The importance of subscription billing is tied to the fact that we’re living in the age of the SaaS, or Software as a Service model. Quite simply, it’s about offering a product or service that is purchased via recurring payments.
And yes, everyone is doing it these days. Salesforce started it in 2004. MailChimp is SaaS. WordPress is SaaS. Adobe also started moving their tools to the cloud in 2012 and now sell them as a SaaS.
But of course, you don’t need to offer a full cloud software to receive regular payments. Thanks to WordPress and the best subscription billing plugins, it’s easier than ever to accept regular payments for:
- Regular content updates
- Access to a forum or community pages
- Online courses
- And much more…
Sounds like what you need? Great! Now let’s see the prerequisites before you can start.
What do I Need to Look For in a Subscription Billing Plugin For WordPress?
Not all subscription billing plugins are created equal, and there is no one-size-fits-all. But still, there might be a few features to look for when evaluating what makes a good plugin:
- User levels: so you can do more than just a paid /non-paying offer. Create VIP sections, Premium memberships, free trials, and everything in between.
- Profile management: How easy is it to move users from one tier to the next? Can you easily remove users who’ve stopped paying?
- Content locker: you also have to be sure some of the sections are restricted properly, whether it’s URLs, blog posts, or eCommerce items.
- Customer experience: if you want users to pay, make sure it’s as easy and professional as possible.
- Payment gateways: make sure you let people pay via as many options as possible.
- WordPress compatibility: it goes without saying, but make sure the plugin you choose is supported, regularly updated, and compatible with your installation.
- Reporting: can you get data on how healthy your subscriptions are? Is the dashboard full of statistics to see how well you’re doing at a glance?
- Third-party integrations: do you already rely on MailChimp? Or Zapier? WooCommerce? You might find some plugins integrate with these providers right out of the box, which will greatly simplify your workflow.
And speaking of WooCommerce, it’s worth noting that a lot of these features are available with the plugin. The top-rated eCommerce plugin has a Subscription add-on, which you can integrate with the free version of WooCommerce.
It’s a great plugin, and it comes with all the features you might need. But it didn’t make our list, because it’s $199 per site – almost four times more expensive than the top plugins listed below.
#1. The Most Flexible – Rebilly WordPress Plugin
As specialists in subscription billing, it’s no surprise that Rebilly has developed this excellent and intuitive subscription billing plugin for WordPress.
This plugin has it all, from content locking to compliance it makes every part of subscription billing simple and effective. In truth, this plugin is two things at once, its both a membership manager and checkout page builder.
The membership manager allows you to monetize your website by offering membership subscriptions. It comes with content locking features to create different levels of membership. Clients also have access to the complete billing history of their subscribers through the customer billing portal.
The checkout page builder allows you to integrate with over 90 payment gateways. The flexibility does not end there, you also have the option to offer customizable add-on’s to your site such as bumps, coupons and free trials to your checkout page.
Rebilly’s easy embedding feature allows you to place the checkout page on your website rather than a hosting site, keeping you safe, secure, and fully compliant.
- Price: It costs $15 per month + 1% revenue fee with a 30-day free trial.
- Why it’s number #1: Rebilly’s expertise in subscription billing has been put to great use in this easy to use and affordable plugin. It’s everything you need and more in billing plugin.
#2. The Most Powerful – Ultimate Membership Pro WordPress Plugin
Built by WP Indeed, a reputable WordPress developer, the Ultimate Membership Pro Plugin is simply one of the most versatile, complete and intuitive tools you can use to access subscriptions.
Of course, you have multi-level access and user management. You can use predefined registration templates and login templates. It only takes a few clicks to set up trials and paid subscriptions.
To hide restricted content, you have content lockers for individual pieces, such as posts or even whole pages. There is a drip content protection function to regularly release new material. It also supports 5 Payment Gateways: PayPal, Authorize.net, Stripe, 2CheckOut, and Bank Transfer, which should be more than enough to cover the majority of your subscribers.
Best of all, it all comes with a fantastic user interface that allows you to quickly check the state of your subscriptions at a glance. There are statistics, earnings and transaction amounts available as soon as you log in, letting you keep an eye on the success of your SaaS business.
- Price: It costs $49. It usually comes with 6-month free support too.
- Why it’s number #2: A complete set of features, affordable price, and great ease of use make Ultimate Membership Pro a clear winner.
#3. The Most Experience – ARMember
We hesitated between calling ARMember the most flexible or the most beautiful of these subscription billing plugins. Starting with the aesthetics, it’s really a stunning dashboard, and you have complete control over the design of your forms, subscription pages, and payment pages.
As for flexibility, ARMember is great if you only need a few specific features. This is because the core plugin, which costs a very affordable $39, then lets you choose from 12 add-on’s.
These include PayPal Pro Payment Gateway integration, Cornerstone integration, Affiliate Pro integration, Zapier, Mollie and Active Campaign integration. In short, you can expand it and link it to other software you already use without a problem. Note that some of the integrations are paid, while others are free. Also, the WooCommerce integration works out of the box.
Aside from that, you get everything you expect from a great WordPress subscription billing plugin, such as the ability to drip content, lock any area of your site, and create user-profiles and membership levels.
- Price: It costs $39. Some of the extensions are also paid.
- Why it’s number #3: Good flexibility, beautiful design, but some of the integrations aren’t included in the price like with the Ultimate Membership Pro WordPress Plugin.
#4. The Easiest out Of the Box – WP Simple Pay
If you’re after a no-frills WordPress subscription billing plugin, this is the one you want. There’s one big catch though, so it’s worth mentioning it at the top: you can only accept payments via Stripe.
But provided you are happy with the Stripe gateway fees and only need to accept card payments, WP Simple Pay wins a lot of points for its… simplicity. The interface is completely streamlined, so all you need to do to get started is choose the currency, price and billing interval in the Stripe interface.
Then create a plan or membership name, and just let users subscribe in your Stripe dashboard. Easy as pie! Of course, there are a few compromises to make because you’re trading ease of use for features. So WP Simple Pay is great, but not so good for advanced reporting or integration with external tools like newsletter providers.
- Price: It costs $99.
- Why it’s number #4: Incredibly easy to use, but it’s only for Stripe payments. That should still be enough for 90% of your paying members, as most of them prefer paying by card anyway.
Best Subscription Billing Plugin for WordPress Comparison table
|Price||Best Feature||Installation||Payment Gateways|
|Rebilly WordPress Plugin||$15/month + 1% revenue||Connect with over 90 Payment gateways||Easy||Over 90. Including all major gateways|
|Ultimate Membership Pro WordPress Plugin||$49||Content locker options||Easy||PayPal, Authorize.net, Stripe, 2CheckOut, and Bank Transfer|
|ARMember||$39||Form builder customization||Easy||PayPal, Authorize.net, Stripe,2CheckOut. Also PayPal Pro (via Add-on), Mollie (via Add-on)|
|WP Simple Pay||$99||Extreme ease of use||Very easy||Stripe|
The Bottom Line
We’ve only listed four WordPress subscription billing plugins here, but there are dozens of them available on the plugin store. But still, the ones mentioned are the pick of the bunch, especially if:
- If you want an affordable, feature-packed option: Rebilly WordPress plugin has got everything you need for only $15 per month.
- How about design flexibility: we really like ARMember’s customization options
- If you use Stripe already: then WP Simple Pay is a great way to get started with subscription models in seconds.
And that’s it! I hope it gives you a good overview of the best ways to implement membership plans whether you offer online courses, drip content, or access to a forum.