Make Money as A Mystery Shopper

Being a mystery shopper is a great side hustle to make extra money. Sometimes having a job with a set schedule or business takes up too much time. Think out of the box what you are used to doing for income. If you’re looking for an unconventional work from home job, then mystery shopping might be for you.

Need a flexible way to earn extra money? Learn how you can make money as a mystery shopper using your love of shopping and good observation skills.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you click and purchase through these, we receive a small commission.

Updated Post: This post was originally published on Sept. 22, 2016, but has been updated to accuracy and comprehensiveness.

How You Make Money as A Mystery Shopper

The concept of mystery shopping or secret shopping is simple. You get assignments to visit a business and make a purchase. Afterward, you fill out a form to evaluate the customer service, quality of your purchase and other things about your experience.

Secret shopping  gives a company feedback about their service by ordinary people. Companies hire mystery shopping for a wide variety of reasons. Some investigate the quality of their employees. And others want to find out how their locations do with stocking items.

There are many different reasons that a company looks for mystery shoppers. Generally, they are looking for shoppers who provide good feedback based on facts they observed during their shopping experience.

Who Hires Mystery Shoppers?

Instead of companies hiring mystery shoppers themselves, they use a mystery shopping company to do handle hiring.  As a mystery shopper, you visit different stores and businesses in your area. These opportunities may be to make a purchase in a store or visit a coffee shop to observe the service.

The more you do successfully the better the gigs can get like hotel stays and dining at restaurants. Generally, there are more opportunities near larger cities.

How much money can you make?

This can vary greatly. It depends on how much time you spend mystery shopping, how many gigs you get, and what the company offers to pay. According to one experienced mystery shopper, she managed to make $14,000 in a year. Not bad for a side hustle!

Sometimes you are paid a fee in addition to reimbursement for your purchase. Other times, you only are paid the reimbursement. Restaurants are an examples of this. They often will pay you back for your meal without any additional payment. Still there is value in that since you’d have to eat anyway, right? 🙂 When paid a fee, it’s usually $5 to $25.

How You Get Paid

As a secret shopper, you get to try products and services for free. Plus, you will also get paid. You can get paid in several different ways depending on the mystery shopping company. You can get paid at flat fee for completing the job. Sometimes you are just paid with the free product or service.

It’s true, the jobs that are paid a flat fee are more desirable, especially when your goal is to make money as mystery shopper not just shop! But when you are first starting out, you may need to take some of the other type of job just for experience.

Generally, mystery shopping companies pay by check on a monthly or biweekly basis. Payment for a shopping assignment is made when you complete the necessary paperwork on your shopping experience. Although, some companies require you to mail in your reviews,  paperwork is often be filed electronically.

Remember in order be successful and make make money as a mystery shopper, you need to follow instructions and deadlines for each shopping gig. Payment can take 30 to 60 days to arrive.

How to Get Started

To get started with mystery shopping, you’ll need to find a mystery shopping company to work for. Because some companies that offer mystery shoppers assignments are frauds, you want to look for reliable ones. Look for ones that do not charge a fee to join. Upfront fees are a red flag the company may not be legit.

When doing assignments, be prepared to pay for the services or products that you purchase. Although this may sound like a bad deal, the mystery shopping company reimburses you for your purchase. This is a precaution by the company to avoid mystery shoppers taking free goods and not fulfilling their commitment to provide accurate feedback.

Although, it’s not required, you can become a certified mystery shopper through the MSPA-NA. It looks good to companies you are trained and ready to make money a mystery shopper. It shows commitment that you appear more professional and serious about your job with them. Even though, there is a cost to being a member of the MSPA-NA, it is known and reliable resources for both companies and mystery shoppers.

Here are some mystery shopping websites to get you started:

  1. A&A Merchandising

  2. About Face

  3. A Closer Look

  4. A Customer’s Point of View

  5. Alta360 Research

  6. Amusement Advantage

  7. Ann Michaels & Assoc

  8. Anonymous Insights

  9. Apartment Shoppe

  10. Ardent Services Inc.

  11. At Random Communications

  12. At Your Service Marketing

  13. Ath Power Consulting Corporation

  14. BestMark

  15. BMA Mystery Shopping

  16. Business Evaluation Services

  17. Capstone Research

  18. Certified Reports

  19. Cirrus Marketing Consultants

  20. Confero Inc.

  21. Consumer Critique

  22. Consumer Impressions

  23. Consumer Research Group

  24. Coyle Hospitality Group

  25. Cross Financial Group

  26. Customer Perspectives

  27. David Sparks & Associates

  28. Devon Hill Associates

  29. DSG Associates

  30. Ellis Property Management Services

  31. GBW

  32. GFK Mystery Shopping

  33. ICC/Decision Services

  34. Instant Reply Inc

  35. IntelliShop

  36. IntouchInsight

  37. Jancyn

  38. Kern Scheduling Services

  39. Kinesis

  40. LeBlanc & Associates

  41. Marketforce

  42. Mars Research

  43. Merchandise Concepts

  44. Mystery Shoppers

  45. Mystery Shopping Solutions

  46. Northwest Mystery Shopping Service

  47. Pacific Research Group

  48. Pat Henry Group

  49. Patron Edge

  50. Person To Person Quality

  51. Premier Service Consulting

  52. QSI Specialists

  53. The Quest for Best Mystery Shoppers

  54. Reality Check Mystery Shoppers

  55. Second to None

  56. Secret Shopper

  57. See Level


  59. Service Evaluation Concepts

  60. Service Impressions

  61. Service Intelligence

  62. ServiceSense

  63. The Shadow Agency

  64. Shoppers Critique

  65. Shoppers’ View

  66. Sinclair Customer Metrics

  67. Spies in Disguise

  68. Trendsource

  69. Volition – Has a long list of mystery shops plus a job board.

Telephone Mystery Shopping

  1. ARC 

  2. Call Center QA 

  3. Intelicheck 

  4. TeleXpertise 

  5. Perception Strategies 

  6. Yardi Matrix 

Mystery Shopping Apps

Although, these apps don’t use the term mystery shopping, they pretty much do the same thing. You get paid to complete tasks in your local area: visit stores, shop, and give feedback.

  1. EasyShift
  2. FieldAgent
  3. GigWalk
  4. iSecretShop
  5. Mobee
  6. Rewardable

Watching Out for Scams

As with any work at home job, be cautious to avoid getting ripped off by a scam. Generally with mystery shopping companies, they don’t ask for any money from you. It’s a red flag if one does. Check to see if the company is a member of the MSPA. They regulate mystery shopping companies.

The FTC has more helpful information about what to watch out for: Mystery Shopper Scams

In closing, as with any side hustle, job, or business, you get what you put into it. The hard you work to find good gigs and do well as a mystery shopper, the more potential there is to earn.

Looking for other side hustles? Check this out: 5 Ways to Make Money Quickly from Home


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  1. I’ve often wondered if Mystery Shopping companies were legit. I will have to look into it since my city is a large popular one. Thanks for this informative post.

    • Yes, it’s great to see there are a lot of legit companies. After doing some research into them. Lots of people do this type of work for extra income. The larger cities usually have more gigs to choose from. Some gals even plan trips to larger cities and do several gigs in one day, sometimes even getting a hotel gig that helps pay for lodging.

  2. I’ve never tried mystery shopping before. I thought it sounds like fun though.

  3. I’m not much of a shopper, but your article makes it sound so easy. I’ll have to keep it in mind.

  4. When I worked in Fast food, you could always tell who the secret shoppers were. They were not to sneaky. I always wondered how they got into it!

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