Becoming a mystery shopper often comes up as an easy way to make some supplemental income. If you like to shop, what better way is there to make some money than to get paid to shop? Here’s everything you need to know about this side hustle.
What Is a Mystery Shopper?
A mystery shopper is a person hired by a retailer or marketing research company to shop at one or several locations and report back on the overall customer experience. It’s one of the few job opportunities in which you can bank on your shopping skills.
Some things a mystery shopper may be asked to report on include:
- How they were treated in person and/or on the phone
- The in-person and/or online sales process
- Store appearance and quality of the displays and merchandise
7 Legitimate Mystery Shopping Companies
Before accepting a mystery shopping job, do your research about the company and see what others have to say before you agree. Here are seven legitimate mystery shopping companies to consider:
- Market Force
- Service Evaluation Concepts
- Secret Shopper
- Signature Worldwide
- Sinclair Customer Metrics
Keep reading to learn more about each of these companies to find the right one for you.
- Hourly pay range: $7 to $21
Founded in 1986, BestMark is one of the largest and oldest mystery shopping companies around with over 600,000 mystery shoppers, intercept interviewers and compliance auditors. To apply, you’ll need to be at least 18, have internet access and have good written communication skills. Visit the website to set up an account and submit a job application.
- Hourly pay range: $5 to $19
IntelliShop hires mystery shoppers for a variety of top brands and retail stores. Once you’re approved, you can find out about opportunities via email, via mobile app or by checking the job board.
To increase your chances of getting hired for the best assignments, focus on earning the highest possible rating you can get. You will be scored after every job, based on whether you were on time, whether you followed the instructions correctly and the thoroughness of your reports. To get started, visit the IntelliShop shopper hub and apply to join the team.
3. Market Force
- Average hourly pay: $21.14
Market Force is a good way to break up mystery retail shopping work. Many of its assignments are food-related, although it has a large client base. Some of the companies you may get hired for include those in the following industries:
- Grocery stores
- Gas station convenience shops
- Health and wellness
- Financial services
To become a Market Force mystery shopper, you’ll need to fill out an application on its website.
4. Service Evaluation Concepts
- Hourly pay range: $10 to $50
Service Evaluation Concepts provides elite mystery shopping to brands, including Aveda, Cartier, Macy’s, Kroger and Lego. SEC mystery shoppers undergo two levels of certification. Its brand agents are shoppers who have been tested and certified in SEC’s policies and procedures.
Certified brand agents also have demonstrated an understanding of specific client engagements. As a result of their advanced training, certified brand agents receive privileged status for work and higher earning potential.
To apply, visit the SEC assignment page to preview the work in your area and be prepared to provide some basic information, including your contact info.
5. Secret Shopper
- Hourly pay range: $15 to $25
Secret Shopper has been providing companies with mystery shopping services for over 25 years. Some jobs only provide you with a free meal or reimbursement for the item you have to purchase. It may not be the highest-paying service, but it may still be worth your time to gain some experience in the mystery shopping world or get the opportunity to visit a casino resort for free or at least some free food.
To sign up as a secret shopper, choose your country and complete the online application.
6. Signature Worldwide
- Average hourly pay: $10
If you’d rather work from home, you can still make money as a mystery shopper when you work with Signature Worldwide. The company provides telephone mystery shopping services to companies in an array of industries, such as:
- Construction and equipment rental
- Hotels and resorts
- Casinos and spas
- Apartment leasing
- Assisted living communities
- Medical offices
- Government agencies
To apply, visit the Signature Worldwide website and submit your resume and job application through its career page or by email.
7. Sinclair Customer Metrics
- Average hourly pay: $10
Sinclair provides its clients with in-person, phone and video mystery shopping services. You may be hired to mystery shop the client’s location or one of its competitors to provide intelligence. Sinclair Customer Metrics focuses on banking, grocery stores, restaurants and retail.
To apply, you’ll need to fill out an online form for new shoppers, complete a survey and review the terms and expectations for your role as a shopper. You’ll also need to take the Sinclair New Shopper Challenge, which is a questionnaire that confirms you have read and understand the terms.
How Do You Get a Job as a Mystery Shopper?
If you are looking to become a mystery shopper, you should search for mystery shopping jobs online using the job search site of your choice. Look for those that are offered by reputable companies that have legitimate reviews from other mystery shoppers. Once you find a mystery shopping opportunity you’re interested in, go to the company’s website and fill out the application to get your next mystery shopping assignment.
Are Mystery Shopper Jobs Worth It?
Working as a mystery shopper is a flexible way to earn some extra cash, but don’t expect it to replace your 9-to-5 job. Opportunities and earning potential will vary among companies.
You can learn more about the businesses in your local area and hone your observation and customer service skills. You’ll need to watch out for scams, but if you invest some time reading and researching the best mystery shopper websites, you could find a new way to earn some supplemental cash.
FAQHere are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding mystery shopping.
- How much do mystery shoppers get paid?
- According to Indeed, which uses job listings and third-party info to compile salary information, the average pay for a mystery shopping side hustle is $15.20 per hour. Meanwhile, ZipRecruiter reports that the average pay is $24 per hour. The amount you might earn depends on your level of experience, the company hiring and whether you're a full-time, professional mystery shopper or just working on occasional projects.
- Are mystery shopper jobs legitimate?
- Yes, many companies hire people as mystery shoppers. However, be wary of common mystery shopper scams. As with all online job-related offers, there are scams you need to watch out for. Be wary of any online shopper jobs that promise you'll earn thousands of dollars per month or promise to send you a check upfront. In addition, any mystery shopping websites asking you to pay money upfront are also probably a scam.
- Can anyone be a mystery shopper?
- To qualify for most jobs as a mystery shopper, you'll need to be at least 18 years old. You'll also need to have transportation so you can visit different mystery shopping locations to complete jobs. If you meet these criteria and find a legitimate company you want to work for, mystery shopping is a good way to make some extra money.
Pay data is accurate as of April 19, 2023, and was sourced from individual company websites, Glassdoor and Indeed.
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- Federal Trade Commission. 2022. "Mystery Shopping Scams."
- Indeed. 2022. "FAQ: How Does Mystery Shopping Work?"
- Monster. "Hot retail career: secret shopper."
- Indeed. "Mystery shopper salary in United States."
- ZipRecruiter. "Mystery Shopper Salary."
- Glassdoor. "BestMark."
- Glassdoor. "IntelliShop."
- Glassdoor. "Signature Worldwide."
- Indeed. "Sinclair Customer Metrics."