MembershipWorks

Top 10 Best WordPress Membership Plugins for 2024

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When you are planning to build a WordPress membership site, you might feel overwhelmed trying to find the best WordPress membership plugin. Because plugins can vary widely in terms of cost and features, it’s not a good idea to just install a membership plugin and hope it works out.

This guide, updated for 2024, compares features and costs to reveal the top 10 best WordPress members plugins. So whether you are building a WordPress subscription site or a simple membership site for a nonprofit, you’ll find choices that match your needs.

In this Guide:

WordPress Membership Plugin

How to choose the best membership plugin?

WordPress is clearly a fantastic platform to build a membership site, but not all membership plugins are designed with the same purpose in mind. Although all membership plugins have overlapping features, consider which type will work best for your needs.

  • A WordPress Subscription Plugin is made to restrict access to content. These plugins are often best for content creators who want to build a loyal following and monetize their content with a paid membership site.
  • A WordPress Member Management Plugin offers many of the features of a subscription plugin but also focuses on managing members who are part of an organization. WordPress membership management plugins are used by professional associations, chambers of commerce, groups, clubs, societies, and more.

It’s also a good idea to look at where member data is stored. Some membership plugins keep their membership database within WordPress while others are cloud based. One of the benefits of cloud-based storage of membership data is that security concerns over identity theft are outsourced to the plugin creator.

 

Top 10 Best WordPress Plugin Comparison Chart for 2024
Built In Features MembershipWorks MemberSpace MemberPress Paid Memberships Pro Restrict Content Pro Ultimate Member WP-Members S2 Member Memberful Member Mouse
Focus on member management or subscriptions Member management Subscriptions Subscriptions Subscriptions Subscriptions Subscriptions Subscriptions Subscriptions Subscriptions Member management and subscriptions
Price per month starts at $0; paid plans start at $35/mo. $0 with 5% transaction fee $15/mo (sold annually) $o; paid plans start at $20.59/mo (sold annually) $0; paid plans start at $8.25/mo (sold annually) $0; paid plans start at $20.75/mo (sold annually) $0; $5/mo for support; $10.42/mo for extensions + support (sold annually) $0; one time fee of $89 or $189 $0; $25/mo with 4.9% transaction fee starts at $16.63/mo.
Additional per-transaction charges * $0 5% $0 $0 2% on free plan $0 $0 $0 up to 10% $0
Setup Fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 optional
Where is member data primarily stored? ** Cloud Cloud WordPress WordPress WordPress WordPress WordPress WordPress Cloud WordPress
Support options Phone, email, live screen share training Email, limited group training Email Email, forum Email Email, forum Email, forum (both only with paid plans) User forum, email for Pro accounts Email Email, paid phone support
Event Calendar Yes No calendar, but has event registration No No No No No No No No
Shopping Cart Yes Limited No No No No No No No Yes
Member Directory Yes via Community Box integration via Formidable Forms + Formidable Directory integration Available only on higher level plans No Yes No Yes No No
Donations Yes No No Available only on higher level plans No No No No Yes No
Key Integrations MailChimp, Quickbooks Online and Desktop, Xero Zapier, Rewardful, CommunityBox, Circle, Muut ActiveCampaign, Aweber, ConvertKit, MailChimp, Zapier, BuddyPress bbPress, Aweber, MailChimp, LearnDash, Zapier MailChimp, API, BuddyPress, bbPress, WooCommerce MailChimp, WooCommerce, JobBoardWP MailChimp, WooCommerce, Salesforce BBPress, BuddyPress, API API, WooCommerce, LearnDash, MailChimp, Campaign Monitor Zapier, MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, AWeber, iContact, ConvertKit, GetResponse
Payment Gateways Stripe, Authorize.net, PayPal Stripe Stripe, Authorize.net, PayPal, Square, Paystack, Pronamic Pay Stripe, Authorize.net, Braintree, PayPal, PayFast, CyberSource Stripe, Authorize.net, Braintree, PayPal Requires an extension with a plugin like WooCommerce to process payments. PayPal, Memberships for WooCommerce PayPal, Authorize.net, Stripe, ClickBank Stripe, Apple Pay, Google Pay Stripe, Braintree, Authorize.net, PayPal (not all gateways available on all plans)
Content Dripping No Yes Yes Available only on higher level plans On paid plans No No No No Yes
Learning Management System No Limited Yes, via MemberPress Courses Yes No No No No No Yes, via Courses for MemberMouse
Group memberships Yes Yes Only at highest paid plan Available only on higher level plans On paid plans No No No Yes Via a third party extension


* These are charges some membership plugins add on top of payment gateway charges. Payment gateway charges tend to be in the 2-3% per transaction range, and these added fees are on top of those fees.

What is a membership plugin?

At its most basic level, a membership plugin is code that can be added to a WordPress site to deliver content that is restricted to members only. Some membership plugins help content creators build a subscription site to sell content by setting up a paywall. Other membership plugins are designed to help membership organizations charge member dues, sell event tickets, publish member directories, and engage members through member only content and benefits.

The Top 10 WordPress Membership Plugins

Membershipworks logo1. MembershipWorks

MembershipWorks is ideal for organizations that are looking for a seamless, all-in-one WordPress membership plugin. Organizations can create a WordPress members only area and members only content. With a built in event registration system, event calendar, member directory, and more, MembershipWorks keeps things simple for member-based organizations. Administrators appreciate being able to see reporting on members, events, form submissions, and more — all in one place. Customers appreciate free phone and email support as well as unlimited live screen share training.

What it’s best at: membership management

Technical skill level needed to implement: low

Cost: Pricing starts at free; first paid level is $35/mo.

Additional transaction fees: $0

Top additional features beyond membership: Event registration, online calendars, member directory, restricted content, donations, job bank, shopping carts, classified ads, announcement boards, forms.

Key integrations: Quickbooks Desktop, Quickbooks Online, Xero, MailChimp, Stripe, Authorize.net, PayPal Checkout, PayPal Pro

Support: Free and unlimited, phone, email, and live screen share training.

See how MembershipWorks compares to other membership software and plugins


memberspace 2. Memberspace

MemberSpace’s primary focus is on access control of website content. It excels at helping solopreneurs post gated course content such as audio, videos, and private content libraries. While its initial monthly cost seems reasonable, MemberSpace charges additional transaction fees as high as 4% per transaction on paid plans. It does not offer a built in event management or calendar, but you can create a WordPress member portal. Note that some integrations will require a paid plan on a 3rd party platform. For example, MemberSpace customers who want to connect software like MailChimp and Quickbooks will also need to buy a subscription to Zapier.

What it’s best at: member subscriptions
Technical skill level needed to implement: low to medium

Cost: $0; paid plans start at $29

Additional transaction fees: up to 7% (free plan); up to 4% (paid plans)

Top additional features beyond membership: content access restriction

Key integrations: Zapier, HubSpot

Support: Email, limited group training

See a Memberspace comparison.


MemberPress3. MemberPress

MemberPress focuses on monetizing content and provides a built-in LMS. As it is geared toward selling subscriptions that require a WordPress member login, it’s lighter on features for member-based organizations such as associations or other nonprofits. For example, it does not have built in donations, member directories, or event calendars. So many membership sites that install MemberPress also use other WordPress plugins to add capabilities. MemberPress has the capability to allow members to sign up for multiple membership levels at the same time.

What it’s best at:  member subscriptions

Technical skill level needed to implement: medium

Cost: $15/mo (sold annually)

Additional transaction fees: $0

Top additional features beyond membership: built-in LMS, content restriction

Key integrations: MailChimp, Zapier, BuddyPress

Support: Email


Paid Memberships Pro4. Paid Memberships Pro

Paid Memberships Pro offers robust capabilities related to content dripping. While the plugin offers a large list of integrations and features, many seemingly basic features are only available as paid plan add ons. This can make things tricky when choosing which plan to purchase to build your members only website. It can also be tedious to have to install an add-on each time you want to add functionality. For example, the ability to collect a member’s full name at checkout requires an add-on.

What it’s best at: member subscriptions

Technical skill level needed to implement: medium to high

Cost: $0; paid plans start at $20.59/mo (sold annually)

Additional transaction fees: $0

Top additional features beyond membership: content dripping, LMS

Key integrations: bbPress, Aweber, MailChimp, LearnDash, Zapier

Support: Email, forum


Restrict Content Pro5. Restrict Content Pro

Restrict Content Pro, now owned by iThemes, is an open source membership plugin that helps membership site owners control who has access to their content. The plugin is friendly for developers who want to do hands-on customization. Many of this plugin’s features, including the ability to offer group memberships, are only available on paid plans.

What it’s best at: member subscriptions

Technical skill level needed to implement: medium to high

Cost: $0; paid plans start at $8.25/mo (sold annually)

Additional transaction fees: $0

Top additional features beyond membership: many features available through Pro add-ons

Key integrations: MailChimp, API, BuddyPress, bbPress, WooCommerce

Support: Email


Ultimate Member6. Ultimate Member

Ultimate Member is a user management plugin for WordPress. Unlike some membership plugins, it offers a member directory as a built-in feature. One big downside when using it for a membership website is that it doesn’t include payments integration or eccommerce without using an additional (paid) plugin like WooCommerce. Ultimate Member allows customers to choose to add functionality by paying for single extensions or a plan that bundles extensions. They additionally offer an optional theme that is designed to work with their plugin.

What it’s best at: user management

Technical skill level needed to implement: medium to high

Cost: $0; paid plans start at $20.75/mo (sold annually)

Additional transaction fees: $0

Top additional features beyond membership: member directories

Key integrations: MailChimp, WooCommerce, JobBoardWP, ForumWP

Support: Email, forum


WP-Members logo7. WP-Members

WP-Members provides a content restriction plugin that helps content creators publish premium content sites such as member only blogs. The main user base for this plugin is developers who are willing to dig into the code for setup and customizations. Adding the ability to take payments via PayPal or WooCommerce requires a paid plan. As the plugin is light on features compared to some membership plugins, many developers use it in conjunction with other plugins to achieve their desired results. There can be a downside with this arrangement as plugins do not always play nice with each other.

What it’s best at: member subscriptions

Technical skill level needed to implement: high

Cost: $0; $5/mo for support; $10.42/mo for extensions + support (sold annually)

Additional transaction fees: $0

Top additional features beyond membership: translation and localization

Key integrations: MailChimp, WooCommerce, Salesforce

Support: Email, forum (both only with paid plans)


S2Member logo8. S2 Member

S2 Member is similar to WP-Members in that it is best implemented by a developer. With a lot of flexibility to customize, developers can connect the plugin to other plugins to accomplish needed features such as  shopping carts or user forums. S2 Member has a different pricing model than other WordPress subscription plugins in that it only charges a one-time fee. With the lower price comes a lack of support. You’ll primarily find support from other users in the user forum. S2 Member also provides a directory of freelancers you can reach out to for help.

What it’s best at: member subscriptions

Technical skill level needed to implement: high

Cost: $0; one time fee of $89 or $189

Additional transaction fees: $0

Top additional features beyond membership: content access restriction

Key integrations: BBPress, BuddyPress, API

Support: User forum, email


Memberful logo9. Memberful

Memberful serves independent publishers, creators, and educators who create content for their followers and members. The ability to create paid member subscriptions for newsletters and private podcasts are core features. Memberful has a large list of integrations including Discord and a number of podcast platforms. Like Memberspace, Memberful also charges additional transaction fees on top of payment gateway fees. For some creators who are just starting out, paying additional transaction fees on top of the typical 2.9% payment gateway charges might make sense. It allows them to get the functionality they need at a lower fixed monthly cost.

What it’s best at: member subscriptions

Technical skill level needed to implement: low to medium

Cost: $0; $25/mo

Additional transaction fees: up to 10% (free plan); 4.9% (paid plans)

Top additional features beyond membership: content access restriction; large list of integrations

Key integrations: API, WooCommerce, LearnDash, MailChimp, Campaign Monitor

Support: Email (though they say that it can take a week to reply)


membermouse logo10. MemberMouse

MemberMouse offers both digital and physical sales support and has customers with membership sites in a variety of industries, including: health and fitness, coaching, course creators, entrepreneurs, and others who want to monetize their content. MemberMouse touts itself as being highly scalable and extensible; in other words, those with the right skills can create an enterprise-level membership site. As there are many customization options, it can have a learning curve for those not familiar with WordPress or who are setting up a membership site for the first time.

What it’s best at: member subscriptions and member management

Technical skill level needed to implement: medium to high

Cost: starts at $16.63/mo

Setup fee: $1000+ if you want them to undertake the work + $249/mo for supporting and hosting sites they build

Additional transaction fees: $0

Top additional features: Built-in LMS, upselling, drip content, affiliate support, payment plans

Key integrations: Zapier, MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, AWeber, iContact, ConvertKit, GetResponse

Support: Email, paid phone support (or subscribe to a higher plan to get phone support included)

FAQ

  • A WordPress Subscription Plugin puts content behind a paywall that only paid members can access. These plugins tend to:
    • Be designed for people who create content and want to monetize it.
    • Offer member only podcasts, private newsletters, courses behind a paywall, drip content.
    • Work for developers who feel comfortable with at least minor code editing.
    • Require the use or purchase of other plugins if features like event registration, donations, or a shopping cart are needed.
    • Charge slightly cheaper prices due to offering less built-in features and less support.
    • Lack unified reporting on member activity across the entire website.
    • Host member data in WordPress, which can be problematic when backups are deployed that could overwrite recent member activity.
  • A WordPress Member Management Plugin is more focused on member data than subscription plugins are. Membership management plugins typically:
    • Provide all-in-one solutions; they offer more built-in features. This enables unified reporting and member tracking (CRM).
    • Are geared toward non-technical volunteers and staff who do not have development or code experience.
    • Operate with less hassle as there are fewer integrations to set up or repair.
    • Offer more support and training.
    • Are more likely to host member data in the cloud to ensure secure, professional data management and backups.

    Some WordPress plugins store member data within the WordPress Users list and database while other membership management plugins primarily store membership data in the cloud and then integrate into WordPress. See the chart above to note where data is stored for each plugin. There are a number of reasons why storing a membership database in the cloud is a good idea:

    • More security – WordPress is an open source platform and hackers have a keen interest in it. It’s the most popular content management system in the world. So it follows that a WordPress membership database may not be the most secure place to store member data. Storing data in the cloud adds a layer of security.
    • Backups – Member databases stored in the cloud are backed up regularly; many WordPress websites are not. When a business counts on member dues or subscriptions, it’s best to leave database management to professionals.
    • Avoid data loss – Cloud-based member plugins are insulated from problems that may occur in WordPress when you are adding or updating plugins, themes, or WordPress itself. So if you have to roll back to an earlier backup of your WordPress site, any membership activity that occurred since your backup will not be impacted.
    • Admin users – It’s a best practice to allow admins to only access the tools they need to use. When you have a cloud-based membership plugin, you can keep everyone in their own lanes.  So it’s possible for your webmaster to only have access to WordPress while your membership manager can only access your membership database.

Note that pricing and features may change from the information we have gathered here. Providers regularly evolve their product offerings and price points.

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