Mystery Shopper Pay. How Much Can You Really Make?

How Much Can You Make as a Mystery Shopper


Where to Find Mystery Shopping Jobs

Mystery Shopping is an excellent way to make an extra income, and fun too! The pay rate varies from $15.00 per shop to as high as $50.00 or more. Most shops will result in a free meal, portraits or products. If you have a sharp eye for details, able to write accurately and have reliable transportation you may very well enjoy this work.


1. What is Mystery Shopping?
Also known as secret shopping, it's when you help companies evaluate many aspects of customer service. The most common mystery shops include retail, restaurants, optical and cellular phone outlets, apartments, oil change facilities or banks. You will act as a regular customer, then fill out a detailed report of who helped you, physical appearance of the location, what the employees said to you, etc.
2. What qualities should a mystery shopper have?
Mystery shopping companies look for attention to detail, ability to be discreet while shopping (you can't take the reports in with you), and clear, detailed written communication. A background in retail, hospitality or customer service can be a big plus.

3. How much money can I make?
Because the work is not regular, it varies. You may be reimbursed for a meal and paid an additional $5. You may be reimbursed for an oil change or product. You may be required to return a purchase, then paid $20 for the complete report of purchase and return details. If you are in a large metropolitan area, you are likely to get more work. The more companies you apply for, the more variety and frequency of shops you will be asked to do. If you look at it as a little extra money here and there, rather than real income, you are less likely to be disappointed.

4. What if I'm asked to take a job that I'm unable to accept?
With most companies, you will not be penalized if you don't accept a shop. If you accept a shop and realize you can't do it, be sure to contact the mystery shop company as soon as you know. This way they can get someone else. Since the shop may require a specific day or time frame in which it can be completed, it's important to adhere to these guidelines. Make sure you have a phone number or e-mail of the company that asks you to shop in case you need to cancel or ask questions. (You might also want to check out my, No Fee Work at Home Jobs page. It's been popular for years and years.)

5. How does shopping affect my taxes?
As an independent contractor and not an employee, you are legally responsible for claiming all income. Save your check stubs in one place, or make a small spreadsheet with each earned amount to avoid year-end frustrations. If you do a lot of shops or travel several miles to get to shops, keep track of your personal and business miles to deduct your mileage expenses. You can get a special auto mileage log at office supply stores for about $1. If you make more than $600/year from one company, they will send you a form 1099, which will state how much you have made for the year while working for them. Keep records anyway, just to double check that the information is correct.

6. Can I take kids, friends or family with me when I shop?
If there are a lot of details to remember, it may be easier to leave the younger kids with someone else until you have more experience. An older child or adult may be able to help you recall details, but emphasize to them how important it is not to give away your secret! I have taken my baby to a restaurant, oil change and retail shops with no problem. The restaurant was pretty challenging (that's the case whether doing a shop or not!), but I had someone with me to help.

7. How do I submit a report to the company?
Usually by mail or fax, but some companies let you submit online.

8. How can I remember all the details for my report?
Study the questions before you go. Some info you will easily recall, but other parts will require more active attention (such as employee names, height, weight and hair color). You must complete the report thoroughly and accurately to be compensated, so you might want to get creative with techniques for remembering details. I have carried a small piece of paper with me, containing small cues that I want to remember, and then written the details down immediately outside the shop, or while evaluating the bathrooms!

9. What are the ups and downs of mystery shopping?
On the downside, it probably won't replace your income, or even be a steady, substantial income. You might have to miss out on a last-minute activity because you have a shop to do at a certain time or day. It's not always easy to enjoy a meal or a movie while you are busy gathering details. It can be a nice treat, though, to be reimbursed for a meal at a nice restaurant (especially when money is tight!). If you value good customer service (which would be recommended for this type of work), you have the knowledge that you are really contributing to the company's understanding of what's going on at the front line. A little extra money for doing something you might be doing anyway is nice. Friends and family who have never known anyone who has been a mystery shopper find it exciting and intriguing!

10. I saw something asking me to pay to be a shopper or to get listed as a shopper with several companies. Is this a good deal?
I don't think so. I've been shopping for 4 years now by applying to 2 newspaper ads, and several places online. I would not pay anyone for the “privilege” of mystery shopping and do not recommend that you do either! 11. I'm anxious to start shopping now! How can I start working as soon as possible? Apply to some or all of the places listed below. You may want to look at the applications first so you can think about some of your answers. To make the process easier, open your Notepad or Word Processor, and put the answers to common questions in a file. Then just copy (CTRL + C) and paste (CTRL + V) the answers into the application box! The most common questions are these: “Have you mystery shopped before? If not what qualifies you?””List an example of good/bad customer service that you have experienced.” “What do you think makes good customer service?” With these questions, they are looking for your attention to details, an understanding of customer service, ability to be discreet and unbiased, and clear, logical written communication from you. Some companies may contact you quickly. Others may be a month or more. Apply to all you can find; don't worry that you will have too much work. You can always turn down a job if you're too busy! So start working on your answers and get started filling out those applications! In most cases, these links take you straight to the application forms. It may be to your benefit to explore the site some to find out what areas they cover, what type of shops they do, etc. NONE of the following require fees of any kind to shop!

More Mystery Shopping Articles and Information

How can I Work From Home as a Mystery Shopper? Is mystery shopping really a scam? Should I ever pay money up front?

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  1. Each company would have their own criteria regarding who they are open to. You might check the FAQ of a company you’re interested in to get more details.

  2. In which countries are this applicable?

  3. Looking to start ASAP !!!

  4. I have a few suggestions but it depends on where you live city or rural area, and what kind of shops you want to do, I like convenience stores and clothing stores,, I have a friend that only do restaurants , The 10 companies I do on a regular base i got from mom-mom-com, they are listed from A-Z

  5. I have been a secret shopper for 3 years now,, A real secret shopper company will not send you a check unless you have done work for them. Do not cash that check,, They warn peoples about this all the time on the news. As real as it seem it’s a scam!

  6. What companies have you applied with?? Some offer more job than other

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