anonymous woman choosing outfit in store

Mystery Shopping: How To Get Free Stuff And Get Paid

We all have reasons to want to make extra money. For instance, you could be in between jobs or maybe the home-based business you started hasn’t taken off yet and you want to make some extra money in the meantime.

Maybe you just want to make extra money to pay some bills or to cover back to school expenses. No matter what, any reason is a good reason to make some extra money, right?

Aside from the usual ways you can make money from home such as doing data entry work or research jobs, there are some jobs that might sound like they’re coming out of left field but they really are legit.

For example, what if I told you you could make money as a mystery shopper? Seriously. You can get paid for taking your family out to dinner, going to a movie, even traveling. All you have to do is fill out a form to evaluate your experience. And it’s all on someone else’s dime!

I know you’re probably asking ‘are mystery shopper jobs legit?’ As a matter of fact, I most certainly am! But, before you shrug off the idea of being a mystery shopper, check this out.

CNBC Make It interviewed a 27-year-old millionaire who credits Mystery Shopping as one of his income streams. Since becoming a mystery shopper, he has made about $300,000. That’s in addition to the free stuff he gets! You can read the whole article here.

“If a buddy wants to go to a bar or someone wants to go see a movie, I usually try to wait until I can get a mystery shop,” he says, “because if you’re going to go there anyway, you might as well get it for free and get paid on the top.” – Todd Baldwin

All You Need To Know About Mystery Shopping

Being a mystery shopper may not sound like a big deal to you but for businesses it’s a very big deal. Nowadays, companies use mystery shoppers to evaluate their employee’s performance and quality of their product to get a more realistic picture of how consumers perceive their company and product.

What sucks is that there are some mystery shopper scams out there and that overshadows the importance of providing your feedback to a company who wants to improve their overall product or service for consumers like you and me.

So, I put a list of legit mystery shopper sites to check out but before that list, let me tell you how mystery shopping works.

Here’s How It Works

A mystery shopper goes to a department store, restaurant, electronics store, mobile store or gas station just as they would normally do and complete a transaction. It could be buying an item at a department store, a combo meal at a fastfood restaurant, inquire about a product at an electronics store…I’m sure you get my drift.

The job is to evaluate the entire experience. From the time you enter the store, you will score them on whether you were greeted in a happy manner or not, if they called you by your name, if they offered you a meal upgrade or dessert, repeated your order to make sure it was correct, if  your meal was prepared the way your ordered it and whether they thanked you for your business.

Mystery shoppers are paid doing the things we normally do such as:

  • Fill up your car with gas
  • Have dinner on a local restaurant
  • Shop in your local hardware store
  • Request information about a computer

What You Get Out Of Being A Mystery Shopper

And then there are the benefits. Here’s what you get out of being a mystery shopper:

  • You get to set your own hours. Once you’ve accepted an assignment, you can complete it’s most convenient for you.
  • There is a variety in the type of work you do. One day you might go to a five-star restaurant, the next day you might go to a movie theater. None of the same hum drum routine.
  • You get tax breaks as if you were running you’re own home-based business.
  • And let’s not forget the free stuff you get.

Mystery Shopper List

So, if being a mystery shopper sounds good, check out this list of networks you can join.

Amusement Advantage

Anonymous Insights, Inc.

A&A Merchandising Ltd.

About Face Corp

Ann Michaels & Associates

ACE (Associate Consumer Evaluations)

Apartment Shoppe

Ardent Services

AQ Mystery Shoppers

Alta360 Research

Best Mark

Bare International

BMA Mystery Shopping

Campus Mystery Shopping


Consumers Impressions

Corporate Research International

Count On Us

Coyle Shopmetrics

Customer 1st

Customer Perspectives

Customer Service Experts

Customer Perceptions

Dynamic Advantage

eMystery Shopper

Feedback Plus, Inc.

Frontline Shoppers

Guest Check

Information Research Services


Market ViewPoint

LeBlanc & Associates

Mystery Shoppers

Northwest Loss Prevention Consultants

Pacific Research Group

Quest for Best

RealityCheck Mystery Shoppers

Sensors Quality Management

Texas Shoppers Network

And Finally

Just like you do a work-from-home job, make sure you research the company carefully. I did my best to leave out the ones with a bad BBB rating or complaint but I could have missed one or two.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post you will come across a mystery shopper scam. Like, if you’re asked to wire money or pay to become a member. That should raise a red flag.

The best thing to do is to be sure the mystery shop site is legit is to research the company. For example, check the BBB and forums to see what folks are saying about them. Also, check the Mystery Shoppers Provider Association to search their database and see if they’re a member or not. I know that doesn’t mean if a site isn’t a member they’re not legit but I would feel more comfortable doing business with one who is, you know what I mean?

Wrapping It Up

Are you going to make a lot of money as a mystery shopper? That all depends. The amount of money you make will depend on how many assignments you accept and how much you’re paid. But I’d say it’s definitely worth giving a try.

I hope you found all this information helpful. If you have any questions about becoming a mystery shopper, feel free to contact me.

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