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How to Make Money Mystery Shopping

You may have come across individuals who enter stores pretending to be potential consumers to gather information about products or services quickly. You probably wondered what their interest was. These people are known as mystery shoppers. 

Mystery shopping is a compelling and fascinating idea used by companies to gauge the customer experience of their products or services based on specific predefined criteria that the company is trying to measure. The outcome is then used to improve service delivery.

Does the idea sound intriguing? If yes, let us discuss how you can make money mystery shopping. Keep reading.

make money mystery shopping

Evolution of Mystery Shopping

The idea of mystery shopping dates back to the 1940s; during this era, companies used the idea for integrity and security assessments. They’d hire people to visit stores and steal things! The idea was to check whether the company’s employees are well prepared to handle such situations.

However, with technological advancement, tools such as security cameras are now widely used facing the idea. With the state of the art technology, mystery shopping has also advanced and adapted customer service-oriented programs to perform market research.

How Mystery Shopping Works?

Every mystery shopping task is different. On average, the agent gives specific instructions for your understanding before venturing into it. Typically mystery shopping gigs include:

  •    Flexible guidelines on what to buy
  •   A  questionnaire to use in store
  •  The kind of photos to take
  •   A detailed checklist of things to keep an  eye on
  •  Timelines of submitting your written report

Generally, the written report on your findings can take up to two hours to complete. Ensure you spare some time after the shopping to get the paperwork done.

Uses of Mystery Shopping

  •   To Check Compliance Issues 

Here a company uses an underage teenager to try and buy alcohol or tickets for an adult movie recommended for 18 years of age or above. 

  •  To Evaluate Sales Skills

Restaurant owners or franchise companies use mystery shoppers to verify whether a waiter’s customer care service meets their standards.

  • To gain Competitor’s Information

Mystery shoppers are hired to get information on competitors’ merchandise, deals, promotions, and the overall feeling of the store.

How to Get Started as a Mystery Shopper

Getting started on mystery shopping doesn’t require any special skills or experience. You can hit the ground running with a smartphone and internet connectivity. To kickstart, search for dedicated company websites using job boards such as to get a lucrative mystery shopping side hustle.

Once you apply and get approved, jump into the company’s website, register, log in, and select the gigs of your choice. Each mystery shopping company provides all the instructions, and you’re required to follow the instructions keenly to complete the shopping and give feedback through the websites. 

Just like that, you’ve earned your money.

However, depending on the specific tasks, you might require reliable transportation, while liquor or alcohol gigs require being at least 21 years old.

Skills Needed For Mystery Shopping

Without a doubt, it feels good to be paid for simply shopping. Indeed, it’s an excellent side hustle idea whereby you spend your day working, do mystery shopping on your way home and make extra money.

Usually, a mystery shopper makes between $5 and $25 per task; on a good business day, you can make more than $25 for each job. That sounds incredible, doesn’t it?

Even though you don’t need special skills to get started, you can make a tidy sum and optimize your earnings if you posses the following skills;

  • Excellent writing skills– To help write appealing reports after every task.
  • Work experience- The more your work experience, the more money you make mystery shopping.
  • Good negotiation skills– Generally, many people seek the same opportunities as you; thus, your dedication, zeal, and resilience in grabbing every opportunity will determine your pay.
  • Your location– You stand a good chance of earning more money if you live in a place with many stores.

Types of Mystery Shopping

In-person Mystery Shopping

Arguably, in-person is the most popular mystery shopping method. Here you must visit a location with predetermined criteria to help estimate the customer service and business performance. The activity can take minutes to hours, depending on your goal. 

In-person mystery shopping is ideal for businesses where you pose as a potential customer without raising suspicion. In-person shoppers are used by service industries like retail shops, restaurants and hotels, petro-convenience, banking, fitness and wellness, and hospitals.

Phone Mystery Shopping

Phone mystery is typically an alternative to in-person shopping, where you secretly make a call to a business. It’s commonly used to assess call centers; however, any company can still use this method. 

A telephone mystery shopper can mimic anything from completing a remote purchase to merely calling for additional information. This type of shopping is suitable for call centers, travel agencies, information technology, and telecommunications.

Virtual Mystery Shopping

Also known as online mystery shops, virtual mystery shopping allows you to engage with a brand to assess a company’s online responsiveness.

Similarly, under this method, you can assess whether a company’s website is easy to navigate and how they interact with clients on social media platforms. This method is popular with realtors, e-commerce, telecommunication, and information technology companies.

Omnichannel Mystery Shopping

The idea behind the mystery shopping program is to mirror how your customers interact with brands. To accurately measure their client’s experience, many companies require different types of mystery shopping,

This means that a physical address, customer service desk, switchboard, and website, will need all three mystery shoppers. Omnichannel mystery shoppers use all three methods, from the virtual to the telephone to the physical experience.

Email Mystery Shopping 

Email mystery shopping applies to stores or websites with a solid online presence. The shopper sends emails, and you provide feedback based on the reply you get.

Postal Monitoring

Usually, you’re required to sign up to have catalogs or brochures sent to your home address, and then you can let your agent know how long they took to deliver and the status you received it.

Online Survey

The task entails filling out online surveys for specific products and completing product reviews.

Tips To Help You Do Many Mystery Shopping Gigs

The following valuable tips will help you handle many mystery shopping gigs.

  1. Combine Several Mystery Shopping Tasks

Several companies in the U.S. offer mystery shopping. You’ll find that some pay higher than others. If you’re lucky to get more than one task at any given time, you can combine the ones located in the same area to save on time and travel costs.

Alternatively, if you do mystery shopping from the comfort of your home, you’ll take very little time and still make money.

  1. Minimize your Spending

You can reduce expenses like transportation costs by completing multiple tasks simultaneously. For example, you can go to work in the morning and the evening, and take up your mystery shopping task, thereby saving transport costs.

Take less time on the road by avoiding mystery shopping tasks that require you to spend hours on the road. The less time you spend shopping, the more other jobs you can take up.

  1. Give Priority to The More Paying Assignments

As we mentioned, different companies pay differently, and if you’ve been doing mystery shopping by now, you know the pay could be high or low. When looking for mystery shopping jobs, you should focus on getting a lucrative deal.

  1. Move to a City With Many Shops

Usually, companies have a list of shops that they’d want to allocate for mystery shopping. If you live nearby, you can take up more than one assignment and complete the tasks on time. As a result, you’ll earn more within a short time.

Best Mystery Shopping Companies To Work For

Below are some of the best mystery shopping companies where you can find a gig; yes, they’re all free to join.

Market Force

Market force is a reputable firm that works with clients from many industries, like wellness, health, restaurant, gas stations, fitness, and movie studios. 

The company is popular with many shoppers due to its Eyes On App, which allows them to complete tasks on the go. Additionally, it has offices in various countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and the US and provides plenty of mystery shopping gigs.


It’s a research firm in customer experience, improvement, online reputation management, and loss mitigation and compliance. The firm has excellent coverage in 18K plus cities in the U.S, Canada, and an additional 180 countries.

Sinclair Customer Metrics 

The firm has been in the industry since 1987. Its primary focus is banking, grocery stores, retail shops, and restaurant and convenience store spaces. Apart from in-person jobs, the firm offers its customer’s video mystery shopping with a hidden camera. 

Elite CXS

You’ll love this firm because it places its shoppers in video or phone apps in various industries. The company prides itself as an award-winning firm with operations based in Hudson, Florida. In addition, this renowned firm has partnered with major brands like Porsche, Gold’s Gym, and T-Mobile.

Mystery Shopping Service

The firm has been around for close to two decades. Its primary focus is the real estate, assisted living, healthcare, and hospitality industries.

Mainly, mystery shoppers in this firm could be tasked with calling a business and reporting on the conversation or virtual touring an apartment pretending to be a potential client.

Challenges Faced By Mystery Shoppers

No doubt, mystery shopping is an enjoyable job. With the recent technological advancement of the industry, there has been a tremendous increase among marginalized workers seeking side hustles to provide supplemental income.

Unfortunately, shoppers are not only being scammed while seeking employment contracts with reputable companies but also face exploitation such as:

  •  Low pay  
  • Uncompensated travel expenses
  • Wage-theft
  • Lack of employment benefits.

How To Avoid Mystery Shopping Scams

Often, mystery shopper scams appear as automatic emails on job boards. Therefore you should watch out for those jobs you apply for and get hired immediately without an interview, as they always turn out to be scams. 

To avoid your mystery shopper job search ending up on the bottom shelf of bad life decisions, take the following steps before sealing a big deal.

How To Avoid Mystery Shopping Scams
  1. Do thorough research on the hiring company.

Before applying for a mystery shopper job, visit the company’s website and check for scams and reviews in the search terms. If the company is a cheat, you’ll get many negative reviews from mystery shopper job victims. Avoid such firms by all means.

In addition, always ensure that the company has legitimate contact information, for instance, a number you can call to speak with a natural person.

  1. Always check the mystery shopper database

Before you seal any deal with a mystery shopper provider, check if the company is listed by legitimate mystery shopper providers in the Mystery Shopping Providers Association database. 

Generally, scammers are pretty savvy and usually impersonate reputable companies, so watch out for warning signs that the mystery shopper’s job could be a scam.

  1.  Avoid companies that hire on the spot

Any legitimate businesses will want to do a background before they hire you. Run away from companies who reach out to you from nowhere with a lucrative job offer in their company; more often than not, it’s a scam.

  1. Watch out for pre-shopping money demands.

It’s pretty rare to find legitimate mystery shopper providers who send you money before you even get started, and neither will they ask you to return the money they’ve already paid.

Avoid any mystery shopper company asking you to send cash or prepaid gift cards. According to BBB reports, the moment you wire money or send the gift card information, it’s doubtful that you’ll get your money back.

How To Make Extra Money As A Mystery Shopper

Mystery shopping alone may not generate much income to support your living expenses. For this reason, it’s highly recommended as a side hustle activity. Nonetheless, you can bump up your mystery shopping earnings by considering the following activities;

  1. Offering related sales and marketing consultancy services

According to recent research, shoppers make extra money by offering related sales and marketing consultancy services to their clients. These services include reviewing customer brand perceptions and review of internal standard operating procedures.

Similar, if you are an expert in marketing, you can also provide operating advice as well as assist in developing marketing objectives and policies, new product development, pricing, and sales forecasting, 

  1. Assist in forecasting sales and marketing trends

Mystery shoppers can also make extra money by assisting businesses and organizations in monitoring and forecasting marketing and sales trends. Such information is helpful to management in making decisions.

  1. Assist in evaluating the effectiveness of marketing programs and strategies

Mystery shoppers also make money by assisting clients in evaluating the efficacy of marketing programs and strategies used over some time. 

Although most marketing and sales consulting firms offer this service as their core business, hiring a mystery shopper to do this aspect of the company for you will give you impartial results at a reasonable price.

  1. Innovative data collection method

Many businesses usually require unique ways of collecting data. Mystery shoppers are famous for devising and evaluating data collection methods like monkey surveys, questionnaires, and opinion polls for their clients.

  1. Collect data on consumers, competitors, and market conditions

Another way that mystery shoppers can make money is by assisting clients in collecting data on consumers, competitors, and present market conditions. 

Clients use such data to make informed marketing and sales strategy decisions and the area to channel their resources on a priority basis.

  1. Assist in analyzing marketing data using statistical software

Interestingly, most mystery shopping companies develop statistical software tailored to clients’ needs. Since mystery shoppers interact a lot with such software, it becomes easy for them to offer the clients the services of analyzing marketing data using the software.

  1. Convert complex data to comprehensible tables and graphs

Gathering information is one thing, and practical interpretation of the collected data is another. As a result, mystery shoppers can use this service to help clients convert complex data into tables and graphs, earning more money. 

Factors To Consider While Choosing A Mystery Shoppers Gig

You need to keep these things in mind when choosing a mystery shoppers gig.

1. The size of the mystery shopping firm

The size of the mystery firm matters. Indeed you cannot compare a startup mystery shopping with an established mystery shopping firm. 

The latter can offer vital services and operate from a modern office facility, while the former may not afford such services. Likewise, the pay from a well-established firm is higher form a startup firm

2. The location covered the mystery shopping firm

You’ll struggle to make good money if you work for a firm whose shops are located in areas where mom-and-pop businesses are prevalent. 

On the other hand, If the mystery shopping firm is close to a high-to-do area or an area with many companies, chances are you’ll make good returns from the business.

3. The complimentary services provided by the mystery shopping firm

Notably, the type of complimentary services offered by the firm is a significant factor in determining how much mystery shoppers expect to earn from the firm. You’ll agree that a mystery shopping firm working with industrial players in the US makes good returns compared to one that only works with local businesses.

How Much Can You Earn With Mystery Shopping?

How much you earn with mystery shopping depends on the type of company you’re collaborating with, the number of gigs, and the frequency of shopping. 

To keep things simple, we share with you several mystery shopping apps to help estimate the amount you can earn per hour/day/week/month.

Mystery Shopping Apps 

The majority of smartphone apps are meant to entertain you. However, not all apps are designed for entertainment, and we have several apps that can help you earn more money during your free time. Here is a detailed list of the best mystery shopping apps:

Field Agent

Earn at least $100 per day

Filed agent is a smartphone app that lets mystery shoppers drive trails, generate reviews, and audit stores for available gigs without the struggle of going through a marketing research agency.

Some of the mystery shopping jobs include:

  • Buy and try 
  • Ticket jobs 
  • Walmart customer care jobs 
  • Anywhere survey 
  • Scavenger hunt 

It is one of the market’s most preferred mystery shopping apps since it is user-friendly.

Using this app can earn anywhere from $3 – $8 each time you complete a task. Each task takes approximately 10 minutes to complete, which means you can make up to $20 an hour on a good day.

Easy Shift

Earn up to $10 per shift

As the name suggests, Easy shift app allows you to connect to work shifts in stores near you. New Shifts are added daily! In addition, Easyshift rewards you with cash, unlike many apps. All you need is to open the app, check available shift gigs in your area, and reserve your shift period.

Another thing is this app allows you to earn points as you complete more tasks and move up the ranks. Shoppers who rank high can reserve more shifts at once; eventually, you can complete multiple shifts in a single day. Usually, beginners start at a level known as a rookie, which lets you reserve one shift at a time.

If you’re lucky to get to 10th rank or general manager, you can reserve up to 10 shifts at a time! In return, this translates to at least $100 per day.


Earn 1250 kicks or $5

Shopkick app lets you earn gift cards without purchasing anything, and when you make a purchase, you’ll earn extra 100 kicks upon submission of your receipt through the app. Also, if you link your Visa or Mastercards to the app, you’ll receive 200 kicks, and with future online purchases, you continue earning kicks. 

What makes this app unique is the flexibility to redeem gift cards at renowned retailers like Amazon, Starbucks, Target, and Walmart. For every 250 kicks, you get $1, so a single transaction can earn you hundreds of kicks

You can also make money through

  • Video walkthrough
  •  Bonus through referrals


Earn $70-$100 per week

Gigwalkapp has the most accessible mobile interface that allows you to apply for jobs at least 24 hours in advance. You’ll get a notification immediately after you’re selected. If you’re quick in completing a gig, then you increase your chance for approval.

Its amazing quick turnaround time keeps this app ahead of its competitors. Moreover, the Gigwalk app is linked to PayPal, and as soon as a job is finished and approved, you’ll get your money straight to your account at fees.

You can expect to earn from $3 – $20 per gig, and the advantage is that you can view the amount per gig in advance and make an informed decision.

Mobile App

Earn up to 750 points or $7.5

Mobile app is a mystery shopping app that allows you to get points for shopping. These points are redeemable as gift cards once you attain the payment threshold.

Sadly, you cannot redeem your points in cash. But the good thing is that you redeem the points for gift cards from popular brands like Starbucks, eBay, Sports Authority, and Staples at any time without restrictions as long as you meet the threshold. Other ways of earning points:

  • Inviting friends
  • Anywhere missions
  • Playing games and watching videos


iSecretShop is the only fully integrated mobile mystery shopping solution in the market. It allows shoppers to schedule the assignment from field to completion site using pictures, geo-tags, and date and time stamps.

Without a doubt, there’s no other system offering end-to-end project fulfillment like iSecretShop. Above all, you save time! For on-location shop gigs, you can earn between 15 – $54 and $5 for every web and phone shop.


Earn between 0.5% to 15% cash back 

Rakuten is a cashback secret shopper app that lets you effortlessly earn money back on any online purchase. The app is free and user-friendly; what’s more, you can get money from referring your friends. 

Lastly, the app has partnered with popular retailers, thereby increasing your chances of getting cash back with them. Also, you can earn money back on cash purchases.

Procedure For Downloading A Shopping App

  • Open your Apps store or Google play
  • Tap on the search button bar
  • Enter the title of the app
  • Search
  • Select the appropriate apps icon
  • When prompted, enter your touch ID
  • Wait for the app to download
  • Install and open the app.

Advantages Of Shopping Apps

  • They offer you good deals and prices
  • Many shopping apps have online tracking facilities where customers can keep track of their orders
  • Offers 100% convenience
  • Product availability

Disadvantages Of Shopping Apps

  • Presence of scammers
  • Delayed shipping and deliveries

Mystery shopping Dos

You can make the most of your mystery shopping activities by following the tips below;

1.      Work frequently 

Although mystery shopping is a side hustle, the secret to getting the best-paying gigs is working regularly and being flexible. Consistent work earns you a good image and reputation.

2.      Memory practice 

Since you may be able to have a notepad on the job, a good memory is a must so that you can remember all details for your report writing later. 

3.      Keep the tax man happy 

Although earnings from mystery shopping are unlikely to reach the taxable threshold, it counts as self-employment. If your payments might exceed the personal allowance threshold, ensure you declare it to avoid accruing debt.

4.      Sign up for various companies

There’re many available mystery shopper sites; however, work is not a guarantee; therefore, to increase your chances of getting work be sure to sign up to multiple agencies simultaneously

5.      Keep receipts 

 Whatever you purchase is also part of mystery shopping; always keep your receipts safe just in case a company asks to see them.

how to make money mystery shopping

Mystery shopping Don’ts

Avoiding the following will ensure you stay on top of your mystery shopping side hustle.

1.      Avoid being late 

Usually, you should give your report within a specific time frame. If you give your report late, you might lose your further jobs.

2.      Never pay to register 

Generally, reputable mystery shopping agencies will never ask you to pay to join. All they ask for is your bank details to pay you for work. 


Mystery shopping side hustle will not only help you earn extra income but enable you to develop new skills and build your brand. So, have fun shopping, and explore different shopping apps and companies through which you could get jobs quickly.

Most importantly, remember that a side hustle doesn’t necessarily mean you have to quit your main job. Simply focus on why you signed up for mystery shopping!

Other ways to Make Money you might find interesting:

Originally posted 2022-09-04 17:38:00.

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