How to Become a Mystery Shopper

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I’ve thought about doing this for a while, and I finally made the plunge.  It’s kind of fun.  I get to pretend I’m a spy and practice my never-formally-trained acting skills.  If you’re looking for a little side cash and have good attention for detail, I’d recommend mystery shopping.

What is Mystery Shopping?
Companies, especially large, franchised ones, want to make sure their sites are operating as they expect them to.  If they send a corporate team in, odds are that the staff will up their game.  If they send someone in that looks like an everyday shopper, odds are that shopper will have real insight into what happens on a daily basis. So the company pays an everyday shopper to go in and make observations.  Sometimes you’ll be evaluating the employee’s performance, sometimes you’ll be evaluating your surroundings.  I’ve seen shops for car dealerships (where you get reimbursed service in addition to your pay,) electronics stores, restaurants, apartment complexes, and insurance companies so far.

Is Mystery Shopping Right for Me?
Mystery shopping may be right for you if you have a good eye for detail and a good capacity for holding on to that information.  For obvious reasons, you don’t go into the store taking notes.  So you’ll have to retain all the information you absorb.  This isn’t a simple in and out process; you have to read about your shop in great detail before you go in, ask certain questions in an unsuspecting manner, and then accurately answer questions about your shop when you’re done.  You will most likely need to have the ability to scan and upload your receipt, too.  (Though sometimes taking and uploading a picture via your cell will suffice, too.)

One time I got really frustrated doing a shop.  I wasn’t supposed to say thank you; I was supposed to give the employee an opportunity to do it first.  But it’s habit.  I was getting ready to leave and said, “Thanks so much.”  Dang you, manners.  Shop blown.  $10 not earned.

How Much Does Mystery Shopping Pay?
I’ve seen shops anywhere from $4-$30.  If you’re with a decent company, you’ll most likely see most of your shops around $10.

Who Should I Shop for?
I’ve had a really good experience with BestMark.  If you sign  up with them, I can give you my shopper ID for a referral. I’ve signed up for Second to None, too, but have found that a lot of their shops are not worth the money for the effort.  If you’d prefer to go a different route, there’s also a mystery shopper’s forum where you can find a ton of great information on the different companies.

Happy Shopping!

24 thoughts on “How to Become a Mystery Shopper

  1. lil desiqua

    I’ve done mystery shopping and I like it, though it does take some time. I haven’t had the best luck with BestMark (not a lot of shops avail in my area) but I’ve found some other good ones! I like JobSlinger because it offers a lot of shops from different companies.

  2. Modest Money

    It seems like a fun thing to do for some extra money. Personally I just don’t like shopping enough to want to spend extra time in stores. The most appealing ones seem to be the restaurants where they also reimburse you for the cost of the meal.

  3. Anthony Thompson

    Mystery shopping is a lot of fun. It always gave me the sense that I was an uncover government agent on a dangerous international mission. Only, mystery shopping is far from dangerous.

    For those who love to shop, do retail assignments, and have good writing skills; I would highly recommend it. It’s a good way to make some extra income.

  4. ERIKA

    I keep trying to find shops that I want to do, but for some reason I haven’t found one that I think will be worth it for me. Maybe there are so many people doing mystery shops in San Diego because there are hardly any good ones out, OR the good ones are always booked quickly. I also do not want to go out of my way or too far to mystery shop!

  5. Tackling Our Debt

    Like you, I always say thank you before the clerk does. I’ve noticed many cashiers in different grocery stores that never say thank you to any of the customers. Does that need to be part of their training? I am surprised they do not do it automatically.

    I signed up for Bestmark a few weeks ago and I’ve been watching the list of opportunities. Today there are shops for high end cosmetics and shops for buying a new car. The shops for buying cosmetics comes with a $15 reimbursement for product too.

    Do you find the paperwork to do the critique time consuming or pretty easy?

    1. femmefrugality

      Dang I want to do the cosmetics one! Don’t think it’s offered in my region. The paperwork is…not the funnest part. The biggest chunk of it is before the actual shop. Reviewing the rules and making sure you follow them…like not saying thank you! Ha. But filling out the post shop surveys seems to be a breeze for me because I’m already familiar with all of the information (by reading all the rules before I go in.)

    1. femmefrugality

      The shops I’ve been on I’ve spent about half an hour on the paperwork and about half an hour on the actual shop. So I’ve been making about $10/hour. Which is better than minimum wage. It definitely doesn’t replace an actual job, but it’s a fun way to work it on the side.

  6. yourlifeforless

    Thanks for your recommendations. There are so many scams associated with mystery shopping, especially now that so many people are out of work. I think to some people it sounds like glamorous work because they think, “I already like shopping, so why not get paid to do it?!” But as you point out, this is more of a way to produce side income.

    1. femmefrugality

      Yeah, it’s far too much work to be glamorous. :p It is enjoyable, though. For me anyways. There are SO many scams out there! I’ve tried everything I write about out first so I know I’m not sending readers into lions’ dens. Except some of the local free events. It would be so amazing if I could get to all of them. But life gets in the way….

  7. Miss Caitlin S.

    exactly what Elle says- I always hears of it but don’t know anyone who actually does. More power to you! I’m really impressed that you went as far as you did to try and figure it out. I would be scared about scams but it’s nice to have some foundation to start with.

  8. Meredith

    The picture made me LOL–seriously! And I’m really grateful you posted this information–I had no idea how it worked. I think it’s great that you’ve figured out a way to score a little cash for your family on the side. Now, if I could just figure out how to successfully leave my house and run errands sans drama (I am pitiful, I know), maybe I could follow suit! thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

  9. AverageJoe

    How did you get my picture on your site? I’m going to look into this. Cosmetics are lost on me, but maybe I’ll have a chance to finally feel pretty.


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