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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

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make money mystery shopping

Want to know a fun way to get dinner out at no cost to you? Or to make some easy side money before the holidays? Check out how you can make money mystery shopping! Here’s a run down on how to get started and the best companies to work with.

We’ve done this for a few years now and have enjoyed a number of different date nights “on the house” basically.

What is Mystery Shopping?

Stores, Banks, Restaurants and many other types of businesses contract with mystery shopping agencies to have customers come and see how their staff is performing. Are they going through the welcome and greeting messaging the business wants, did they show you the dessert tray, did they give you all the required government paper work for a loan etc. This can be very different from one mystery shop to another, but you are helping the businesses to know how well they are doing.

You’ll be paid for any required purchases you need to make (example we had dinner at Longhorn and had to buy 1 entree, 1 dessert and 1 appetizer) you’ll also earn a small amount for your time required in typing up the report. If you type a great report you can even earn a bonus with most companies. There will be a number of stipulations they give you about the “job” including what day or time of day they want you to visit.

Make sure you pick jobs that you will actually do, as you will have a running score tied to your account and if you do poorly or don’t do the jobs at all they will offer you less and less work.

How to Get Started

There are a number of companies that offer mystery shopping work, however you should NEVER pay to join any of them! All the of the legitimate companies are free to join.   Also never accept a job that involves transferring money or accepting checks.

To find companies to get started with here are a few that I’ve worked with in the past:

Pinnacle Financial

Best Mark (personal favorite for oil changes!)

Sinclair Customer Metrics – to sign up look for a link at the top of the site.

Market Force

Intelli-shop

MSPA – Job Search Board – this is a board that posts jobs from numerous agencies.  You’ll have to sign up for the individual agencies before getting approved.  It does help you to see everything in your area.

 That should get you started with a number of options, but if not you can see a massive list of companies on this site.

All of these companies will ask you to fill out a questionnaire so they know what shops you would be best for.  Many will also end up needed your SSN and other personal information so that they can pay you (this is required by the government).  Many do pay straight to Paypal so you don’t wait long at all for reimbursement and payment.

Many companies will manually approve your application, so expect to sign up today and not have a first job for a few days.

As you get started I would love to hear what types of jobs you get offered!  I’m off to get pizza dinner and a free carwash with local shops…

    • guest

      I’ve secret shops and audits for marketforce. They pay a month after the work is completed. If you don’t follow direction, no pay.

    • Linda Fassnacht

      Mspa also has a list of their member companies that can be trusted. I have been a shopper since 2008. If you are in a metropolitan area, you can get quite a bit of work. Smaller cities, towns, not so much. It is nice to be able to enjoy a meal or a movie and be reimbursed, but remember, it is work. You must follow all instructions, you cannot reveal you are a shopper, unless it is a reveal shop, and the actual pay is not going to make you rich. But it is fun!

    • http://budgetforbaby.com/ Trista

      I have done Marketforce for a few years now. It’s pretty slim pickings with mostly McDonalds shops. I’m happy to grab a 5 Guys Burger and Fries shop a couple times a month. Then there are very rarely other shops such as Aldi, Abercrombie & Fitch, Sonic, some car wash, Babies R Us.

    • http://ReportMom.com marlene feliciano

      May` I tell you something`that is Really` interesting` and `worth` paying` `attention`. An `effective` and `excellent` online` `opportunity` to work` for those people` who want to `utilise` their free time so that they can `Earn some `extra `Money` using their `computers`… I have been `working`time so that they can `Earn some `extra `Money` using their `computers`… I have been `working` on this for last two and half years and I am earning` 60-90 `dollar`/ hour` … In the `Past` `Week` I` Have `Earned` 13,70 `DoLLars` For `Almost `20` hours` `Sitting` ….

      `Any` Special“kind` of `Skills, `Degree` or Specific qualification is not `required` for this, just `typing` and a `good` `working` and `reliable` `internet` `connection` ….

      `Any` `Time` `Boundations` to `Start work` is not `Required` … You may do this `work` at any `time` when you `Willing` to do it ….

      I have Been Working on this and Getting Results…..….Hope over to“website“ `page` `LINK` which is on Prrof!le of mine

      *vbcdfgdfgdgd

    • lovemoney

      How do the yearly taxes work?

    • al

      I am primarily interested in restaurants and grocery stores?

    • Kristie Harley

      same here! do you have to sign up for mspa before you see what other companies to sign up for?

    • stacey

      my favorite is that I get free tanning plus make a cool hundo every month doing 3 tanning salon shops!!

    • Heather Remington

      Do you have to pay taxes?

      • Shannon Y-K

        If you makes more than $500 with the company you have to report it on your taxes.

      • Jonathan Hewitt

        All income is taxable but you won’t get a 1099 unless you make enough.

    • tori729

      Thanks for this! I used to do this but the company I worked for kind of faded out. I just found some through MSPA and am doing two Hardees shops this week, plus Marketforce just accepted me. Super excited!

    • JS

      I have done this for several years now. I have a few things to emphasize. ONLY go through MSPA to find legitimate companies. If they are listed there, they can be trusted. You should get a secure website to enter your application on. You will likely need to sign up with many (dozens?) companies, completing an application, sample of your writing, and SSN each time. NEVER pay any money to sign up. NEVER cash a check you were not expecting. You have to be almost perfect with details and grammar. Easy shops take 10 minutes to scan paperwork and write up, but I have spent over 2 hours writing up more intense projects like fine dining. Sometimes people do not get paid at all, because they failed to follow the instructions to the letter, or they are unable to produce professional, formal writing. Lots of shops require you to make a purchase (with your own money), then wait to have your shop report accepted, then wait to receive your fee and your reimbursement. Some shops are merely “inquiry” shops with no purchase required (ex. getting info about a new cell phone). Payment terms may be 30, 60, or even 90 days out. Payment may be nothing, just reimbursement. An average shop that did pay might be $10-$15. You do have to keep records, as the shop fee payments are income and must be reported on taxes. You work as an independent contractor, not an employee.

      Not trying to discourage anyone! I do many shops that pay for things I would have to pay for anyway: oil changes, car washes, pizza, groceries. It especially makes sense if it’s a project I can easily add into my other errands. Start small, with a project with little to no purchase requirement to test the waters. People who do it on a large scale can make a living at it, and work up to big projects like 2 day hotel/spa evaluations.

    • LB

      What is MSPS

    • LB

      MSPA

    • Abby Schiera

      Signed up for the Pinnacle Financial one and there are no jobs in our area for the rest of the year. Pretty dissapointing. Probably just going to not bother.

    • Abby Schiera

      Tried to sign up for the MSPA site and they are saying I have to pay a $25 dollar membership fee. I told them to cancel my account.

    • Tiffani

      I did a mystery shop job (can’t remember what the company was) and had a good experience as far as getting paid and everything, but it was so much work for not a lot of money! There were no jobs for getting compensated for food and such in my area, so I had to make a complicated phone call and answer lots of questions for $3. I think it may only be worth it if you live in a larger area.

    • SueH

      I have been mystery shopping for about 5 years, I like it because I can usually work as little or as much as I want. I don’t live in a big town, so I try to schedule jobs when I’m already going that way. Sometimes companies call me and offer more money if I will do a particular job. One time I was paid $100 for doing 2 very easy shops. The only catch was I drove about 150 miles total. I have made as much as $300 in a month. I am signed up with all of the companies mentioned here, and about 20 others. I have only paid for one oil change in the last 2 years. I even try to schedule shops when I’m vacationing. That way it cuts down on some of the expense of eating out or even entertainment. However, there are some types that I won’t do. Because some of them truly are too much work and time for too little money.

    • tori729

      I have been regularly mystery shopping with Marketforce and Strategic Reflections. Most of the time, I get free food from restaurants or grocery stores. For me, these are the easiest for me to do because I can take my kids with me. I just signed up for a few more from the links but it looks like they are car dealerships and banks which aren’t conducive to taking kids along.