll start by going through each plugin and its key features. Then, at the end of the post, I’ll leave you with some recommendations on how to choose the best WordPress membership plugin for your specific situation.
Let’s dig in…
The Best WordPress Membership Plugins
ProfileGrid is a WordPress membership plugin that’s more focused on creating a social community rather than hardcore content restriction and monetization like some of the other plugins on this list.
With that being said, ProfileGrid does come with features to both restrict access to content and sell memberships, so it’s not just a BuddyPress clone.
The social aspect is definitely one of the most unique features, though. For example:
- Each user gets their own detailed profile page
- Users can private message one another
- You can create public or private user groups
- Users can create their own private blogs
- Users can become friends with one another
If you just want to create a social members community, that might be all that you need.
But if you want to monetize your WordPress membership site, ProfileGrid also has some tools to help you there.
First off, you can restrict content to either:
- All logged-in users
- Specific user groups
Note, though, that you can only restrict entire pieces of content. You can’t, say, restrict a specific part of a page like you can with some other plugins. In this respect, ProfileGrid isn’t quite as flexible as some of the more restriction-focused WordPress membership plugins.
Then, if you want to monetize your membership site, ProfileGrid includes a built-in Stripe integration that lets you charge users to…
- Register for your site.
- Join a specific group on your site.
All in all, if you want a WordPress membership plugin with more of a social/community feel, then I think ProfileGrid is a great option. Just be aware that’s it not quite as flexible when it comes to content restriction and monetization, though it can do both.
If you want to learn more, you can check out our full ProfileGrid review.
ProfileGrid has a limited free version available at WordPress.org, but you’ll need the premium version to sell paid memberships and access other advanced features.
The paid plans start at $79.
As the name suggests, Restrict Content Pro is more focused on restricting access to your content, rather than the social features that you saw with ProfileGrid.
You can restrict content at multiple levels including:
- Individual pieces of content
- Portions of a piece of content using shortcodes
- Entire categories/tags of content
- Entire post types
There’s also a dedicated WooCommerce integration to restrict who can purchase products.
You can create as many membership levels as needed and charge for access in different ways including:
- Free access
- One-time payments
- Subscriptions (with or without one-time setup fees)
You can also offer free trials and prorated upgrades/downgrades.
Other useful features include:
- Content dripping to drip out restricted content on a set schedule
- Group accounts
- Option to automatically restrict past content
- Integrations with AffiliateWP to create your own affiliate program
Restrict Content Pro has a very limited free version at WordPress.org, but you’ll need the paid version for any serious use case.
The entry-level paid plan starts at $99, while the full-featured paid plan goes for $249.
Paid Member Subscriptions is a flexible WordPress membership plugin with a generous free version at WordPress.org.
Unlike a lot of the other plugins on this list, you can actually build a viable paid membership site with just the free version, though there are certainly plenty of reasons to upgrade to the Pro version.
With the free version, you can:
- Create unlimited membership levels, including setting a membership hierarchy to help users upgrade or downgrade
- Charge for one-time access to a membership level
- Restrict access to your content by member levels
With the paid version, you also get support for features like:
- Automatic recurring subscriptions
- Content dripping
- Group memberships
- Multiple subscriptions per user
- Free trials or one-time signup fees
Paid Member Subscriptions also has dedicated integrations with a number of other plugins. The biggest integration is probably WooCommerce, which lets you restrict access to view and/or purchase products. You can also offer special discounts to members.
Other dedicated integrations include:
- Elementor (you can restrict access to sections or widgets)
You can play around with the free version of Paid Member Subscriptions at WordPress.org. After that, paid plans start at $69, with the full-featured plan going for $149.
With 80+ official add-ons, Paid Memberships Pro is one of the most flexible WordPress membership plugins out there.
There’s a free core version and 19 free add-ons, but most people will want to upgrade to access the 65+ premium add-ons.
Like Paid Member Subscriptions, you still can build a viable WordPress membership website using just the free version. You’ll be able to:
- Set up unlimited membership levels
- Restrict access to content based on membership levels
- Charge for access via six different payment gateways
- Use one-time or recurring payments
- Integrate with WooCommerce
Where things get really flexible, though, is with the 65+ premium add-ons. You can browse the full list of add-ons here, but here’s a list of some of the most notable features:
- Content dripping
- Separate purchase for access to individual pieces of content (e.g. upsells)
- Integrations with BuddyPress and bbPress
- Member network sites (use with Multisite to give each member their own site, like WordPress.com)
- Member user profiles
- Proration for billing
- Variable pricing
All in all, it’s definitely one of the more flexible WordPress membership plugins.
You can get started with the free core version at WordPress.org. Then, access to all 65+ premium add-ons starts at $297. You cannot purchase individual add-ons – your only option is the bundle.
MemberPress is another popular WordPress membership plugin that only comes in a premium version.
It comes from Caseproof, the same company behind the popular Pretty Links plugin (and ThirstyAffiliates, after an acquisition). It’s also part of the WPBeginner Growth Accelerator, so you’ll see it mentioned on WPBeginner quite a bit.
With it, you can restrict access to any content on your site and set up unlimited membership levels to control access. You can sell both one-time and recurring subscriptions and members can manage their own subscriptions from the front-end.
You also have the option to drip out your membership content over time.
Other notable features in MemberPress include:
- Discount or “trial” coupons
- Proration if users upgrade/downgrade their subscription
- Custom registration forms and pricing pages
- Option to restrict access to standalone files
- Integrations with Blubrry PowerPress (members-only podcast website) and bbPress
MemberPress does let you restrict access to view WooCommerce products, but I couldn’t find any deeper integration features like restricting purchasing (but not viewing) or offering members-only discounts.
MemberPress starts at $249, with prices ranging up to $549 depending on the features that you need.
As the name suggests, WooCommerce Memberships is a WordPress membership plugin that’s specifically built to work with WooCommerce. It comes from SkyVerge, a reputable developer with a number of popular WooCommerce extensions.
Some people get confused with WooCommerce Memberships and think that it’s only for restricting access to WooCommerce products or otherwise creating a members-only store.
Don’t get me wrong – WooCommerce Memberships does have some great WooCommerce-focused features. However, you can also use it to restrict non-WooCommerce content, too. For example, posts, pages, custom post types, etc. You can also drip out content and even mark certain content items as available during the free trial.
Basically, it’s a “regular” WordPress membership plugin, just like the other plugins on this list.
You can create unlimited membership levels and tie them to WooCommerce products, which lets you hook into all the normal WooCommerce checkout options.
If you are using WooCommerce for eCommerce, you can also:
- Offer better shipping options to members
- Give members special discounts
- Restrict viewing or purchasing
WooCommerce Memberships itself costs $199. However, you’ll probably need to purchase some additional WooCommerce extensions depending on the features that you need. For example, if you want to sell recurring subscriptions, you’ll also need WooCommerce Subscriptions, which also costs $199.
For that reason, WooCommerce Memberships can get a little pricey.
MemberMouse is a WordPress membership plugin with detailed built-in features. It has one of the lengthiest feature lists of any plugin on this list, but it also uses monthly SaaS-style billing, which can make it a little pricey.
Still, if you’re willing to pay for convenience, it can be a good option.
You can easily:
- Restrict content
- Set up unlimited membership levels
- Drip and schedule membership content
- Let members manage their own subscriptions
- Offer free trials and coupons
Some of the more advanced features that MemberMouse offers for its price are:
- Detailed analytics on churn and retention
- Easy upsells and downsells to boost revenue
- Automatic account locking if people try to share accounts
- Marketing automation to send emails based on event triggers
There’s one important thing to note with MemberMouse, though. It is not GPL, which might be a dealbreaker for you. MemberMouse obfuscates its code, which means that you can’t easily edit and redistribute it like you can with most GPL WordPress plugins.
With MemberMouse, you’ll pay based on the features that you want and the number of members that you have. Plans start at $19.95 per month for up to 1,000 members.
aMember is a standalone membership site tool that includes a built-in WordPress integration to help you use your WordPress site as a membership site, which is a little different from how all of these other plugins operate.
You’ll still be able to restrict content from inside your WordPress site, you’ll just also work with some aspects of your membership site from the separate aMember interface.
Notable features of aMember include:
- Unlimited membership levels
- Content dripping
- Built-in affiliate program support
- Coupon codes
- Restrict individual file downloads
- Prevent access sharing between users
- Integrations with 200+ payment systems
aMember only comes in a premium version. It costs $179.95 for a lifetime license, which includes six months of support and upgrades.
AccessAlly is a WordPress membership plugin with a unique twist – it uses tags from your CRM to manage access to your site and restrict content. It’s also a little bit more focused on online courses than general membership sites.
To use AccessAlly, you’ll also need to set up a CRM like:
It’s a little bit more involved to set up your membership site. But the payoff is that you’ll be able to set up all kinds of powerful marketing automation rules using your CRM.
You’ll also still get all the “standard” WordPress membership site features like:
- Content restriction
- One-time or recurring payments
You can learn more about this plugin in our full AccessAlly review.
AccessAlly is super flexible, but it’s also quite expensive. Plans start at $99 per month.
10. Ultimate Member
Finally, we have Ultimate Member. Like ProfileGrid, Ultimate Member is more focused on creating social communities than paid membership sites.
To that end, it comes with lots of helpful social features:
- Custom user registration forms
- Dedicated user profiles
- Member directories
- Front-end account management
- Private messages between users
- Users can follow one another
You still can restrict access to your content. And, it does have a WooCommerce integration that lets you assign members to a certain role after they purchase a product, which gives you a way to charge for access to your membership community.
Still, if monetization is your main focus, you’ll probably be happier with a different WordPress membership plugin as that’s not Ultimate Member’s strong point.
The core Ultimate Member plugin is free. You can then purchase individual extensions or get access to all extensions for $249.
Which is the Best WordPress Membership Plugin?
All of these membership plugins have something to offer and your decision really needs to come down to your budget and the specific features that you need in your membership site.
With that being said, I can give some guidance to hopefully help push you in the right direction.
If you want to create a membership site with more of a social community feel, I would say your two best options are:
If you’re looking for the best/most functional free WordPress membership plugin, then I would recommend:
As for the best overall plugin for running a profit-focused membership site on WordPress, I can’t give a single recommendation. But if I were building one, I would start my search with one of these:
- Restrict Content Pro
- WooCommerce Memberships
- Paid Memberships Pro
- Paid Member Subscriptions
Any questions about picking the best WordPress membership plugin for your site? Ask away in the comments!