Curious as to what mystery shopping jobs are and whether they’re legit? Yeah, us too. We have the scoop on how you can jump in and get paid to shop! First, let’s be honest, shopping as a hobby usually doesn’t get the most positive response — we’ve all been there, done that. While shopping and discovering new places and products can be fun, the idea of making tons of purchases all the time sounds expensive. But what if someone paid you to shop and visit different stores?
Opportunities that pay you to shop and check out new places actually exist. It’s called mystery shopping, an easy way to earn extra money without much effort. Below we explain how mystery shopping works, how much you can expect to make, and highlight some of the best mystery shopping jobs and opportunities.
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What Is a Mystery Shopper and How Do Jobs Work?
A mystery shopper, or secret shopper, is someone who gets paid to visit a store or business and either make a purchase or interact with employees. So yes, you can get paid to shop or buy things, but mystery shopping involves a little more work.
One responsibility of a mystery shopper is gathering data on a particular business during their shopping experience. This means you’ll likely need to make a purchase and maybe perform other tasks such as:
- Calling the store in advance to see how employees answer the phone
- Asking an employee a specific question to test their level of customer service
- Taking notes on the physical appearance of the store as well as the restroom facilities
As a mystery shopper, you work “undercover” so no one knows a research company has hired you to observe and record your experience. Most stores know that mystery shoppers show up from time to time. However, they never know when, so it keeps them on their toes, since they’re consistently expected to deliver excellent service.
How Mystery Shopping Jobs Work
Mystery shopping jobs allow you to travel to different businesses and stores in your area to record your experience. This could include anything from a clothing store or a pizza shop to an auto repair facility or a fitness center.
Companies that offer mystery shopping jobs partner with retailers and other brands that need their stores reviewed periodically by shoppers. You can join multiple mystery shopping sites to receive alerts when a job is available near you.
Shoppers often get paid a flat fee for completing the job and following all the directions. If the job requires you to make a purchase during your experience, the company that hired you will reimburse you or work the purchase amount into your compensation.
After a mystery shopping job is complete, you may need to submit an official report or form answering questions about your experience along with feedback.
How Much Can You Make as a Mystery Shopper?
Mystery shoppers usually work as independent contractors on an assignment-by-assignment basis. This means you won’t be a W-2 employee and must pay your own taxes. While there’s no mystery shopper salary per se, working as an independent contractor allows you to work flexibly and choose your own hours.
As a mystery shopper, you can expect to make around $20 to $30 per assignment. Although some assignments pay up to $100 or more. Before you apply for an assignment, you should look at how much you can expect to earn and how much you may need to spend on a purchase.
To increase your income as a shopper, sign up for more than one of these legit mystery shopper jobs mentioned below. That way, you can increase your chances of landing more paid work.
Best Mystery Shopping Jobs to Get You Started — These Mystery Shopping Companies Are Hiring
1. Secret Shopper
When you partner with the company Secret Shopper, you’re bound to find fun and interesting mystery shopping jobs. Secret Shopper has been around for more than 25 years as a market research and analysis company.
Previous shopper experience is not required, but you must have a computer with an internet connection, since you’ll need to submit a report of your shopping experience online. All assignments are due by noon CT the day after your assigned shop date. U.S-based and international shoppers are encouraged to sign up. Secret Shopper typically pays between $15 to $25 per job.
2. Elite CXS
Elite CXS is a veteran-owned mystery shopping and compliance auditing company that partners with companies like Porsche, T-Mobile, Gold’s Gym, and Burger King. Mystery shoppers are hired to evaluate the cleanliness of the store, speed of service, as well as the quality of the food, beverage, or merchandise they purchase.
Mystery shoppers tend to make around $22 per hour with Elite CXS. The company also states that some jobs can take as little as 20 minutes. Your assignment may require taking photos to validate your shopping experience or time-specific interactions in the store.
Shoppers can choose which opportunities they want, making this a flexible way to make money on your own terms.
IntelliShop is a customer experience research firm that provides various mystery shopping opportunities to choose from. The company looks for detail-oriented and insightful shoppers to join the team.
To sign up, you must create a new online account and enter your contact information, including your country. Then review and sign the independent contractor agreement and provide your tax information. From there, you can view available mystery shopping jobs in your dashboard and sign up for ones that interest you.
IntelliShop pays shoppers via PayPal around 30 days after you finish your shopping assignment. To get paid, submit receipts and a completed report of your shopping job when you finish it. Shoppers can also get ratings and boost their performance profile by taking on more shops and meeting guidelines for submitting reports.
4. Market Force
Market Force is a mystery shopping company that has been around for several years and has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Mystery shoppers with this company have collectively completed more than 100,000 jobs and more than 1,000,000 surveys.
Signing up to become a shopper is easy, and most people get accepted to join the platform immediately. There are five shopper levels, starting on level one. To increase your level, complete your profile to access more shops and features. Also, completing and submitting your shopper reports will help you improve your ranking so you can qualify for more jobs.
Love shopping for shoes? Check out how you can make some money reselling them.
5. Best Mark
Best Mark offers legit mystery shopper jobs and has been around since 1986. Like many other sites on this list, you must be at least 18 years old to sign up. From there, you can apply for mystery shopper jobs and conduct specific tasks in store, online, and by phone, depending on the requirements for each job.
Upon completing shopping assignments, Best Mark reimburses mystery shoppers for their purchases, which means free food and products for you. They look for people with excellent communication skills and a dedication to honoring commitments and meeting client requirements.
6. Sinclair Consumer Metrics
Established in 1987, Sinclair Consumer Metrics provides on-site mystery shopping opportunities with secret shopper jobs that vary depending on your interests. Mystery shoppers visit restaurants, retailers, banks, auto dealerships, and other businesses.
Signing up is free and easy, since there are no requirements or preferred experience. Mystery shoppers work as independent contractors and can accept or decline assignment offers as they become available. Sinclair sends payments to mystery shoppers once a month during the last week of the following month after your last completed assignment.
7. Amusement Advantage
Amusement Advantage is a popular mystery shopping company that has provided market research data to the attractions industry since 1996. This company is different because they exclusively work with partners in the attraction and entertainment industry to help improve the customer experience.
You may find Amusement Advantage mystery shopping jobs fun since they can include visiting aquariums, bowling centers, trampoline parks, waterparks, and more.
Mystery shoppers focus on areas like customer service, cleanliness, safety, and loss prevention — providing feedback on the customer experience, staff procedures, and more in a detailed report. You can find available jobs in the U.S. and Canada that offer day, evening, and weekend opportunities to accommodate any schedule. Payments are sent via PayPal about 30 to 45 days after completing your mystery shopping job.
AboutFace is a company offering consumer research metrics to clients through panel studies and mystery shopping experiences. This company has clients in industries such as women’s lifestyle, retail, food, beverage, automotive, and more.
Assignments are available throughout the U.S. and Canada, and occasionally work is in South America, Mexico, and Australia. AboutFace says they pay shoppers 15% more than the industry standard. In addition to mystery shopping jobs, AboutFace also provides work as a field researcher, survey panelist, or focus group participant.