One of the more common questions I get about how MemberPress works is, “What gives members on my site access?” or “How do I give members access on my site?”.
Many other membership plugins base access off of some kind of WordPress User Role, or some metadata stored about the member etc. But with MemberPress, that’s not the case, so it can be a bit of a learning curve if you’re coming from something else like WooSubscriptions, or S2 Member etc.
So the answer, though simple, can take a minute to wrap your head around.
The Transactions in MemberPress are what make a member on your membership site active.
But not all Transactions, only transactions that are complete and haven’t yet expired.
Let’s look at a few examples to illustrate the point.
John signs up for a one-time (non recurring) membership subscription for $100 which gives him lifetime access to the site. He pays with his Credit Card and right away he is logged in and can view the protected content on the site. What happens is, when John registered, MemberPress processed his payment through Stripe and a Completed Transaction was recorded in the MemberPress -> Transactions page for him. Because John’s Subscription was lifetime, MemberPress stored the Transaction with no expiration date. So MemberPress can look at John’s Transaction and tell what Membership it was for, if it was complete or not, and when it expires (which in this case is never).
Sally signs up for a Monthly membership subscription at $27/month. She pays with PayPal and right away she is logged into the site and can access the protected content. When she paid with PayPal, a Recurring Subscription AND a Transaction were recorded for her in MemberPress. The Transaction is stored with an expiration date 1 month into the future (date of next renewal). The Recurring Subscription itself doesn’t help give Sally access, it’s just a container for grouping and managing its Transactions. So again, it’s the Transaction(s) that help Sally have access on the site. MemberPress sees her new completed Transaction, what Membership level it was for, and when she will lose access (if she doesn’t renew) based on the the most recent Transaction’s expiration date.
Robert signs up for a Yearly membership subscription. However the Membership is set to give a 30 day free trial. So Robert enters his payment info and registers. This time there’s no payment taken right away as he has 30 free days. So what MemberPress does in this case is creates the Recurring Subscription just like it did with Sally above. However, this time it doesn’t have a payment to create a Transaction from. So MemberPress stores a hidden Transaction that expires in 30 days. This Transaction is hidden to Robert and the website admin too. But because MemberPress uses Transactions to determine access, Robert is given access right after registering and will retain access for at least 30 days. If he doesn’t cancel his subscription, he’ll be billed after the 30 days is up, and will have a real Transaction recorded covering the first full year of access at that point.
Jill comes to your website, and see’s a Membership she’d like to join. So she fills out her information and registers, but during the payment step she suddenly changes her mind and abandons the checkout. Because she’s registered, MemberPress creates an account for Jill on the site, and even logs her in. But she is unable to access any protected content – why? Because Jill never completed her payment, she does not have a completed Transaction in MemberPress. Instead she has a “pending” transaction in MemberPress. MemberPress does not give access to users with non-complete Transactions. So Jill must complete her checkout again in order to gain access on the website.
Your fiend Harry really wants to try out your new Membership, but he’s strapped for cash right now, and you don’t really want to charge your friend to access your Membership. So you tell him to give you his email address, and you’d set him up on the site for free. So you head to MemberPress -> Members -> Add New. Fill out the form, select the Membership and save. How does Harry get access now? If you look at your Transactions page after adding Harry, you’ll notice that there’s a new free, completed Transaction there for him. So again, Harry can now login and access protected content on the site because he has a completed and non-expired Transaction for a membership.
So if you have a member complaining about not being able to access content on your site, and you’re confident they’re logged in. You might take a peek at their Transactions next, just to make sure they have at least one completed transaction that has not yet expired.
I hope you found these explanations and examples helpful, if you have any other questions or thoughts about MemberPress providing access based on the Transaction(s), let me know below in the comments.