Can You Really Make Money Mystery Shopping?

Can You Really Make Money Mystery Shopping?

I can’t even count the number of times someone has asked me about making money mystery shopping. If you want to know if you can make money doing it, the short answer is yes. You can make money mystery shopping, but the long answer is not so cut and dry.  Let me break this down for you, so you’re not wasting your time with this money making idea chasing the wrong opportunities.

What is Mystery Shopping?

This is a tool companies use to gauge their stores and service. Mystery shopping is done by “consumers” who are paid either by the company they are shopping or a third-party organization.

They pay you to go in and either buy some products, test drive cars, or test their service. Each mystery shop has rules you must follow. Once you follow all the rules, they will pay you for the shop and reimburse you for anything you had to purchase.

The problem with this form of extra income is it can be very unsteady, time consuming, and the payout is small. There are also a large number of scams out there, which  you must be cognizant of. Don’t fall for the traps.

Can You Make Money Mystery Shopping?

As I noted, you can make money working as a mystery shopper. You probably won’t earn a full time income, but it can be a nice way to earn extra money for paying off debt or getting gifts for the holidays.

When I was mystery shopping (yes, I did this for some time), I would earn anywhere from $10 to $30 per shop. This also included my expenses when I had to buy certain products. After each shop, I would have to fill out a questionnaire to provide feedback on my experience. This forms are not very hard to follow and if you can remember your shop, then it will be easy.

After you submit your questionnaire, you will then get a check for your earnings. Most companies pay out every month, but that can be different depending on the company.

What are Some Legitimate Mystery Shopping Companies?

For most people, you will need to apply with a third-party organization in order to get mystery shops. I was a member of quite a few of them in order to get legitimate shopping opportunities.

The biggest piece of advice is to make sure any company you join doesn’t require you to pay any fee. If you see a fee is involved, you need to turn around. Any company charging you to apply is not a real mystery shopping company. It is most likely a scam!

You also should not join a company that advertises in the help wanted section of your newspaper. The same can be true for Craigslist. If they want you to get a certification, it’s probably not legitimate.

When looking for mystery shopping companies, make sure they are part of the MSPA-NA (formally the Mystery Shopping Providers Association of North America). These companies have to pay a fee to be a part of the MSPA-NA and they vet these companies and their track record. You want to apply with those in the MSPA-NA.

Here are some of the companies I have worked for and those who have a high rating and are free to join:

You can find more by heading over here and selecting “Mystery Shopping – General” in the services drop down.

How Much Can You Earn Mystery Shopping?

The benefit of being a mystery shopper is you can do it on your own time. I’ve seen some people make a few thousand dollars a month, but those people tend to get higher paying gigs based on their experience. If you’re just starting out, you can expect to earn $10 – $30 per shop. Each shop can take around 15 to 30 minutes depending on the complexity.

When I was doing this in college, I could pull in about $500 to $1000 a month. It was hard work and I had to keep up with all of the shops I needed to do. You need to create a schedule and make sure you quickly input your questionnaire. This is how the companies handle their business. They need the feedback and if you’re doing too many shops a day, you can lose out on the details.

Related: 7 Ways to Make Money this Weekend!

The amount of money you can make is entirely up to you. You control how many shops you want to do. The more companies you apply for, the better chances you will have an ample supply of good paying mystery shops.

I wouldn’t ever push anyone to become a mystery shopper as a full-time job. Yes, some can do it and do it every day. For the majority of us, this is just a great way to earn extra money on the side. An extra few hundred dollars can change your life if you let it. You can save it, pay off debt, invest it, or enjoy life a little and spend it. It’s up to you and that’s the beauty of earning extra income.

Related: Don’t have an investing account? Open on today at one of these great online brokerages.

Have you every mystery shopped before? What was your experience?

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About the Author Grayson Bell

I'm a business owner, blogger, father, and husband. I used credit cards too much and found myself in over $75,000 in debt ($50,000 in just credit cards). I paid it off, started this blog, and my financial life has changed. I now talk about fighting debt and growing wealth here. I run a WordPress support company, along with another blog, Eyes on the Dollar, which is another great personal finance blog.

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1 comment
Julie says May 1 is a great place to meet up with other mystery shoppers. They can and will tell you which companies are great and which ones are 10 foot pole companies. My husband has been doing it for over a decade.

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