How to become a mystery shopper

Mystery shopping make money

Ever thought you’d make a good spy? Well, with mystery shopping you’re being paid (or reimbursed) for going into a shop, cafe or restaurant and pretending you’re a normal customer, all the while keeping a mental note of how good the customer service, cleanliness and stock levels are. After you leave you’re sometimes asked to take a picture of the outside of the shop or your receipt, and submit a report about your experience.

There are people who make good money doing mystery shopping alongside their normal jobs, it’s not too time consuming, and it often ends in free food for you!

mystery shopping department store

Who this would suit

If you have £0 in the bank, then you’re not going to get on well with mystery shopping - you usually need to front the cash you’ll pay to try out the shop or restaurant before being reimbursed by the company. You should look into trying one of our other ways to make money instead.

Similarly, if you’re famously forgetful and unobservant, then mystery shopping might not be for you. A word of warning to blabbermouths, it’s called mystery shopping for a reason, and you’re not supposed to say that you’re a mystery shopper when you’re actually taking part, or disclose who you’ve mystery shopped for after you’ve done it - so no social media bragging that you got a free meal at XXXX restaurant. Keep quiet!

Most companies require you to submit your report within 24 hours, and you need to go into a good amount of detail. The best mystery shoppers have a great memory about the service they received, and remember specific details about their visit. If you’re observant, got enough money to afford to complete tasks and have time to fill out detailed reports, you could be perfect for mystery shopping.

mystery shopping free food

Companies to sign up for

Here are some of the biggest mystery shopping companies that you might want to sign up for, usually you’ll be asked why you want to be a mystery shopper, what you think would make a good mystery shopper, or to write a short description of customer service you recently experienced, but some of our applications have included a spelling and grammar test - so be aware!

MarketForce - this is one of the larger companies and there are always jobs available.

GfK Mystery Shopping

Grass Roots


Helion Research

The Mystery Dining Company

free testing

Other types of mystery shopping

There are a few different methods and types of mystery shopping, it’s not just going to a store and telling someone about it.

Test purchasing

If you’re 18 or 19, then you could become a test purchaser for things like cigarettes, alcohol, fireworks, etc. Companies employ you to try and buy age restricted items, and will ask you whether or not you were asked for ID by staff. Serve Legal is a company that’s dedicated to this type of mystery shopping, but other mystery shopping companies will offer you these types of assignments if you’re the right age.

Online stores

It’s not only shops and restaurants on the high street that want feedback about the customer experience, there are also websites looking for mystery shoppers too. eMysteryShopper is a specialist in online mystery shopping, and you’ll be paid for giving your opinion.


These are less formal than standard mystery shopping, but you can still make a bit of extra money using apps like StreetSpotr, FieldAgent and Streetbees. A typical task available on one of these apps would be to go into a store and take a picture of the DVD stand, or pick up a takeaway menu from a local restaurant and snap a photo. It’s as simple as that! They’re much quicker and spontaneous than traditional mystery shopping, so it’s great for students with a bit of free time.

Over the phone

Some mystery shopping companies will pay you to call up businesses, for example, making a hotel booking on the phone. These are ideal, because it’s so little effort.

Things to look out for

There are a lot of scam sites out there, look out for ones that are MSPA accredited, as they're the most trustworthy. We're signed up to all the ones mentioned in this article, and we've heard good things about all of them.

Pay attention to how much compensation and payment you’ll be making for the task, and weigh it up against how much it’s going to cost you to buy the items they want you to, and how much it’ll cost to get there. If you’re going to be compensated £15 and they want you to buy two main meals from a restaurant, then it’s probably not going to stretch that far. It’ll still be a cheap meal, but you won’t be in profit.

Mystery shopping tasks come and go, and the number of jobs you’re given will largely depend on what part of the country you’re based in. It’s why it’s worth signing up to a large number of them, and checking once a week to see if there’s anything new to apply for.

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