20 Best Mystery Shopping Companies | Get Paid to Shop

We all understand that some expensive activities, like going shopping, eating out, and staying in hotels, require us to spend cash out of our own pockets. No, you are wrong. With the help of mystery shopping, you can complete all these activities for free.

Best mystery shopping companies

Mystery shopping companies are hiring secret shoppers just like you and me and paying them to shop and eat. You just have to visit stores, restaurants, showrooms, or other places and write a report back describing your customer experience. Your purchases there are reimbursed, and you also receive extra money for your efforts. Along with a list of the top 20 mystery shopping websites covering all regions, I’ve included some advice for you in this post.

Let’s get started.

What is Mystery Shopping?

Mystery shopping is a method that market research firms use to gauge how well customers are treated at a shop, restaurant, bank branch, or other location. How do they do it? Mystery shoppers, people like you and me, are hired to visit different locations they want to evaluate or audit. Shoppers visit the places portraying ordinary customers and report back their experiences and observations. Such feedback and reports are then used to help brands improve their services and customer experience. Shoppers are paid for their time and efforts. The cost of any purchases made during evaluation is covered by the client or brand. Not all mystery shopping assignments involve in-person visits. Some can be completed from home with just a few phone calls and web-based inquiries.

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What Does a Mystery Shopper Do?

A mystery shopper goes to the designated restaurant, store, or other location makes a specific inquiry and evaluates the level of customer service based on given criteria. During the visit, he keeps an eye on even the smallest details while still acting like any other customer. Following the visit, the mystery shopper completes a survey or submits a thorough report outlining his experience and findings.

In plain English, a mystery shopper goes to shops, eateries, theaters, and other great places to shop, eat and be entertained while getting paid to do so. Because purchases are reimbursed by the client and a small fee is paid for his efforts on top of the reimbursement.

What a mystery shopper does can be divided into 3 steps – 

Preparation – It involves reading instructions, learning about the scenario/role-play needed for the assignment, and getting ready for the visit.

Visit – involves visiting the place, making specific observations, and collecting proof of the visit.

Report – involves filling out survey forms and submitting reports as well as purchase receipts if any.

Why Should You Become a Mystery Shopper?

Because you get paid to shop, eat out in restaurants, stay in hotels, try out new products, and engage in other fun activities or daily purchases you would have done anyway. Mystery shopping offers variety, and you get to visit a lot of places and perform different fun tasks. Most assignments pay extra money on top of reimbursement.

Another advantage of working as a mystery shopper is that you can create your own schedule. If you need to, you can take a break. Pick up only those assignments you are comfortable doing. In fact, some tasks, like calling a store, can be carried out at home.

As a mystery shopper, you learn a lot of things as you explore a wide variety of products and brands. This improves not only your knowledge but also your communication and other skills.

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At the end of the day, you are doing all this to help businesses improve their customer services. You are indirectly making a customer’s journey better in a way.

How Much Money a Mystery Shopper Can Make?

One aspect is how many audits are offered to you and how many of those you accept. Your location plays an important role. If you are living in a big city with a lot of stores, there will be more opportunities for you, obviously. When you complete a shop, you are rated on a scale or given a score on the basis of the quality of report you submit. Shoppers with a good score or rating get projects more frequently. Your experience and writing abilities may also have an impact on how many projects you receive. Then there are projects that only reimburse your purchase and do not compensate you financially in any other way. Considering all these factors, it’s hard to give a certain number or predict how much you are going to make with mystery shopping.

A typical mystery shopping assignment earns you $5 to $25 or even more depending upon the difficulty level of the assignment and the work involved. You can join multiple mystery shopping companies to make sure you never run out of audits.

In my opinion, mystery shopping is not a regular and reliable source of income. It can not replace your regular job. But as they say, a penny saved is a penny earned. Mystery shopping allows you to get free products, free meals, free movies, free hotel stays and much more you can’t get without paying otherwise. You might think about using mystery shoppig to make extra money and cut back on expenses.

Best Mystery Shopping Companies

Some Mystery shopping sites are country specific. To make it useful for everyone who lands up here on this page, I have added global mystery shopping sites as well as sites those covers bigger regions like Asia-pacific, Middle East etc covering almost all countries.

These are 20 best Mystery Shopping Sites Around the World – 

1. Bare International

With more than 30 years’ of experience, Bare International is one of the best mystery shopping sites you can trust without a doubt. The giant customer experience research company conducts more than 50000 evaluations/audits every month in 150+ countries. Some of their prestigious clients include Google, LG, Adidas, Audi, Marriott hotels, Puma, Nike, Philips, Sony, and many others making a big list.

Bare international rates the performance of mystery shoppers based on various factors such as completeness, accuracy, responsiveness, grammar etc. So mystery shoppers with good ratings are given preference and chosen to participate in audits more frequently. You also get a bonus sometimes when you submit high-quality audit report. The company is prompt when it comes to payment. If you complete a project in this month, you will receive the payment on the 25th of next month via PayPal, Wire Transfer or any other payout option you have selected.

  • Coverage – Global
  • Payout Options – PayPal, Wire Transfer and Others
  • Payout Schedule– Once a Month on 25th

Join Bare International as an Evaluator 

2. Above Benchmark

Founded almost 2 decades ago, Above Benchmark is one of the best mystery shopping websites in Australia without a question. Above Benchmark has 10000+ secret shoppers who have evaluated hundreds of brands like Hisense, Soul Burger, TRED from over 25 industries. You get paid $15 to $50 on top of reimbursement for every task you complete depending upon the complexity level. They are quite fair and quick in payments. You get paid a bonus when you submit an accurate and well-written report.

  • Coverage – Australia
  • Payout Options – Bank Transfer
  • Payout Schedule– Weekly

Join AB as Mystery Shopper

3. HS Brands Global

With more than a million mystery shoppers, HS brands is truly global covering 140 countries. Big brands such as Amazon, Subway, Sunoco and Hardrock have been their clients. Registrations are open for Mystery shoppers from all over the world. You will be notified whenever an opportunity arises near you.

You can check necessary information like fee, expectations, requirements, and Reimbursement Amount before you accept a project. They are a bit slower and follow net 60 payment term. Payments are processed 60 days after the last day of the month you completed the project in.

  • Coverage – Global
  • Payout Options – PayPal and Bank Transfer
  • Payout Term – Net 60

Become Mystry Shopper at HS Brands

4. iShopForIpsos

Ipsos with over 18000 employees is one of the oldest and largest global market research companies having offices in 90 countries. More than 10 million secret shoppers from around 80 countries have already joined iShopForIposos.

Mystery shoppers are expected to complete various tasks such as personal visits, calls, chats, audits, and emails in different sectors like hotels, retail stores, car dealerships, banks, and insurance offices. iShopForIpsos takes a little longer in validating and approving submitted tasks but is very fast in processing payments after. They try to process payments once every two weeks. The whole process may take as much as 60 days.

  • Coverage – South Africa and all major countries in Europe, Asia, the Americas and Oceania.
  • Payout Options – PayPal and Others depending upon your location. Different countries have different withdrawal options.
  • Payout Schedule – Once Every Two Weeks

Join iShopForIposos

5. Sonata GBW

Sonata GAPbuster Worldwide is another credible mystery shopping company active since 1994. They have 480000+ shoppers from 105+ countries around the world who have helped over 2500 brands improve their customer service.

Payments are processed once every month so you can expect payment by the end of next month for all the projects you complete during this month.

  • Coverage – 100+ countries Globally
  • Payout Option  – Wire Transfer
  • Payout Schedule – Once a Month, Net 30

Join Sonata GBW as Mystery Shopper

6. IntelliShop

Intellishop has been around since 1999 helping its client improve their customer experience. It has won MSPA’s Shopper’s choice award many times which makes it a trustworthy and reliable Mystery shopping website.

You are required to pass a short screening test after the registration process. Some audits like calling a store and visiting a website can be done from home too. Always follow guidelines, write through the report and complete the evaluation on time to improve your shopper’s rating which ultimately leads you to receive more offers. Reimbursements are always made via PayPal on the 20th of every month. So if you conduct an evaluation this month, you get paid 20th of next month.

  • Coverage – Global
  • Payout Options – PayPal and Bank Transfer
  • Payout Schedule – Once every month on 20th

Become a Mystery shopper at IntelliShop

7. Field Agent

Field Agent is a mobile mystery shopping app that pays you for trying out new products, performing audits at stores, providing views on the packaging, verifying product placement and other tasks. A field agent gets paid typically $2 to $15 for each successfully completed task depending upon difficulty level and time taken. If a task needs you to buy a product, the cost is reimbursed by Field Agent.

You can place a withdrawal request once you have $15 in your account. Field Agent processes payout requests once every week via PayPal.

  • Coverage – USA, UK, Canada, South Africa, Mexico, Australia, Spain, and Ecuador
  • Payout Options – PayPal
  • Payout Schedule – Weekly

Become Mystery Shopper for Field Agent

Gigwalk and Merchandiser are other similar apps that offer Mystery shopping tasks.

8. Helion Research

Helion Research with a force of 400000+ Mystery Shoppers from 100+ countries in all major regions has served many big brands like Intel and Audi improving their customer experience.

Helion Research processes payments once a month. You get paid on the 20th of every month for all the shops you completed during the previous month. Shoppers outside EU countries are paid via PayPal or Skrill instead of Bank Transfer.

  • Coverage – 100+ Countries in Asia&Pacific, Europe, Americas, Middle East and Africa
  • Payout Options – PayPal, Skrill and Bank Transfer
  • Payout Schedule – Once a month (on 20th)

Become Mystery Shopper for Helion Research

9. AQ Services International

You must be 20 Years old to become a Mystery Shopper for AQ.  The company was founded in the Netherlands and has expanded its operations in Asia and other regions. Payments are made via Bank transfer or PayPal depending upon your location.

  • Coverage – Several Countries across the globe including Singapore, Thailand, Netherlands, Germany and Italy.
  • Payout Options – PayPal and Bank Transfer
  • Payout Schedule – Different for Different Countries

Become a Mystery Shopper for AQ

10. CXG

CXG is a reputed and professional mystery shopping site that lets you evaluate luxury brands like Gucci, Bally, Jaguar, Bentley, Prada etc specifically from cosmetics, fashion, jewelry, watches or the auto industry. The company has expanded its operations to 70 countries across four continents since its inception in 2006.

CXG offers various modes of payment depending upon the country you live in but PayPal has been their default Payout Option. Payment takes 45 days at most to arrive in your account.

  • Coverage – 70 Countries across the globe including Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Moscow, New York, Paris, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei and Tokyo
  • Payout Options – PayPal and others depending upon your location
  • Payout Schedule– With in 45 days after submission of report

Become a Mystery Shopper with CXG

11. BestMark

Working since 1986, BestMark with more than 6 Lakhs shoppers is one of the largest Mystery Shopping companies. Having clients from a wide range of industries ensures every shopper gets something to do of his interest. BestMark is currently available to Shoppers in US and Canada only.

Mystery Shoppers on BestMark are termed as Field Representatives and compensated via PayPal, Gift Cards and Direct Deposit, 3 to 4 weeks after the completion of a project. BestMark processes the payments twice every month which sets it apart from other Mystery shopping sites.

  • Coverage– US and Canada
  • Payout Options – PayPal
  • Payout Schedule– Twice a Month

Become Mystery Shopper with BestMark

12. Onion Insight

Mumbai based Mystery shopping company Onion Insight has over 30000 secret shoppers from 35+ countries. They have completed over 1 million mystery shops since its inception in 2009. Payments are made within 45 to 60 days of completion of the task which I feel little slow when compared to other mystery shopping companies.

  • Coverage – Asia-Pacific, Europe, Europe-Central, Europe-Eastern, Europe-Western and the Middle East
  • Payout Options – PayPal and Bank Transfer
  • Payout Schedule– 45 to 60 days

Be a Mystery Shopper for Onion Insight

13. Coyle Hospitality

As its name suggests, Coyle Hospitality offers mystery shopping opportunities in the hospitality industry – Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants, Travel and Tourism, Cruises, Spas etc. Coyle Hospitality has helped Hyatt, Potato Head, Graduate Hotel, Royal Caribbean International, D&D London, and hundreds of other brands from 130 countries in measuring compliance and customer experience.

Shoppers are expected to submit detailed narratives and accurate reports as most of their tasks are detail-oriented. In fact, they check your writing skills during sign-up process.

  • Coverage – 70+ countries across the globe
  • Payout Options – PayPal and Bank Transfer
  • Payout Schedule – Unknown

Evaluate for Coyle Hospitality

14. APC

Ath Power Consulting is one of the most respected mystery shopping sites has been named ‘MSPA Elite Company’ 5 times back to back. They have more than 5 Lakhs evaluators in North America alone and expanding in South America too. Performing over 10000 Shops every month, APC has provided its consulting services to thousands of big brands like Well Fargo, BOA, PEPSI, Dunkin etc.

APC will be proved most beneficial to shoppers connected to the financial industry and have knowledge of banking products. Payment is processed twice a month and you can expect payment 30 to 45 days after submission of the report.

  • Coverage – USA
  • Payout Options – Check and Direct Deposit
  • Payout Term– Net 45

Become Mystery Shopper with APC

15. Confero

Confero is a reliable mystery shopping company working since 1986 and a long-standing member of MSPA. Industries covered by Confero include Hospitality, Retail, Travel, Entertainment, Medical, Financial, Automotive, Education,  Government and Regulatory. They have served many big brands such as CocaCola, Lenovo, Nissan, Wendy’s, Shell and a lot of others.

If a shop demands the purchase of goods/services during evaluation, it will be reimbursed by the client through Confero. Invoices will be submitted automatically once you have completed a task and submitted the report. Payments are made via PayPal only.

  • Coverage – US and Canada
  • Payout Options – PayPal
  • Payout Schedule– Twice a month

Become a Mystery Shopper for Confero

16. A Closer Look

With over 200000 Mystery shoppers and 25 years of experience, ACL is one of the best mystery shopping sites to work with. But before you can get free food, drinks and hotel stay by evaluating businesses, you will need to pass a test and submit a writing sample to become ACLs approved mystery shopper.

From what I have read or heard, ACL only pays reimbursements generally so don’t exceed budget when you shop. New registrations are open for shoppers living in US and Canada only.

  • Coverage – US and Canada
  • Payout Options – Check
  • Payout Schedule– 3rd Friday every month

Be a Mystery Shopper with ACL

17. MarketForce

Founded in 2005, MarketForce completes 100000+ shops every month and has served more than 250+ big as well as emerging brands across the globe. Become a mystery shopper for MarketForce and get reimbursed for doing things you enjoy like eating out.

Payments are processed once a month. Their support has gotten worse in recent times if I go by the various reviews on the web.

  • Coverage – US, Canada and UK
  • Payout Options – Direct Deposit
  • Payout Schedule– Once a month

Become a Mystery Shopper for MarketForce

18. Call Center QA

Call Center QA is a phone mystery shopping site i.e. you just have to call from home on your own schedule to make extra money and get paid via PayPal. A typical call takes around 10 minutes and you get paid $5 for every successful telephone mystery shop. They are fast when it comes to payment and you receive your money within 7 business days after a successful shop. Can be great if you love talking over the phone.

  • Coverage – USA
  • Payout Options – PayPal
  • Payout Schedule – 7 Business days

Be a Telephone Mystery Shopper for CallCenterQA

ARC and Intelicheck are other similar phone mystery shopping websites you can try. People with call center background can achieve great success with such sites.

19. Secret Shopper

MSPA Americas Shoppers Choice 2021, Secret Shopper is well-known mystery shopping company that offers online, onsite, and over the phone evaluations to its clients. Payment for audits you complete this month will be processed on 20th of the next month. PayPal is available for international Mystery shoppers while domestic shoppers from US and CA are paid via checks with a validity of 90 days.

  • Coverage – Global
  • Payout Options – PayPal and Check
  • Payout Schedule – Once a month on 20th

Become Shopper at Secret Shopper

20. ChannelPlay

Indian mystery shopping company ChannelPlay with more than 12 years of experience conducts 5000+ secret shopping audits every month. Paytm Payment Bank, Mi, Canon, Maruti-Suzuki, Bosch, and some other big brands have used their expertise.

  • Coverage – India, USA, South Africa and Kuwait
  • Payout Option – PayPal and Others depending upon your location.
  • Payout Term – 45 to 60 days

Join ChannelPlay as Mystery Shopper

How do I know if A Mystery Shopping Company is Legit or a Scam?

You can spot some red flags to determine whether a mystery shopping job opportunity is real or fake by keeping an eye out for the following:

First and foremost, a legitimate mystery shopping company will never require an upfront payment to begin.

Avoid if it seems too good to be true. If a mystery shopping business calls, emails, or texts you and claims that working for them could make you a millionaire, they are probably a scam.

Check whether the company is a part of MSPA or not. MSPA(Mystery Shopping Professionals Association) is a trade association that represents the mystery shopping industry. You can find a list of all legit mystery shopping providers in your region on MSPA’s websites given below

MSPA Americas 

MSPA Europe/Africa/Asia/Pecific

Lastly, you have Google to research, TrustPilot & BBB to read reviews, and QA websites like Quora to find out what other shoppers have to say about the company.

Skills and Qualities of a Good Mystery Shopper

To become a successful mystery shopper you need to have certain skills and qualities. Being good at these will bring you more jobs and money at the end of the day.

Good at Following Instructions – A good mystery shopper will always follow instructions while evaluating a store and will deliver the exact information the client required. No more, No less.

Love Shopping – Good shoppers don’t do it for money only. They actually enjoy shopping.

Honest and Unbiased – Be yourself. Be honest when you write a report. Do it with an open mind when you evaluate a place you have visited earlier as a normal customer.

Ability to Conduct Assignment Secretly and Objectively – A Good Mystery shopper never reveals his identity. You are required to be discrete and objective. Don’t bring unwanted attention to yourself. Never take your forms with you. You can note down details after leaving the place. Dress properly and act normal.

Excellent Observation Skills with Good Memory – A good mystery shopper has an eye for details. Notice and remember every little detail when you are evaluating a place such as – how the customer service person was dressed, were you greeted, the appearance of the store when you entered, was the place neat and clean etc. Mystery shopping needs you to be detail oriented. You must be capable of remembering small details.

Good Written and Verbal Communication Skills –After finishing a shop, you as a mystery shopper are required to write a report. This is a necessary step in the mystery shopping process. You must be able to write a report that is both concise and clear, free of grammatical, structural, and spelling errors.

Reliability– if you accept a job, you are expected to complete it on time.

Meeting Commitments and Deadlines – Always submit reports on time. Fulfill commitments. Meet deadlines. It’s a good habit to submit a response on the same day of the shop.  You must be good at managing time.

Enjoy Meeting and Interacting With New People – Very important trait of any good mystery shopper as no mystery job can be completed without meeting, interacting and holding conversations with people. Observe what they say, how they react and report.

Accessibility – Good shopper is easily contactable.

Apart from these skills, you as a mystery shopper are required to have a computer, tablet, or smartphone with reliable internet access.

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Best mystery shopping companies
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