How to earn money as a mystery shopper

What is Mystery Shopping?

Mystery shopping is currently my biggest extra-income earner, but what does it involve? You’ve probably heard of mystery shopping before or can take a good guess from the name – basically, it’s pretending to be a normal customer and assessing the service you receive, completing a report on your experience. Mystery shopping can cover all kinds of organisations – pubs and restaurants, shops, banks, days/out theme parks, hotels, gyms, petrol stations, phone service providers, house builders, car salesrooms and more. This means that there is generally some mystery shopping work which can suit most people’s schedules. Obviously most of this work involves going out and about though there are sometimes opportunities available to assess service received over the phone or on the web.

If you have an eye for detail and a good level of written English, why not give it a try?

 How much can I earn by Mystery Shopping?

Payment for jobs can vary hugely – sometimes you will just get reimbursed for a meal/purchase, sometimes you will get a reimbursement plus a fee, and sometimes no purchase is required and you just get a fee. It’s important to make sure you’ve checked and understood the payment on offer and don’t find yourself spending time writing a report just to have the cost of something you didn’t really want in the first place. It’s up to you to determine which jobs are worthwhile as everyone has different preferences, and how much work you can do of course depends on how much time you have available.

Actually receiving the payment can be a slow process, often taking 6 – 8 weeks, and you will usually have to make any purhases out of your own pocket and wait for reimbursement, so factor this in when taking jobs.

What does a Mystery Shopping job involve?

You will be given a brief to follow which will outline the requirements such if there are specific days/times for the visit, any questions you need to ask and things to look out for. Obviously during the visit you must be able to act as a normal customer, to notice any detail the report has asked you to capture and remember this until you’re able to write it down.

Typically reports need to be completed within a day of your visit. The reports can range from being mostly multiple choice with a few short comments to very detailed, lengthy written narrative. Obviously fees are generally higher for jobs which require more detailed reports. Fees are also usually higher if you are do jobs which require a covert audio or video recording – I’ve recorded a few things on my phone but haven’t yet ventured into video mystery shopping!

Where do I find Mystery Shopping jobs?

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of mystery shopping companies which all have different clients and different requirements from their shoppers. I still have a lot to try myself but I’ve listed 5 companies below which I think are great for beginners, you can find more through googling, web forums or joining facebook groups.

Some have a test for you to complete on sign-up and some require a writing sample/example review. Many companies list all their jobs on their website which you can immediately assign to yourself. Some will have a list but you will have to apply for the jobs you want to do and see if they get assigned to you, and others may allocate work to you directly. Some companies have a scoring system in place for their reports which can affect the work you may be able to do for them in future.

Market Force

This is a good one to start with and get a feel for things. They have lots of different types of jobs which generally have quite small fees but the reports are mostly fairly easy, often with lots of multiple choice questions. Sign up to Market Force here.


ESA also have quite a lot of different jobs which are mostly fairly straightforward to do. I have done some audio work with them where they send you a little recording device and you record something such as an appointment to open a savings account which are quite good fees if you feel comfortable doing them. Sometimes they have phone/web jobs available.

Sign up to ESA here


Quite a random mix here, lots of smaller jobs which can be nice fee for what is required and quite often days out, especially around school holiday times. Sometimes they have phone/web jobs available.

Sign up here


I really like these, I’ve done some recorded visits for them which you can do on your own phone if it has recording capabilities. Fees are usually quite decent and the jobs are good to do. Sadly they don’t seem to have that many jobs in local area but look to have more elsewhere.

Sign up at this link.

Red wigwam

These don’t have many jobs but they are really easy and they are often not so much mystery shopping as just checking things are in stock and displayed correctly and taking a photo of this. They pay pretty well and within a few days of the job.

You can sign up here.

Let me know how you get on if you decide to give it a go 🙂

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