The Best WordPress Membership Plugins in 2021 – What Plugin Is Best For Building Your Subscription Site?
Choosing which WordPress Plugin to use is one of the most important decisions you can make when building your online membership website. Not only will the plugin you choose decide which kinds of features you can use with your member site, but it may also lock you in to using only certain services (payment gateways, email services, affiliate platforms) that only that the plugin’s developers have integrated with.
This is why we think choosing the right WordPress Subscription Plugin off the bat is extremely important. Some people might be inclined to start their WordPress subscription site with a free plugin, and upgrade later when necessary – but experienced entrepreneurs know that this could cause issues down the road when trying to grow your membership site. Starting your site with the best supported membership plugin is going to save you a lot of time in the future. Here we have listed the best membership plugins available today on WordPress and their strengths and weaknesses of each to help you decide which is best for your membership website.
If you aren’t completely decided on WordPress yet – check out the best membership site platforms here to decide which is best for you.
Best WordPress Membership Plugins
Its safe to say Memberpress is regarded as the best membership plugin for wordpress out there. Its full list of features gives you plenty of tools to grow your membership site effectively. This of course is going to come with the highest price tag as well – Up to $350/year if you want to enable an affiliate program on your site and use the full list of 3rd party integrations. This plugin is really only feasible if you have an existing revenue generating membership website and want the best tools available at your finger tips.
The most notable thing that sets this apart from other WordPress Membership plugins is the LMS (Learning Management Software) Course Builder.
You can easily build your entire course within Memberpress, which has an attractive course layout, as seen from our Demo video:
This means you woun’t have to build your course within WordPress pages, or integrate a seperate course builder and attach it to Memberpress.
The most expensive of the bunch. Starting at $149/year… But if you are using this plugin you are most likely will be using several integrations, one of which will certainly require the $249/year version.
Oh, and once you’re ready to add an affiliate system to your website you’re going to be paying the $350/year. This price point includes a maximum of 5 site licenses.
Notable Features and Integrations
- Course Builder within plugin
- Clean front end web design
- Drip Content over time
- Follow up emails to cancelled/suspended members
- Multiple affiliate platform integrations
2. Restrict Content Pro
Coming at a close second for the best plugin is Restrict Content Pro. This platform is a great solid base for every membership site and has every important aspect you would need. There are not as many extra fancy widgets and gizmos with Restrict Content Pro, but its an effective and simple plugin that comes with a more reasonable price tag – Starting at just $99/year this a great option if you are serious and ready to start building a new membership website.
This is a great option for a powerful top of the line membership plugin that’s also a reasonable yearly cost.
This will solve all of your content locking needs – however we will admit we wish this plugin had more connections across more platforms, such as Slack/Discord and Zapier integrations to expand the functionality of your online subscription.
Starts at $99/year, with the next levels at $149/year and $249/year. The unique thing about this plugin is there is a $499 lifetime option – so if you are going to be sticking around, this is going to end up being way worth it. It also includes unlimited site licenses incase you would need to build lots of membership sites for some reason (wink wink).
Notable Features & Integrations
- Restrict Content Pro makes it easy for your customers to upgrade/downgrade their membership to other tiers, and automatically have their reduced rate calculated based on how long they’ve already paid for their current membership.
- AffilaiteWP is one of the most popular Affiliate plugins in WordPress and generally regarded and the best supported. And since this membership plugin and the affiliate plugin are developed by the same exact team, the affiliate platform works especially seamlessly with the membership plugin.
- RestrictContentPro has every feature covered in a membership plugin and is used by thousands of professional sites worldwide. Whereas it may not have as many built-in features as Memberpress, you can add on separate plugins to get the job done.
- Add-ons at the $99 and $149 price tier gives you access to basic addons such as Mailchimp email integration, BBpress WordPress management, and other basic addons to give you customers downloads or access to other sections of your website.
- Pro add-ons are available at the $249 & $499 price tiers. These addons include more integrations such as Active Campaign and Aweber – and also more features for customers such as dripping content over time, setting up group accounts, and more options for restricting content.
3. Paid Memberships Pro
This plugin one of the only great membership plugins that have a free version. If you are looking to build out your membership site to validate your idea without committing to expenses, this is the route you should go. The free version is extensive enough to have everything you would need to begin a membership website – without getting too fancy. Later on once you get some members on your site, you can upgrade if needed to enable more features and integrations.
Notable Features & Integrations
- One of the best available WP membership plugins that are available for no cost
- Lock content for paying members
- Payment gateway & Signup page for customers to signup
- Slack Integration
- Mailchimp Integration
In our opinion this is the best free WordPress membership plugin. You can start your site for free and have basic functionality which is really all you need. We recommend you use this plugin if you aren’t ready to commit funds to a membership plugin but are still serious about having a scalable system to grow recurring revenue.
Paid Memberships Pro has everything you would need to begin a wp membership site from scratch, with all the major features you would need for free. It has the major payment gateways Stripe & Paypal, and locks content for paying members. Once you get your first subscriptions and start growing revenue you’ll be able to upgrade to the paid version which has more functionality and integrations.
4. Woocommerce Memberships
Woocommerce Memberships is another plugin backed by a great development team. This plugin is a great option if you are already using Woocommerce or are in the E-commerce space, since Woocommerce is generally geared toward setting up online E-commerce Stores. If you are just looking to setup a member site in WordPress, the other plugins on this page are better geared more specifically for memberships.
Notable Features & Integrations
- Locks content for paying members only
- Allows multiple membership levels/packages
- Integrates well with existing E-commerce sites (Woocommerce is one of the best E-commerce plugins for WordPress)
Woocommerce Memberships starts at $199/year – however if you need monthly subscription payments, which I’m sure you do, you’ll also need Woocommerce Subscriptions, which is another $199/year. This brings the total to $400/year, which is more than the most expensive Memberpress option. This is why we would really only reccomend this if you are already using Woocommerce, or if you are trying to turn your transactions ecommerce shop into a relationship-building membership business. Otherwise, these options will suite your needs better for a lower cost.
These plugins are the best and most professional plugins that will allow you a long road to grow and scale your subscription business without having to deal with technical issues managing your members and payments.
Not to say there are other great free wordpress membership plugins – There are well supported ones that will get the job done – its just that we recommend one of these 4 if you want to build significant profit per month.
What To Look For in a WordPress Subscription Plugin
These are the most important factors we think you should consider when choosing your WordPress membership plugin
Extensiveness of Features
What are you generally looking for in a subscription plugin? Are you just looking for a simple but clean plugin that will lock content for paying members, or do you want something full-featured where you can explore other addons to grow your subscription service such as drip feeding content, or creating a community for your members. Many of these features can be easily added into your WordPress site outside of a membership plugin, so it’s really just a question of whether you want these features packaged in with your membership plugin or if you want to handle them separately.
If you have any current services/platforms you are already using – such as Mailchimp for email – you are going to want to make sure these services will integrate with the plugin you are choosing. This also goes for integrations you might want to use in the future. You might want to use ActiveCampaign for Email or Clickfunnels to your Sales Pages down the road, but find out later the subscription plugin you chose doesn’t support these platforms. Generally all of these paid membership plugins for WordPress are going to support the major platforms, but if there’s any specific service your’e certain you’re going to want to use in the future, check to make sure it’s integrated and supported first.
Price is going to be something you want to consider, especially when looking at these high tier membership plugins, since most of these in our list run between $150-$300 per year. Some of these platforms start out at a lower price, but certain features will require the higher tier package to use. We also think its important to consider the membership platforms with a Lifetime Purchase option. We want to make sure you don’t get locked into an expensive yearly membership plan when you really only need a couple key features that could be covered with a lower overall cost.