Best WordPress membership plugins of 2022

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(Image credit: Pexels)

The best WordPress membership plugins make it simple and easy to earn from your online efforts.

Offering your content for free may be great, but it’s not going to put food on the table. Providing a subscription service so members can access what you’ve created for a fee is a popular - and necessary - way to earn money from your visitors, in a way that’s more reliable, and less obtrusive, than just advertising.

If your site is run using the website builder WordPress, then check out these five membership plugins which will turn your media into a steady revenue stream. Depending on your experience with website building, you will find some of these plugins are easy to get started with, while others are fairly complex. 

We've compared these WordPress membership plugins on numerous points to determine what type of user they'd be suitable for. We evaluated their user interface, ease of setup, learning curve, and checked if they needed coding. We assessed their content restriction options, coupon code and discounting functionality, membership structuring features, and trial customizability.


The best WordPress membership plugins of 2022 in full:

Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

(Image credit: MemberMouse)

1. MemberMouse

Feature-rich WordPress membership plugin to manage your subscriptions

Reasons to buy

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No coding required
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Huge number of features
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Highly customizable

Reasons to avoid

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Steep learning curve

MemberMouse is an impressive plugin designed for those who aren’t fond of coding and would rather have a service do all the background work for them. This doesn’t mean to say you can’t customize it to suit your needs - on the contrary, you can fully alter its look to match and blend it with your existing theme; it just means you don’t have access to the inner guts of the program.

The installation is incredibly easy and fast. You’re able to set up free and paid memberships, with flexible pricing, recurring subscriptions and payment plans, offer one-time purchase products, free and paid trails, include coupons, support for international currencies, the list is impressive.

As you’d expect, you can create a protected members area, with content protection, and also work with time-release content (ideal when setting up a subscription-based course for instance). You have great control over managing your members, check their transaction history, manage their subscriptions, issue refunds, handle overdue payments, etc. Powerful analytics are also included, and if you’re moving from another membership plugin, MemberMouse comes with automation features to help you migrate your clients.

There’s a 14-day full-featured free trial for you to check out everything MemberMouse has to offer.

(Image credit: MemberPress)

2. MemberPress

A powerful WordPress membership plugin to get and maintain members for your business

Reasons to buy

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Loads of features
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Strong customization options
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Affordable

Reasons to avoid

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Complex user interface

Ease of use is the name of the game here, and just like MemberMouse above, MemberPress aims to make the whole membership process as easy to manage as possible. But if you’re comfortable with a little coding, and you’ve chosen the right plan, you can create your own CSS Styles to gain full control over the plugin’s customization.

MemberPress lets you create an unlimited number of groups to your memberships, and takes care of the background work for you. Your members can choose to upgrade, downgrade or cancel right from your website. Promotions are pretty important for a business, and you’re able to create as many coupons as you need to grow your business - the flexibility is impressive here, and you can set their expiry dates, the discount (either a percentage or a fixed amount), what products that discount applies to, etc.

As you’d expect, you can control your content, right down to a page by page basis, or even select which files are allowed to be downloaded. MemberPress is integrated with PayPal, Authorize.net and Stripe, and you can track the information gathered from these transactions, such as renewals and cancellations, for instance, in your WordPress admin’s section.

Depending on how many sites you’d like to use this plugin on, and how many features you need, MemberPress offers three different plans and also offers you a 14-day money back guarantee.

(Image credit: Paid Memberships Pro)

3. Paid Memberships Pro

Best WordPress membership plugin for beginners that has a free plan

Reasons to buy

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Fee plan
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Large customization
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Preview feature
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Includes its own theme

Reasons to avoid

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Number of features can overwhelm users

There’s one good thing that sets Paid Memberships Pro above the other two plugins mentioned above: one of its plans is free. As long as your needs are simple, you could start gathering subscribers without spending a penny yourself.

Paid Memberships Pro is a very robust and comprehensive plugin, enabling you to create free memberships, or set up recurring subscriptions. Once installed, you can restrict your posts and pages by clicking the appropriate tick box. You’re able to manage the full database from a single location, check membership activity, including revenue from there. The software is fully customisable and open source - for those who aren’t afraid to get their coding hands dirty.

We liked the fact that a restricted page will show some of the content before encouraging a non-member to start a subscription, and unlock the rest of the article.

This plugin is enhanced with the use of add-ons. Some are free (like MailChimp and WooCommerce integration, setting expiration dates, and organising members-only events), but most come at a price (including what you’d expect to be basic features like email confirmation, but there you are).

The free plan includes all 21 free add-ons, all payment gateways (Stripe, PayPal, Braintree, Authorize.net, Cybersource, 2Checkout and Payfast), and the plugin’s own theme called MemberLite.

To gain access to all other paid add-ons and support for installing Paid Membership Pro on more than a single website, you can either choose the Plus plan or the Unlimited one.

(Image credit: Restrict Content Pro)

4. Restrict Content Pro

Affordable WordPress membership plugin that integrates well with other add-ons

Reasons to buy

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Very good value
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Long trial period
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Good number of options

Reasons to avoid

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Not the most beginner-friendly membership plugin

Like the others on this list, Restrict Content Pro is an excellent option to turn your website - or part of it - into a members only, premium content area. It also comes with the ability to migrate members if you’re coming from a different membership plugin.

With this plugin, you have the ability to create as many membership tiers as you need, and these include free and trial subscriptions. Discount codes are available of course, but are not as fully featured as some others on this list. Still you can choose to offer a percentage or a fixed price discount.

Your clients also have the option to upgrade or downgrade their commitment at any time, and they’ll only pay the difference between the two tiers (or be refunded, as the case may be). It’s also integrated with the famous WooCommerce plugin, and for transactions, works with the most popular payment services such as Stripe, PayPal, 2Checkout and Braintree.

Restrict Content Pro works on the concept of add-ons, and this includes free and paid ones from third party developers. The standard add-ons are divided into two groups - official and pro, and you gain access to the former or both, depending on your chosen plan.

(Image credit: S2Member)

5. S2Member

Basic WordPress membership plugin for those on a budget

Reasons to buy

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Cheap, even free
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Good list of features

Reasons to avoid

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Setup is complex

Like Paid Memberships Pro, s2Member offers a free tier to its subscription model. There are limitations of course, like for instance only offering PayPal as a payment option, limiting the number of membership levels you can have, and is devoid of anti-spam features, for instance. But if you’re starting out, free is a fantastic price point to consider.

Another unusual business model, compared with the others on this list is the fact the plugin’s two paid-for options are not recurring, subscription models: they are one-off fees, like Restrict Content Pro’s top of the line plan, only here, the prices are remarkably affordable with the top tier granting you access to any future updates when they get released. You also get a 14-day money back guarantee.

Features include content dripping shortcodes, unlimited paid membership levels, affiliate program and mailing list integration, to name but a handful.

We've also featured the best WordPress plugins.


What is a WordPress membership plugin?

A WordPress membership plugin is a tool for monetization. It allows users to set up a new stream of income on their website by selling memberships or subscriptions. 

Memberships include payment gateways, paywalls, user access portals, and more tools that create a seamless membership experience for subscribers. 

How to choose the best WordPress membership plugins for you?

When narrowing down on the best WordPress membership plugin, you'll want to keep some essential factors in mind. Start with assessing the kind of membership design you want to set up on your website and how complex it is. For simpler membership requirements, you could opt for basic plugins.

You'll want to check if the plugin needs coding to be set up, the different membership levels that can be created with the plugin, and check for trial customizability options. 

You'll then want to consider how the plugin manages content restrictions on the website and whether it integrates with popular payment gateways. 

Also, look out for the plugin's pricing plans and coupon code/discount functionality, among other aspects.

The best WordPress membership plugins: How we test

We tested the best WordPress membership plugins across several factors to determine what types of users they'd be ideal for. 

We looked at the user interface, learning curve, and whether the plugins required coding. We considered how easy it was to set up the plugin with a website and how swiftly it could be done. Websites will have their own membership structures, so we checked if the plugins offered diverse membership structures and if they could handle setting up complex membership designs. 

We evaluated their content restriction options and checked if they integrate seamlessly with multiple popular payment gateways. Along with the pricing, we also looked for features like coupon code and discount functionality, and trial customizability.

Read how we test, rate, and review products on TechRadar.

Steve has been writing about technology since 2003. Starting with Digital Creative Arts, he's since added his tech expertise at titles such as iCreate, MacFormat, MacWorld, MacLife, and TechRadar. His focus is on the creative arts, like website builders, image manipulation, and filmmaking software, but he hasn’t shied away from more business-oriented software either. He uses many of the apps he writes about in his personal and professional life. Steve loves how computers have enabled everyone to delve into creative possibilities, and is always delighted to share his knowledge, expertise, and experience with readers.