There are plenty of ways to make cash without having a lot of time. One of those flexible options involves becoming a mystery shopper. Mystery shopping jobs are a well-known way to earn cash by simply shopping or visiting businesses right in your area.
If you’re looking for flexible part-time work, mystery shopping is easy and pays fast without a hassle. All you need is a computer, internet, and transportation to complete assigned shopping trips.
Odds are, mystery shopper jobs are available near you and you could start earning money right away. In this article, you’ll learn exactly how mystery shopping works and where to find the best jobs.
What Is a Mystery Shopper?
A mystery shopper is not an ordinary shopper or customer. Mystery shoppers are sent by market research companies to observe and monitor what goes on inside a retail store or similar business.
They complete normal tasks such as calling an establishment ahead of time to ask questions, making a purchase or trying out a service, and reporting on physical appearance of the location.
Another common mystery shopping task is to assess how well employees are performing their jobs. You may receive a list of items to look out for or report on.
This could include whether you are greeted by an employee when you enter the establishment along with whether your questions are answered thoroughly enough.
The main purpose of a mystery shopper is to make sure the business or store is offering the best level of service. You’ll also check to see that the location is kept tidy and organized.
There are tons of mystery shopping opportunities to choose from. You may be asked to make a purchase at your favorite fast-food restaurant or go bowling and report on the level of service. Or, mystery shops could involve touring a new local gym or getting your car looked at by an auto shop in the area.
There’s no limit to what the mystery shop assignment will be. Either way, you’ll be paid for your time and effort and most companies will reimburse any purchases you make (up to a certain amount).
How to Find Legitimate Mystery Shopper Jobs
If you’re looking to find legitimate mystery shopping jobs, there are quite a few websites that can help you out. It’s unlikely that you’ll see an ad or flyer recruiting new people to become mystery shopper. Online job boards are a great place to start along with consulting and research companies.
Keep an eye out for red flags including companies that say they’ll hire you without an application or aren’t clear about how they pay and compensate for completed shops.
For any company you come across, you can research them on the Better Business Bureau or scam alert sites to see what people are really saying about their experience working with the company.
6 Best Mystery Shopping Companies to Work For in 2022
Luckily, we’ve done a lot of the research for you when it comes to carefully vetting the best mystery shopping jobs and websites to consider using.
Here are 6 of the top options to consider signing up with.
1. Best Mark
Best Mark has been a leading mystery shopping company since 1986. They partner with large and small businesses you’ll get plenty of variety with your assignments.
Mystery shoppers are independent contractors and self-employed. You’ll get paid to try new businesses and services while helping companies improve their customer service.
Best Mark offers three different types of assignments. The first is general mystery shopping where you’ll get paid to pose as a customer and perform tasks such as purchasing a product while providing detailed insights about your experience.
The second option is intercept interviews where you’ll gather detailed experience and brand perception information from customers as they exit a brick and mortar business.
The position Best Mark offers is a compliance auditor. Compliance auditors review adherence to company/regulatory guidelines like product pricing and placement, merchandising displays, and more.
To apply to work with Best Mark, you can fill out a form on their website and enter your basic information. After this, check your email for a link to complete your application. Once it’s submitted, Best Mark will be in touch if they select you to be a mystery shopper.
2. Market Force
Market Force is a market research company that hires mystery shoppers from all over. The company has an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau and has been a member of the Mystery Shopping Provider’s Association (MSPA) for more than a decade.
Some of their clients include restaurants, retail stores, grocery stores, health and wellness centers, movie theaters, and more.
Market Force doesn’t offer a ton of information on its website, but does invite anyone who’s interested in mystery shopping jobs to apply. You can fill out a form on their website to create your shopper account.
From there, you’ll need to answer some basic questions about yourself, your experience, and Market Force will check for any criminal history in your background. Once you sign the terms and agreement, your should be eligible for any relevant mystery shopping opportunities near you.
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Sinclair Consumer Metrics serves many industries including banking, convenience stores, restaurants, and retail. The company has been in business for more than 30 years and has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Mystery shoppers are independent contractors, so you’ll need to fill out an independent contractor agreement. This also gives you the ability to accept or decline any assignments as they become available in your area.
You’ll be able to set your own flexible schedule and get paid for each report you submit after completing a mystery shopping job.
To sign up for Sinclair Consumer Metrics, you’ll need to fill out an application form online and read through their mystery shopper guidelines. There’s also a few surveys and on-boarding quizzes you might be asked to complete before getting started.
4. Secret Shopper
If you’re looking for legitimate mystery shopping jobs, Secret Shopper has been in business for 25 years and is a premier mystery shopping company to consider.
When a company has been in business that long, it just goes to say that they are likely doing something right and workers have consistent opportunities.
To become a mystery shopper, previous experience is not required. You just need to be detail oriented, have exceptional written communication skills, and be able to use a computer to submit reports online. Like many other companies on this list, Secret Shoppers are hired as independent contractors.
The demand for shoppers changes on a regular basis, but once you’re accepted you’ll have access to all the shops in your area. Secret Shopper pays $15 to $25 per shop assignment and you see the amount of compensation before you accept a shop assignment.
For some shops like a restaurant, the payment may be to pay you for the cost of a meal for two.
Secret Shopper sends payments out on the 20th of each month for shops done the previous month. Checks are valid for 90 days. If you live and work outside of the U.S., payments are sent securely via PayPal.
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Pinnacle has been providing mystery shopping opportunities for more than 20 years. As a mystery shopper with Pinnacle, you can set your own schedule and apply for only the assignments you are interested in and want to get paid for. The company has an A+ rating with the BBB and is a long-time member of the MSPA.
Mystery shoppers work anonymously to help measure and improve customer service and sales for local businesses in their area. You will be responsible for reporting on things like customer service, sales efforts, facility cleanliness, and more.
Mystery shoppers will receive instructions before a shop and they outline specific details to look for like the quality of the product or service how welcoming the staff is and so on.
To become a mystery shopper, you’ll need to fill out the sign-up form on the website and enter your basic information. You will then get access to the shopper portal where you can log in and check for available assignments in your area.
Pinnacle pays mystery shoppers once a month of the 10th of the following month. Shoppers are notified via email that a payment has been made to their PayPal account.
6. A Closer Look
A Closer Look is a human intelligence and data analytics company that provides mystery shopper jobs. Like many others on this list, A Closer Look has been around for more than 20 years so it’s a very credible source for legitimate mystery shopper jobs.
A Closer Look is also dedicated to establishing long-term relationships with restaurants, senior living facilities, retail stores and more to be able to offer consistent work opportunities to mystery shoppers.
Mystery shopper are independent contractors who can set their own schedule based on availability and their interest. You can approve or deny mystery shopping assignments once you view the details.
To get started, you’ll need to click the sign up button on their website and fill out a brief form. Afterwards, A Closer Look will be in touch with you about the next steps.
How Much Can You Make as a Mystery Shopper?
Mystery shopping is relatively easy work, but you may be wondering how much you can realistically get paid. Since there are different companies that work with different clients who all have their own budgets, your earnings can vary.
Most places will pay you a flat rate per shop assignment you complete. A legitimate mystery shopping company won’t offer to pay you before the assignment is complete.
The only exception is if they provide you with some funds to make a purchase at the business you’ll be completing your assignment at. However, in most scenarios you’ll just be offered reimbursement for what you spend as part of the assignment.
Secret Shopper states that they pay mystery shoppers anywhere from $15 to $25 on average so this is on the lower end. Pinnacle offers to pay anywhere from $4 to $75 per assignment. According to Indeed, the average mystery shoppers makes $19 per hour.
Keep in mind that with higher payments the purchase you make for the assignment may already be factored in. For example, if a mystery shop assignment at a restaurant pays $50, they may list a rate of $25 for the actual assignment plus an additional $25 to cover the cost of your meal.
Be carefully to thoroughly read through the details for each mystery shop assignment before signing up. Also, check the online portal or your email so you can regularly view opportunities and request the assignment early on.
If you take too much time or are late to reply, the assignment could end up going to another mystery shopper.
Mystery Shopping: A Fun and Flexible Way to Make Some Extra Cash
Mystery shopping has been a solid extra income idea for a long time now and it’s still a very relevant option. Mystery shopping jobs provide a fun and flexible way to make some extra cash during your spare time.
You can find jobs online by signing up with one of these legitimate companies that also carries excellent ratings.
Mystery shopping won’t replace your full time job, but you can earn extra cash on the fly while also getting to enjoy what some businesses and stores in your local area have to offer.