Paid Memberships Pro vs. MemberPress: a comparison

Are you tired of trying to find the best WordPress membership plugin?

In this WordPress plugin comparison, we’ll share what we know about MemberPress vs Paid Memberships Pro (PMP). We’ll take a look at pricing, structure, setup, and features.

Why we're creating this online course platform comparison

We’ve tested so many course software solutions for our business over the years.

When we couldn’t find a solution that would do what we needed, we dusted off our Software Engineering chops and developed AccessAlly. 

And to this day, we continue to test and review the options on the market so we can share that knowledge.

How do Paid Memberships Pro and MemberPress Differ?

These are some of the most popular features membership site owners want and use. Take a look at how these membership plugins stack up for your online content.

Paid Memberships Pro is a WordPress plugin used to build membership sites but many users find it restrictive, due to the lack of native functionality and requirement for custom coding to extend on the plugin’s limitations. 

MemberPress is an affordable membership plugin that is often paired with an LMS plugin and used to create basic courses without a lot of bells and whistles. 

Deal-Breakers

Like any good relationship, let’s get the deal-breakers out of the way. Your time is precious. Let’s not waste it.

Neither of these is a good option if you…

Don’t worry, we do have some options for these, including the AccessAlly plugin for WordPress.

Pricing limits on members, courses, and products

You’re looking for a long-term fit so you don’t have to migrate anytime soon, or hopefully ever.

A transparent, easy-to-understand pricing structure is one of the first signs of a great company to work with.

Confusing tier limitations, feature restrictions, and forced upgrades are red flags.

Here’s the pricing comparison for these two membership plugins:

Paid Memberships Pro:

  • Free $0
  • Plus $297 per year
  • Unlimited $597 per year
  • Must pay annually, no monthly payment options
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

MemberPress:

  • Basic $249 per year
  • Plus $399 per year
  • Pro $549 per year
  • Must pay annually, no monthly payment options
  • 14-day money-back guarantee

Will the Paid Memberships Pro free plan work for me?

It could work for a while. How long exactly depends on your business and goals.

The free Paid Memberships Pro plan allows for the plugin download, access to documentation, access to 6 payment gateways, the Memberlite theme, and 19 free add-ons. 

With the free plan, you’ll be missing out on unlimited support tickets. That means if you get stuck, you’ll have to figure it out on your own or upgrade to get support. 

You won’t have access to a PMPro license key, which gives you support and updates on 1-5 sites. 

You won’t be able to use the 1 click upsell features or advanced coupon codes. 

What limitations are there for the Basic MemberPress plan?

The biggest limitation to be aware of here is with integrations.

If you use Active Campaign, Amazon Web Services, BuddyPress, ConvertKitDrip, Helpscout, or Zapier, you’ll need to go with at least the Plus Plan.

If you want access to Corporate Accounts, developer tools, Authorize.net, Affiliate Royale, or installs on more than 1 site, you’ll need to go with either Plus or Pro on MemberPress. 

Member Directories

MemberPress doesn’t have a member directory feature. You can purchase additional WordPress plugins and use an integration to make the software work together.

Paid Memberships Pro does offer a member directory add-on. It can be public-facing or private to your members.

The customization is done directly with HTML code using shortcodes. There’s no way to use a drag-and-drop builder for easier customization.

So, when you’re building your directory, your shortcode could end up looking something like this:
[pmpro_member_directory levels=”1,4″ show_avatar=”false” show_email=”false”].

Be aware of the limitations that exist, and how you’ll be building your directory before checking this box.

Looking for an Option with less restrictions?

Have full control of your content, members, and their experience on your site.

Spend your time doing what you do best, not struggling with frustrating platform restrictions.

With AccessAlly, you’ve got all of the power and flexibility of WordPress, and there are no limits on your business’ growth potential either.

What AccessAlly Customers Are Saying...

Bozhidar Batev Image for testimonials

"I Found AccessAlly In September After Struggling With MemberPress + LearnDash For 3 Months.

I didn’t know anything about AccessAlly or how to use it.

It’s one month since my launch and I’ve made almost $19K in revenue, which is awesome!”

– Bozhidar Batev

Chris Lema

AccessAlly May Be The Only Plugin That Thinks About Billing In A Way That Matches The Industry As It Works Today

One of the things I like most about AccessAlly is that Nathalie Lussier has thought about the entire lifecycle of supporting clients when you’re selling online courses or membership sites. It’s not just content protection, it’s also about the offers.

Most solutions are great about monthly billing, but when you realize you need multiple offers (2, 3 & 4 payment options), things get tricker. AccessAlly is great about supporting installment payments.

AccessAlly is a complete solution for courses. AccessAlly isn’t really a plugin. It’s a business in a box. It works hard to deliver a total solution for customers.

Among all the WordPress plugins out there, AccessAlly may be the only one that thinks about billing in a way that matches the industry as it works today. Check it out.”

– Chris Lema, ChrisLema.com

Integration with your Email marketing automation platform

Almost certainly, you’ll integrate with your CRM.

The depth of that integration will determine the uniqueness of your membership site.

The more in-depth the integration, the better experience you can create on your membership site.

MemberPress can work with ActiveCampaign, AWeber, ConvertKit, Constant Contact, Drip, GetResponse, MailChimp, MailPoet, and Mailster.

Be aware that there can be multiple add-ons to integrate different features of the CRM. For example, there are two separate add-ons for ActiveCampaign tags vs. lists.

Paid Memberships Pro works with AWeber, Infusionsoft, and MailChimp.

Both of these are one-way integrations. Simply put, they share information from one system to another, but not back and forth.

Other integrations may be possible using a third-party connector tool like Zapier.

Looking for something that integrates both ways?

Marketing automation tools are here to stay.

Use your marketing automation tool to power your course and membership program by taking advantage of AccessAlly’s deep 2-way street integration.

It’s built to help you sell more, teach better, and engage with your students longer.

Email marketing envelope
Courses Add On option shown on laptop

Learning reinforcements

MemberPress provides basic learning reinforcement features through its Courses add-on.

PMP doesn’t have extensive learning reinforcements. Its focus is on memberships. It was not designed with course creators in mind.

If you want advanced learning reinforcement features, plan on using an LMS plugin integration, like LearnDash.

Membership site and course design flexibility

Paid Memberships Pro works with a variety of themes.

However, they have their own theme available to plugin owners, Memberlite.

Memberlite comes with templates but has customization features to make the design yours. Using these Memberlite templates, you can change fonts and color options.

If you use page builders like Beaver Builder, you’ll run into conflicts with shortcodes, membership levels, and more.

MemberPress also works with a variety of themes. It has partnerships with Divi, Academy Pro, and Kallyas. Those themes have created specific templates you can use to get up and running quickly.

Again, these templates are customizable to some extent. They make it easier to get up and running quickly.

MemberPress takes the edge here. Because they work with well-liked page builders, like Beaver Builder, design is much easier.

If you’re unsure of what theme to choose, reference this guide on how to choose the best theme for your membership site.

If you want full design flexibility, AccessAlly is for you

Because AccessAlly is a WordPress plugin, you can use any WordPress theme or builder you like.

Or start with AccessAlly’s theme, which comes with all of the progress tracking and navigation menus integrated out of the box.

Power, flexibility, and beauty all in one course platform.

Examples of AccessAlly websites

Community and Forums

Neither Paid Memberships Pro nor MemberPress offers a full-fledged community feature within the membership site.

These can be achieved using integrations, such as bbPress.

E-commerce Features

Both of these plugins are very similar in their e-commerce features.

Your deciding factor may very well be which payment gateways you use.

MemberPress works with Stripe, PayPal, and Authorize.net.

Paid Memberships Pro works with Stripe, PayPal, Braintree, Authorize.net, CyberSource, 2checkout, or PayFast.

Do a bit more research for your specific setup here. Consider the following questions:

    1. What types of payments will you accept (recurring payments, a one-time payment, payment plans, deposit + payment plan, etc.)?
    2. Where do you want to manage the payments (payment gateway platform, or within the WordPress membership plugin you choose)?
    3. What payment gateways do you want to use?

Both plugins can support coupon codes, promotions, and trial periods. The setup of these features depends on your payment gateways.

Affiliate Marketing Programs

Paid Memberships Pro offers basic affiliate tracking through an add-on. With it, you can manually add affiliates and connect them to a membership level on your membership site.

You won’t be able to design a custom dashboard for them, which can be a drawback.

Affiliate dashboards can become a bustle of activity for your affiliates. They’d be able to log in and see their stats, find images and copy, and see important launch dates.

PMP’s add-on works for the most basic of affiliate programs. They do offer other integrations with third-party WordPress plugins if you need more.

MemberPress doesn’t offer any native affiliate program management features. You’ll be using a third-party integration with another WordPress plugin, like Affiliate Royale to run your program.

With AccessAlly, all these affiliate features are built-in.

Two devices showing affiliate options for PMP and MemberPress

Your workflow on Paid Memberships Pro vs. MemberPress:

Paid Memberships Pro logo
  1. Set up your WordPress site with your favorite customizable theme or install the PMPro theme.
  2. Install the WordPress membership plugin on your membership site.
  3. Sign up for a Zapier account to integrate this WordPress plugin with your CRM or install an add-on.
  4. Integrate with your payment gateways or install an additional WordPress plugin for payment features like recurring payments or multiple payment features.
  5. Create your membership site pages using Custom Post types and restrict access.
  6. Set up any content dripping within your email marketing automation system.
  7. Install any additional add-ons or WordPress plugins for LMS features, member directories, affiliate marketing, and gamification.
  8. Add your content to your membership site.
membership plugin comparison of AccessAlly and MemberPress
  1. Install the WordPress plugin on your membership site.
  2. Research, purchase and install an additional plugin integration for your email marketing system (if there is one)
  3. Research, purchase and install additional WordPress plugins or integrations for advanced course features, an order forms plugin, member directory plugin, and/or an advanced affiliate program management plugin.
  4. Create membership levels and WordPress pages or custom post types one at a time.
  5. Manually create menus for your membership site.
  6. Customize the look and feel of the built-in emails that MemberPress sends
  7. Start adding content to your membership site

See How Paid Memberships Pro and MemberPress Features Compare

We’re a digital marketing software company built by marketers and software engineers. With our particular background and expertise, we’ve designed our membership and LMS plugin AccessAlly, to give you everything you need in an easy to use, powerful package. Here you’ll see where Paid Memberships Pro and MemberPress fall short or shine in comparison:

AccessAlly PaidMembershipsPro MemberPress
Protect and restrict content Included checkmark Included checkmark Included checkmark
Built-in Recurring payments through Stripe and/or PayPal Included checkmark Included checkmark
Course builder for modules, lessons, and topics Included checkmark Included checkmark Included checkmark
Automatically creates tags, pages, and menus Included checkmark
Deep 2-Way Integration with Infusionsoft, Keap, Ontraport, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, and Drip Included checkmark
Multiple currencies, automated expiring coupons, and order bumps Included checkmark
Cart abandonment automation Included checkmark
Progress tracking, and progress-based unlocking content Included checkmark
Multiple types of quizzes, and auto generated certificates of completion Included checkmark
Course Licensing with Teams or Umbrella Accounts Included checkmark
Searchable member directories and editable custom fields through profiles Included checkmark
Gamification where members can earn points, and activity-based automation, login tracking Included checkmark
Media player, video bookmarks, tagging automation on quizzes Included checkmark
Cross-selling dashboards, with 1-click upsells Included checkmark Included checkmark
Built-in affiliate tracking with multiple tiers, links, and reporting Included checkmark

Researching course platforms on your own is great, but if you want to talk to someone, we're here to help!

If you’re wondering whether you’re on the right track or not, we can help you sort out all of the different options. We’ll let you know if AccessAlly is a good fit or not, too.

We’ll start by asking you a few questions and guide you in the right direction.

The true cost of Paid Memberships Pro vs MemberPress

Both MemberPress and Paid Memberships Pro were originally created to support memberships.

If you’re looking for basic content restrictions features, both MemberPress and Paid Memberships Pro (and AccessAlly), have you covered.

If you want to run a course on Paid Memberships Pro, you’ll be using an LMS plugin and integration. A lot of Paid Memberships Pro users integrate with LearnDash to create courses and provide LMS features.

MemberPress recently released its Courses add-on. It allows you to create courses in addition to your memberships.

With the add-on, it provides basic course features like lessons, modules, and simple progress tracking.

If you want other LMS features, you’ll be looking for a third-party plugin and integration.

For example, the Courses add-on doesn’t support quizzes. However, it can be achieved using a third-party, paid plugin and integration.

In fact, it’s not uncommon for MemberPress uses to outgrow these basic LMS features.

We’ve heard of many users integrating MemberPress and LearnDash to get the features they desire.

Use caution when adding this complexity to your setup. It may come across as clunky to your users.

You may find yourself with extra tech headaches on your hands.

In Summary

If you’re running a membership site, you’ll need a customer relationship management system (CRM), a theme and page builder, site hosting, and video hosting. This is your ecosystem. It’s what you need to run your business.  

Calculate these costs, then look at your plan on either Paid Memberships Pro or MemberPress. Map out where you are today, and where you want to be in 6, 12, and/or 18 months. Look at your costs both today and in the near future. 

Make sure they’re in alignment. Avoid forced upgrades due to feature limitations. Avoid purchasing 5 or 6 systems and duct-taping them together. A simple, well-thought-out start will serve you best in the long run. 

Choose a system that will grow with you, not one that you will outgrow. 

Paid Memberships Pro might be right for you if...

    • You have a simple recurring membership you want to run, and don’t plan to offer any online courses
    • You don’t need deep integration with your CRM or prefer not to follow up differently with people based on their actions on your membership site
    • You’re comfortable with the “more plugins and add-ons” philosophy and maintaining them all
    • You’re comfortable working with custom code to hack your setup for more advanced functionality

MemberPress might be right for you if...

    • You simply want restrict content and not a fully functioning learning management system
    • You won’t need a two-way integration with your CRM to allow for customized experiences
    • You’re comfortable with purchasing, setting up, and maintaining multiple add-ons, integrations, and plugins
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