Best Membership Plugins for WordPress

According to Fortune Business Insights, in 2022 the global LMS market was valued at $16.19 billion, up from $14.43 billion in 2021. It is expected to grow to $47.47 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate of 14.6%.

WordPress is the perfect platform for creating thriving membership websites with its vast selection of powerful plugins. There is a diverse range of membership plugins available: Guard secrets with MemberPress, open paygates with Paid Memberships Pro, or treat customers like royalty with WooCommerce Memberships.

Unlocking Potential with Membership Plugins

WordPress membership plugins help you generate recurring revenue. Options include:

  • Exclusive Content: Lock away your best blog posts, video tutorials, e-books, or downloadable resources for only members to access.
  • Paid Courses & Coaching: Share your expertise through online courses, interactive webinars, or personalized coaching sessions, with fees collected through memberships.
  • Premium Services: Offer exclusive discounts, priority support, early access to new features, or personalized consultations as membership benefits.
  • Tiered Access Levels: Create different membership tiers with increasing levels of access to content, services, and community features, motivating members to upgrade for more value.
  • Member-Only Communities: Foster vibrant communities with private forums, chat rooms, exclusive events, and member directories, fostering engagement and loyalty.
  • Drip Content Delivery: Gradually release content like videos, lessons, or blog posts over time to keep members engaged and coming back for more.
  • Digital Products & Downloads: Offer exclusive access to downloadable resources like templates, software tools, or music libraries as part of membership benefits.
  • Limited Product Availability: Create a sense of scarcity by offering limited-edition products or early access to new releases exclusively to members.
  • Personalized Experiences: Craft tailor-made recommendations, curated content, or early access to beta features based on member preferences and engagement.

Many sites combine these models. For example, you could offer a blended membership with exclusive content, a paid course, and access to a private community for maximum value and recurring revenue.

Essential Features for Membership Plugins

Before choosing your digital gatekeeper, consider these essential features:

Content Restriction: Build paywalls around your most valuable assets. Restrict entire pages, drip-feed content piece by piece, or offer tiered access based on membership levels.

Payment Gateways: Make checkout seamless. Integrate diverse payment options like Stripe, PayPal, and WooCommerce Subscriptions, accepting currencies your audience trusts.

User Management: Keep your members happy and organized. Offer clear registration forms, customizable profiles, and member directories for a smooth experience.

Community Features: Foster engagement and build loyalty. Integrate forums, private messaging, member-only comments, and event management tools to create a thriving online community.

Other popular features include email marketing integration, discount codes, and analytics to boost engagement and track your membership success.

There is no one best membership plugin, and most will require a paid version to actually be useful. Here are some of the most popular.

WordPress Membership Plugin Comparison Table

FeatureMemberPressPaid Memberships ProRestrict Content ProWooCommerce Memberships
PricingPremium ($179/year)Freemium (Free + Premium)Premium ($99/year)Premium (requires WooCommerce)
Content RestrictionComprehensive (pages, posts, categories, drip content, courses)Page & content protection, drip contentPowerful (partial, drip, password protection)Seamless integration with WooCommerce products
Payment GatewaysStripe, PayPal,, several othersStripe, PayPal, Braintree, 2CheckoutStripe, PayPal,, several othersAll WooCommerce payment gateways
User ManagementUser roles & permissions, member profiles & directoriesMember profiles & directoriesMember profiles & directoriesIntegrates with WooCommerce customer profiles
Community FeaturesIntegrations with forums & social pluginsLimited community featuresLimited community featuresLimited community features
Course CreationBuilt-in courses & quizzesNo built-in coursesNo built-in coursesNo built-in courses
IntegrationsMailchimp, ActiveCampaign, LearnDash, BuddyPress, othersMailchimp, ConvertKit, AWeber, othersMailchimp, ConvertKit, Zapier, othersAll WooCommerce extensions
ProsComprehensive features, scalable, developer-friendlyFree version, user-friendly, extensive documentationLightweight, fast, focused on content restrictionIdeal for e-commerce, integrates with WooCommerce
ConsSteeper learning curve, premium-onlyLimited free version featuresFewer community features, less intuitive interfaceRequires WooCommerce, not ideal for non-e-commerce sites

Max Content Control: MemberPress (Premium)

  • Features: Content dripping, courses & quizzes, user roles & permissions, coupons & discounts, integrations galore (email marketing, forums, LMS).
  • Pros: Comprehensive feature set, scalable for complex memberships, developer-friendly.
  • Cons: Premium plugin, steeper learning curve compared to others.

Max Content Control Option 2: Restrict Content Pro (Premium)

  • Features: Powerful content restriction (partial, drip, password protection), member profiles & directories, flexible payment gateways.
  • Pros: Focus on content restriction, lightweight & fast, developer-friendly code.
  • Cons: Fewer community features compared to others, less intuitive interface.

Easiest to Use: Paid Memberships Pro (Free & Premium)

  • Features: Page & content protection, coupons & discounts, email marketing integration, multiple payment gateways.
  • Pros: Free version available, user-friendly interface, extensive documentation.
  • Cons: Limited features in the free version, may not be suitable for intricate membership models.

E-commerce: WooCommerce Memberships (Premium)

  • Features: Seamless WooCommerce integration, tiered membership levels, exclusive product discounts, member-only checkout options.
  • Pros: Ideal for e-commerce websites, simplifies product access management, robust platform.
  • Cons: Requires WooCommerce, not suitable for non-e-commerce memberships.

Choosing Your Digital Gatekeeper:

  • Focus: MemberPress shines for complex models & courses, Paid Memberships Pro excels for beginners, Restrict Content Pro masters content control, WooCommerce Memberships rocks e-commerce.
  • Budget: Paid Memberships Pro offers a freemium model, MemberPress & Restrict Content Pro are premium-only, WooCommerce Memberships requires WooCommerce purchase.
  • Technical Skills: MemberPress & Restrict Content Pro have steeper learning curves, Paid Memberships Pro & WooCommerce Memberships are more user-friendly.

Ultimately, the best plugin depends on your unique needs and goals. Consider your membership model, budget, and technical skills to unlock the perfect digital gatekeeper and watch your online community thrive.

Remember, this is just a quick overview. Research each plugin in detail before making your decision.