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Thankfully, mystery shopper jobs aren’t exactly like that. Yes, you will need to be undercover, but you just need to act as a normal customer would.
To thank you for doing this, the companies will pay you a fee and you may be able to get their products for free as well.
I have personally been mystery shopping for years now, and have received free food and clothing besides being paid for my time.
You can become a mystery shopper too, once you check out these great companies!
Let’s take a look at this awesome side hustle idea and get you set up to make extra money with the best mystery shopping companies out there.
What is a Mystery Shopper?
A mystery shopper is someone who is paid by a company to undertake certain tasks that they set out for them to do.
It could be testing out their website, shopping in-store, or ordering a meal at a location.
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.
You don’t want to be obvious about doing this as the staff may act differently if they know that this is happening.
So what do you do? You hire a mystery shopper!
A mystery shopper acts like a regular customer and carries out the tasks that they are asked to do.
This will vary from job to job depending on the company in question and what they want to check.
If you become a mystery shopper then you will have to do a variety of tasks but you will be told what to do ahead of time.
How Much Do Mystery Shoppers Make?
On average, mystery shoppers make $41,611 per year according to Zip Recruiter.
That comes down to about $20 per hour, but $40K is for those who do mystery shopping 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!
How to Avoid Getting Scammed
Whilst mystery shopping is legit and there are legitimate mystery shopping companies out there, there are also a lot of mystery shopping scams out there, unfortunately.
You need to check websites thoroughly and check postings for mystery shopper jobs to make sure they are real companies.
If you are contacted by a mystery shopper company or you do a Google search and sign up to whatever pops up, this is where you may get caught by a scam company.
The best thing to do to avoid signing up with scam companies is to sign up for the mystery shopper sites based on recommendations.
We will recommend some of the best mystery shopping companies in this article, and you can be confident in knowing that you will not be scammed.
A common mystery shop scam is to ask you to deposit a check – but it will be a fake. You won’t ever have to pay for signing 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 be using emails from AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, etc.
5 Legitimate Sites to Find Mystery Shopper Jobs
As mentioned, you will want to sign up for the best mystery shopper companies to make sure that you are with a legit company.
There are a lot of good mystery shopping companies out there, but it’s also worth looking at which ones are the best paying.
Also think, what do you want to get out of it?
Mystery shopping can be fun, but many people worry they won’t be well compensated for their time.
You’ll be told how much money you’ll make mystery shopping, plus oftentimes you get freebies on your trips.
Getting free food as well as being paid is kind of nice, even if you wish the pay rate was a little higher.
1. Market Force
This is one of my favorite mystery shopping companies for mystery shopping jobs- I’ve gotten a lot of free food through this company!
The companies that are usually on Market Force include restaurants, cafes, banks, and other stores, e.g. clothing.
Mystery shoppers tend to get more freebies from these mystery shopping jobs rather than a high pay rate, but I never complain about free food.
They tend to offer a small pay rate to mystery shoppers, and also a full or partial reimbursement on anything that you need to buy as part of the task.
Market Force will usually ask you to enter the store and ask as a normal customer would, so if you are in a coffee shop then they will ask you something like buying a coffee and a cookie.
To sign up for mystery shopping you need to:
BestMark is one of the biggest mystery shopping companies, so you can be sure that you will get some jobs from them!
The fees you earn will depend on the job that you do, but they have assignments at hotels, restaurants, resorts 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, you will have to look out for an email in your inbox which you have to click on to finish your application
Wait to see if they approve your application
Intellishop has a large variety of clients in different industries for mystery shopping.
That includes Fitness, Food Service, Home Goods, Insurance, Real Estate, Shopping Malls, Sports Teams & Venues, Transportation companies, and more.
There are 3 main mystery shopper experiences that they do – on location, on their website, or on the phone.
You will be paid for mystery shopping approximately 30 days after the last day of the month in which the shops were completed. They normally pay on the 20th day of the month.
The pay is via Paypal, and it’s worth noting that payment will not come through individually for each shop, but all lumped in together.
You will 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
Add in your personal information
Complete the demographic questionnaire (this is how you are 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
This is a legit mystery shopper company – they have been running since 1990 and are a charter member of the Mystery Shopping Provider’s Association, the professional trade association for the Mystery Shopping industry.
The payment for each job will vary but the normal range of payments is $15 – $25. For some shops such as restaurant visits, the payment may just be the reimbursement of your meal.
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 do not need to have had any previous experience.
All that they ask is that you are reliable, detail-oriented, and have ‘exceptional written communication skills.’
To sign up you will need to:
Visit the Secret Shopper Sign Up page
You will need to select your country and then click on the button ‘Sign Up to Shop’
Agree to their T&C’s
Complete the basic certification test
Fill in your personal information
5. Sinclair Customer Metrics
The industries that Sinclair Customer Metrics serves include Banking, Convenience Stores, Groceries, Restaurants, and Retail.
They offer mystery shopping, video mystery shopping, and telephone mystery shopping. The telephone ones are good if you want to work from home.
To sign up you will 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
What To Expect as a Secret Shopper
The mystery shopping companies you sign up for will give you all the details you need for the job.
As a mystery shopper, you will generally have access to a job board where you can select the assignments that you wish to do.
Before you sign up for a job, it will tell you what is expected and the price- so make sure you read the job description before applying!
Every assignment will be different, but as an example, let’s look at a restaurant’s mystery shopping job posting:
You could be asked to order a meal as you usually would, meaning you order the food you like, but with maybe some changes or add-ons.
The company may have you ask certain questions to the waiter e.g. what would they recommend, do they have any gluten-free meals, etc.
This way, the company can find out if there are certain training programs that need work or if the food isn’t coming out as expected.
But remember, you’re actually mystery shopping, so there are expectations on how you act and order/shop.
You will be expected to act like a normal customer so that you don’t rouse any suspicions that you are a mystery shopper.
The mystery shopping companies will outline things like this, plus any other additional questions or tasks they need checked.
You may be asked additional things such as checking out the toilet facility, if they have any particular signs up, etc.
You will need to complete a report after you have completed whatever tasks were part of the job. Most companies want you to do this within 24 hours of completing the task, so make sure you’re on top of this!
I’ve seen people complain before about having to spend a ton of time on reports, but the companies that we’ve mentioned don’t have anything like that.
The report will need to cover everything that you did and noticed on the assignment, but if you are a quick typist then this shouldn’t take you very long at all.
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.
Related Opportunities to Make Money
If you’re looking for ways to earn extra money besides mystery shopping, there are some other ways that you can do this to make money on the side.
Here are our top places to get quick jobs:
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.
From work-at-home side hustles like proofreading and transcription to full-time careers, you can find hundreds of job postings on Steady.
You can sign up for free, and use great features like Income Trackers and Income Boosters to make sure you know your worth!
Postmates Food Deliveries
Making food deliveries can be a very lucrative way to make money with your car.
You can sign up to be a Postmates courier and get paid to deliver groceries and take out.
You can make up to $20+ per hour and can 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!
Instacart Grocery Shopping
Rather than mystery shopping, you could just do some regular shopping for someone.
You could simply help someone by grabbing their groceries from the store.
Signing up to work for Instacart entails being paid to deliver groceries or doing a grocery shop in-store for a customer.
The average pay is around $7 – $14 per hour, and you can get tips on top of this as well.
TaskRabbit Odd Jobs
This is a good way to make some extra cash if you are handy and happy to do a variety of different jobs.
You’d basically be able to use whatever skills you have for errands and other tasks, almost like working odd jobs here and there.
TaskRabbit is a site on which people ask for help with specific tasks. These could be tasks such as putting up furniture or running errands.
The possibilities are endless!
Easy Ways To Make Money
When you’re looking for ways to make some extra cash, we’ve got you covered!
There are so many ways that you can earn a few bucks here and there, without getting a job and working more.
Our top picks include the best survey sites plus great cash back apps, both of which you don’t have to work hard to make a little money.
Here are our favorite ways to make easy cash:
Swagbucks is primarily known as a survey site but they offer a lot of other options to make money there as well.
You can make money with Swagbucks by answering surveys, watching videos, 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!
InboxDollars is another one of the best survey sites that we use almost daily.
Like Swagbucks, you can play games, answer questionnaires, and watch videos for some extra change.
The app is easy to use, and you have plenty of options to make money on your phone pretty quickly.
Capital One Shopping
If you enjoy shopping and have thought about making money from mystery shopping, you need to know about cash back!
There are programs that try to save you money through cash back and coupon offers, and we love using Capital One Shopping to help us lower our shopping trips.
When you’re buying stuff online, they search for promos and coupons that could help you save money, plus they have a Rewards programs you can use towards great gift cards.
Ibotta is a really easy way to make money from something that you’d be doing anyway.
Who doesn’t like free money?
You get cash back on the things that you have purchased. You just need to select the items that you’re going to buy, buy them, and then upload the receipt.
Rakuten is another company where you can get cash back on your purchases and save money on something that you were going to buy.
All that you need to do is click through from Rakuten to the site that you are buying from. This link is a tracking link where they will be able to see your purchase to give you the cashback.
Final Thoughts on Mystery Shopping Jobs
If you’ve been on the fence about whether to try some mystery shopper jobs or not, we hope that this has given you some food for thought.
You can make $20 per hour with this kind of job, and do some interesting things as well.
Being a mystery shopper does open the door to many new experiences, which you may as well get paid for, right?
Remember to only apply for secret shopping gigs from a list of reputable companies and watch out for scammers who only claim to pay for mystery shopping.
Mystery shopping is a great way to make some extra money and it’s fun too!
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