WordPress Membership Plugin Reviews – The Ultimate Comparison

There are an unnerving number of lists that turn up when you’re looking for fair Wordpress membership plugin reviews. From free plugins to really expensive ones, the sheer volume of options leaves many entrepreneurs scratching their heads, wondering which WordPress membership plugin is best?

The “best” plugin is subjective, in a way, since the perfect plugin is the one that fits your needs! We want to help you review the most important criteria for selecting a WordPress membership plugin so you can really know which plugin is best for you and your business.

Keep in mind, as your business experiences growth and change, the “best plugin” may also change. Here is our comprehensive Wordpress membership plugins that will help you decide.

It All Depends on Your Business

Brand new businesses (the stork’s latest delivery) don’t need the most expensive, advanced software available. Since new businesses often start with a very small amount of capital and a lot of heart and passion, it isn’t worth your while to invest in really expensive software.

In the early months (or years), it’s often best to get a foot in the door by using software that is cheap or free – but gets the job done.

As your business grows and experiences financial success, you have more capital to invest in better software. Presumably, at this point, you also have an improved grasp of where you want to go and how to get there.

Well-established, successful companies are another beast. With a detailed, streamlined process and an extensive amount of contacts, an established business often finds that a fine-tuned premium Wordpress membership plugin is best.

A list of the plugins we review in this article:

Criteria Used In Our WordPress Membership Plugin Review

Without standard criteria to provide an “apples to apples” base, it can be impossible to decide between similar WordPress membership plugin options.

We’ve provided a list of decision criteria that we used when comparing each WordPress membership plugin. Use these as the basis for deciding which is the best WordPress membership plugin for your particular business and purposes:

1. Email Integration

Especially important is an existing integration with your preferred email marketing platform and CRM.

Integration is key to survival in the world of WordPress. Some plugins are created with clear, clean code that is specifically designed to integrate well with the other tools you need to create a solid membership site. Whether you use MailChimp, Infusionsoft, Convertkit – or any other software – your membership site plugin has to work seamlessly with it in order to reach your members outside of the website.

Don’t have an email marketing platform yet? Read our email marketing system comparison post here.

2. Payment Gateway

Membership sites are a great way to bring in steady revenue with content that you only need to create once. WordPress membership plugins handle this transfer of funds during the sign-up process, and must be able to integrate with the payment gateway that you and your members are most comfortable with.

Think of some of the big names: PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Infusionsoft, Ontraport – all of these payment methods carry an element of trust that will help to encourage your members to take the plunge and join your membership program.

Some options allow you to charge on a recurring basis, while others leave all of the payment stuff to you… so you need to know what your membership site plans are ahead of time.

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3. Course Options – Content Delivery & Flexibility

What type of content you’re able to create and promote within your membership site is dependent on the plugin that you choose. Some plugins have a set number of membership levels for you to choose from – others might limit the amount of courses that you can offer. Or, make it really difficult for your students to upgrade or access more courses in one simple interface.

Drip content capabilities (releasing new content over time, or with certain “trigger” actions, such as completing a lesson) is an almost necessary feature to help keep members engaged – but can be impossible to set up if you’re using the wrong plugin.

4. Customization & Design

Consistent branding is key! Many of the WordPress membership plugins that we’ll review come with pre-designed templates that are nice to get you up and running quick… but might stick out like a sore thumb when compared with the rest of your company branding.

Being able to add your own customization is a huge perk, and one that is challenging for many plugins to accommodate. Typically, the more design options that are available, the more complex the setup will be.

5. Affiliate Referral Tracking

If you’re looking for a way to really let your business shine and gain traction with new crowds, a well-developed affiliate program provides the opportunity and medium to make it happen.

For this, you’ll need a system that enables you to track leads and purchases obtained through your affiliates – and a way to oversee the whole process. The affiliates will need their own corner of gated content, where you can provide them with all the tools they need to succeed, from social graphics, tracking links, and email content.

WordPress Membership Site Reviews

6. User Progress Tracking

User progress tracking is incredibly helpful when it comes to retaining the members who have already signed up for your online program. On the programming end, progress tracking provides the foundation that you need to be able to send out email reminders if the member is “stuck” somewhere – or simply forgot about their membership!

On the front-end, user progress tracking can be visible to the members to give them a visual of what they’ve accomplished so far – and what they still have to gain from your program.

7. Support

It doesn’t matter how elite your plugin is….you’ll probably run into a glitch somewhere along the line.

Whether you need help with integration, troubleshooting, or simply understanding what the instructions mean, the support that’s available to you can make or break your plugin experience. Look for a dedicated support team that commits to a quick turnaround and great help when you need it most.

Those are the fundamental components that will come into play throughout our membership plugin reviews.

So with our criteria ready to go, we can get into some specifics.

Best WordPress Membership Plugins by Business Type

It’s time to delve into some specific Wordpress membership plugin reviews to help you decide where you want to go next:

Level 1: Just Starting Out

Just because you have a new business doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the benefits of having a working membership site! In fact, if your business model is ready, it’s worth going the extra mile to set up a membership site for a group of paying members. Start as you mean to go on!

There are a few different options when it comes to free WordPress membership plugins. And you know what? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with choosing a free option when you’re just starting out. For the sake of your business, it’s probably the best idea to go this route – at least initially. Although you’ll need to spend some time and effort creating a membership site that complements your business, it will be well worth the effort when your membership site begins to generate revenue.

We took the time to handpick the top free WordPress membership site plugins that seem to function well and are worth the time it takes to set everything up. Keep in mind that many of these also offer paid “Pro” versions that can be purchased. The Pro versions, however, are not included in this section of the review.

That having been said, here are the top 3 in the “free” category of our WordPress Membership plugin reviews:

s2Member – free version

s2Member is a great plugin that is constantly receiving attention from its original development team. The free version serves as a basic framework for the fundamentals of building a worthwhile membership site on WordPress.

The free s2Member plugin lets you sell courses and content through the basic PayPal integration. When you upgrade to their paid versions, you can also accept payments through Stripe, Authorize.net, and ClickBank. This plugin comes with integrations with MailChimp and Aweber, and in the pro version GetResponse. If you use these email systems, it will definitely do the trick, but otherwise, this might not be the right plugin for you.s2Member does come with 4 membership levels that can be used throughout your site. The way the plugin is designed, you can use shortcodes to show different content to different members based on their membership levels.

After that, it falls short in terms of customization & design, no progress tracking or content dripping over time, and no built-in affiliate referral program.

Support is available for the paid versions, but if you’re going with the free option you’re left to the knowledge base and googling for answers.

Email Integrations: MailChimp, Aweber

Payment Gateway: PayPal

Course Options: BASIC

Customization/Design: Use any WordPress theme, customized with shortcodes

Affiliate Referral Program: NO

Progress Tracking: NO

Support: NO

Membership 2

This membership plugin is developed by the great team at WPMU DEV. Although the Pro paid version has much higher capabilities, the free plugin is nothing to be sneezed at.

With a focused set of integrations (basic MailChimp email added to one list, and PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.net for payments), it is still competitive and enables you to set up unlimited membership levels and a content drip – an advanced feature in the realm of free plugins.

The great bonus of working with this plugin is that it is naturally designed to work with some of the other plugins offered by the team at WPMU DEV, and it offers lots of addons to choose from. So if you need more advanced features, there’s probably a complementary plugin that can help.

The downside: The shortage of integrations, and controlling how users can sign up for your membership site. There are also instances of bugs being reported from long-time users.

Email Integrations: MailChimp

Payment Gateway: Paypal, Stripe, Authorize.net – no tax calculation in the free version

Course Options: 4 customizable membership types to choose from, Dripped content

Customization & Design: Use any WordPress theme, customized with shortcodes

Affiliate Referral Program: NO

Progress Tracking: NO

Support: YES via forums

Simple Membership

Simple Membership is a simple plugin, designed to do what it does with ease. It is designed to integrate with MailChimp for email marketing and PayPal as a payment gateway.

One of its unique perks is that it offers unlimited membership levels. You can also change the language settings, so if you offer a membership site in a different language this is a nice feature.

To deal with the ever-growing scourge of spammers, you can alter the settings so that registrations must be manually accepted.

The flaws of this plugin are definitely in its lack of integrations. Of course, if MailChimp and PayPal are what you use, there’s no problem with this!

Overall, this plugin lives up to its name – it’s simple and you won’t get bogged down with options. But if you want to create more sophisticated membership sites, it might not be the way to go long term.

Email Integrations: MailChimp

Payment Gateway: PayPal

Course Options: Unlimited membership levels, uses shortcodes to protect content.

Customization & Design: Use any WordPress theme, customized with shortcodes

Affiliate Referral Program: NO

Progress Tracking: NO

Support: YES, through support forums

Level 2: Ready to Invest In Your Business

Ok, we’ve made it to level 2! This level of plugins has been reviewed for businesses that have already experienced some level of financial success – and who can afford to invest in better, more advanced software. After some success under your belt, you’re at a point where you’re ready to look for a plugin with more capabilities.

Since price is still something to be considered – no need to go all-out on software till your business is set in stone and flourishing – we’ve selected the best of the mid-range plugins to include in this section of our WordPress membership plugin review extravaganza.

You can take a look at the premium versions of the free plugins we reviewed above, if you want an easy-peasy upgrade path.

Although the free plugins mentioned above are definitely great in their field, we found that their “paid” or “Pro” versions didn’t really stand up to the test for most growing businesses. The downside to that is, of course, the need to port information from one plugin to another. Fortunately, there are a lot of great people out there who have the skills and experience to help you out with that task.

The downside is that many of these plugins don’t deliver the premium experience you might want to offer your customers if you’re charging premium prices yourself.

And so, our “affordable” WordPress membership plugin review list includes:

Wishlist Member

This plugin is fairly comprehensive at a super affordable cost per year. If you use any of the major automated marketing software platforms or payment gateways, Wishlist probably integrates with it… because this WordPress plugin has been around for over a decade and has the user base to back that up!

If you’re not an Infusionsoft of Ontraport user, Wishlist makes for a great plugin. But a huge downside for Infusionsoft and Ontraport users is that this plugin lacks the ability to use complex logic with Infusionsoft tags.

For example, if someone has a tag added in Infusionsoft (because they clicked an email, opted in, or purchased something), a membership site built with Wishlist won’t be able to automatically reflect the change on their account. As site administrator, you would have to manually unlock content or otherwise acknowledge the change for the user.

Of course, sites with very basic membership levels (Basic, Professional, Premium) shouldn’t have too much of an issue.

There are some other plugins (AccessAlly, iMember360, Memberium) that do have much more to offer in terms of Infusionsoft integration, but for its price, this is still a very solid plugin with a lot of addons available.

Some of its negatives lie in a lack of customization within the plugin. Members do not have control over their billing preferences, and upgrading/downgrading from one level of membership to the next is impossible.

Price: $196 / $297 per year

Email Integrations: YES

Payment Gateway: YES (no deep integration with Infusionsoft or Ontraport, and these are paid addons that don’t add all the possible functionality you might want)

Course Options: YES – more advanced options must be purchased through add-ons

Customization & Design: 2 membership themes with paid multi-site.

Affiliate Referral Program: NO

Progress Tracking: NO

Premium Support: YES (1 year)

OptimizeMember (OptimizePress)

The OptimizeMember plugin is a great option if you’re already using OptimizePress to create landing pages or sales pages on your site.

It comes with all the essential features you’d expect like different membership levels, drip content, and video tutorials to help you set up your site.

This WordPress membership plugin is designed to work within the OptimizePress system – which makes it a little tricky to review on its own. The basic package costs $97 per year and includes many of the templates you’ll need for your membership site.

However, each template is designed for a specific purpose – if you wanted to add anything beyond what the basic package templates offer, you will have to spend extra in the OptimizePress marketplace to get it.

Another negative factor to this plugin is the complexity of the setup process, so if you’re comfortable with tech it makes for a good option but otherwise it could be confusing.

The main strengths of this plugin lie in its price and the many enhancements offered by OptimizePress – although adding many enhancements can boost the cost considerably, it is nice to have options available.

Pricing: $97 – 297 / year

Email Integrations: YES

Payment Gateway: YES – PayPal, Stripe, Clickbank, Authorize.net (no deep integration with Infusionsoft or Ontraport)

Course Options: (Templates)

Customization & Design: YES, but limited to templates that must be purchased separately

Affiliate Referral Program: YES – but limited to templates that must be purchased separately

Progress Tracking: NO

Premium Support: YES (1 year)


MemberPress consistently receives incredibly high ratings and great feedback, and the team responsible has also created other successful WordPress plugins so you know they’re here to stay.

When the plugin is installed on your WordPress site, you also receive a very helpful list of addons that will enhance the capabilities of your plugin. It offers unlimited course and digital offerings, along with dripped content.

Members are given the ability to update their subscription and billing preferences as needed, saving you a ton of time in customer service.

It is integrated with PayPal, Authorize.net and Stripe – as well as the major email marketing platforms, such as MailChimp, Aweber, MadMimi, etc.

Price: $99-199 / year

Email Integrations: YES

Payment Gateway: YES – PayPal, Authorize.net, & Stripe

Course Options: YES – content drip, unlimited membership levels, unlimited courses

Customization & Design: Works with any WordPress theme

Affiliate Referral Program: YES – AffiliateRoyale plugin included in your purchase

Progress Tracking: NO

Premium Support: YES


Looking for a plugin that requires no tech expertise to setup? That’s ZippyCourses in a nutshell, but keep in mind that the plugin was really designed specifically for online courses as opposed to different types of ongoing membership sites you might have in mind.

This is a straightforward plugin that gets its name from the short amount of time it takes to set everything up. With the majority of the required settings tweakable from a simple dashboard, you will have your new course site up and running in no time.

One perk you get with ZippyCourses is the ability to see how much time students spend inside your courses. With many built-in 3rd party integrations, it’s also a membership plugin that can work with nearly any theme.

One downside to trying to integrate with a lot of different systems is that it doesn’t do any “deep integrations” with full-fledged CRMs like Infusionsoft or Ontraport, so it’s definitely best to pick another option if you’re on these systems.

Price: $199/year (use on 1 site)

Email Integrations: YES (shallow integrations – 10)

Payment Gateway: YES – 8

Course Options: YES (unlimited membership/courses)

Customization & Design: Works with any WordPress theme, comes with a default theme that isn’t super customizable

Affiliate Referral Program: NO

Progress Tracking: Only on the back-end for the administrator

Premium Support: YES (1 year)

Exchange from iThemes

The plugin Exchange, developed by the team at iThemes, is a payment processing plugin that allows you to add additional plugins like their “Exchange Membership” feature.

The Exchange Membership addon offers a way to turn a regular WordPress website into a membership site with just a few settings to tweak on each page. The way the plugin is designed, it feels like a great way to add paid gated content to your existing blog, as opposed to a full-fledge course delivery platform.

You can also deliver digital downloads to your new members, right out of the box. One thing to keep in with Exchange from iThemes is that it’s not an “all in one” membership site solution, but rather a combination of smaller WordPress plugins that each achieve a specific goal.

Price: $197-$247

Email Integrations: Mailchimp

Payment Gateway: PayPal or Stripe

Course Options: Dripped content, unlimited access levels

Customization & Design: Works with any WordPress theme

Affiliate Referral Program: NO

Progress Tracking: NO

Premium Support: YES


The MemberMouse plugin is set up with a recurring monthly payment schedule, rather than yearly fees. The base price of $19.95 per month allows your site to host up to 1000 unique members. These members can be grouped into an unlimited number of membership levels.

Like many of the WordPress membership plugins, MemberMouse uses its own system of shortcodes to determine what content can be seen by whom. Although it does connect with some major email marketing services (MailChimp, AWeber, and GetResponse), this plugin does not integrate with any particular CRM. And for businesses who want to have the software in place that will help them monitor and foster growth, this can be devastating.

One benefit of using MemberMouse is that you can create “My Account” pages that allow your customers to update their credit card on file, change their membership levels, and automate some of the customer support tasks you might run into.

Price: $19.95 – $299 / month

Email Integrations: YES

Payment Gateway: YES

Course Options: GOOD

Customization & Design: YES – with shortcodes

Affiliate Referral Program: YES

Progress Tracking: YES, only on the back-end for the admin view

Premium Support: Videos and community forums only


Memberful is a strong plugin with limited integrations – but ones that it carries off almost flawlessly. Its greatest strength lies in its ease of setup and lack of distractions. You create your “order form” via Memberful, add the code to your site, and it will take care of payments.

With Memberful you can have unlimited members, and the plugin is also compatible with forum plugins for WordPress like bbPress. You can integrate Memberful with your email marketing platform, but they have built-in transactional emails already handled.

Although all of the plugins we’ve been reviewing are specifically for WordPress, Memberful can be used on more than just a WordPress site, through their software-as-a-service integration.

Pricing: $25 – 100 / month

Email Integrations: MailChimp, Campaign Monitor

Payment Gateway: YES – Stripe

Course Options: Different levels only

Customization & Design: Works with any WordPress theme

Affiliate Referral Program: NO

Progress Tracking: NO

Premium Support: Documentation and Email

Level 3: Amping Things Up

Level 3 plugins are for those who are amping things up and are ready to earn more with a membership site. Everything in this section of our WordPress membership plugin review comes at a price – but one that is totally worthwhile for the number of features and flexibility that the plugin gives you.

The important thing about this group of plugins isn’t necessarily their price tag – although some did get bumped from level 2 because of their cost.

More important, I’d like to focus on the integration capacity that they offer with premium automated email marketing software biggies: Infusiosoft and Ontraport.

As a business grows, it naturally develops a need for more advanced and fine-tuned management. Comprehensive software can be used for retargeting, and really advanced campaigns. For some companies, this might not even be necessary.

For multi-faceted companies, it is a necessity.

The elite WordPress membership plugin review list includes:


This plugin is extremely advanced and intuitive – and one that we used to use for our own membership site in the early years of our business. Developed specifically with Infusionsoft integration in mind, it offers a lot of flexibility in terms of membership levels, setup, and functionality.

When our membership site really began to explode (expedited because of a free membership area), however, iMember360 had a hard time keeping up communication with Infusionsoft. When it checks permissions, this plugin makes API calls to the Infusionsoft server – and with over 10K members, this constant communication was causing major lags in our membership site.

Its complex shortcode system can be used for many design and member site functionality purposes – and can also be used to integrate with other 3rd party plugins. Although those who are more familiar with coding might not struggle with memorizing the shortcodes and their functionality, many business owners can become frustrated with this system – even with the resources available.

After all, time is money!

iMember360 does not come with client management features (updating credit cards and running payments), nor does it pull in affiliate data from Infusionsoft. It also doesn’t have advanced features like a credit unlocking system, or built-in user management for administrators.

Price: $47 / month to $89 / month

Email Integrations: Infusionsoft 

Payment Gateway: Through Infusionsoft

Course Options: None

Customization & Design: GOOD

Affiliate Referral Program: Not built in

Progress Tracking: NO

Premium Support: YES


Memberium is a great plugin, very similar to iMember360 in terms of functionality and compatibility with Infusionsoft. It is one of the least expensive plugins in our “level 3” group, but you do pay per site, so that cost can increase exponentially.

Memberium’s functionality is dependent on using and applying the right shortcodes per page. The amount of flexibility you have is great, but it is extremely challenging to remember what each of the shortcodes can do without referring back to the fairly lengthy guide.

These shortcodes are also utilized when it comes time to design and brand your new membership site. There are plenty of Memberium alternatives (like AccessAlly) that offer additional functionality.

Price: $47 / month

Email Integrations: YES

Payment Gateway: YES

Course Options: GOOD

Customization & Design: Good

Affiliate Referral Program: YES

Progress Tracking: Basic

Premium Support: YES


AccessAlly was designed specifically to integrate with Ontraport, Infusionsoft, ActiveCampaign, Drip, and ConvertKit. It is designed to take your membership management needs to the next level – without requiring you to hire a programmer just to get the job done.

It comes with professionally designed templates that you can choose from. Each of these templates is able to be customized, so you can get the exact look that you need in your members-only area.

Unlike many of the other plugins that we looked at, AccessAlly is not heavy on the shortcodes. Rather, it uses an intuitive setup wizard that offers the same functionality and course design flexibility – but without the frustrating hassle of memorizing dozens of codes. For the shortcodes that AccessAlly does use, it’s just a click of a button to “insert shortcode” with all the details filled in for you.

What Makes AccessAlly Different:

There are a few points to consider if you’re debating between AccessAlly and another membership plugin. Here are a few of the components that really make AccessAlly stand out:

With built-in affiliate management, this plugin offers a single location to provide a streamlined affiliate program. Affiliate links, stats, etc. make the affiliate members area a breeze to monitor and manage.

Use the built-in credit system to allow site members to “unlock” certain content based on their actions (completing a portion of the course, earning points, etc.). This is a great tool to encourage your members to make the most of the content that is available to them.

The client payment management within AccessAlly allows members to easily update credit card information – as well as be presented with 1-click upsells.

AccessAlly’s PayPal integration and Stripe LMS integration make it possible to sell your online courses and membership without any additional e-commerce tools.

The admins on your team are able to access user management tools to help monitor your membership site.

AccessAlly Pro also adds gamification, quizzes, and rewards – essentially the components that are needed to make the experience fun. It can definitely give your site the boost it needs to grow and flourish – and continue to bring revenue into your business.

Price: $79 / month (see pricing)

Email Integrations: YES

Payment Gateway: YES

Course Options: Levels, Dripped, Stand-alone courses

Customization & Design: 4 Designs To Choose From, Fully Customizable and Compatible with Any WordPress Theme

Affiliate Referral Program: Yes, built-in integration with Infusionsoft, Ontraport, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, and Drip

Progress Tracking: With AccessAlly Pro

Premium Support: YES

The Rest is Up To You

This is a fairly comprehensive list in the world of WordPress membership plugin reviews, but it still doesn’t begin to cover the many plugins available for your business.

It’s worth reiterating that each WordPress Membership plugin review is meant to help you determine which plugin is right for your needs.

Young businesses have specific demands that really shape which membership plugins should be invested in.  If your business is at a healthy, established state in life, you might be looking for a plugin with more unique properties.

Regardless, I hope you’ve found our review of membership plugins to be a helpful resource that can get you started with a valuable membership site that will really impress your customers.

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