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The Best Mystery Shopping Companies to Work For
Mystery Shopping

by - January 31, 2010 - 152 Comments

I’ve been mystery shopping since I was 16 years old and to date, I’ve done more than 5,000 mystery shops!

I’ve mystery shopped local grocery stores, an Ikea, fast food establishments, restaurants, and liquor stores. I’ve even been asked to pretend like I’m shopping for a car – took a test drive and everything, plus earned myself a cool $60 for each dealership I went to that day.

I’m usually paid $8-$25 per mystery shop, plus reimbursement for my purchases. There have been months where I earned more than $5,000, but most months I earn an extra $400-$500 a month for mystery shopping.

What is Mystery Shopping?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with mystery shopping it is a job where a company pay you to pose like a regular customer and then provide feedback to the company on things like how clean the store was or how well the employees interacted with you.

In exchange for your feedback they pay you a fee and in most cases they will ask you to make a purchase and will reimburse you up to a set dollar amount.

Be Careful of Mystery Shopping Scams

If you’ve looked into mystery shopping before, you know that there are a lot of scammers that are trying to take advantage of this industry’s growing popularity.

A few rules: NEVER pay to join a mystery shopping company. The legitimate ones never ask for a payment for you. NEVER pay money to a company to see their list of jobs. Legitimate mystery shopping companies are always short of shoppers, so they never ask for you to pay to see a list of their jobs.

And lastly, check to see if they mystery shopping company is a member of the MSPA. They are the official organization that is in charge of regulating mystery shopping companies.

Trust me – there are a ton of real mystery shopping companies, so stay away from the scams.

My Favorite Mystery Shopping Companies

I have shopped for all of these companies and I love them! All of these are free to join:

Best Mark
Sinclair Customer Metrics
Market Force
Experience Exchange

After your application is approved, you simply login in to their website and then select the jobs you want to do. They provide you with all of the instructions and then after you have completed the shop you will need to enter your feedback into their website. Some pay via direct deposit, but most will mail you a check at the end of the month. Pretty easy, huh?

I’d love for folks to post in the comments if you have mystery shopped before and if you have any other companies you have worked for successfully.

Good Luck Penny Hoarders!

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  • Anonymous

    I've done a couple shops for http://www.beyondhello.com They were clear on what they needed and prompt with their payments. Good luck!

  • HI! I’m Kyle Taylor.

    Thanks for the tip!

    I just checked it out and it looks like a good company. They have the online job board as well which I really like because you just click the jobs you want and it adds it to your assignment list.
    Those are the best companies…

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Kyle for the post… I've heard about this before and was wondering more about it. Your article answered a lot of questions for me about this. I've seen some of these on craigslist as well, but I was worried about scammers and stuff. Have you found that these companies pretty much have the mystery shopping industry nailed down in terms of coverage? Should I even bother with the craigslist listings?

    Thanks for any help!

    Tim D.

  • Kyle Taylor

    @Anonymous – Hmm…I have seen those Craigslist listings as well and in my opinion they are usually a scam. Scammers post those ads to collect email addresses or direct you to a program where you have to pay to get the name of the mystery shopping companies. My advice is always to sign up directly with the companies and never pay to sign up.

  • The Saved Quarter

    I've had really good luck with Jobslinger.com as a mystery shopping aggregater. I've done shops with Kern, Intelli-shop, and Beyond Hello, among others.

  • Moneymakergal

    Great post! I have also tried mystery shopping, but it was a while ago, and now I am eager to get back to it, so this was very helpful, thanks!

  • John

    Wow, thanks for this list. Up until now I though mystery shopping was just that…a mystery! I remember applying at a few companies some years ago and they all turned out with a catch. So good to know there's genuine ones out there, though I wonder how limited the jobs are for a given location….?

  • http://www.dom-mody.pl Dom mody

    I appreciate your work on this info, this is certainly useful – thanks.


    momsoffaith.com has legit lists of MS companies

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  • http://spaindgirl.bravejournal.com Selma Bonneau

    How can I get your images to show on my Blackberry?

    • The Penny Hoarder

      Hi Selma,

      We are working on developing a mobile version of The Penny Hoarder right now. The iPhone version debuted a couple of days ago and I hope to have it ready for Blackberry by the end of the week.

      Thanks for being a reader!

  • Shannon

    I can tell you that Mystery shopping does pay! I use Bestmark right now and have expanded to Intell-ishop and looking for more. Mystery shopping is a great way to make some extra money, so give it try. Just a word of caution, only use companies that are BBB certified.

  • Mary

    Hi, I work for Market Force and Best Mark, and also a really wonderful company called Corporate Research International which I love! I have been doing mystery shopping for about 6 months and it really helps out every month. There are some legit companies out there! The first few you do makes you a little nervous but they are mostly easy to do and fun!

  • http://www.tomfit247.com/2013/09/weight-and-fat-loss-supplements.html Tommy@Getting Fit

    Thanks for the information I have considered doing mystery shopping before but was worried about getting scammed.

  • Jodi

    How do they deal with W-2 or taxes?

    • Kyle Taylor

      Hi Jodi –

      Most of them send you a 1099 at the end of the year. In fact, if you earn more than $600 a year with them, they are required to send you one…


  • charity

    I am a young widow with two little kids and would love to make extra money. I am currently going to school. If these companies are legit I will be so happy. Thanks for your blog.

  • Aimee

    I LOVE MYSTERY SHOPPING. I started May 2013 and I really like the freedom I have choosing where to shop and the type of shops available. One of my favorite companies is Maritzmysteryshopping.com. Last month I made just $500 from them alone plus I work for several other companies. I am an INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR so what I do is what I WANT to do. :)

    • Raudel Perez

      So you made 500 ontop of the money reimbursed from any of your purchases? Or how does that work?

  • Tiffany Vanick

    I joined Benchmark and it says because I clicked audit as well, that I may not be contacted for some time. Do you do both? Are they referring to contacting me for audit’s only or for mystery shopping as well? Thanks.

  • dw

    I have never mystery shopped. I have never found a legitimate company. But after reading your blog I will. I just stumbled across your blog and I am so glad I found it. As a wife and mom I am always looking for ways to stretch a dollar or make a few more lol. This is an awesome blog!

  • EKKW

    What are you thoughts on companies that are requiring you to provide your SSN when signing up? Also, do they require it, in order to be paid out?

  • http://www.marketforce.com/become-a-mystery-shopper/ Jessica

    Do all the applications require SSN#?

    • Kyle Taylor

      Usually. They need to be able to send you a 1099 at the end of the year for tax purposes.

  • http://BestMark Jenny

    I have mystery shopped for Best Mark before. It is a very good company to work for and you get paid within a couple of weeks. No minimum for a check, either.

  • http://www.tysfreebies.weebly.com Tyrone Bush

    I have done a couple of mystery shops for strategicreflections.com and really like them. I have no complaints with them. It does take about a month and a half to get your money though.

  • jeff maloy

    I have seen somewhere that in Nevada or at least Las Vegas in order to be a mystery shopper you have to have a private detective liciense.Does anyone know more about this??

    • Donna

      Hi Jeff,
      I lived in Las Vegas and did a lot of jobs for Market Force and had no problems and did not need a private detective license. Good Luck.

  • Steph

    I clicked on the very first company you mentioned (best mark) and then clicked on the Bbb (better business) icon to see if they were legit. The only thing is that when I went to the BBB “page” I couldn’t navigate through their website or click on any of their icons. Is it a fake page? Also, there was an alert about the company sending out fraudulent checks. I sincerely hope this isn’t one big scam that you get paid for to get other people to sign up for things. Just a curiosity if those companies are actually good or just seem that way because you don’t have to pay for them.

    • Kyle Taylor

      Hey Steph –

      Yes, unfortunately, this is becoming common with the mystery shopping companies. Scammers set up a fake website/company with a similar name and use the real businesses’ good reputation to scam people. Just navigate directly to Bestmark’s site and you’ll be fine – BestMark.com


  • wifeandmom

    Hi, I stumbled across this article when I was reading the artical about saving money when youlive paycheck to paycheck. I’m not currently workinwhile I’m expexpecting. I always thought being a mistery shopper would be cool but could never find some thing that was real so yhis article really helped. Which company would you recommend to start with as a first time shopper. I also wanted to share info about a company I will be doing work for as an independant contractor soon. My mother did it and its a great way to earn extra cash. Its called leapforce. I believe it is owned by google. It pays about 13/hr. To evaluate websites and youtube post for various different companies. Now there are many many tasks that are really short. You can do it in your spare time or you can make it a full time job. You do have to take and pass a test to do so. And you can only take it once so you must read all of the material first. The only down fall is they pay once a month but hey if ypu work 40 hrs getting 2000 in your acct once a month is awesome. It really does pay. My mother did it when she was between jobs. Even if you do the bare minimum you can still get some good extra cash doing it.worth checking out.

    • Kyle Taylor

      Hey Megan –

      Any of the ones I listed above are good to try your first shop. There are over 100 mystery shopping companies, but the ones listed above are some of the biggest, so you’ll have more shops to choose from.


  • Gloria G.

    I am living on SSI and don’t have money for groceries, toilet paper, etc for a large chunk of the time. Thus I just can’t put out the money for restaurant meals or store purchases, even if I’ll be reimbursed later. Do you have any suggestions for ways someone could earn money without having to put any out?I find most survey sites ask you to sign up for “offers” that entail spending money. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

  • Desiree

    Hi ! Great article. I want to start mystery shopping a.d if i could eventually do it full time and quit my job, that would be great! I have two questions: first, you said they send you 1099 tax forms at the end of the year, this worries me because I don’t want to get stuck owing a bunch to the IRS. Did you find yourself paying a ton at tax time when you were doing this full time? Second, I currently work in retail at a major retail store. Does this cause a conflict of interest and prevent me from getting accepted through these companies ?

  • Simon

    Thanks for the article Kyle, and thanks for the list! I have been a mystery shopper for 2 years now, and I love it. For the past year, I’ve been doing assignments I found via a mystery shopping company called SQM ( http://goo.gl/CwLkck ). Did mystery shopping for several pizza restaurants. I absolutely love pizza, and it’s great to get it for free or get reimbursed, especially as a starving student! :P I also did many other restaurants; some of them were fancy. The actual evaluation is online, so you can do it quickly. I find places close to school or work to evaluate so I don’t have to travel; works out really well. I have even done dates in a restaurant and didn’t pay anything! It’s actually amazing that you are getting paid for this, but I guess this kinda market research is important for companies, so you are doing a service to them by evaluating their actual customer service. Another good thing about signing up for a mystery shopping company is that they sometimes give you calls, asking if you are interested in an assignment or not, so you don’t have to hunt for deals yourself.

  • Dawn

    Would love to start right away but I don’t have a clue where to begin is it certain stores and then how do they know you really done it .

  • Barbi T

    Hi Kyle,

    This article is very informative. I will definitely check out the MS sites you listed. Do you know of any companies that pay you to shop apartment communities? That’s the industry I’m in and something I’ve often thought would be fun to MS.

    Thanks again for the info.

  • SWJenn

    Desiree – yes, you will owe taxes on the money. It’s best to put about a third aside for that purpose. I mystery shopped for several years for Verizon, and made between $400-$600/month. That adds up over a year, and can tip you into another tax bracket. You are required by law to either have enough withheld to cover what you will owe, or to make quarterly payments so that you don’t end up owing huge at the end of the year. We just adjusted the withholding from hubby’s paycheck to cover what we expected to owe, and used the money I was making to make up the difference. So it’s a good idea to keep a running total on what you’ve earned, and to look ahead to what that will do to your taxes and adjust withholding from another job or make quarterly payments to the IRS so you don’t find yourself in a tight place.

  • Lori

    Dear Kyle,
    This article was very informative and very helpful. Thank you so much! If you had to pick your favorite company to work for who would it be? I just signed up with Best Mark.

    Thank you again so much for the info!!!

  • Lisa

    Hello Kyle,

    I just signed up for Best Mark and Marketforce and almost a day later I was approved, signed up, and browsing for shops in my area (some are fast food places right up the street from my house!). I’m so excited! I was surprised because I thought someone was going to call me and interview. I had a question about the other companies you listed. Are they as simple to sign up and/or do they require some type of formal training?

    • Kyle Taylor

      Hi Lisa –

      Awesome! Let me know if you run into any questions along the way. :)

      Yes, most are that easy. However, some mystery shopping companies require you to read the instructions and then take a quiz assuring you understand what you’re supposed to do. I know Mysteryshops.org makes you do a pretty tough quiz before each shop.


  • J

    When can we expect an update to this article, and do you still mystery shop?

  • sara

    What type of ms pays the most? Apartments? Restaurant? Does it make a difference? Thanks!

  • Victoria

    I have done jobs for Best Mark for oil changes for our vehicle. we get reimbursed for the oil change and / or tire rotation plus $20.00 extra for our time (that is for a local dealership) if you travel farther you can get more so if you are on vacation and you need an oil change you can set it up and you get $45.00 or more plus your expenses up to a set amount.

    • Lisa


      Do you find that BestMark only offers vehicle shops? That’s all I’ve seen so far in my area. I own a Toyota so I have not been able to do a shop for them yet.

  • Chau

    Are you required to have a job to apply for mystery shopping?

    • Kyle Taylor

      Nope. :)


  • Joanne

    I am a waitress we are mystery shopped a few times a year and than some. If you are going to do this please be honest with your answers, we have about 10% of mystery shoppers that are doing this to support a habit and they put down crappy and dishonest answers because they don’t care!! But your answers definitely do affect us employees!!! We have families too! So please just be honest with your answers. Thanks Joanne

  • Danielle

    Dear Joanne,

    I’m so sorry to hear that there is a small percentage of mystery shoppers doing deliberate evil. I am just getting started since my divorce due to the fact that my ex husband lied in court, stole our family business, money, cheated, let 2 pets die and constantly threatens to not pay the very small support the court ordered him to pay. My point is that I’ve learned that there is about 6%-10% of the population that has very serious mental disorders and sadistically enjoy tormenting others. I am hopeful that you will have kind and compassionate individuals evaluate you in the future, so that it will be evident that your effort and hard work has been gravely misrepresented.

  • Danielle

    PS~ Joanne… A few of the serious disorders I mentioned in my last post would include Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychopaths. Possibly you can bring this fact to your manager’s attention and the 90% positive reviews will make your point clear. My ex tampers with my cars and stalks me too. Unfortunately, these evil people bring chaos into the lives of everyone they encounter… I wish you the best.

  • Rosi

    I apllied for shadow shopper but they want to charge nme to upgrade the membership. Anybody knows anything about them?

    • Kyle Taylor

      Don’t do it! You should never have to pay a mystery shopping company. There are a ton of legitimate ones and that isn’t one of them.


  • Robin

    I have mystery shopped for almost 2 years now. Love it. Only had 1 issue with a company that I worked for for over year and a half and that was totally unexpected, not getting paid and not anwering my emails on when to expect payment. I had to buy specified items and then get re-imbursed and paid on top of it. So I reported them to the government board that takes care of unpaid wages. I suddenly got a payment for just over half of what I was owed and told the rest was coming. I am staying on top of it as I need the money. I have had no problems with anyone else. These are legit jobs but you have to do what they ask you to do.

  • cara

    For those leery about giving a SSN, get yourself an EIN.

  • MAY

    i just signed up at Best mark and I have to say, I’m a little nervous when it comes to performing my first shop. any tips?

    • MAY

      also, some of the other sites you mentioned ask for your SSN. is that procedure and is it safe?

      • Shawn

        i’ve recently started with intelli-shop. it seems like they mostly deal with car dealerships but they pay between $25-$30. i normally pick those b/c they pay well if you do 4/week. they pay on time as well. just got my first payment a couple days ago. my advice is to start with the companies mentioned in the article.. there’s a lot of spam places but these are legit.

      • Melissa Steed

        Why would they ever need your social? I deffinitely wouldn’t share that.

        • Chris Morris

          They need your SSN because it is easily possible to make enough money that they need to send you forms for tax purposes.

          • Marina King

            Also, they need your SSN because you are an independent contractor working for their company and they need to have it for proof when they pay you and file their own taxes. They do not withhold any of your money for taxes and you are not technically “employed” by the mystery shopping company. I’ve been mystery shopping a long time and there is nothing to worry about. I have never had a problem with these companies.

          • Brandon

            Hi Marina,
            In regards to taxes. Seems if they have your SSN on file for their taxes. Then that means you will have to report your earnings as well, correct?

          • Stephanie Glenewinkel

            You only report your earnings after you’ve made a certain dollar amount.

        • Brittany

          As long as you research the company you are applying to shop with, there is no harm in providing your SSN & by law they would need it to pay you. However, if the idea really bothers you most of the Mystery Shop companies do allow you to use a Tax ID #. I decided I wanted to separate all of my self employments & independent contractor gigs including shopping. I created a business name & applied online which took me all of 5 minutes. That varies from state to state (I am in Ohio) but I would think the process would be similar. :)

        • http://www.therightwriterforyou.com Tammy Norton

          Look for the MSRP logo, I don’t like putting my ss# on paper applications for whoever works there to have access to, but I have done it everytime I search for a job. It’s just one of the things you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. You could possibly join LifeLock to protect yourself in the event of nefarious attempts to steal your identity.

    • http://www.therightwriterforyou.com Tammy Norton

      Print out the questionnaire and study it so you’ll know exactly what the client is looking for. Remember names, times, and think of it as writing to your best friend about your dinner or car shop. Stick to the facts though and be fair. If you mess up, be honest with the person who you speak with and they will usually help you fill out the report. My biggest mistake, losing my receipt. Go ahead and take a picture of it as soon as you get in your car, otherwise you won’t get paid. BestMark is a good company to shop for. Have fun!

      • http://www.therightwriterforyou.com Tammy Norton

        Just noticed the date. Little behind on my response. So how did it go? Lol

  • Rob Lacey; Irish Wolf

    y pay. The survey itself took nearly I’ve done mystery shopping for several years with Bestmark and some others not listed and I’ve never seen shops on the job boards offering the kind of money you’re talking about. Auto shopping jobs pay only $20, which to me is not worth the time because the end-of-shop surveys have several specific information input requirements that require prolonged interaction with a sales person to get the information that the companies for which the shops are presented. One of the most important aspects of this type of shop is that you have to talk to the sales people as if you are in the market for buying…trying to end the interactions without raising suspicions is rather difficult…I’ve got spine injuries that cause me severe pain after sitting up for a certain length of time and even though I told the salesman this as an excuse to end the interaction without going through the entire negotiation process and he STILL used every delay tactic he could think of to get me to stay and close the deal. Even when I finally had to become insistent that I could no longer endure Tue pain caused by sitting upright, stood up and started walking out, he was still trying his hardest to get me to stay! I had to become a bit rude to stop his pressuring tactics! By the time I left my back was killing me and I had a headache because of my neck injury…then when I got home I had to fill out the survey before midnight or lose the money for the shop, which took nearly an hour. needless to say, I was in a boatload of pain when I completed the entire process and decided that $20 is NOT worth that kind of pain and aggravation!

    Additionally, not one single restaurant mystery shop that I’ve seen pays shoppers anything other than reimbursement for the meal up to a certain point. @ May, most reputable mystery shopping companies require a social security number and most will not pay people for shops until the supply the info. I’ve never encountered a problem from giving to the info.

    • Cyd

      I just got paid 40 for a dealership shop…I was there maybe 30 minutes and the survey after wasn’t but may another 30 minutes on top of that. And for the two restaraunts I just done I was paid $12 and reimbursement for my meal. Not being rude and I sympathize with your pain. But maybe you shouldn’t put yourself in those situations if they bother so much. I mean the man said that it’s not a fortune made. But because you had a bad experience doesn’t mean that you should rant about it and ruin it for others. You know what the job is before you do it. If it’s not worth it to you…then simply don’t do it :)

      • Rob Lacey; Irish Wolf

        I am pleased for you that secret shopping seems to pay double in your area than it does in mine, as no auto dealer shops here ever pay more than $20 and restaurant shops never pay a fee…they only reimburse for one’s order up to specified limits. My ‘rant’ as you call it is nothing more than an alternative viewpoint on mystery shopping from the one supplied by the article. If the shops here paid as much as you claim to earn, or were as frequent as yours seem to be, I would have a much different opinion as to the value of my time spent collecting the required information! In the mean time, I have just as much right as you or anyone else to voice my opinion here. I mean, nothing stopped you from touting off in criticism of my opining regarding the state of mystery shopping in my area. The aspect that you appear to have missed is the actual point of my statement…no, my words are not meant to ‘ruin it for others’ of you, they are nothing more than food for thought for others in apparently undervalued areas. If my stated opinion reaches other secret shoppers in parts of the country where mystery shopping pays so much less than in other areas, then perhaps like-minded individuals will play a parts in effecting change in that shops here will be valued as they are elsewhere.

        • Sarah Lloyd

          Thank you for your very passionate opinion. You should be elected as Officer of Mystery Shopping so we can campaign against the inequality and injustice going on here.

          • Rob Lacey; Irish Wolf

            My first act would be to appoint you as keyboard commando-in-chief and dutchess of sarcastic indignation and butt-hurt!

          • Sarah Lloyd

            LOL! LAYNWY.

          • BludBaut

            It seemed from your response that you thought Sarah’s answer insincere. I thought it genuine.

          • BludBaut

            It seemed from your response that you thought Sarah’s answer insincere. I thought it genuine.

      • Michelle Edwards

        I agree with you Cyd. I have done carlot shops and was there no longer than 30 minutes and was paid 25-30 dollars.

    • Heather

      I just started shopping myself and I understand what you are saying and I appreciate your advice because it does give you something to think about and I am sure there are jobs that do not pay enough for the trouble you have to go through as well as jobs that pay very well so thanks “officer” lol. I am sorry for your pain but I work for a place that paid me 15.00 just to pay my cable bill or if you were not a customer to walk in and inquire about service. It took me 8 min inside and about 20 to do the paperwork. Hope you find something worth your time.

    • Bonnie

      Yep, I hear ya. If you go out on one or two shops a day it isn’t worth it. I try to do at least 5 a day.
      Restaurant shops are cheap. I had a run on BrakeMasters getting my brakes checked. These were good pays I steer away from new phone service because they run a credit check and that goes on your credit report. Try to explain that when you are going for a loan. All the inquiries look really bad.
      It’s all in organizing and routing so you are not running all over town wasting gas.
      I love the phone shops. Can do those in my jammies at home.

      • Michelle Edwards

        Have you tried banks shops? They pay 25.00 and you are not in the bank no longer than 10-15 minutes

    • Bonnie

      I guess it depends where you live. I have done auto dealers for $40 – $60.

      • Camille

        I have done an auto dealer for the top end of that range. However, the shop took so many hours, it ended up paying less than minimum wage per hour it took me to work on it, not including travel time. I managed to negotiate more for another location of the same shop thankfully.

  • Monica Radice Elwood

    I’ve done work for Market Force for almost ten years, and it’s fun. In general, a good shopper can only expect to make $10 per hour, which won’t make you rich, but is a lot better than nothing! And with MF, get on their good side and they’ll offer you bonuses to fill last minute assignments. I’ve done that several times.

    • Marina King

      I do a lot of last minute bonus shops for Market Force. They call me often and I make the time to get them done. You can get some pretty good bonuses!

  • Nicole

    Is it safe to put your social in I am not sure if I want to ?

    • http://www.thepennyhoarder.com Kyle Taylor

      Hi Nicole –

      Legally they have to collect a social security number from you. You’re signing up to become an independent contractor and they will send you a 1099 at the end of the year for your taxes.


    • Davida Elaine Mullins

      Not all companies require your Social Security number, some ask you to get an EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS. Because as an “Independent Contractor” you are self employed and responsible for your taxes. If you make more that $600.00 with any ONE company, then you are required to give the IRS a Form 1099. Hope this helps!

  • Marco

    Just completed my first shopping assignment with Sinclair. I had fun doing it and I got free pizza :)
    Also completed one for Best Mark. It took 5 min to make the call and another 15 min to fill out the online survey :)

    • Camille

      How much did you get paid, & how much long did it take to read the instructions?

  • melimac

    Can you sign up for more than one company at a time bc so far i am not qualifying for the jobs from best mark?

    • Tina

      Yes as many as you want. I shop for twelve different companies. Unless there is a non compete agreement which I haven’t seen.

  • melimac

    Can you sign up for more than one company i joined best mark and so far I haven’t qualified for any of the shops and I wanted to sign up with some other companis too?

    • Rob Lacey; Irish Wolf

      You can sign up for as many companies as you want, as they do not seem to cross-check for any reason. One company for whom I perform secret shops and product reviews actually has several divisions and I have done work for many of them, some were done while I was still officially in-process with another division, so, it appears that divisions are independent as well.

      • Marina King

        What company is that? I know Market Force has divisions…

    • Bonnie

      I have about 20 companies I am signed up for. Some of them I hae weeded out though. I don’t do any shops that require me to give out personal information. these are new phone installation for sure. they pay pretty good but I made the mistake of giving information and then it shows up as a credit check on the credit report.

      • Jennifer Sardam

        Hi, Bonnie. Are there any other mystery shopper companies you’d recommend? I keep running into the scam ones, so I was very happy to find this article, and immediately signed up with these seemingly more reputable ones :) Thanks!

        • Bonnie

          BestMark and Trend are good. I did a lot for Intellishop. You should sign up for a MSPA certification. There is a fee but most shops won’t give you work unless you have this. MSPA also has lists of all the real shops. Do not be afraid to use them.
          It can be mind boggling at first finding jobs to keep you out there for a days work. then the paperwork when you get home. Once you get a routine it’s pretty much fun. Detail is everything. BestMark pays fast where most companies take about 3-4 weeks. Happy shopping. I stopped for a while as I moved and will be getting back into it soon. http://www.volition.com is another one. Just start with http://www.mspa.com first and it will guide you.

          • Camille

            How do find it fun? I found it fun at first, but it really under pays. I’m not sure if you’re faster at it?

          • Bonnie

            At first I was ready to quit. The driving around and then the paperwork. Once I got a routine it worked a lot easier. What I found to do was to get to my car and write notes immediately. By the time you get home and are weary it all starts to give you mind fog. Fill out as much as you can as soon as you get out of the premises.

          • Camille

            Thanks. I actually already do that now. However, I just do it on paper then have to transfer it to computer later. I’m thinking it may be better to find free wi-fi close by and type it out right away. I’d probably have to replace the broken battery in my laptop tho.

          • http://www.therightwriterforyou.com Tammy Norton

            I don’t have MSPA certification and I have a list of legit shops. Sassieshop is a good resource.

        • Camille

          I don’t have MSPA certification and get work from both out of two mystery shopping companies I’ve signed up with. I’m in Canada though.

        • giagold

          Anyone know brand ambassador jobs?

    • Bonnie

      you can sign up for as many shops as you want and then weed them out. Some are very slow pay and low pay. I have a friend who did resort shops and got paid very well in the 100’s. Of course you have to dish money out first but then you are compensated plus. You get a nice weekend away and get paid for it. These of course, are few and far between. The movie ones are good if you want a free night out with the family. They only want you to watch the trailers but you can stay for the whole movie.

    • Michelle Edwards

      Try GFK, and Intelli-shop, and see if you qualified for any shops. There are two good companies to work for and pay every two weeks thru paypal….

  • Val Greene Thanas

    One of the best places to find mystery shopping info and the companies is on http://www.volition.com….I have been doing mystery shopping for 10 years now….it hasn’t made me rich, but has so many benefits when raising a family on a tight budget….

    • Jennifer Sardam


  • Julie Doke

    I have done restaurant shops for Customer Impact and they pay 12.00 plus reimbursement also Pinnacle has bank shops that pay 50.00

  • dwjenpsych

    I worked for Market Force a few years ago. A coworker who had been doing it for years got me started. The jobs were mostly fast food and grocery stores. A few paid really well such as $25 plus expenses to do a last minute McDonalds shop near me. It was a good company with not too much paper work and prompt payments. I only stopped because my regular job got too busy.

    • Vikki Karan

      I LOVE MarketForce. I have a demanding full-time job and a baby at home. I aim to do about 20 MarketForce jobs a month and can usually pull that off. Doing that brings me in about $400 a month from them. I adore the direct deposit. So nice and simple. The money just shows up in my bank account each month. Been working with them for over a year. Never an issue. McDonald’s gigs usually pay about $7.50 and actual reimbursement. Most I’ve made on a job is to go to a high end store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and seem interested in buying something. That gig paid $35.

      • DimKartrashian

        400 dollars is some nice pocket money! I’m beginning to think I should give it a shot.

        • Donna Kimball

          I would love an extra $400 a month. Good for you .

      • Dez Weston

        How can I get into market force? Please email me, Niawy1127@gmail.com

      • Marina King

        I love Market Force as well. Not too many new clients in my small city, but I am faithful to the ones I do get. :)

  • Angel Aguirre

    Hello I would like to know I real it is had signed up for one place online for mystery shopper and they sent me a phony check please let me know how real these places are thank u

    • 40Helen60

      Angel, I’ve been there. Secret Shopper sent me a$3,000 ck, drawn on Wells Fargo, which at that time was my bank, turned out the ck was stolen from a company out of Nevada. I turned it over to the bank, who turned it over to the feds. The second ck, same thing. Third time I rec’d a counterfeit post office money order. That too was turned over to the officials. The last ck was from a company claiming they were with Monster Drink and I was to take part of the money to a place to have my car wrapped. $2,500 was to be sent to a PO box in another state. I called the company and was told only employees of their company are allowed to wrap their cars. This last one I took directly to the FBI. Oh, those phoney companies threatened me that if I didn’t cash those cks/money orders and send part of the money to an address they had sent to me, they would have me arrested. I told them to bring it on, that I didn’t have those cks/mo’s, the FBI had them. You have to get tough. Next time you get anything FED Ex with a big ck or money order take it to your bank or credit union. If you were to cash that ck, you would have been arrested.Take advise from someone who has been there. If it’s sounds too good to be true, beware. Good luck.

      • DimKartrashian

        Wow that is a lot of scams! Thank goodness you knew they were just that and didn’t get suckered. Thanks for sharing.

      • Michelle Edwards

        I do agree! I received a check like that and I just burned it… DO NOT ACCEPT CHECKS OR MONEY ORDERS, and MONEY GRAMS. I usually go with Paypal, it has to be ligit.

    • Bonnie

      Do not fall for the online mystery shopping companies. Once you sign up for MSAP you will be able to find the legitimate companies.

    • Michelle Edwards

      I have been working as a mystery shopper for 2 yrs now and it is real. There are certain companies to work for and the ones that are listed above are real and pay good.

  • shae

    I’ve been shopping for epmsonline.com since 2011 and I love it. They do apartment mystery shops and pay no less than $30 each. The only con is the report is very long.

  • Danielle

    Does anyone have any information about such sites like shoppersinc.com? I ran across them and want to make sure they are legit I saw a few articles stating they were fake.

  • Danielle

    Any one use sassieshop??

    • Nina

      ICC Decision Services, Beyond Hello, Shopper’s View and GFK.

  • Camille

    Does anyone know well-paying companies to work for in Calgary? By well-paying, I mean more than minimum wage after expenses are deducted.

  • Bebe Davis

    i just recieve a contract from bestmark, the agreement it’s kinda bodered me,Like $2 wrong spelling or grammar will be deducted, for their editing, please give me advice befor i sign this up! thanks

    • Stephanie R. Lovett

      Well I would be “bothered” to have to read a review and wonder what the heck they are trying to say because the grammar is incorrect

    • Nina

      They don’t mean a few minor errors. They just mean if they can’t understand what your experience was or if your report requires excessive editing. I have never had a Best Mark report sent back to me.

  • Donette Stafford

    Has anyone tried this? Putting this link on line for other to Check out and make money for the clicks? I’m trying. Made $25.00 just for signing up and the don’t ask for credit card or money. Worth a try! Click here. http://Earn4Share.com/?id=16371

    • IceQueen1981

      Have you gotten enough to get a pay out?? I just started it but I want to know if anyone has actually gotten any money for this!

      • AT…….Annoyed

        I have gotten to the minimum where you can withdraw in order to get the money you have to complete a survey. Once the survey is completed they claim you can withdraw the money. I completed the survey and status is still saying survey not yet complete.

  • Lacey Kneeland Bennett

    I worked with a mystery shop company called ‘TrendSource’. The shops were mostly retail-related and were a lot of fun! Jobs paid anywhere from $6-20, depending on your experience/qualifying level. You could advance to higher levels by completing courses offered on the company’s website. I eventually got up to completing business audits (using a checklist from Trend Source to enter a business and evaluate certain criteria. These shops took more effort and time, but also paid upwards of $30. I would highly recommend checking this company out and putting them on your list! :)

  • Sofia

    I’m worried about the security of market force.. My browser is yelling at me that it’s not secure, yet there’s comments here that state successful experiences with them.. Has anyone else experienced this issue? I’m wary of putting personal information in..

    • Vikki Karan

      Never had an issue with their website or security. Been using them very successfully for over a year. I have direct deposit with them. They have my social security, bank info, etc. All good.

      • Michelle Edwards

        I have worked for them as well and I have not had any problems with them.

    • Marina King

      I have seen that warning as well but I just ignore it and proceed. Never had a problem.

  • latisha

    I’ve been mystery shopping for about two years there is plenty money to be made. I paid for a trip to VA and NY for me and my daughter jus off doing mystery shopping. I would recommend a site called job slinger they are awesome

  • Nina Richardson

    I have been mystery shopping since 1981. I do several shops a month for various companies. You might also sign up mysteryshopforum.com for help with mysteryshopping. I have found Trendsource and Jancyn pay every two weeks. I started with Market Force when they were Shop’n’chek. They call me when they have a need for shoppers for certain shops that pay much more than 5-8.00

  • Linda

    Why wouldn’t you have to give them your SSN? Don’t they take out taxes or at least have to report income to the good ol IRS??

  • Marina King

    I work for Market Force and love it. I work for both the mystery shop and theatre evaluation portals.

  • Marina King

    Of the mystery shops listed above, which company was your very favorite, and wy?

  • Glenda Roberts

    Checkout Jobslinger.com. It is a consolidation site of mystery shopping opportunities from various companies.

  • Thomas J Miezejeski

    I have been mystery shopping for about a year and have learned there are several things that can make your mystery shopping more efficient. I have put all this information in a book. . My book
    “Maximizing Your Secret Shopper Income “provides all the information you need
    to get started and prosper. The book is
    available on Amazon as a Kindle eBook.
    You can find it at http://amzn.to/1gRBnxV

  • Philip Rogich

    Anybody deal with JMRidgway

    • http://www.thepennyhoarder.com Kyle Taylor

      Hey Philip –

      I’ve worked for them once before. They’re a real company, but they just didn’t have very many jobs available in my area….


  • Erin Nelsen

    I did Mystery Shopping for a few years. It started out slow, but I was able to build up to about $1,000 a month in part time income. You’ll spend lots of time writing reports online so if you don’t enjoy that, this isn’t for you. That being said, I enjoyed free dinners, hotel stays and even entertainment venues. I enjoyed it. Yes, if you want to get paid, at some point they will need your social. Just make sure it is a legitimate company before you provide it. There is a professional Mystery Shoppers organization that has a list available for free. Never pay for one of those lists, you can get all the info you need for free with a little searching on the net.

    • Camille

      Which company or companies do you use?

      • Erin Nelsen

        I worked for quite a few…Intellishop, BES, AboutFace, KSS International, Northwest Loss Prevention, A Closer Look, Beyond Hello and Customer 1st to name a few. Here is a good list to check out. It’s from The MSPA, a mystery shopping professional organization. http://www.mysteryshop.org/member-companies

  • Lisa

    Is this good to do in a suburban college town area? Or is it more for big cities?

  • Melissa Malone

    Kinda sceptical as I tried this 10ish years ago and was basically scammed out of money.
    I haven’t worked in more than 7 years, just started walking in June. I’m bored,need something to to and get me out of house. Money would be nice too!

    • Camille

      I mystery shop for a reliable mystery shop company. Do u live in Canada?

      • Melissa Malone

        US.down south

  • Jon Macdonald

    I have performed over 10,000 video mystery shops. My favorite company who I know specifically has stayed under the radar is Eagle Eye Retail Intelligence: http://www.eagleeyeshops.com

  • http://www.imscinfo.com/ IMSC Pam

    They need your social security number not only for the IRS, but also to make sure you can legitimately work in the United States.

  • http://www.imscinfo.com/ IMSC Pam

    If anyone is having trouble finding legitimate companies to work for, the (IMSC), Independent Mystery Shoppers Coalition will help you for free. We are a mystery shopper support organization and our focus is to assist mystery shoppers. You are welcome to email us at info@imscinfo.com for free mystery shopping information or visit our website for the information. http://www.imscinfo.com/community-enhancement/how-to-become-a-mystery-shopper/

  • Bonnie

    Hello, I have done mystery shopping and it can be fun. Two things I didn’t like was that you hae to wait to be paid sometimes almost up to a month. Secondly if you don’t set up a route for the day you will be wasting time and money doing just one or two shops. You must sign up for MSAP. BestMark is a very good company. There is a lot of paper work after you get home. Organization is the key.

    • Camille

      What is MSAP? Do you mea MSPA?

  • Michael
  • Charlie

    I have been a Secret Shopper on and off for 20 years, and spent two years working full time exclusively for a large corporation evaluating their 800+ stores. I currently am registered with about 80 companies, and perform 20-30 shops a week. For new shoppers I have a few words of advice :-) Don’t expect to make enough money to support yourself. There are high paying shops, and sometimes several companies need a lot of shoppers, however, typically at $7.00-$30.00 per shop, this is “mad money”. If you look at your time performing the shop, your gas, and your time spent on reports, you can work minimum wage and come out ahead. You will find that some companies require huge amounts of narrative, which is time consuming. You will also find that sometimes you will get a lower score than you expect, and will not always get feedback as to why. You can spend time and money completing a shop, only to have it rejected for a minor reason that is borderline for being a legitimate reason, and you wonder if they really discarded your shop, or they got paid and you didn’t. The bottom line is that if you like to set your own hours, have a good memory, are able to be objective, and are not relying on this to pay your bills, it can be a lot of fun!
    You will quickly get a feel for which companies are reputable, which will work with you on schedule changes, etc., and which ones develop a relationship with you based on mutual respect. Some of my favorites (in no particular order) are: Marketforce, Intelli, J.M. Ridgeway, Jancyn, CRI, KSS, Bare, Reality Check, and Trendsource. I carry a small recorder with me, and when I get to my car, I tape a rough outline of the shop and key points, times, and personnel. This is great if you are on a timeline with multiple shops, and want to type them at home. It keeps you from confusing shops, especially when you do more than one of the same type, on the same day. Best wishes to new shoppers!

  • mnicole

    Why do they all ask for your social security numbers? Ha anyone else tried these websites are they trustworthy?

    • http://www.thepennyhoarder.com Kyle Taylor

      Hi Mnicole –

      Legally they have to collect a social security number from you. You’re signing up to become an independent contractor and they will send you a 1099 at the end of the year for your taxes.


  • Rebecca

    A few years ago I I was contacted by Overstock. com by mail to do some mystery shopping for them. I didn’t give them any info yet, but the envelope come with a check and instructions on how to submit my info and cash the check to go mystery shopping for them. I was supposed to cash it n spend so much on the item at a certain store, then send a certain amount back to them n the rest was for services rendered. My bank said take check to Post Office since it was a money order from them. My bank said if the cashed it then it was legit. That got me thinking. So I went to the Post Office n low n behold they said it was a very good fake and that they had been receiving reports of counterfeiting going on, but mine was something new n was a good quality counterfeit, but counterfeit none the less. I gave it to the Post Master to keep. So now when someone invites me to become a mystery shopper, I just delete it. I want to thank you for telling me of some legitimate sites to go to. I also wanted to let you know how I found your website.
    I was listening to my K LOVE Christian radio station n they mentioned about cities pying or offering people money or free land to move to their community. So I clicked on the news link and saw others links below n yours was one of them. So thank you for the insight and I will definitely look into the Mystery Shopper links. I’m a 52 year old grand ma of 14 grandkids. In the procces of trying to qualify for SS Disability for my Fybromyalgia. I also raise 3 grandsons. 2 brothers 15 and 14 and their 6 year old cousin. We live on 370 dollars a month from child support. We manage, but it’s hard when you cant get out of bed due to pain.

  • Katrina

    Trendsource is another legitimate company I started working with last Fall. I actually found it while reading another article from the Penny Hoarder!

  • Katrina

    Trendsource is another legitimate company I started working with last Fall. I actually found it while reading another article from the Penny Hoarder!

  • William Kwok

    Experience Exchange is now Service Intelligence.

  • William Kwok

    Experience Exchange is now Service Intelligence.

  • Gloria Adams Jordan

    As a mystery shopper in the past, I found second-to-none.com to be honest and paid quickly.

  • Davida Elaine Mullins

    I have been working for MSI Trendsource for a few weeks now, they are legitimate, and they offer (mostly) grocery store shops. You aren’t going to get rich doing mystery shopping, BUT it is a great, fun, interesting way to earn some $ while also providing input that hopefully helps companies improve their customer service!

  • http://www.therightwriterforyou.com Tammy Norton

    Check out Trendsource and OnSource,

    Trendsource has mystery shopping jobs and you can sign up to be a certified inspector. I have taken covert photos of churches, photos of empty lots, drawn sketches and measured the exterior of a consulting firm, asked a series of questions about how financial institutes protect their customers personal files. They also allow you to request a PAD amount which covers gas expenses.

    I take pictures of vehicles for OnSource. They have recently developed a mobile app which makes it so easy to upload photos.

    Both are independent contractor positions and both pay more than most shops. They require a background check before you can become certified. I still do some shops for Sinclair Customer Metrics. I love doing the car dealerships and prize award shops for Intelli-shop. I hardly ever do any with required narratives and purchases anymore.

    As far as safely entering information, look for the MSRP logo on legit sites. Never pay to join. Never agree to cash huge checks. Avoid western union shops unless you speak directly with a trusted scheduler. Avoid package reshipping scams. I plan to start writing more on this subject soon on my site http://www.jellyfish15.webs.com. If anyone has any questions, contact me, I obviously love to communicate!

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