Thankfully, mystery shopper jobs aren’t exactly like that. Yes, you’ll need to be undercover, but you just need to act as a normal customer would.
To thank you for giving them feedback on your customer experience, companies pay you a fee, and you may be able to get products for free as well!
I have personally provided mystery shopping services for years now and started this as an easy college side hustle, and I’ve received free food and clothing besides being paid for telling them about my customer experience.
Becoming a mystery shopper is easy for anyone who wants to make money on the side.
Let’s take a look at this awesome side hustle idea and get you set up to make extra money with the best legitimate mystery shopping companies out there.
What is a Mystery Shopper?
Let’s pretend that you own a company. You can’t be there all the time, but you want to know how it’s being run without you there.
So what do you do? You hire a mystery shopper to go do some mystery shopping services and scope things out for you!
Mystery shoppers paid by a company to undertake certain tasks that they set out for them to do.
A mystery shopper goes through a set of tasks to help businesses get customer experience research.
This varies from job to job, depending on the mystery shopping company and what they want checked.
If you become a mystery shopper, then you’ll have to do various tasks, but you’ll be told what to do ahead of time.
5 Legitimate Sites To Find Mystery Shopper Jobs
Mystery shopping can be fun, but many people worry they won’t be well compensated for their time.
There are a lot of good mystery shopping companies out there, but it’s also worth looking at which ones are the best paying.
Here are companies that pay you for your customer experience research and compensate your shopping time:
1. Market Force Information
Better Business Burea Rating: A+
Market Force Information is one of my favorite mystery shopping companies for mystery shopping jobs- I’ve gotten a lot of free meals through this company!
Mystery shoppers tend to get more freebies from Market Force jobs rather than a high pay rate, but I never complain about free food.
They’re actually my favorite pick, and they’re accredited by the Better Business Bureau, so you can feel safe signing up.
The companies on Market Force Information usually include restaurants, cafes, banks, and other stores, e.g. clothing.
They tend to offer a small pay rate to mystery shoppers and a full or partial reimbursement on anything you need to buy as part of the mystery shopping assignment.
To sign up, you need to:
- Create an account to be a Market Force shopper
- Answer some questions
- Sign the Terms of the Agreement, and you’re done!
- Then you can peruse Market Force for mystery shopping assignments
BestMark is one of the biggest mystery shopping companies, so you can be sure that you’ll get some jobs from them!
Your pay depends on the jobs you accept, but they have assignments at hotels, restaurants, resorts, call centers/customer service departments, and more. Bestmark refers to mystery shoppers as ‘field representatives.’
To sign up, you need to:
- Go to their ‘Become a Shopper’ page
- Click on the button that says ‘Sign Up Now’
- Enter your information
- After this, check your inbox for an email to finish your application
- Wait to see if they approve your application
Intellishop has been around for over 20 years and is accredited through the Better Business Bureau.
They offer a large variety of clients in different industries for mystery shopping.
That includes fitness, food service, home goods, call centers/customer service departments, real estate, retail stores, transportation companies, and more.
There are 3 main mystery shopper experiences that they do – on location, on their website, or on the phone.
The pay is via Paypal, and it’s worth noting that payment won’t come through individually for each shop, but all lumped in together.
You get preference for jobs if you have worked for Intellishop before, have a high shopper rating, do not have any flake or cancel citations, have hero citations, have a Gold or Silver certification, or have registered as IC Pro.
To sign up, you need to:
- On the Mystery Shopping Services page, click on the top header that says ‘Shoppers’ and then the drop-down line which says ‘Become a Shopper’
- Enter your email address and then click on the ‘Go’ button
- Complete the demographic questionnaire (this is how you’re selected for certain jobs)
- Enter your tax information
- You’ll just then need to agree to the terms, and you can get started!
4. Secret Shopper
Secret Shopper is a legit mystery shopper company – they have been hiring mystery shoppers since 1990, and I’ve enjoyed each mystery shopping assignment from them so far!
They’re a charter member of the Mystery Shopping Provider’s Association, the professional trade association for the Mystery Shopping industry.
The payment for each job varies, but the normal range of payments is $15 – $25 per hour. For some shops, such as restaurant visits, the payment may just be your meal reimbursement.
They ask that you have access to a computer and either a digital scanner or printer for submitting the proof of the shop, e.g., a receipt and your report.
You must be over 18 years old to sign up for secret shopper jobs, but you don’t need to have any previous experience.
They ask that you’re reliable, detail-oriented, and have good written communication skills.
To sign up, you need to:
- Visit the Secret Shopper Sign Up page
- Select your country and then click on the button ‘Sign Up to Shop’
- Agree to their T&C’s
- Complete the basic certification test for mystery shoppers
- Fill in your personal information
5. Sinclair Customer Metrics
The industries that Sinclair Customer Metrics serves include banking, convenience stores, grocery stores, restaurants, and retail stores.
They offer in-store mystery shopping, video mystery shopping, and telephone mystery shopping.
The telephone ones are good if you want to work from home and get paid, but I found most of the in-person Sinclair Customer Metrics jobs to be easy.
To sign up with Sinclair Customer Metrics, you need to:
- Visit the New Mystery Shopper Sign-Up page
- Enter your name, email, and reference code if you have one
- Review the Information for Mystery Shoppers Document
- Read and agree to the Independent Contractor Agreement
- Fill out the Secure Online Application
- Take the Sinclair New Shopper Challenge
- Take the New Shopper Survey
How Much Do Mystery Shoppers Make?
Mystery shopping is a creative way to make money without doing much other than shopping and perusing retail stores as you normally do.
And being secret shoppers pays pretty well!
On average, mystery shoppers make $41,611 per year, according to Zip Recruiter.
That comes down to an average pay of about $20 per hour, but $40K is for those who are mystery shoppers full-time.
Many pick up these jobs as part-time work, so the median salary winds up being closer to $20,000 per year.
But the more hours you put into this, the more you earn from it- just like any other job, but with more shopping fun to be had!
What To Expect as a Secret Shopper
The mystery shopping companies you sign up for give you all the tasks you’ll do and ask you to tell them about your customer experience doing those tasks.
So make sure you read the job description before applying or accepting the mystery shopping assignment!
Every assignment is different for mystery shoppers, but it comes down to doing simple tasks, talking to staff, and looking for signs. Then you write a report about your experience.
As an example, let’s look at a restaurant’s mystery shopping job posting:
The company hiring you may want you to ask the waiter certain questions, e.g. what would they recommend, do they have any gluten-free meals, etc.
This way, the company can find out if certain training programs need work or if the food isn’t coming out as expected.
You may be asked additional things such as checking out the toilet facility, if they have any particular signs up, etc.
To get paid for mystery shopping, you’ll need to complete a customer experience report after you have completed whatever tasks were part of the job.
Most companies want mystery shoppers to report within 24 hours of completing mystery shopping services, so make sure you’re on top of this!
I’ve seen mystery shoppers complain about spending a ton of time on reports, but these companies haven’t assigned me too much for reports.
The report covers everything you did and noticed on the assignment, but if you’re a quick typist, this shouldn’t take you very long.
It also helps to do this straight after you do the mystery shopping; that way, it’s all fresh in your mind and you can get it out of the way quickly.
How to Avoid Getting Scammed
While mystery shoppers are legit, and there are legitimate mystery shopping companies out there, there are also many mystery shopping scams, unfortunately.
You must check websites thoroughly and check postings for mystery shoppers to ensure they’re real companies.
If a mystery shopper company contacts you, or you do a Google search and sign up for whatever pops up, this is where you may get caught by a scam company.
A common mystery shop scam is to ask you to deposit a check – but it’ll be a fake. You won’t ever have to pay to sign up for a company either, so beware of any that ask you to do this.
Be wary of any emails you receive claiming to be a mystery shopper company, using poor or broken English.
Also, be sure to check the email provider where the emails are coming from. A legitimate company wouldn’t use AOL, Yahoo, or Gmail emails.
The best way to avoid signing up with scam companies is to sign up for mystery shopper sites based on recommendations.
We recommend some of the best mystery shopping companies in this article, including Market Force, Intellishop, and Sinclair Customer Metrics.
You can be confident knowing that you won’t be scammed by them.
Related Opportunities To Make Money
Mystery shopping is an easy win-win for earning money. It doesn’t take much time, and you can get some great freebies for your time.
But not everyone wants to become mystery shoppers, especially when they could be working from home every day instead.
If you’re looking for ways to earn extra money online rather than being a mystery shopper, here are our top places to get quick money:
Steady Freelancing (And More!)
Everyone has their own skill set, and Steady is the best way for you to find jobs that fit your unique background.
You can sign up for free, using great features like Income Trackers and Income Boosters to ensure you know your worth!
Postmates Food Deliveries
Making food deliveries can be a very lucrative way to make money delivering food with your car.
You can sign up to be a Postmates courier and get paid to deliver food from grocery stores or drop off someone’s take-out food.
You can make up to $20+ per hour and set your own schedule so you can work as often or little as you’d like.
There’s no start-up fee – you can download the app, apply for Postmates, and get started earning more money!
Swagbucks is primarily known as a survey site but offers many other options to make money there as well.
You can make money with Swagbucks by answering surveys, getting cashback, playing games, and so on.
In an hour, we’ve made a few bucks, which isn’t a lot, but we firmly believe that every dollar counts.
You may as well get paid if you’re going to scroll around on your phone and play games anyway!
If you’ve been on the fence about whether to try mystery shopping, we hope this has given you some food for thought.
You can make $20 per hour shopping and providing details on your customer experience, and do some interesting things for easy money.
Being a mystery shopper does open the door to many new experiences, which you may as well get paid for, right?
As mentioned, you’ll want to sign up for the best mystery shopper companies to make sure that you’re with a legit company.
Remember to only apply for secret shopping gigs from a list of reputable companies and watch out for scammers who only claim to pay as mystery shoppers.
Mystery shopping is a great way to make some extra money, and it’s a fun job that pays well, so you should give it a shot.