The 5 Best Mystery Shopper Companies to Work For in 2024

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Want to become a mystery shopper? If so, we’ve found the five best mystery shopping companies to work for.

Mystery shoppers go by a couple different names – evaluators, secret shoppers — but, regardless of the name, the job is the same: mystery shoppers document their experiences to help businesses who deal with the public a lot.

Workers can score everything from free food to extra money when they work for a mystery shopping company.

Mystery shopping jobs are pretty plentiful, too. The mystery shopping industry has been around since the 1940s and is a nearly $2-billion-dollar-a-year industry.

Ready to learn how to get paid to shop? This post includes information about the best mystery shopping firms around (and what makes a reputable company), average pay, how to avoid mystery shopping scams and more.

What Is Mystery Shopping?

Mystery shopping is a job where a company pays you to pose like a regular customer. You’ll provide valuable feedback to the company — from how clean the store was to how the employees interacted with you. In exchange for your feedback, they pay you a fee, and in most cases, you’ll be asked to buy something and then be reimbursed up to a set amount. You will know that amount before you buy.

Many mystery shopping trips entail visits to retail stores, food markets or phone shops. However, for some gigs, you might visit local restaurants (free food!) or even theme parks. There are also phone mystery shopping companies where you interact with call centers and gauge the setup.

Typically, you’ll write up a report on your experience from the customer’s point of view and submit it to the client by a deadline. From there, you’ll get paid.

How Do You Get Started as a Mystery Shopper?

You can look up mystery shopping gigs on dedicated company websites (we’ll get to that soon) or via a job board, like

After you apply and your application is approved, you simply log in to the company’s website and select the jobs you want to do. These firms will provide you with all the instructions, and after you’ve completed the shop, you’ll need to enter your feedback into their websites. Some pay via direct deposit, but most will mail you a check at the end of the month.

It varies by company, but you typically need to be 18 or older to be hired by a mystery shopping company. For assignments around liquor or alcohol, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old. Some gigs also have ranges. For example, a company might request someone between the ages of 18 and 30 so they can appear to be a college student. Some mystery shopping jobs also require you to have reliable transportation.

We love freebies. (Who doesn't?) So we put together a vetted list of 15 companies that will give you food and other products for free.

Qualities of a Good Mystery Shopper

To be a successful mystery shopper, you’ll need to:

  • Read thoroughly. Make sure you read the job description completely and understand the requirements.
  • Be detail-oriented. Watch and listen closely when mystery shopping plus take notes and photos. Successful secret shoppers are meticulous with their data.
  • Stay organized. Hold on to any receipts, business cards and other items you need to submit to get reimbursed and paid for the gig. Adhere to deadlines, too (put a reminder on your calendar!).

Mystery shopping can be a great way to earn pocket cash, but you’ll want to treat this gig like any other job. Especially since not following the rules means you won’t get paid.

How Much Money Can You Get Paid for a Mystery Shopping Job?

It varies based on the company and assignment. Across the U.S., mystery shoppers make approximately $714 a week. Gigs run the gamut, from $12 and a free meal to $100 as a flat rate and beyond.

It’s important to note that, as a mystery shopper, you’ll be an independent contractor. That means you’re responsible for paying your own taxes. You can keep tabs on deductions (like paying for gas to get to a gig) to help with your tax burden at the end of the year. Many companies require shoppers to sign an independent contractor agreement (versus signing them on as a W2 worker), so keep that in mind if you’re looking for a full-time situation that offers health insurance and other benefits.

On the plus side — since you’re not an employee — you should be able to mystery-shop for multiple companies at one time.

How Do You Get Paid?

Similarly, it depends on the company hiring for the assignment — each one has its own rules surrounding payment, from how it’s issued to how often you’ll see your money.

Many mystery shopping companies pay via PayPal, though some do direct debit and physical checks, too. Some offer gift cards in lieu of cash payment, as well.

5 of the Best Mystery Shopping Companies

Here are some of the top companies where you can find mystery shopper jobs. Also, all of them are free to join:

1. Sinclair Customer Metrics

Sinclair Customer Metrics has been in the mystery shopping game since 1987. It specializes in the banking, retail, grocery store, (quick-service) restaurant and convenience store spaces. And on top of in-person gigs, Sinclair offers video mystery shopping to clients, too, complete with a hidden camera.

People looking for a mystery shopping assignment can sign up here.

Better Business Bureau rating: A+.

How payment is distributed: Check.

When payment is sent: You’ll be paid once a month, the last week of the following month after your last completed assignment.

What you need to get paid: Submit completed assignments on time and adhere to all specifications.

2. Market Force Information

Market Force Information works with clients in a variety of industries, from health and wellness and movie studios to specialty retail and alcohol and tobacco. The firm has offices in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, and provides gigs in thousands of locations. Market Force also has an app, Eyes:On, which allows mystery shoppers to complete assignments on the go.

People looking for mystery shopping gigs can sign up here.

Better Business Bureau rating: A+.

How payment is distributed: Direct deposit.

When payment is sent: Monthly, on the 15th.

What you need to get paid: Submit completed assignments on time and adhere to all specifications.

3. IntelliShop

IntelliShop is a customer experience research and improvement firm. The firm’s specialties are in the customer experience, online reputation management, and loss prevention and compliance sectors. IntelliShop provides coverage in more than 18K cities in the U.S. and Canada and 180 countries.

Prospective shoppers seeking a mystery shopping assignment can sign up here.

Better Business Bureau rating: A+.

How payment is distributed: PayPal.

When payment is sent: Approximately 30 days after the last day of the month in which your mystery shopping trips were completed.

What you need to get paid: All shop documentation (a business card, receipt, etc. — anything required for a particular task) must be submitted to receive payment for the shopper challenge.

4. Mystery Shopping Service

Mystery Shopping Service has been around for more than 20 years. The company serves the real estate, senior living and healthcare, retail and hospitality industries across the U.S. Mystery shoppers could be tasked with calling a business and reporting on the conversation or touring an apartment building under the guise of a potential renter.

Prospective mystery shoppers can get more information on available gigs and apply here.

Better Business Bureau rating: A+.

How payment is distributed: PayPal or check.

When payment is sent: End of the month.

What you need to get paid: Submit completed assignments on time as outlined in the assignment instructions.

5. Intouch Insight

With Intouch Insight, you can take on quick gigs at restaurants, boutiques, gyms, grocery stores and many other businesses. These jobs take anywhere from five minutes to a couple of hours to complete.

You’ll need to register with Intouch to get started and of course, get paid. Create an account, enter your ZIP Code and you can choose from tens of thousands of money-making opportunities in the US and Canada. Plus, you can work whenever you want. People who do this regularly tend to earn about $200 to $300 dollars a week.

Intouch has been around for more than 40 years.

Better Business Bureau rating: A+.

How payment is distributed: PayPal.

When payment is sent: You’re paid out on the 15th and final day of each month for work completed in the half month prior.

What you need to get paid: Submit completed assignments on time as outlined in the assignment instructions.

What’s Life Like for a Secret Shopper?

You can become a mystery shopper in a number of ways. In fact, our CEO started mystery shopping as a teenager. (He’s also completed more than 5,000 mystery shops to date!)

He got his start mystery shopping at local grocery stores, an Ikea, fast-food establishments, restaurants and liquor stores. On another assignment, he was asked to pretend he was shopping for a car — he took a test drive and everything — and earned a cool $60 for each dealership he went to that day.

He’s since hung up his mystery-shopping boots. But back in the day, he was usually paid between $8 and $25 per secret-shopping trip. There were months where he earned more than $5,000, but most months, he earned $400-$500 in extra money for mystery shopping.

Your mileage may vary, of course. But it can be a semi-lucrative and fun gig for the right person.

Looking for a lucrative job that lets you work from home? Start a bookkeeping business and make up to $69 an hour.

Warning: Be Careful of Mystery Shopper Scams

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

A few rules of thumb:

  • Never pay to join a mystery shopping company. The real ones never ask for a payment from 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.
  • Also, legit mystery shopping companies shouldn’t force you to take a certain number of jobs.

Still confused about an opportunity? The Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) is a trade organization that offers resources for secret shopping companies and guidelines for individuals who are interested in this type of work. Also, check out online reviews for any company before you work for them.

There are a ton of real mystery shopping companies, so do your due diligence to stay away from the scams.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Mystery Shopping

Here are some FAQs when it comes to mystery shopping companies and gigs.

Which Mystery Shopping Company Pays the Best?

The short answer: It depends. Overall, though, it’s worthwhile to sign up for a couple different companies and see what’s out there. Also, consider that the types of gigs you go after (visiting three grocery stores in one day vs. answering a 10-minute survey, for example) will have an effect on your pay. If you choose more involved tasks, the pay tends to go up with the workload.

Which Mystery Shopping Companies Are Legitimate?

The five companies listed in this article are all legitimate mystery shopping companies. However, it’s worth looking at recent online reviews so you can learn from other evaluators’ experiences. (Also, note that BBB ratings do not necessarily mean that a business is BBB accredited.)

Always do some research before taking a gig and revisit the section on scams so you know what to avoid.

How Much do Professional Mystery Shoppers Make?

Mystery shoppers can make anywhere from a few bucks to several hundred a week. Depending on your availability and the job pay, you have some control over how much you can make. Remember, though, that it will typically take a couple of weeks (minimum) before you will receive the pay for your work.

Contributor Kathleen Garvin (@itskgarvin) is a personal finance writer based in St. Petersburg, Florida, and former editor and marketer at The Penny Hoarder. She owns a content-writing business and her work has appeared in U.S. News, and Well Kept Wallet.