How To

How to become a mystery shopper

Troy Zaher


If you’ve ever worked in retail or the food industry, then you have probably heard of secret shoppers. These are customers who have been hired by a company to inspect select stores to make sure that the employees are following the guidelines the company has set. While secret shopping doesn’t typically pay much, you often get reimbursed for your shopping experience. This means you can get a lot of free perks without spending any money on them. However, the job works a little differently than a normal full or part-time position. Instead of being hired by a specific company, secret shoppers are independent contractors that typically work for a group of companies. So how do you become a contractor for these organizations? Here’s a little guide explaining the process:

How to become a mystery shopper

mystery shopper

Where to start

Signing up to be a mystery shopper is far easier than one might expect. In most cases, you simply go to a reputable mystery shopper site and make an account. Once there, you’ll be able to browse shops and choose the ones that bear suit you.

The important thing is finding a site that is legitimate. There are a few scam sites that pretend to be mystery shopper sites just to get your information. This is pretty easy for them to do, since the process of applying to become a mystery shopper is far easier than other jobs. Not to worry, however, as we’ve created a list of reputable companies for you to check out right here:

If you’re ever in doubt of a mystery shopping site, be sure to check out the MSPA, which helps manage many of the major mystery shopping sites on the web. You can also check out this site if you’re a business owner looking to allow mystery shoppers are your store.

Also note: no mystery shopping site will ask you to pay in advance for their services. They will also never require you to wire money to them. These are the work of scam sites, so be wary of them.

Market Force

This is Market Force’s explanation of how you earn money through mystery shopping. It shows each step typically observed during a mystery shop experience.

Is the job right for you?

Mystery shopping requires high levels of self-motivation and discipline. You have to actively seek out shops, as well as prevent yourself from being an obvious mystery shopper. Even if you have the skills to accomplish this, however, mystery shopping isn’t always the best choice for everyone.

The biggest concern is money. While someone may be able to successfully live almost exclusively on perks (every meal coming from shops, oil changes coming from shops, even internet routers coming from their shop perks), there are no perks that will pay all your bills. That being said, it is possible to make enough money to pay off your additional bills, assuming they are not excessive and you’re careful with the money you earn.

While there is some money to be made in mystery shopping, the real value is the perks. These can range anywhere from a free meal to a free cruise. Like any job, these perks come with experience. The higher value shops are restricted to mystery shoppers who’ve been working with a company the longest. So that free cruise won’t be accessible without a few months of work. This also means that the job tends to get easier the more you invest into it. If you are serious about taking advantage of the extreme perks you often see advertised by mystery shopping sites, then you should make sure to prioritize frequently mystery shopping.

There are three primary groups secret shopping works best for. The first are college students and young adults who still are supported by their parents, since the lack of consistent income isn’t a hindrance and this is a relatively easy job to get with no experience.

The second are stay-at-home parents looking to get some extra dinners and goodies since they don’t earn their own income.

And the third are unemployed and disabled individuals looking for something to help them get by while they try to figure out their employment situation.

Of course, you don’t need to fit one of these categories to become a mystery shopper. But if you do fit into one of them, then chances are it might be a great opportunity for you.

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