Membership plugins are essential to creating exclusivity and restricting your content or service to paid or registered members only. To some, membership plans are the sole source of income. Discover the best WordPress membership plugins, and choose the one that fits you best.

Searching for the best WordPress membership plugins to create a members-only site? In this post, we’ll break down all the best membership plugins by the features that matter, like how they let you restrict content, sell memberships, integrate with other plugins, and more.

Membership plugins are an incredibly useful tool for a variety of different types of WordPress sites…which is why there are so many membership plugins to choose from! You can use them for online courses, private forums, social communities, purchasing clubs, and a whole lot more.

To help you narrow down your search and find the best plugin for your needs and budget, we’ve collected the eight best membership plugins for WordPress.

All of these plugins can do the difficult backend work of managing members and restricting access to your content, while still letting you use Elementor to design the front-end of your site. Some go further and offer direct integrations with Elementor so that you can even restrict access to individual Elementor sections and widgets.

Membership plugins are an incredibly detailed topic, so there’s a lot of ground to cover here. 

Let’s get started.

What Are WordPress Membership Plugins Used For?

At a high-level, membership plugins let you accept members on your website and offer different experiences to members as opposed to anonymous visitors (or even different experiences to different classes of members).

Those really are the only two basic conditions:

  1. You want to accept registration from members.
  2. You want to offer different experiences to members, typically by restricting access to content for non-members (though you can also do so in other ways).

Depending on how you want to implement things, you could let people become members for free. Or, you could charge a one-time or recurring membership fee to join. You can also go further and offer different subscription levels that grant different levels of access.

This basic functionality opens up a ton of possibilities for building interesting WordPress sites.

What Types of WordPress Membership Sites Can You Build?

Here are some examples of the types of sites that you can build with WordPress membership plugins:

  • Online courses – you could deliver online course content to members.
  • Private communities – you could create private communities that mix course content, message boards, private coaching, and more.
  • “Premium” content – this is pretty generic, but you can use membership sites for any type of premium content. For example, Scott’s Cheap Flights shares the best cheap airfare deals with members.
  • A private forum – you could create your own forum and restrict access to some/all of the forums based on different membership levels.
  • Your own WordPress.com clone – you can let members create their own sites on your network using WordPress multisite, just like how it works with WordPress.com.
  • E-commerce perks – you could offer special deals/discounts to members at your eCommerce store, sort of like your own version of Amazon Prime. Or, you could require people to be members to make a purchase to create a private purchasing club.

This is by no means a complete list, there are a lot of different ways that you can go with a WordPress membership plugin.

What to Look for in a WordPress Membership Plugin

Choosing a membership plugin is one of the harder decisions that you’ll make simply because there are so many features that go into a membership plugin. Additionally, there are a lot of small features that might be important for your specific membership implementation.

That is to say, this is not a complete list of what to look for. Instead, these are just some of the biggest factors to consider when choosing a plugin:

  1. Content restriction options
  2. Subscription levels/management
  3. Payment options
  4. Integrations with other tools
  5. Price

Content Restriction Options

How does the plugin let you restrict access to content? Can you restrict the following: 

  • Parts of content
  • Entire posts/pages
  • Entire categories of content
  • Entire post types
  • Certain templates?

Do you need to go beyond content restrictions? For example, do you want to let members create their own network site via WordPress multisite? Some plugins support this, while others don’t.

Do you want to restrict file downloads? Again, not all plugins offer this.

Also important — how can you control the timing of content restriction:

  • Can you drip content out over time? This helps keep people coming back.
  • Can you set a hard expiration date for content?
  • Can you unlock content access after a certain period of time?

Subscription Levels/Management

Do you want to offer multiple membership levels? Or do you just want to create a single “member” class?

Additionally, you have other important questions:

  • Should members be allowed to have multiple subscriptions?
  • Do you want members to be able to change their subscription levels without manual intervention?
  • Do you want to offer group subscriptions? For example, a business could purchase a membership for its staff.

Payment Options

If you’re not looking to charge for access to your community, you can safely ignore this one.

However, if you are planning to monetize your membership site, there are a lot of questions to consider here:

  • Which payment gateways are supported?
  • Can you give free trials or charge a one-time signup fee (on top of the membership)
  • Can you offer discount codes or run other promotions?

Integrations

If you want to create a membership community based around another plugin, you’ll need to pay special attention to integrations.

For example, do you want to create a members-only forum? Make sure you choose a plugin that integrates with bbPress.

Want to offer free shipping to members of your WooCommerce store? Make sure the plugin has a WooCommerce integration (and that specific feature).

Some of the common integrations that you’ll want to consider are:

  • Email marketing services (to automatically add members to your lists)
  • WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads
  • bbPress

If you’re using Elementor, you’ll also want to think about Elementor integration. Because these plugins work with core WordPress features, they all should integrate with Elementor at a basic level. For example, if you restrict an entire page, it doesn’t matter whether you built that page with Elementor or the native WordPress editor.

However, some plugins go further than others with their Elementor integrations. For example, some let you restrict access to individual Elementor sections, columns, or widgets, which is really useful if you plan to rely on partial content restriction in your Elementor designs.

Price

Lastly, and quite obviously, there’s the issue of price. You’ll find a pretty broad range of options, so you’ll want to look for something that fits your budget. You’ll find prices ranging from free up to $400+ when it’s all said and done.

In the sections below, we’ll break down each plugin’s features by these same categories to help you quickly assess them. However, membership plugins have far too many features to include in a roundup post like this, so we’d encourage you to use our descriptions as a jumping-off point for further research.

8 Best WordPress Membership Plugins

MemberPress' homepage

MemberPress is one of the most popular WordPress membership plugins. It only comes in a premium version, but it’s affordably priced unlike most of the competition.

For a more detailed look at what it’s like to use MemberPress, we have an entire tutorial on how to build a membership site using Elementor and MemberPress.

Content Restriction Options

MemberPress gives you a lot of options for restricting content.

First off, you can bulk restrict content in a number of ways:

  • All content
  • Entire categories
  • Entire tags
  • Child pages of content
  • Post types

You can also restrict individual pieces of content (including widgets). Or, you can use partial content restriction via a shortcode or PHP.

MemberPress also lets you protect files, which lets you prevent unauthorized downloads

You can also use these rules to:

  • Drip content
  • Expire content after a certain amount of time.

Subscription Levels/Management

MemberPress lets you create unlimited free and paid subscription levels. You can create “tiers” so that members can upgrade and downgrade accordingly.

Members will be able to manage their own subscriptions from the front-end. They can update, upgrade, downgrade, etc.

With the Corporate Accounts add-on, you can also create group memberships with sub-members inside that account.

Payment Options

MemberPress supports both one-time and recurring payments via the following payment gateways:

  • Stripe
  • PayPal (Express, Standard, Pro)
  • Authorize.net
  • Offline payments

You can offer both free trials or paid trials, as well as coupon codes.

Notable Integrations

MemberPress integrates with the following tools:

  • bbPress
  • Affiliate Royale (from the same developer) to create an affiliate program
  • Zapier
  • Many popular email marketing services
  • External object storage (like Amazon S3) to restrict access to files from those services
  • LearnDash and some other LMS plugins for online courses

There’s also an official Elementor add-on that lets you restrict individual sections from inside the Elementor interface. This is really handy if you want to use Elementor to design the content that you offer to members. 

Or, you could include these rules in templates from Elementor Pro and Theme Builder to easily restrict content sitewide.

Price

MemberPress has three different pricing plans, each with different features and site usage limits:

  • Basic – $149
  • Plus – $249
  • Pro – $349
restrict content pro's homepage

Restrict Content Pro is a popular WordPress membership plugin that was acquired by iThemes on September 1st, 2020. While this is a big change, iThemes is a very established company and is planning to put resources into Restrict Content Pro, so you should still feel confident that it will be around for the long haul.

Content Restriction Options

You can restrict individual posts/pages, or, you can also bulk restrict content based on:

  • The category that the content is
  • The post type

If you need more granular control, you can also partially restrict content using a shortcode or PHP function.

Other useful features include:

  • Drip content
  • Hard expiration date for content
  • Unlock content after a certain amount of time

You also get some other interesting ways to restrict “content”. For example, you can let members create their own network site on your WordPress multisite network.

Subscription Levels/Management

Restrict Content Pro lets you create unlimited subscription levels, including both free and paid levels.

Members can manage their subscription levels from the front-end, including options to upgrade or downgrade.

With the Group Accounts add-on, you can also offer multi-member group memberships that you can sell to organizations.

Payment Options

Restrict Content Pro offers support for the following payment gateways:

  • Stripe
  • Braintree (by PayPal)
  • 2Checkout
  • Authorize.net
  • PayPal (Express, Standard, Pro)

You can offer free trial periods, as well as a fairly flexible coupon feature that lets you add coupon limits and even lock coupons to specific membership levels.

Notable Integrations

Restrict Content Pro has built-in integrations for some popular email marketing services including:

  • Mailchimp
  • AWeber
  • ConvertKit
  • ActiveCampaign
  • MailPoet
  • Campaign Monitor

There are also dedicated integrations for a few other plugins:

  • WooCommerce
  • Easy Digital Downloads
  • WP Job Manager
  • bbPress

Finally, it also integrates with the AffiliateWP plugin to help you create an affiliate program.

Price

There is technically a free version of Restrict Content available at WordPress.org, but it’s very limited.

Most sites will want to go with Restrict Content Pro, which has four pricing plans:

  • Personal – $99 – premium features on one site.
  • Plus – $149 – premium features on five sites.
  • Professional – $299 – premium features + 18 pro add-ons on unlimited sites.
  • Ultimate – $499 – premium features + 18 pro add-ons on unlimited sites with lifetime support/updates.

Or, thanks to the new iThemes acquisition, you can also get it as part of the iThemes Toolkit, which starts at $700 for access to all iThemes plugins/services.

woocommerce memberships' homepage

WooCommerce Memberships is a WordPress membership plugin that, as the name suggests, uses WooCommerce as its base.

This leads to a common misconception that WooCommerce Memberships is only for creating a membership site built around an eCommerce store. That is not the case – you can use WooCommerce Memberships to create any type of membership site (though it does have some nice options for eCommerce stores).

Content Restriction Options

WooCommerce Memberships lets you bulk restrict content at various levels:

  • Entire post types
  • Categories
  • Tags
  • Custom taxonomies

You can also restrict individual pieces of content, as well as partial content restriction via shortcodes or block settings.

If you’re running a WooCommerce store, you can also restrict who can view and/or purchase products.

Finally, you can also drip content out over time.

Subscription Levels/Management

You can create unlimited subscription levels and link them to WooCommerce products to control access. That is, when someone purchases a product, they get access to the subscription level. You can also offer free memberships by creating a free product.

Members can have multiple subscription levels. If you’re using WooCommerce Subscriptions, they’ll also be able to manage their subscriptions using features from that plugin.

With the Teams for WooCommerce Memberships extension (separate $129 purchase), you can also sell group memberships.

Payment Options

Because it’s built on WooCommerce, WooCommerce Memberships really shines when it comes to payment integrations. You’ll be able to tap into all the regular WooCommerce payment gateways and features.

That includes coupons, discounting rules, free trials/sign-up fees (with WooCommerce Subscriptions), and more.

Notable Integrations

If you are running a WooCommerce store, WooCommerce Memberships does have some useful WooCommerce-specific features:

  • Require people to be members in order to purchase products.
  • Offer special discounts or free shipping to members.

It also integrates with Automattic’s Sensei LMS plugin, which helps you create online courses.

Price

WooCommerce Memberships itself costs $199. However, most membership sites will also need to purchase some other WooCommerce extensions to get all of the features that they need.

For example, if you want to offer recurring subscriptions, you’ll need the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin, which also costs $199. For that reason, this one can be a little more expensive than another option that has everything built in.

paid memberships pro's homepage

Paid Memberships Pro is the first membership plugin on this list that offers a full-featured free version at WordPress.org.

With just the free core version, you already get access to a lot of features. If you want to go further, you can also choose from 18+ free add-ons and 65+ premium add-ons. Because it has so many add-ons, Paid Memberships Pro gives you a lot of flexibility for how you set up your site.

Content Restriction Options

You can restrict entire pieces of content by:

  • Individual pieces of content
  • Category
  • Post type

You can also hard-code content restriction using a PHP function. You can also use this to wrap ads so that you can offer members an ad-free experience while showing ads to non-members.

For partial content restriction, the plugin includes both a shortcode and a dedicated “Member” block that restricts all blocks nested inside.

Through its many add-ons, it also supports:

  • Drip content
  • Member-specific RSS feeds
  • Network sites for members with WordPress multisite
  • Limiting post views (like the paywalls that many newspapers use)

Subscription Levels/Management

Paid Memberships Pro allows unlimited membership levels, including an option to link membership levels to new or existing WordPress user roles.

Some other notable features are:

  • Members can have multiple membership levels
  • You can sell group memberships to organizations

You can also create a front-end directory of user profiles, which is useful for community websites.

Payment Options

Paid Memberships Pro supports one-time and recurring payments via the following gateways:

  • Stripe
  • PayPal (Express, Standard, Website Payments Pro, and Payflow Pro)
  • Braintree
  • Authorize.net
  • CyberSource
  • 2Checkout
  • Payfast

There’s also a WooCommerce integration that lets you use WooCommerce to handle payments.

Other useful features include:

  • Trial periods
  • Coupons/discounts
  • Failed payment limits
  • Variable pricing/donations
  • Proration and membership pausing

Notable Integrations

  • Popular email marketing services, including Mailchimp and AWeber
  • Zapier
  • WooCommerce
  • BuddyPress
  • bbPress
  • Download Monitor
  • Some popular events plugins for members-only events

Additionally, there’s an official Elementor integration that allows you to restrict content at the element or widget level and display content to non-members or for specific membership levels. It also gives you more flexibility over the appearance and the content restrictions.

Price

The core Paid Memberships Pro plugin is available for free at WordPress.org. You can also get 18+ free add-ons through the developer’s website.

There are two plans to access the 65+ premium add-ons and support:

  • Plus – $297 for up to 5 sites
  • Unlimited – $597 for unlimited sites
paid member subscriptions' homepage

Paid Member Subscriptions is a freemium membership plugin from the same developer as the TranslatePress plugin, which we detailed in our tutorial on how to translate Elementor.

It’s a little more lightweight than some other plugins, but it still has all the features that most membership sites will need and it’s more affordable than most of the competition.

Content Restriction Options

Your options for restricting content vary between the free and paid versions:

  • Individual pieces of content (free)
  • Entire taxonomies (paid)
  • Entire custom post types (paid)

For partial content restriction, you can use shortcodes and you can also drip content out over time.

Subscription Levels/Management

Paid Member Subscriptions lets you have unlimited levels of membership subscriptions. You can arrange your levels in a hierarchy to make it easy for members to upgrade/downgrade.

With the paid version, you’ll also get the following features:

  • Members can have multiple subscription levels
  • Group/umbrella memberships for organizations

Payment Options

Paid Member Subscriptions integrates with the following payment gateways:

  • PayPal (Standard and Express)
  • Stripe

It supports both one-time and recurring payments as well as the following features:

  • Free trials
  • One-time signup fees
  • Taxes and EU VAT
  • Pay what you want (variable pricing)
  • Discount codes

Notable Integrations

First off, Paid Member Subscriptions has a dedicated Elementor integration that lets you restrict individual sections, columns, or widgets using the native Elementor interface. You’ll get a new Visibility Restriction setting in the Advanced tab when you’re working in Elementor.

You can use this to restrict parts of individual designs. Or, if you combine it with Elementor Pro and Theme Builder, you can add content restriction directly to your templates.

Other integrations include:

  • WooCommerce (restrict product viewing/purchasing or offer special perks)
  • bbPress
  • Profile Builder

Price

Paid Member Subscriptions has a viable free version available at WordPress.org.

If you need additional features, there are two paid plans with different features and site limits:

  • Hobbyist – $69 for basic add-ons on one site
  • Pro – $149 for all add-ons on unlimited sites

MemberMouse is a membership WordPress plugin that operates more like a SaaS tool in its billing model and approach.

It offers a lot of advanced features in one package. However, one important thing to note is that MemberMouse is not GPL-licensed like most other WordPress plugins. That means, in part, that you won’t be able to edit any of the underlying code. If GPL licensing is important to you, you’ll want to look for another plugin.

Content Restriction Options

MemberMouse lets you restrict individual pieces of content as well as bulk restriction via:

  • Categories or other taxonomies
  • Post types

You can also partially restrict content using SmartTags. SmartTags also let you display different content based on a user’s level, which is useful for creating personalized experiences.

Other features include:

  • Content dripping
  • “Teaser” versions of restricted content – this lets members still share restricted content, but limits what guests can see

Subscription Levels/Management

MemberMouse lets you create unlimited subscription levels. However, while members can upgrade and downgrade their level, they can only have one membership level at a time.

MemberMouse also lacks a group membership feature, though there are some third-party extensions that add this.

Payment Options

MemberMouse supports the following payment gateways:

  • Stripe
  • PayPal
  • Braintree
  • Authorize.net
  • Clickbank
  • Sticky.io
  • Coinbase

You can sell both one-time or recurring memberships including:

  • Free or paid trials
  • Payment plans
  • Coupon codes
  • One-click upsells
  • Gifting

One notable feature is that MemberMouse can also help you sell individual products in addition to memberships.

Notable Integrations

Because you can’t edit the underlying code, it will be difficult to set up integrations beyond the built-in ones (though MemberMouse does have an API).

MemberMouse’s integrations are basically limited to popular email marketing services, along with a catch-all Zapier integration.

Price

MemberMouse uses SaaS-style recurring billing based on the number of members your site has, along with some other feature differences:

  • Builder – $39.95/month for up to 5,000 active members
  • Advanced – $99/month for up to 50,000 active members
  • Premium – $299/month for up to 100,000 active members
members' homepage

Members is a lightweight free WordPress membership plugin that was acquired by the MemberPress team in late 2019.

It’s a good option if you just want a lightweight option to restrict access to content, but it doesn’t have the advanced subscription level and payment features that the other plugins offer.

Content Restriction Options

Members works in tandem with WordPress’ default roles and capabilities features to help you control what users can do on your site.

You’ll be able to restrict access by user role/capability for lots of different parts of your site including:

  • Blocks
  • Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) fields
  • Easy Digital Downloads
  • GiveWP
  • Meta Box custom fields
  • WooCommerce

Subscription Levels/Management

Again, you’ll use the default WordPress roles and capabilities features – it doesn’t add its own subscription management.

Payment Options

None, but you could integrate it with MemberPress for payments.

Notable Integrations

Members integrates with the capabilities in a lot of other WordPress plugins including:

  • ACF
  • Easy Digital Downloads
  • GiveWP
  • Meta Box
  • WooCommerce

Price

Since the MemberPress acquisition, the Members plugin and all add-ons are free.

wp-members' homepage

WP-Members is a popular free membership plugin at WordPress.org, where it’s active on over 80,000 sites with a 4.7-star rating on over 200 reviews. There are also additional premium add-ons that extend the core plugin.

It’s a good lightweight option but, like Members, it lacks some of the advanced features found in the other membership plugins.

Content Restriction Options

WP-Members lets you restrict individual posts, pages, or custom post types. You can also partially restrict content using shortcodes. However, there’s not an option to bulk restrict content.

With a premium add-on, you can also restrict access to specific files.

Subscription Levels/Management

Unlike the other plugins, WP-Members doesn’t let you create unlimited subscription levels. Instead, users are just “members”.

That is, there are basically two “levels”:

  • Anonymous visitors
  • Members

Payment Options

With the paid add-ons, you can sell memberships via a built-in PayPal integration or a WooCommerce integration that lets you use WooCommerce to handle payments.

If you want more flexibility, you’ll probably want to use the WooCommerce integration because it lets you tap into WooCommerce’s many other payment features.

Notable Integrations

Beyond the WooCommerce integration, WP-Members also integrates with the following tools/plugins:

  • BuddyPress
  • bbPress
  • Easy Digital Downloads
  • The Events Calendar
  • Mailchimp
  • ACF

Price

The core plugin is free at WordPress.org.

You can purchase individual add-ons or get a bundle of all add-ons and premium support for $125.

Create a WordPress Membership Site, and Design It Effortlessly With Elementor

As we mentioned, it’s tough to make one overall recommendation for the best membership plugin because there are far too many variables that go into building a WordPress membership site. What’s best for one person might not be best for another person.

All of the plugins on this list are quality options, so we encourage you to use this post and its comparisons as a jumping-off point in your own search.

If you’re still overwhelmed and not sure where to start, MemberPress makes a great first option that has a built-in integration for Elementor. You can follow our full membership site tutorial to create your own WordPress membership site powered by MemberPress and Elementor.

And no matter which membership plugin you choose, you’ll still be able to use Elementor to design better landing pages, restricted content, or anything else that helps you create a better membership site

Do you still have any questions about getting started? Ask away in the comments!