Want to save money while having fun?

I have been mystery shopping for over ten years now. I began with just eating at a fast food restaurant, filling out a quick report about the service, snapping a picture of my receipt and waited a couple of weeks for my reimbursement. (I admit I was skeptical that it was maybe a scam but I figured, well I have to eat anyways so if I don’t get paid back it wasn’t really that big of a deal so I decided to take a chance) Anyways, lo and behold, I was paid. I started doing more and more fast food shops, then I graduated to casual dining, that was also smooth sailing, then I worked up to fine dining, bars, and even hotels, yes, hotels! Some hotels are quick one night stays, some are two and on rare occasion, I have had opportunity to have a whole week stay! Mystery shopping has really helped me to save a lot of money both while traveling and at home. There are several other types of shops available such as retail, audits (where you count items) and phone shops where you call a company and ask about a product or service and don’t even have to leave your home. There are so many options and so many companies that offer these services. I highly suggest if you enjoy going out to eat and to bars and stay in hotels, etc that you sign up to be a mystery shopper. There are tons of legitimate companies buy my suggestion is to check out the MSPA website which carries a list of current companies as there are of course scams out there around every corner. Basically, if a company wants any type of money from you, that is a scam and do not sign up. Legit mystery shopping companies do not charge you anything to join or to shop. My personal recommendation would be to start with a solid company such as Service With Style dot com and get your feet wet and then branch off with some other companies as well. I would love to help with any questions you have about getting started. Have fun and please send me any of your money saving tips. I used to coupon but I don’t really have time for that now. The most I do is the coupon clipping on the apps. I am really interested in any tips you can give me about finding cheap airfares as well. Thanks in advance. I hope I helped someone because I found out about mystery shopping via a similar method when I started and it has honestly changed my life. I have been able to eat at fancy restaurants and stay in luxurious hotels that I would otherwise not be able to afford.


Thanks for writing about this. I also do mystery shopping, since 1998 off and on. The companies I recommend are BARE Intl, Intellishop, Secret Shopper, and Reality Based. They have varied shops, from Western Union, automobile shops (including sales and services), tire stores, phone shops, appliances shops, etc. , and they make timely payments…correct and on time. All have both onsite shops and online shops; of course, the onsite usually pay more. I just did an auto shop for $130. I try to do at least 1-2 shops per month from these companies. Stay away from Best Mark, whose payment record is atrocious; ditto, Cirrus Marketing. Nice, little retirement change.

Sounds like you found a perfect setup for mystery shopping in your area. I also tried doing this but my area is saturated with mystery shoppers so I was already limited to any choices for when to line up a list of places to visit as a secret shopper since all that was available was the times that other mystery shoppers didn’t want. I actually was in a store at the same time that another secret shopper was doing which made my shopping experience harder to evaluate because they were not supposed to be there but squeezed in the store to shop so they could sign up for more shops earlier. I also wanted to experience the shopping when the store was not on high alert and best performance but also gave good customer service. I don’t know if any of your evaluations required certain wording or actions but I never felt the need to force that if the customer service was done correctly.
I wish you luck with this venture and hope that you don’t have to deal with a saturated amount of fellow mystery shoppers

Hi Valerie,
What an interesting turn your life has taken! Good luck to you and please enjoy it.
Have to admit you have peaked my curiosity about secret shopping and some of your experiences, Incidentally, I have a friend who is a secret shopper and met up with her recently while she was doing just that.
Her job seemed to be a bit more confrontational with the store manager about her observations and what, if any information is shared with the manager. I don’t know if that is what you have to do or at what level.
Also, thank you for guidance on scammers, they are sure out there.
A question, are your earnings taxable income?

Secret shopper means exactly that. SECRET. You NEVER speak to a manager and never reveal to any employee that you are a mystery shopper. You would never be able to shop there again if your identity was revealed. You simply observe and report.

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@valerie.magorrian, Thanks so much for the information. I’ve thought about mystery shopping but never actually followed through. I might just give it a try. :slightly_smiling_face:

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@sthom thanks so much for the heads up about Best Mark. That’s one of the companies I was looking at.

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You’re always welcome, and good luck.