Fancy earning a bit extra? Fed up with all the other ways to make money? Then why not become a mystery shopper? Follow these tips to see how much you can make and I’ll share with you some of the best sites to get you started.
I can’t think of a much better way of life – getting paid to shop. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?
You may have heard mixed reports about mystery shopping. Some articles I have read over the years say it’s not worth bothering with. In fact, my wife signed up for a mystery shop site but failed to complete one job as she felt it wasn’t worth her time.
But I had also heard on various forums that there was an opportunity to make some good money.
So, in order to make my own mind, I joined several mystery shopping sites. Not only could I check they weren’t scams, but I could also to see how much they pay.
What is Mystery shopping?
Ever heard of the phrase ‘the customer is always right’? Now, that’s not always true, but it’s certainly something a lot of companies aim for. Shopping isn’t just about value, but having a great customer experience too.
That’s why companies employ mystery shoppers. These are members of the public who are just regular shoppers, willing to give a report on their experience.
But instead of retailers employing mystery shoppers themselves, they contract it out to other companies. That way, they get a good mixture of different people.
Do you need any particular skills?
A good eye for detail is always important. You will often need to be able to remember all you have seen and who you have dealt with.
You will also need good writing skills. Most tasks will require you to write a report once you have finished. You must stick to the facts and not be swayed by whether you actually like the company or not!
Finally, you need to be good at keeping a secret. Everything you do for mystery shopping needs to be kept confidential. So don’t start posting on Facebook what you’ve been doing that afternoon!
Do you need any equipment for mystery shopping?
All you generally need to get started is a computer, camera (or smartphone), a pencil and some paper. The computer is needed to find jobs and write your reports and the pencil and paper are always useful for notes. Some jobs require you to take photos – this might be to show the state of shelves or just prove you actually went to the store.
A smartphone is just useful for photos though when it comes to mystery shopping. There are several apps out there that you can earn money from too.
The only specialist equipment you may need is an audio recorder. There are jobs which out there that pay you if you record conversations with call centre staff or in (for example) a bank. However, you don’t have to accept these and I never have.
How much do mystery shoppers make?
The questions on everyone’s lips… how much can you make from mystery shopping? Unfortunately, there’s no one set answer. Depending on how difficult the task is will change the amount you can earn. Plus, you’ll find that some companies pay better than others.
However, jobs generally start at £5, with the best paying jobs earning you £150. On average though, expect to earn around £20 per job.
Mystery shopping tips
The best starting point is to find a legitimate mystery shopping company. Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous companies out there who will do anything to make a quick buck out of you. This case, although in the States, saw somebody lose $5000 when they applied for a mystery shopping job.
Joining mystery shopping sites is free. You should never have to pay to join. That’s not to say you don’t have to spend to complete some jobs. Some assignments will involve you making a small purchase, but not usually more than £20.
Be willing to travel. There are plenty of jobs out there, but you may have to visit neighbouring towns to complete them. With that said, you need to weigh up how much you will earn against the cost of travel. You don’t want to end up out of pocket! But not all jobs need you to leave your sofa and can be completed using the phone or computer.
Make sure you understand the task before you get started. Most are fairly straight-forward but there are some that need a few more details. If you miss something important, it means you could miss out on payment.
If you have to make a purchase, always get full, itemised receipts. These prove that you actually bought the items. Some companies only give you a card receipt, unless you make it clear.
Money made from mystery shopping will need to be declared for tax purposes.
The best mystery shopping companies:
Ipsos UK provides some surprisingly well-paid opportunities. You have to take a quick test before you’re allowed to take on assignments, but this isn’t complicated.
The majority of their jobs don’t involve you purchasing anything but trying out services or looking at taking out financial products. Because of this, they tend to pay the most. I have had several chances to earn between £100-200. One involved applying for a mortgage and another applying for finance from a high-street retailer. Although they sound daunting they aren’t too difficult and don’t worry, you don’t have to go through with the application.
They work with some of the most popular chains across the UK. This is good for us as secret shoppers, as it means there’s usually a job nearby. They do have quite a tough test you need to complete before they accept you as a mystery shopper, but most people should be able to get through it with a little effort.
On average, the jobs offered by GBW pay between £15-35. They will pay more when the deadline for a job gets closer. The jobs may not pay as well as GFK, but there are more available and take less work.
A very popular mystery shopping site, which means you have to be quick to grab any jobs going. They will pay money towards your expenses and can send money before you complete a job.
Another site where you need to be very quick to find job offers. Most of the work offers between £5 and £10, although you can sometimes find the odd job that pays considerably more. You do have to wait between 3 and 4 weeks for payment to arrive though.
One of the smaller mystery shopper sites, but all things considered, it does come with a wide range of jobs. These include visiting shopping centres, meetings with bank staff and checking social media. Jobs can pay up to £40.
Another of the smaller companies… with a difference. Assosia actually want you to announce that you’re a mystery shopper! You’re task is to test employee’s knowledge on products and also evaluating your own shopping experience.
There is plenty of work available through Tern, Simple, quick jobs start at £5 but you will find more in-depth reviews will pay £40+. Work also includes video and audio-only shopping.
International Service Check
This is a site that for those of us that are into fashion. Pay starts at £12 per job and will involve you shopping at some of the major fashion outlets. However, you will earn more if they’re looking for a certain demographic – such as people of a certain age and a certain build.
As long as you keep your profile up to date, ISC-CX (as they are also known) will email you when jobs become available.
The more jobs you complete, the better your rating becomes with Proinsight. If you reach Platinum status, you will receive even more work.
Even when you start, there are plenty of jobs – usually involving video or audio recordings at supermarkets or taking out gym memberships.
Slightly different from the other sites, this is an app based mystery shopping site. The jobs are very generally quick, although the pay isn’t great. Jobs on average pay about £3 and will take around 20 minutes.
What I really like about this company is that there aren’t loads of difficult tests you need to take before you join. You can more-or-less start earning as soon as you join.
Find out more about BeMyEye. Use my refferal code wvq9p3 and we both earn £1.
Market Force offers a lot of opportunities to conduct mystery shops at restaurants and pub chains. Their pay isn’t great, sometimes as low as £3.25. However, they will also reimburse the cost of your food for anything up to £10. So the amounts aren’t great, but it does give you a cheap meal out.
Market Force requires you to pass some spelling and grammar tests before they employ you for their tasks, but these aren’t too difficult.
RedwIgwam isn’t strictly a mystery shopping site. It’s more of a temporary recruitment site and you’ll find lost of jobs such as short-term bar work.
However, there are mystery shopper jobs that appear regularly. The majority of these tend to be purchasing items at supermarkets and reviewing the service you have received. A major bonus to Red Wigwam is that you’re usually paid within a week of your work.
Mystery Dining by HGEM
Mystery Dining won’t generally earn you money, but will give you free food. All you need to do is enjoy your meal (hopefully) at a chosen restaurant and then write a detailed review of your experience.
As you complete more jobs and reviews, you’ll be awarded with a reviewer’s rating badge which will give you even more tasks.
On occasion, Mystery Dining offers a small fee or money towards travel expenses if a job needs to be completed immediately.
Be warned though – you need to complete an assessment before you join… and it’s not easy!
Streetbees is an app available on your phone for both Apple and Android users. Although this app isn’t strictly just for mystery shoppers, there are plenty of tasks available. The jobs are usually very quick and a lot less involved compared to some other mystery shopping sites.
Some of the tasks require you to take photos of your food and menus when you’re having a meal out. It can usually be done at any kind of restaurant, takes just a couple of minutes and pays £5. Other mystery shopping jobs require you to take photos of your drinks or snacks whilst you’re out in a pub.
Most of the money I make from Streetbees comes from home. Some days, I earn money every time I spend time with my cat, feed her or photograph food I have bought for her! Combine this with the mystery shopping jobs and you can easily earn at least £30 per month.
Find out more about Streetbees – Please use my refferal code 7850SP if you decide to join.
Another mystery shopping app. Again, most of the jobs here require you to visit supermarkets and review your experiences. Jobs usually pay between £5 and £10, but shouldn’t take long.
The downside is that the majority of jobs seem to only be available in major towns and cities.
Yet another app! But, to be honest, they are great earners. Again, Roamler offers shorter tasks, many taking just a couple of minutes each. And you’ll often find plenty within a short distance of each other which means you could make over £20 per hour.
When you withdraw your earnings into PayPal, the money is usually with you within an hour.
Like Redwigwam, Clickworker doesn’t offer just mystery shopper work but you will find quite a few tasks here. And most of these jobs only require you to take photos in store, rather than having to make a purchase.
Other work on Clickworker involves:
- Copy writing
- App testing
Unfortunately, this is a mystery shopper site aimed at a very specific demographic. Looking for 18 and 19 year olds, Serve Legal tests compliance at establishments such as pubs, bars and ‘leisure operators’.
They currently employ over 2000 people and have over 14,000 audits available per month. And because of the limited age range, there are always new spaces for testers appearing. Jobs with Serve Legal pay between £5 and £40.
Which is the best the best mystery shopping company?
It’s difficult to choose between the best mystery shopping companies, as it depends on what you’re after. If you have quite a bit of free time and want to make a decent income, I would choose Ipsos UK. However, GBW is good for earning smaller amounts without having to put in quite so much time.