Skip to Content

Teachable Vs Thinkific Vs Kartra Vs Podia Vs MemberVault Vs Kajabi: Which Course Hosting Platform Is Best?

Since launching my first online course back in December 2016, I have tested many online course hosting platforms. The ones that I have personal experience with are:

  • Kajabi
  • Kartra
  • Podia
  • Membervault
  • Teachable
  • Thinkific

I’ve also tested out the self-hosted method over at The Unconventional Business hub, the small business marketing hub I co-run, using:

  • Thrive Apprentice
  • Membermouse
  • Memberpress

And of course, being someone who continuously develops her knowledge, I’ve also experienced all of the above as a ‘student’ user as well as a content creator – which is just as important!

To be the most comprehensive, I’m going to discuss each of the platforms in turn, from both a creator and student perspective, and will also cover other methods that you can use to sell and deliver digital products.

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you make a purchase at no further cost to you.

Which course hosting is the best?

Kajabi

From the very first time I signed up for Kajabi, I disliked it! To be fair, a large part of that was the high price and minimal design aesthetic. The monthly costs for the three plans are:

  1. Basic: $149 per month
  2. Growth: $199 per month
  3. Pro: $399 per month

You can ‘save’ money by signing up for an annual plan which takes the ‘monthly price’ to $119, $159 and $319 respectively, and they have a 14 day free trial, but you’ll need to input payment details for access, and it automatically places you in the $199 per month tier.

The plan you need will depend on the number of products that you have available. Here’s an overview to give you an idea.

Basic Kajabi Plan

The basic Kajabi plan will allow you one website, 3 products, 3 ‘pipelines’ and 1000 active members.

Growth Kajabi Plan

The growth Kajabi plan is good for one website, 15 products, 15 pipelines and 10,000 active members.

Pro Kajabi Plan

The pro Kajabi plan will get you three websites, 100 products, 100 pipelines and 20,000 active members.

Along with the ability to host your products and pipelines, all Kajabi plans come with unlimited marketing emails, unlimited landing pages, 0% transaction fees and ready to use templates.

What Is A Pipeline In Kajabi?

The ‘pipeline’ in Kajabi is simply a funnel – a term we’re used to hearing in the online business world. Kajabi’s pipelines are their ready to use blueprints, so that you can quickly create a funnel for your products.

The number of pipelines available on each plan equals the number of products, so you could create a pipeline – or ‘funnel’ – for each product that you offer.

Kajabi As A Student

I have also used Kajabi as a student, for two courses. The interface is easy to navigate – when you log in, students are taken to the ‘library’ which contains any products they have purchased.

When they select ‘view product’, they’ll see an overview of all the content – modules and lessons – inside the course. It is very minimal and super easy to navigate using a breadcrumbs structure.

The question is, is the ease of use worth the monthly price?

Kartra

Kartra is an all in one solution that a lot of online entrepreneurs use, despite the higher monthly cost. Several memberships I am part of are hosted on Kartra, and I even tested it out in the autumn of 2020 to see if it would work for me.

For the most part it did, and I loved what I was able to create, but because I had no interest in using it for my emails (I love MailerLite) and it couldn’t integrate with my Shopify store, I ended up setting products up on Kartra, and then cancelling my account a few months later when I realised Thinkific could do all that I needed.

That’s not to say I won’t every go back to Kartra – if I ever decide that Shopify is no longer for me, I’ll move back in a heartbeat – but for now, my current setup is the best I’ve had in over five years of online course / digital product creation!

I’ve already mentioned that Kartra is an ‘all in one’ solution… you’re about to see all that you can get with a plan:

  1. Starter: $99 per month
  2. Silver: $199 per month
  3. Gold: $299 per month
  4. Platinum: $499 per month

If you’d like to test Kartra out, this link will give you a 14 day free trial to poke around and explore!

Kartra Starter Plan

This is the plan that I tested out back in late 2020. For $99 per month, you’ll get an astonishing amount of value! For starters, because it is all-in-one, you can host your website on Kartra, with a custom domain. They give you 50GB of bandwidth per month, hosting for 100 pages and 50 videos and the ability to send 15,000 emails per month. Oh, and you can set up two membership sites and up to 20 products for sale!

Now, I’m going to be honest. The whole membership / products aspect confused me. It took me a little while to get used to how it worked, but once I twigged, I was speedily creating products.

With the 15,000 emails per month, you no longer need an email service provider. The emails sent from Kartra look nice, and for the most part, land in my inbox and not my spam folder, from those who’s email lists I’m on – it has a ‘powered by Kartra’ label at the very bottom!

You can also create your funnels with Kartra (similar to Kajabi and their ‘Pipelines’) which means no need for other landing page platforms like Leadpages!

My actual tech stack of Thinkific (course hosting), Shopify (shop front), Mailerlite (email service provider) and monthly hosting for my website (Lyrical Host) costs more than the Kartra starter plan, and yet I stay with the tech stack because I am more familiar with it and that familiarity speeds up my workflow.

Kartra Silver Plan

Upgrading to Kartra’s Silver plan may double the cost to $199, but you get significantly more for that money – up to 12,500 leads, 3 custom domains, unlimited emails, bandwidth, pages, videos, products, memberships and team members!

With the silver plan, you’d be set for some time!

Kartra Gold Plan

The gold plan is the next plan from Kartra, and for $100 more, they double the total leads you can have to 25,000 and the number of domains from 3 to 5. If you’ve reached the point of needing this plan, well done!

Kartra Platinum Plan

Kartra’s top level plan is the platinum – it may cost $499 per month (😳) but you’ll also double your leads from 25,000 to 50,000 and your custom domains from 5 to 10!

I’m not sure I’d ever never need the two higher plans – I’m a firm believer in trimming down an email list so that it is smaller and more engaged and 12,500 is plenty for me thank you very much! – but for those with larger email lists (or dreams of bigger), Kartra is probably a very good fit for you.

Kartra As A Student

I’ve mentioned how it took some time for me to get to grips with Kartra as a course creator – as a student it is MUCH easier! I am a member of GSD, a membership for female business owners which is hosted on Kartra, so I’ve had a lot of experience as both a creator and student and can say that navigating it is very intuitive!

Pages load fast, video streams easily and I have never had any logging in problems.

MemberVault

In July 2021, MemberVault changed from offering many products on their free plan, to just three. This is not surprising as both hosting and the streaming of video content found in online courses can be quite costly, but it means anyone wanting to sell more than three products will have to pay their (very low) basic fee.

I am in the process of moving content from our self-hosted The Unconventional Business Hub membership to an account on MemberVault.

It is not the most intuitive platform to set up – I am quite techie, and have had some struggles using it.

Currently you can join MemberVault on their:

  1. Free plan (no payment info needed to access!)
  2. Starter: $19 per month
  3. Base: $49 per month

MemberVault Free Plan

The original free plan will get you hosting of three products, no transaction fees, 100 people and email support. You can also upload an unlimited number of files up to a maximum of 2GB per file.

There’s also affiliate tracking if you plan to have affiliates sell your products, integration with many email service providers (I’ve tested it with ActiveCampaign and it works well!) and the well respected engagement and progress tracking that MemberVault became known for – gamification is a big thing for them!

The free plan may have some limitations now, but it is still a great option for anyone starting out and in need of reliable course hosting!

MemberVault Starter Plan

The low priced Starter plan from MemberVault provides you with everything in their free plan, but you also get unlimited products, email and chat support, option to add a custom domain, white labelling and a cap of 1000 people for just $19 per month. That is a no brainer and why we’re moving the Biz Hub membership over!

MemberVault Base Plan

The MemberVault Base plan gets you everything in the Free and Starter plans, but you can have up to 10,000 people buy your products. If you’re selling products to 10,000 people, the monthly fee of $49 is a drop in the ocean!

MemberVault As A Student

As a student, MemberVault is easy to navigate, and if your students like gamification, it’ll probably work well to get them through the course content / products that you sell.

For me, I hated it as a student. I joined a sustainable living membership, and the ‘points for doing’ aspect used to really annoy me… and I love a competition! 🤣

All this said, both the free plan and the Starter plan are a great way to get set up with an online course or product!

Podia

Podia – originally called ‘MyCoach’ when they first launched in 2016 – is one of the easier to use platforms. Their design aesthetic is similar to Kajabi – minimal – and they have a 14 day trial for you test things out, only they don’t make you input payment details to access it!

Podia also has three tiers, or ‘plans’:

  1. Mover: $39 per month
  2. Shaker: $79 per month
  3. Earthquaker: $179 per month

Podia Mover Plan

This is the plan I started on when I used Podia for the Pinterest bootcamps I used to run. This basic Podia plan is a great low price option, and will give you the options of selling online courses, digital downloads and webinars using YouTube integration.

You can also create bundles of your products on this plan at no extra cost, have unlimited email subscribers and send up to 5000 emails per month.

Not bad for $39 per month!

Podia Shaker Plan

Podia’s shaker plan includes everything in their Mover plan, but you can also sell memberships and coaching services too! There’s also the option of creating course certificates and setting up affiliates to sell you products for you. Oh, and you get to send up to 15,000 emails per month.

Podia Earthquaker Plan

This is the ‘top tier’ that Podia offers, and will get you everything in ‘Mover’ and ‘Shaker’. You’ll also be able to white label the website – which means no visible-to-all ‘Podia’ branding – have your own dedicated account manager and a onboarding call!

For all tiers, you get ‘unlimited everything’ which includes:

  • Products
  • Customers
  • Messages
  • Sales
  • Hosted files

And then there’s also 0% transaction fees, custom website – either your own domain or a Podia subdomain – and ‘seven days a week’ support!

I actually really liked Podia when I was with them. I was able to navigate the back end of the platform easily and customer support was speedy whenever I needed help.

The only downside for me was the very minimal design. I wanted to be able to customise pages for content more than I was able to. This is a great option for anyone not technically minded who needs something sensible priced and easy to use.

Podia As A Student

Navigating Podia as a student is just as easy as navigating the creator back end. It’s intuitive and simple to use, and I’d be surprised if you needed to deal with students complaining about access.

Teachable

When I first started looking for a host for my online course, I turned to *Teachable. I naively bought a one year annual plan – for $399 – during a summit that they ran back in early 2016. In all honesty, I didn’t really use it much at that point, and ended up wasting much of the $399 that I spent, because I wasn’t ready to launch anything until the end of the year.

But, the process of setting up my online school and adding the course content was very intuitive. In fact, Teachable might actually be my favourite in terms of ease of use when setting up an online course!

Teachable offers the following plans:

  1. Free: $0 per month
  2. Basic: $39 per month
  3. Pro: $119 per month
  4. Business: $299 per month

Teachable Free Plan

The free plan that Teachable offers is quite generous. Currently, you can have unlimited students, unlimited courses, and unlimited coaching services but there is a hefty 10% transaction fee on all sales.

You can also bundle products which is a handy way to create membership style products. I did this myself as a test back in 2017 and it worked really well!

Teachable Basic Plan

The next plan up is Teachable’s Basic plan, priced at $39 per month. You get everything included in the free plan, but your transaction fee drops from 10% to 5%. You can also create a members only community in this tier, create coupon codes, drip your course content out and connect your email service provider!

This is the plan that I used when with Teachable, and it was a great plan back then, and still is today.

Teachable Pro Plan

The Pro plan will get you all of the above, but zero transaction fees and the option to make your school almost completely unbranded! They also integrate affiliate marketing too on this plan, so you can make additional sales through any affiliates that you sign up.

Teachable Business Plan

The Business plan is the all-in plan. You can bulk import students, and have up to 20 admin level users! I’m not sure I’d personally ever have a need for this plan, but if you think you’ll sell online to corporates, this is probably a great option!

All plans also have the option to set up instant payouts (something that wasn’t an option back in 2016 and 2017!) via Teachable Payment. Did I mention that they’ll also handle the EU VAT for you too?

Teachable As A Student

From a student’s perspective, Teachable is the first platform I had experience with. I find it easy to navigate the courses I have access to, and have had no issues with any type of content whether video lesson playback, text based lessons or PDF downloads.

It isn’t as minimal (basic looking) as Kajabi or Podia, but is in no way ‘cluttered’ either.

Thinkific

I have left Thinkific until last, as it is not only the course hosting platform that I now use, but it’s also (in my opinion) the best online platform for hosting courses (for my needs) and the one which I have the ‘longest’ amount of experience using.

When I first tested Thinkific out back in 2017 (for a membership that I offered, I tested out both Thinkific and Teachable to see which performed best) I ended up feeling quite disappointed with the platform for several reasons, but all of them came down to cost.

I was used to doing things on a shoestring budget which meant not investing in the tools that would make running my business faster and smoother. So I stuck with the free account on Teachable and complained about Thinkific not offering the same functionality for free.

In 2019 I tried out Thinkific again, and found it more intuitive to use than Teachable.

I also discovered that they had an integration with Shopify – I could connect the two, and drive traffic to my online shop from my blog and from search engines, and list my courses on the shop to be delivered by Thinkific. Smart!

So, what plans do Thinkific offer:

  1. Free: $0 per month
  2. Basic: $49 per month
  3. Pro: $99 per month
  4. Premier: $499 per month

Thinkific Free Plan

Similar to Teachable and MemberVault, Thinkific also offers a free plan. Yes, Thinkific really is free and although the number of products you can offer is limited (I think it’s currently set at 3), you can enrol unlimited students, host your video, audio and PDF content for free and get instant access to funds from sales!

Thinkific Basic Plan

The Basic plan includes everything in the free plan, but you can have an unlimited number of courses and students. You can also have a custom domain, drip your content out, connect Thinkific Apps (great if you have a Shopify store!) and integrate your email service providers via API or using Zapier.

Thinkific Pro Plan

The pro plan may be double the price of the basic plan from Thinkific, but you get everything from free and Basic, as well as the option to hide courses or make them private, create memberships and bundles, set assignments, create communities and include advanced pricing options.

You can also have up to 5 course admins or authors making it a great choice if you want to have guest courses in your online school.

Thinkific Premier Plan

This is the top level plan from Thinkific! It includes everything already mentioned plus more to help you build an education empire – their words, not mine!

Thinkific As A Student

I have access to quite a few online course hosted on the Thinkific platform, and I have to say, it isn’t as minimal in design as Podia and Kajabi, but it’s also not as ‘designed’ as Teachable and Kartra.

It’s a great ‘in the middle’ platform. The course content is broken into modules and lessons and there is a sidebar on the left hand side where you can see the course content. I’ve never had any issues accessing content – all content is uploaded directly to Thinkific, even videos! – and the course ‘sidebar’ works well by collapsing any modules that you’re not accessing in that moment. This really helps me to stay on track.

I personally love Thinkific as both a creator and consumer of online course material and strongly recommend it!

Other Digital Product Hosts

There are of course other ways that you can deliver online courses and digital products. Some that I have used and found value in are:

  • Gumroad
  • Sendowl
  • PayHip
  • Easy Digital Download
  • WooCommerce
  • Shopify

I’ll cover these in another post to keep this one on point, but all of them are good ways to deliver digital products!

Let’s get to some quick comparisons for anyone thinking of joining a course hosting platform for their business!

Kajabi Vs Kartra

The two which have an ‘all in’ feature – hosting for your website as well as your digital products – are Kajabi and Kartra, but how do they compare?

Kajabi

Basic Plan

The lowest cost plan from Kajabi will cost you $149 per month and gets you:

  • 1 Website
  • 3 products
  • 3 pipelines (funnels)
  • 1000 active members

Growth Plan

The mid tier package is $199 per month and will give you:

  • 1 Website
  • 15 products
  • 15 pipelines
  • 10,000 active members

Pro Plan

Their top plan comes in at $399 per month and take you up to:

  • 3 Websites
  • 100 products
  • 100 pipelines
  • 20,000 active members

Kartra

Starter Plan

The lowest cost plan from Kartra will cost you $99 per month and gets you:

  • 1 Website with custom domain
  • 100 pages
  • 50 videos
  • 15,000 emails per month
  • 20 products
  • 2 memberships
  • Up to 2500 leads

Silver Plan

Coming in at $199 per month, Kartra’s Silver plan gets you:

  • 3 custom domains
  • Unlimited pages
  • Unlimited videos
  • Unlimited emails
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Unlimited products
  • Unlimited memberships
  • Unlimited team members
  • Up to 12,500 leads

Like I said before, set for everything!

Gold Plan

Opposite Kajabi’s Pro Plan, we have Kartra’s Gold Plan at $299 per month which gets you:

  • Everything in Silver plus
  • Up to 25,000 leads
  • 5 custom domains

SaveSave

Teachable Vs Thinkific

The two course hosting platforms that I have the most experience with are Teachable and Thinkific – let’s compare the two!

Teachable

Teachable is the very first platform I tried out back in 2016, and since then it has evolved into a very powerful platform!

Free Plan

The free plan is a great starting plan to get familiar with the platform and will get you:

  • Unlimited students
  • Unlimited courses
  • Unlimited coaching services
  • 10% transaction fee

Basic Plan

For $39 per month Teachable gives you:

  • Everything in the Free Plan
  • Members only community
  • Coupon codes
  • Dripped course content
  • Email service provider connection
  • 5% transaction fee

Pro Plan

For $119 per month, the pro plan has:

  • Everything in Free and Basic
  • White labelling of your school
  • Affiliates set up
  • 0% transaction fees

Business Plan

This is the top plan from Teachable, costing $299 per month and provides you with:

  • Everything in Free, Basic and Pro
  • 20 admin level users
  • Bulk import students

Thinkific

The platform I used after Teachable, and the one I am still with today, Thinkific has many features at sensible pricing!

Free Plan

Just like Teachable, Thinkific offers a free plan. With their’s you get:

  • Limited number of courses
  • Unlimited students
  • Instant access to funds from sales
  • 0% transaction fees

Basic Plan

Basic is $49 per month, so $10 more than Teachable, but you get:

  • Everything in the Free plan
  • Unlimited students
  • Custom domain
  • Dripped course content
  • Email service provider connection
  • Affiliate set up / reporting
  • Access to Shopify App (and other Thinkific apps)

Pro Plan

The pro plan comes in at $99 per month and for that you’ll get:

  • Everything in Free and Basic plans
  • Hide courses
  • Private courses
  • Memberships
  • Bundles
  • Assignments
  • Communities
  • Advanced pricing options
  • 5 course admins

Premier Plan

The premier plan gets you everything mentioned in the above plans and more, for $399 per month and will help you:

  • Build your education empire!

I personally love Thinkific because of the integration with Shopify via their app. I use the Basic plan which allows me to do all that I need for my growing online course empire.

There are limitations on this plan, that you don’t have with Teachable – I cannot connect Zapier on this plan, and the only email providers that Thinkific has a direct integration with are:

  • ActiveCampaign
  • Aweber
  • Constant Contact
  • CovertKit
  • MailchimpSaveSave

But, as I Shopify does connect with MailerLite and Thinkific, anytime someone makes a purchase that info is added to both automatically, so it’s a system that requires little time and effort to manage my end.SaveSave

Podia Vs MemberVault

I’ve left Podia and MemberVault together because they’re not an all in-one-solution, but they’re also not quite up to the standards of Teachable and Thinkific.

Podia

Podia keeps things simple with just three plans, and you get good bang for your buck!

Mover

The lowest priced offering at $39 per month gets you:

  • Unlimited products
  • Unlimited customers
  • Unlimited sales
  • Unlimited hosting
  • 0% transaction fee
  • Online courses
  • Digital downloads
  • Webinars using YouTube
  • Product bundles
  • Unlimited email subscribers
  • Up to 5000 email per month

Shaker

The Shaker plan comes in at $79 per month for:

  • Everything from the Mover plan
  • Memberships
  • Coaching services
  • Course certificates
  • Affiliates set up
  • 15,000 emails per month

Earthquaker

And Earthquaker will set you back $179 per month for:

  • Everything in Mover and Shaker plans
  • White label your domain
  • Dedicated account manager

MemberVault

Not as intuitive to use as Podia (in my experience) and definitely less minimal in design!

Free Plan

The free plan is a great one to start with and see how you like the platform. You’ll get:

  • Hosting of 3 products
  • 0% transaction fees
  • Up to 100 people / students
  • Unlimited number of files
  • Integration w/Email Service Providers
  • Affiliate set-up

Starter Plan

Next level up with have their Starter plan for $19 per month:

  • Everything in the free plan
  • Unlimited products
  • Chat and email support
  • Custom domain
  • White labelling
  • Up to 1000 people / students

Base Plan

The base plan is the upper plan on MemberVault and comes in at $49 per month for which you’ll get:

  • Everything in the Free and Starter plans
  • Up to 10,000 people / students

Final Thoughts: Thinkific vs Teachable vs Podia vs MemberVault vs Kartra vs Kajabi

There are of course many other platforms out there that will allow you to host your online courses and build an educational empire, but as I have no experience with them, I’m not about to start giving you the ins and outs on them – that’s not how I roll.

All the platforms that I have covered here, I have had experience with and have found value in, which makes any of these platforms a good choice for you – but which one you go for should be based upon the needs of your business now, and how you think – or intend – for it to grow.

For me, I need to have my main website (this one) on WordPress because of the passive advertising income I earn. This makes an all-in-one solution like Kartra or Kajabi unnecessary for me. For you, they could be perfect, as you’ll have everything in the one place.

MemberVault is too fiddly for me here at The Creative Curator, but at $19 per month, but it’s a bargain for Michelle and I over at The Unconventional Business Hub.

Podia is another great option, but as a designer, I found it to basic for my design needs, and while Teachable is a very good platform to use, the Shopify integration that Thinkific offers made it the only option for me personally.

I hope this has been helpful when deciding which of the online course hosting platforms you should consider – let me know in the comments which one you’ll be going for!SaveSave

SaveSave

Share to Pinterest or Facebook below!

Mary Schiller

Monday 27th of August 2018

Hi! I also love Teachable and also use Gumroad for what I would call “simpler” offerings. I have a membership on Teachable that includes a FB group, but I don’t really like using FB like that any more. I’d thought about trying Podia for a membership because it does seem like the comments might be easier to see (I don’t like the way that works in Teachable, either).

I’ve also looked at all-in-one setups like Kartra, but I can’t find one that I like well enough.

So it sounds like many of us are cobbling things together, which is OK. I use Zapier to connect everything, which works really well.

In the end, I do not want to host my own e-commerce or membership site. I’ll stick with Teachable, Gumroad and maybe Podia (still deciding on that one). Curious to know what negative comments you’ve heard about Podia in case they help me decide what to do.

Thanks for this post.

Chris Davis

Wednesday 11th of April 2018

Thanks for the comments. I have experimented with both platforms, and then set-up my own...and I am moving back to one and have been debating which one.

Thank you for also explaining that Podia was mycoach. I wondered how I had not seen them until recently.

I too have thought about using Gumroad for downloads. In particular, I am interested in pay what you want models, and it is one of the few I can find that offers that.

Eve Tokens

Thursday 19th of July 2018

Hi Chris! Thanks for stopping by! I've recently been hearing some negative aspects of Podia - perhaps they're growing faster than they've allowed for? I'm actually transitioning parts of my content from Teachable and Gumroad to here, as a members area - I think it helps to keep my community close. I sometimes find that days can go by and I don't see the comments within the Teachable platform, whereas here, I'm always spotting what needs to be dealt with. That said, I'll never leave Teachable completely - I love them too much! :)