Michael Wong Academy

Mystery Shopper Jobs

Do you know how to make money online with mystery shopper jobs? What are mystery shopper jobs? Are all mystery shopper jobs scams? How much money can you make with mystery shopper jobs? Read on for all the answers.

Did you know... there are estimated to be over 1,000 mystery shopping companies operating worldwide?

Quick links

What is a mystery shopper?

A mystery shopper is someone hired to go into a business/store posing as a typical customer. You observe and report on actions of the staff, cleanliness of the store, signage, etc.

Imagine getting paid to have dinner, watch a movie, stay overnight at a hotel, get your hair cut and lots of other fun things? How cool would that be? :-)

Of course it's not always that fun. Going to the bank or having your car worked on isn't that exciting.

Mystery shopper requirements:

Businesses use mystery shoppers to:

Mystery shoppers are used by companies in all sort of industries, including:

Shop = job

After visiting a few mystery shopping company websites I noticed that those in this industry commonly refer to a job as a "shop".

For example:

Whether you're phoning a business, visiting a website, visiting an actual store, or staying in a hotel, you are "shopping". Get it? :-)

Mystery shopper jobs quick facts

Available
Work where?
Time?
Pay
Pay by
Status
Experience
Qualifications
Joining fee?
Minimum age
Gender
Worldwide
Online & outdoors
Paid-per-task
$8-20+/task to $100+
PayPal, check, direct deposit
Independent contractor
Some jobs require experience
Some jobs require in-depth knowledge
No
18+ (21+ for places that sell alcohol)
Male/female

Are all online mystery shopper jobs scams?

I'm sure this is a question you might have asked yourself if you've looked into making money with mystery shopper jobs.

I did a lot of research on this topic. And here's the conclusion I came to...

MYSTERY SHOPPER SCAM ALERT!

A number of the mystery shopping companies display the following scam alert warning on their website.

Here's how the mystery shopper scam works:

  1. You're solicited by email, mail or from a website that appears to be from an official mystery shopping company inviting you to become a mystery shopper.
  2. You receive a package containing a form and a cashier's check.

    You're asked to deposit the check into your bank account and wire transfer the funds for evaluation of the customer service process.

Do NOT:

Do:

Legitimate mystery shopping companies will NEVER:

Legitimate mystery shopping companies will only contact you regarding upcoming assignments by phone or by email from an employee using an official email address.

If you want to verify that an opportunity you may be unsure of is legitimate, call the company to confirm. Find the phone number on their website.

How to report a scam or file a consumer complaint

Been a victim of a scam? I'm sorry to hear that. But don't just sit there and feel sorry for yourself. Do something about it!

You can report a scam or file a complaint against a business or company with national and local agencies in your country.

Visit the How to report a scam page for information and links.

You probably won't get your money back. But it'll help stop others getting scammed. Plus you'll feel a bit better. :-)

Misconceptions

Many people think that mystery shopping is about giving their opinion on the service they receive at a store/business. The reality is mystery shopping is about reporting facts.

Many of the questions on a mystery shopping report are yes/no questions. Others ask for facts.

For example:

Sample shopping form

Here's a sample mystery shopping form to give you an idea of what's involved:

Conclusions

I was astounded to find so many legitimate mystery shopping companies worldwide that are free to join. They're not all scams out there.

Mystery shopper jobs is one of those jobs that could be beneficial to your health. The job gets you out and about. Think of it as getting paid for exercising. :-)

If working as a mystery shopper sounds like your kind of thing, I suggest you give it a go.

If you have any opinions or experiences with mystery shopper jobs, please post your comments at the bottom of this page.

How much money can you make with mystery shopper jobs?

Some mystery shopper jobs pay a cash payment. Some shops only have a reimbursement. While others have both a cash payment and a reimbursement.

The majority of mystery shopping companies I spoke to told me $5 to $20 is a typical payment for a shop.

Some shops have reimbursements as high as $100 to $150. For example, high end dining shops.

And a few shops have reimbursements as high as $500. For example, casino or hotel shops.

You'll notice that the higher payouts are called "reimbursements". These payments cover the cost of goods or services purchased, such as a meal or hotel room.

What that means is you don't get paid in cash. You simply get a free meal or stay in a hotel.

The pay or free entertainment might sound pretty good. But consider what you have to do to earn that money:

  1. Go to the store/business.
  2. Do your shopping and remember or make notes of all the facts.
  3. Return home.
  4. Complete and submit the report.

Depending on where you live and the location of the business/store, a mystery shopper job could take you anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes, to an hour or more of your time. So don't expect to earn $50 or $80 an hour.

Don't forget the fee has to cover the cost of gas for your car and/or any public transport you may take.

Sample mystery shopper pay rates

Here are some sample mystery shopper pay rates according to Service Performance Group.

Many mystery shoppers earn $100 to $200 a month in their spare time. It's not unusual for a part-time mystery shopper to earn $500 or more per month. Some mystery shoppers even make a living working full-time.

Payment types

Mystery shopping companies pay shoppers by check, direct deposit and PayPal.

If you intend to make money online, I suggest you open a PayPal account because many online companies only pay you via PayPal.

If you don't know what PayPal is or don't have a PayPal account, visit PayPal.com for more information.

Mystery shopper shares his experiences

One day, out of the blue, I received the following delightful email:

Hi Michael,

I would like to say thanks to you. I followed your site and started the mystery audit, Yesterday I received first payment of INR 1900 Rs. I also completed the MSPA Silver certification.

Thanks a lot.

Regards,

Mr X.

You've probably guessed, Mr X isn't his real name. He's a mystery shopper, so wants to keep his identity secret. If I reveal who Mr. X is, he wouldn't be a mystery shopper anymore! :-)

I LOVE to hear about success stories. Even more so if I've been able to help or inspire them in some way.

I thought it would help others, if Mr X. would be kind enough to share his mystery shopping experiences. So I asked him if he wouldn't mind answering a few questions.

Luckily for us, Mr X. agreed! :-)

So, here are my questions and his responses.

Q. Please tell us briefly about your background to help people get an idea of who you are.

Mr X: I live in Pune, India. I'm in my 30s, married, without children. I work full time in IT. I'm a mystery shopper part-time.

Q. What attracted you to mystery shopper jobs?

Mr X: To help me earn money for my mobile bills and grocery. And if I get audit for a shopping mall/restaurant, then I'll enjoy the food and earn money at the same time.

Q. How long have you been doing mystery shopper jobs?

Mr X: Almost 4 months.

Q. How did you go about finding mystery shopper jobs?

Mr X: From your article.

Q. What's the name and website of the companies you worked for?

Mr X: I registered with all the websites mentioned in your article.

Q. What did the job involve?

Mr X: It involved shopping, eating at restaurants, observing the shop, service, how the customer service rep communicates, how they greet you, and how they handle the customer. You have to act like a real customer. You need to be very sharp for this work.

Recently I did a pizza shop job. I enjoyed the pizza at home (as it was home delivered pizza) and got paid 350 Rs. It's quite good to earn money at home eating pizza. :-) (I think so! - Michael)

Q. How long did the jobs take?

Mr X: They normally take 30 to 60 minutes. But it depends on the type of job and product.

Q. How much did you earn?

Mr X: I received the first payment of INR 1,900 Rs for July 2012. I will get another payment next month.

Q. You said you completed the MSPA Silver certification. How much did the certification cost?

Mr X: $15.

Q. How long was the certification test?
Mr X: It's very short, but you need to read a bit.

Q. Did you have to study for the certification? If so, for how long?

Mr X: 2-3 hrs.

Q. Was the certification difficult?

Mr X: No.

Q. Has the certification helped you get jobs that you might not have gotten otherwise?

Mr X: Yes.

Q. Did my mystery shopper jobs article motivate you to try it? Or were you already doing mystery shopper jobs before you read my article?

Mr X: Your article helped me get more jobs. I was doing mystery shopping before, but it was only for one company. After reading your article I managed to find more companies.

Q. You said you were already doing mystery shopper jobs, before you read my article. How did you originally discover mystery shopper jobs?

Mr X: I did it for a local company. I stopped because I wasn't getting regular jobs.

Q. Are there any companies you've worked for that aren't listed in my article?

Mr X: HS Brands is the best as I've received payment from them. Another is BARE International. If you're certified, you will receive mystery shopper job emails from the MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers Association).

Q. Is there anything about your mystery shopper job experiences that you'd like to add?

Mr X: You should be punctual. You have to send the report on time. You must do the job properly, with honesty, integrity and good ethics. These are key points to getting more jobs.

Thank you Mr X! :-)

I hope this interview inspires you to give mystery shopper jobs a go. There are estimated to be over 1,000 mystery shopping companies worldwide. So you should be able to find mystery shopper jobs wherever you live.

Please let us know if Mr X's story inspires you to give it a go. Or if you have any comments/questions about this interview, please post a message in the mystery shopper jobs forum at the bottom of this page.

7 types of mystery shopper jobs

What is MSPA Shopper Certification?

MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers Association) North America is the main trade association for the mystery shopping industry throughout North America.

There's also:

MSPA member companies go through an approval process and agree to uphold ethical standards. This should give you confidence that they're legitimate mystery shopping companies who treat their shoppers right.

However, don't assume that a mystery shopping company isn't legitimate if it doesn't belong to the MSPA.

MSPA North America Shopper Certification

MSPA North America offer two certifications to educate shoppers and improve the industry:

  1. Silver Certification: is a basic skills test to ensure you have the basic understanding of the mystery shopping industry, and skills to read, comprehend and follow directions.

    Silver Certification is a $15 online test, available in English, Spanish and French.

  2. Gold Certification: was originally available as an in-person and pre-recorded workshop. The live workshops are now rarely held.

    The pre-recorded Gold Certification was created by filming a live workshop. It is now available online and costs $75. You must be Silver Certified before you can go to Gold.

Other MSPA Shopper Certification

Is certification required?

In a word, no.

MSPA represent over 250 mystery shopping companies worldwide. Many companies recognize MSPA certifications. But none require it.

However, it can't hurt to be certified. In fact it can help. Some mystery shopping companies give priority to MSPA Certified Shoppers.

Should you only work with MSPA member companies?

Mystery shopping companies who are MSPA members supposedly go through a vetting process to ensure that they are legitimate firms.

Requirements for MSPA membership include:

The MSPA doesn't police MSPA member companies. But they have taken action in cases when companies makes a regular practice of failing to pay shoppers or paying late. What action was taken, I'm not sure.

My top 4 mystery shopper job tips

Based on what I've read and seen, here are my top four tips on how to make money with mystery shopper jobs.

  1. Sign up with as many legitimate mystery shopping companies as possible: depending on where you live, a mystery shopping company may have a limited number of jobs for you.

    In addition, some mystery shopping companies limit the number of mystery shops a shopper can conduct each month.

    So I suggest you sign up with as many legitimate mystery shopping companies as possible in your country.

    Don't just sign up with companies in your area. Mystery shopping companies half way across the country can offer jobs in your area.

    It's not unusual for mystery shoppers to work with as many as 30, 50 or more mystery shopping companies. The more companies you sign up with, the greater the chance of being offered jobs.

  2. Convert idle time into cash: if you think you don't have time to be a mystery shopper, think again.

    Here are some periods during the day that you could make money as a mystery shopper:

    • During lunch breaks.
    • On your way home from work.
    • On your way to meeting up with friends at the mall.
    • On your way to picking up your kids from school.
    • When you go to the bank.
    • When you want a free meal.
    • When you want a free night in a hotel.
    • While you're doing your weekly grocery shopping.
    • While you're shopping for birthday gifts for your kids' friend's birthday party.
    • While you're shopping for yourself.
  3. Remembering details:
    • Make notes when necessary and always keep the notes hidden.
    • Use a fitting room, restroom, or other private area to make notes.
    • Use your mobile phone or carry a small voice recorder to record notes.
    • Stick to the facts. Don't give opinions.
  4. Search for jobs on mystery shopping job search engines:
    • MSPA North America Job Search: the official mystery shopping trade association offers a job search engine.

      You can refine your search by country, state/province, within a certain distance, zip code, class, category, minimum pay, date due, date posted, age and gender. Nice!

      You're presented with real mystery shopper job ads, with the name of the mystery shopping company, and the name and email address of the person who posted the ad.

    • MSJobBoard.com: is a free search engine where you can search jobs by mystery shopping companies that use the Shopmetrics platform.

      Shopmetrics is a platform that mystery shopping companies use to manage their jobs and shoppers.

      At the time of writing, MSJobBoard.com boasts over 12,500 jobs by 20 mystery shopping companies.

    • JobSlinger: is a search engine where you can search for mystery shopper, demonstrator and merchandiser jobs.

      JobSlinger provides job listings from hundreds of companies through our partnership with MSPA, Volition, DemoZilla and SASSIE. You can search by country, state, zip code, job type and category.

      JobSlinger+ offers additional tools to help you find mystery shopper jobs, including:

      • Shops emailed and texted to you, so you don't even need to log on and search.
      • JobDinger software to "ding" you when a new shop is posted.
      • Search all your SASSIE job boards at once.
      • Update all your SASSIE profiles at once.
      • Five saved Target searches vs one for JobSlinger free.

      JobSlinger+ costs:

      • One month: free trial
      • 3 month plan: $6/mth
      • 6 month plan: $5/mth
      • 12 month plan: $4.16/mth

      MSPA Certified Shoppers can get a one-time 33% discount and 50% extra on their plan.

    • ShadowShopper: is an aggregator of mystery shopper jobs for the United States and Canada. It doesn't list jobs outside of North America.

      According to ShadowShopper, its database offers over 160,000 jobs by 1,300 mystery shopping companies. WOW!

      There are three ways to search this site:

      1. Go to the Available Jobs page, enter your zip code, and you'll see a list of mystery shopper jobs within 25 miles of the zip code.

        The results include the job title, city, payout and distance (in miles) from the zip code. You may sort by job title, city and distance.

        The only problem is that you can't find out anymore information about a job. So it's really not that useful aside from getting an idea of what jobs are available.

      2. Sign up for the Bronze membership, which is free, and your listing will be visible to mystery shopping companies searching for mystery shoppers.

        On the ShadowShopper Facebook page, people who've signed up to Bronze membership have stated they have received job offers.

      3. Sign up for the Gold membership, which costs $4.95 (1 month), $37.95 (3 months), or $99.95 (1 year).

        This gives you the ability to apply for mystery shopper jobs and a priority listing when employers search for mystery shoppers.

        Why pay for access to mystery shopper job ads?

        There are so many warnings about scams that get you to pay for access to mystery shopper jobs. So why pay ShadowShopper to access their job ads?

        Well... ShadowShopper claims to have over 160,000 jobs by 1,300 mystery shopping companies in the United States and Canada. Other estimates say there are 750 to over 1,000 mystery shopping companies.

        If those numbers are close to the truth, then you could be missing out on a lot of jobs potentially.

        The fact is you might sign up with a handful of mystery shopping companies, maybe a few dozen. Let's say you're ultra keen and sign up with 100 companies. :-)

        That still leaves hundreds of companies you haven't signed up with. If you're not signed up, then you're missing out on potential jobs.

        What ShadowShopper does is allow you to search all those thousands of jobs in one convenient place.

        ShadowShopper WARNING!

        I have come across messages in the forums by mystery shoppers who were upset they they were charged by ShadowShopper after they forgot they signed up to a recurring payment plan.

        Remember: the Gold membership is probably NOT worth the money if you only do one or two mystery shopping jobs a month. It's really designed for mystery shoppers who do many jobs each month.

        If you're only dipping your toes into mystery shopping, I suggest you start with the free Bronze membership. Do NOT sign up to ShadowShopper or any other website that requires payment.

        If later on you want more jobs and see the value of the ShadowShopper service, then consider upgrading to the Gold membership.

Mystery shopper jobs availability table

According to ShadowShopper, its database offers over 163,000 jobs by over 1,300 mystery shopping companies. I'm not even going to attempt to list every company here.

What I have for you is a list of mystery shopping companies that are members of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) sorted by country.

MSPA member companies go through an approval process and agree to uphold ethical standards. This should give you confidence that they're legitimate mystery shopping companies who treat their shoppers right.

Region
Australia
Canada
India
Ireland
Malaysia
New Zealand
Singapore
United Kingdom
United States
Worldwide
Jobs
10
21
4
6
5
4
1
13
95
10

Browse mystery shopper jobs by country

Mystery Shopper Jobs Australia>>
Mystery Shopper Jobs Canada>>
Mystery Shopper Jobs India>>
Mystery Shopper Jobs Ireland>>
Mystery Shopper Jobs Malaysia>>
Mystery Shopper Jobs NZ>>
Mystery Shopper Jobs Singapore>>
Mystery Shopper Jobs UK>>
Mystery Shopper Jobs USA>>
Mystery Shopper Jobs Worldwide>>

Mystery shopper jobs forum

Post questions/comments below. Remember the house rules.

Similar online jobs

Online Marketplaces for Errands>>

Back to Make Money Online

Visit the Make Money Online page for links to all online jobs and opportunities.

<<Make Money Online