Mystery Shopping can be a great way to make some extra money to help you make ends meet or pay off debts. It takes work, organization, and diligence but it definitely pays well. You can get paid to grocery shop, eat at restaurants, get gas, shop for clothes or beauty items, and almost anything else. Also, you help to influence the customer service of these stores so mystery shopping favorably benefits not just you but future shoppers.
When I started mystery shopping I felt lost and was afraid that I would sign up with an illegitimate company and would fall victim to a scam. I would look through the lists on and discussion forums at Volition.com but not all the companies were vetted and I was confused about which companies would work best for me. The Mystery Shopping Service Provider Association (MSPA) also shows a list of their members on their website so you know those companies are legit. Also, check out Jobslinger.com, a site that will show you mystery shopping jobs near you and link to the company offering them.
I have since tried out many companies and have decided to share my experiences with different mystery shopping companies to help people make the best choices and get the best payouts. It’s really easy to make money as a mystery shopper and it’s a great way to pay off debt.
Mystery Shopping Requires a bit more work than points companies but they pay much more! You need to be organized, a coherent writer, and pay attention to detail. It is easy to get the hang of and is really fun though! Remember: Never fall for scams that require you to pay anything to join a mystery shop company.
You may have to front some money to pay for your purchase or meal but most companies will reimburse you according to the requirements of the shop. Read the fine print, follow the directions, and you will have no problems completing the shop correctly to get paid.
Bestmark– Bestmark is a well known and respected mystery shopping company and has been an industry leader for 24 years. I have done a few mystery shops for Bestmark and have really enjoyed the experience. They pay monthly by check automatically so you can be surprised by a check in your mailbox in just a few weeks! I have gotten paid twice from them and look forward to doing more shops soon. Use referral ID MD5921 when you sign up!
MarketForce– Marketforce is the leading Mystery Shopping company and is widely known and respected. They have a wide variety of industries which they provide shops for including grocery stores, restaurants, fast food, and banks. Marketforce is my favorite mystey shop company. I have done many shops with them and have had no problems with receiving payment. They pay by direct deposit the month after you complete the shops so at first there is a bit of a delay but if you continue to complete shops you will have steady monthly direct deposits. If the company has a hard time getting a shop completed, they may call you and ask you to complete it, sometimes offering a bonus.
Corporate Research International/Stericycle– CRI is a legitimate mystery shopping company which I have personally worked for and have been paid by. The company contracts with retail stores, gas stations, restaurants and all kinds of other companies to mystery shop their stores. I have completed many shops for CRI and their online reporting website is easy to use. Often their reports do not require much writing but they will require an uploaded photo of a receipt and/or photographs of the store, depending on the requirements of the mystery shop. CRI pays promptly about two weeks after you complete a shop for them and pays via direct deposit or PayPal. CRI has shops available across the 50 states and even is looking for international mystery shoppers in places like Puerto Rico, Mexico, Russia, Canada, India, Sinagpore, Spain, Malaysia, and Brazil (to name a few). If you want to sign up to be a mystery shopper for Corporate Research International, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you an invitation right away. Good luck!
UPDATE: CRI is now called Stericycle due to a recent merger.
Goodwin & Associates Hospitality Services, LLC– Goodwin and Associates is a mystery shopping company that focuses on the hospitality industry. I have completed several mystery shops for this company and their forms are short and easy to complete. The shops vary depending on the client but most of the shops I have completed for Goodwin have only taken about 15 minutes each. They pay a flat rate for shops so you get reimbursed for whatever you spent if it is under the flat rate, plus whatever is left over to get to the flat rate.
I have completed shops for quick serve food locations for Goodwin and have had a very positive experience. They also have bars and restaurants available for mystery shops. Their online web portal is easy to use and you can reschedule yourself once if you have a scheduling conflict with shop you signed up for. Goodwin pays 60-90 days after you complete a shop which is a long time by most mystery shopping standards. They pay by Paypal.
Overall I am satisfied with Goodwin and enjoy doing shops for them. If you are interested in becoming a mystery shopper for Goodwin & Associates, click here.
Sinclair Customer Metrics– SCM is a legitimate mystery shopping company that I have conducted shops for. They are a smaller company and do not have the range of clients as some larger companies, but they offer a variety of companies. In my area they have shops available for banks, quick serve restaurants, and retail stores. SCM pays automatically each month via check for the shops completed in the prior month. When the company has a hard time filling a shop they will offer a bonus on the shop, even up to $20. The company will send you emails when they have new shops available in your area but will not usually call you or send many emails a day. You can see my longer review of the company here.
MSI Services– I have completed several mystery shops for MSI Services and they one of the most promptly paying mystery shop company I have dealt with. They offer shops in a wide range of retail services, food shops, product placement verification, etc. MSI pays twice a month on the 5th and 20th of each month, so if you have a pending payment by the time the pay date rolls around, they will send it to you via PayPal. Many mystery shop companies pay only once a month and sometimes they will only pay for those shops that you complete in the previous month, leaving you with a two month delay till you get paid. So MSI’s quick payment is much appreciated. I would definitely recommend signing up with this company.