The best membership plugins for WordPress make it easy and affordable for your business to monetize content, create communities, publish online courses, and generate recurring revenue using your website. We evaluated more than a dozen and found the six best plugins based on use cases for hosting membership websites, social communities, subscription sites, and online courses, ranging in cost from free to just a few hundred dollars.
Here are the best overall membership plugins for WordPress and who they’re best for:
Top WordPress Membership Plugins Compared
Best overall membership plugin, and best for creating custom memberships
Best membership plugin for paid online courses
Best membership plugin for creating an online community, such as a forum with gated content
Best membership plugin for hosting a premium blogging platform
Best membership plugin for recurring payments, such as subscription-based businesses
Best free membership plugin
How We Evaluated the Best Membership Plugins
We researched more than a dozen WordPress membership plugins, evaluating the cost, general and niche features, and ease of use of each plugin. Below you’ll find the six best membership plugins for specific membership website needs. Starting from free, these plugins make it easy for you to build engagement and business revenue-generating membership functionality into your website.
Here are the six best membership plugins for WordPress:
Ultimate Membership Pro: Best Overall Membership Plugin
Ultimate Membership Pro Features & Capabilities
This membership plugin is packed with professional features that provide a lot of capabilities, including:
- Simultaneous multi-tier memberships: Members can belong to multiple membership tiers concurrently
- Unlimited paid and free tiers: Create an unlimited number of paid or free membership tiers
- Paid membership: Connect payment gateways like Stripe to receive payment for your memberships
- Recurring subscriptions: Collect recurring payments on a daily, weekly, monthly, or custom basis
- Trial periods: Ability to offer a free or paid trial period
- Drip content: Set up content to appear on a schedule, such as daily or weekly
- Page restrictions: Restrict access to specific pages
- Conditional menus: Show different menus based on membership
- Integrated marketing platforms: Connect to email marketing platforms like ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp
- Keyword restrictions: Restrict content based on specific keywords
Ultimate Membership Pro Pricing
Ultimate Membership Pro only offers one plan for an affordable one-time cost of $49 per website with unlimited updates, powerful features, and many available add-ons. This membership plugin has a lot to offer, but if you want to offer online classes, you may have to spend time customizing it. If you need a ready-made e-learning courseware plugin, LearnDash might be the better option for you.
Our Expert Opinion
This plugin is the best overall not only because of the features it includes, but also its pricing. Ultimate Membership Pro is best for those who want a highly versatile, easy-to-use solution for a one-time fee. Since it includes so many features, from recurring payments for subscriptions to marketing integrations, it eliminates the need for multiple plugins and provides exceptional value at a one-time cost of $49.
LearnDash: Best Membership Plugin for Online Courses
LearnDash is a learning management system (LMS) plugin used by big names like the University of Florida, Tony Robbins, and Yoast SEO. While it’s an LMS, it’s also a membership plugin that enables you to offer monetized classes online, with gated content and courses that are available only to enrolled students.
LearnDash Features & Capabilities
LearnDash has niche educational features to help students learn, such as advanced quizzing, prerequisite settings, and focus mode, which helps students stay focused on the lesson or quiz at hand. If you don’t need to sell a course, look at other membership plugins such as BuddyBoss for community creation or WooCommerce Subscriptions for product or service subscriptions.
Here is a shortlist of some of LearnDash’s most popular features:
- Focus mode: Distraction-free environment for study
- Drag-and-drop course builder: Dedicated course builder with drag-and-drop capability
- Advanced quizzing: Supports eight types of questions, including fill-in-the-blank, essay, multiple choice, and more
- Dynamic content delivery: Drip feed support, video watch requirement, linear and non-linear progression, and so on
- Prerequisite support: Requires a specified lesson to be completed before going to the next one
- Badges and certificates: Award badges and certificates of completion to keep students motivated and provide proof of course completion (such as for professional continuing education)
LearnDash offers annual pricing starting at $199, with a 30-day money-back guarantee and unlimited technical support for one year. All plans include unlimited courses, unlimited users, course content protection, drip feed lessons, advanced quizzing, certificates and badges, course forums, email notifications, free integrations, support and updates, and a demo site template to get you started quickly.
For more information, select the LearnDash plans from the drop-down below:
The basic plan is limited to one website. However, it comes fully packed with all the features listed above at a cost of $199 per year.
The Plus plan costs $229 per year for use on up to 10 websites, and includes the LearnDash ProPanel, which is a dashboard that reports student activity.
The Pro plan includes everything in the Plus plan for up to 25 websites for $369 per year.
Our Expert Opinion
If you want a feature-rich, state-of-the-art course creation platform, we recommend LearnDash. However, if your course doesn’t require advanced features such as quizzing or forum support but you still want a platform that supports online courses, MemberPress is worth considering.
BuddyBoss: Best Membership Plugin for Community Forums
BuddyBoss is the best membership plugin for WordPress for creating communities. It provides social network and forum-style functionality and has many integrations. For example, BuddyBoss integrates with LearnDash to create a social community for businesses offering online courses. It’s the best membership plugin for gating off member-only content and social media-style interaction, such as for a private business or an educational group.
BuddyBoss Features & Capabilities
With BuddyBoss, you can host social communities similar to Facebook, with member profiles and social feeds where connections can interact with your posts. With added integrations, you can build communities in conjunction with monetized functionality, such as using Zoom to host a live networking event or using Zoom and LearnDash to hold live classes.
Some of BuddyBoss’ most popular features include:
- Member profiles
- Social groups
- Private and group messaging
- Activity feeds
- Job posting
- Zoom integration
All BuddyBoss plans include the BuddyBoss Theme, BuddyBoss Platform Pro, one year of priority support, and one year of updates. Although it’s the second-most expensive on our list of the best membership plugins for WordPress, it comes fully ready with the complex functionality needed to create your social community or learning network.
BuddyBoss costs $228 per year for one site, but the price per-site use decreases if you plan to use the plugin on more than one website. Additionally, BuddyBoss plans come with a 14-day money-back guarantee. All features are included in all of their plans, which scale up in cost by the number of websites where you need to use the plugin:
- One site: $228 per year
- Up to 5 sites: $288 per year
- Up to 10 sites: $328 per year
Our Expert Opinion
Whether you’re ready to create a community forum or social network for your business, or you want to expand your online course with social capability, this membership plugin meets your needs. However, if you’re only interested in restricting pages and posts, Paid Memberships Pro may be the most affordable option for your business with a free forever plan.
MemberPress: Best Membership Plugin for Hosting a Premium Blogging Platform
MemberPress makes it easy for bloggers and other creators to create premium, monetized content by restricting access to paying customers. They also offer add-ons bloggers and content creators can use to sell digital files, such as e-books, videos, and online courses. They boast that the MemberPress plugin has processed over $1 billion in revenue for its users.
MemberPress Features & Capabilities
With MemberPress, you can restrict access to pages, child pages, posts, post types, categories, tags, and most other files in your WordPress installation. It also offers many built-in features that are all included in the price.
The most notable MemberPress features are:
- Easy setup: One of the easiest of our best membership plugins for WordPress to set up
- Access rules: Set restrictions on pages, child pages, posts, custom post types, categories, tags, and many other file types
- Built-in course creation add-on: Monetize courses using memberships
- Coupon support: Create coupons for discounts
- Pricing pages: Predesigned pricing pages to customize and publish
- Drip content: Set up scheduled release of content per your specifications
- Reporting tools: Monitor which products are selling and how much you are making
MemberPress is the most expensive on our list of the best membership plugins for WordPress. However, its ease of use and support community make it worthwhile. All plans come with a 14-day money-back guarantee.
Note: All the prices listed below are their regular prices. However, they do offer discounts many times throughout the year. For more information, select the plan from the drop-down below:
The Basic plan is $279 per year for use on one site with unlimited members, unlimited courses, and no additional transaction fees (other than fees from your payment processor). It includes Stripe and PayPal integrations and subscription management, as well as features like built-in email automation and integrations for providers like Mailchimp, drip-feed course content, and coupon code support. There are also add-ons to further enhance functionality.
The Plus plan is $449 per year and includes all the features of the Basic plan as well as use on up to two sites, advanced marketing integrations, the ability to sell podcast memberships, forum support, community support, Zapier integrations, HelpScout integration, the ability to do advanced customizations, and upgraded priority support.
The Pro plan is $599 per year and includes all the features of the Basic and Plus plans. It can be used on up to five sites, and has Authorize.net integration support, the ability to sell corporate accounts or gifted memberships, two-factor authentication support, and top-of-the-line premium support.
Our Expert Opinion
MemberPress is best for bloggers and other content creators who want to monetize content, e-books, and other digital media. Like all membership plugins, it has limitations, such as limited ability to customize registration forms and lack of core features in the Basic plan, like a math captcha. Although it’s the most expensive on our list, it’s ease of use, great support, and easy setup make it worth your consideration.
WooCommerce Subscriptions: Best Membership Plugin for Selling Subscriptions
WooCommerce Subscriptions is an extension of WooCommerce that allows you to create simple or variable subscription packages for your products or services. This plugin is on this list of the best membership plugins for WordPress because it allows you to create subscriptions for physical products as well as services, such as a “something-of-the-month” club.
However, it does have limitations in that it doesn’t restrict content like blog posts or pages. To add that functionality, you need WooCommerce Memberships, which requires another annual subscription. If you want to use this plugin and also restrict content, consider using Paid Memberships Pro, which offers a free plan.
WooCommerce Subscriptions Features & Capabilities
WooCommerce Subscriptions integrates with WooCommerce, making it easy to set up a subscription-based product in the same manner you would a regular product. You can create simple or variable subscriptions, such as monthly, weekly, quarterly, or yearly options for your customers in the same product.
Some notable features include:
- Multiple billing schedules: Set up any type of billing schedule, such as monthly, quarterly, or annually
- Payment gateway integration: Integrates with 25 payment gateways
- Automation: Send email invoices and receipts automatically and rebill failed payments
- Self-management: Subscribers self-manage their plans, including the ability to upgrade or downgrade
- Notifications: Built-in renewal notifications and automatic emails
- Detailed reports: Keep track of recurring revenue, number of active subscribers, and more
WooCommerce Subscriptions Pricing
WooCommerce Subscriptions has one package priced at $199 per year. It includes all updates and support for that year and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you ample time to test the platform and ensure that it’s right for your business.
Our Expert Opinion
Because WooCommerce Subscriptions is brought to you by the ecommerce powerhouse WooCommerce, it’s the ideal solution for those who sell online with the WooCommerce plugin. However, even without former WooCommerce experience, it’s one of the best membership plugins for accepting recurring payments for subscriptions.
Paid Memberships Pro: Best Free Membership Plugin
Paid Memberships Pro (PMPro) is a membership plugin that made our list due to its ease of use, general-purpose functionality, and cost, since it can be used for free. It is best for the budget-conscious business owner who needs a free membership plugin that can scale as their membership site grows through upgrades with additional features.
Paid Memberships Pro Features & Capabilities
PMPro’s free plan offers a wide array of WordPress and monetization features, including support for the Elementor page builder, popular payment gateways, and recurring payments. Although it’s not as easy to use as other plugins, such as Ultimate Membership Pro, the small learning curve needed may be worth it.
PMPro offers many features in their free version that are typically available only with paid plugins, including:
- Online documentation: Extensive documentation for all aspects of the plugin
- Free add-ons: 19 free add-ons that increase capabilities without slowing down your WordPress site
- Dedicated theme: Memberlite theme to easily customize layouts, fonts, colors, and more
- Payment gateway support: Payment gateways, including support for recurring payments
- Zapier integration: Connect your free membership plugin with thousands of other apps to automate processes and increase functionality
Paid Memberships Pro Pricing
PMPro has three plans: Free, Plus, and Unlimited. The Free plan includes most of the PMPro’s functionality. However, as your business scales up and needs more functionality, the Plus and Unlimited plans offer great incentives to upgrade.
For additional information, select the plan from the drop-down below:
The Free plan is free forever and occasionally comes bundled with other WordPress themes.
Plus & Unlimited Plans
The Plus plan ($297 per year) and Unlimited plan ($597 per year) offer 65 additional add-ons, ticket support, license for up to five sites (Plus plan) or unlimited sites (Unlimited plan), and the ability to customize more aspects of your membership plugin, such as having the ability to default the member’s public name to their username instead of first name.
Our Expert Opinion
Although the Free plan offers a lot of functionality, it lacks support until you upgrade to a higher-tiered plan, and it doesn’t include the ability to host videos, requiring you to embed videos from sites like YouTube or Vimeo. Despite that, at a starting cost of free, it’s a worthwhile plugin to use to get your membership site started.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I know which membership plugin is best for me?
Choosing the best membership plugin comes down to your needs. If you’re an educational institution, LearnDash is highly recommended. If you’re trying to build a social community, BuddyBoss is the way to go. Consider what each plugin has to offer compared to what your business needs, such as recurring payments or forum support, and choose accordingly.
How do I install a membership plugin?
If you purchase your membership plugin directly from a provider’s website, you will download the plugin and use the WordPress plugin page to upload and install it. If you add the plugin by searching for it in the list of WordPress plugins, you will usually be asked to provide a key, connect it to your provider using functions in the plugin’s settings, or use some other method of verification. To learn more, check out our beginner’s guide to WordPress plugins.
How do I build a website with my membership plugin?
Many premium membership plugins are compatible with popular page builders, such as Elementor Pro. If you’re not sure how to build a WordPress website, our 10-step guide will help you plan and build it.
If you want to generate revenue for your business by monetizing content, classes, products, or services, or you want to create a community to promote customer and follower engagement, use one of the best membership plugins for WordPress on your small business’ website. Most come with a free trial or demo and money-back satisfaction guarantees, so you can try before buying risk-free.
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