How to become a mystery shopper

how to become a mystery-shopper

Who wouldn’t want to get paid to shop, eat out and go on holiday? By going undercover as a mystery shopper you can do just that – find out how to become a mystery shopper here.

You can be paid anywhere between £1 – £100 per assignment

Shops, restaurants and businesses all employ mystery shoppers for a variety of reasons. You could find yourself getting paid to eat in a restaurant to assess the food; staying in a hotel for free to check that their service is up to scratch; or earning money by shopping in a supermarket and rating the experience.

What exactly do I have to do to become a mystery shopper?

how to become a-mystery-shopperYou might have to judge things like how quickly you were served, how clean the shop or business is, names and descriptions of employees, and the general standard of customer service.

Each mystery shopping assignment will tell you how much you’ll be reimbursed, and instructions on what to do. (For example, for a mystery shopping job in a restaurant, you might be asked to report on whether the waiters informed you of the day’s specials or not).

Once you’ve carried out your mystery shopping task, you’ll then need to complete a questionnaire about your experience. You’ll need to use full sentences and go into a good amount of detail in parts.

Then you’ll submit your form and you’ll be reimbursed and/or paid about one month afterwards with most mystery shopping firms.

Many mystery shopping jobs will pay you for your troubles (as well as giving you freebies like a free meal out or shop product).

Rates can vary hugely depending on the size and complexity of the mystery shopping task. You could be paid anything from a few quid to have a coffee in a cafe, to £100 to produce a detailed report of a weekend spent rating a hotel’s services.

As a ballpark figure though, expect to earn around £3-£25 per task – plus expenses.

There are plenty of positives – it’s easy money and very flexible so can fit around your busy life.  You don’t always need to go alone either, so taking your partner or the kids usually won’t be a problem in some cases.

However bear in mind that the more glamorous mystery shopping jobs (such as hotel reviews) tend to get given to those who have built up some previous mystery shopping experience. A lot of mystery shopping tasks are less glam – you might find yourself getting paid to ring up a call centre, for example!

Here are some things to remember if you’re wondering how to become a mystery shopper:

  • You must be able to complete a report quickly and use good English
  • You’ll need a good memory and to concentrate on a variety of details. If you miss something you may not get paid or won’t be able to claim your expenses back
  • You’ll need to be discreet – you’re undercover remember!
  • You’ll be classed as self-employed so you’ll need to declare what you earn to the Inland Revenue.

What’s your mystery shopper personality?

Mystery shopper: report only

If you like getting out and about and don’t mind filling out a bit of paperwork afterwards then this is for you.

It’s the most common option where you sign up online, accept an assignment and follow instructions and then evaluate your mystery shopping experience.

You’ll need to be super discreet – acting as if you were just another customer – and then fill out a questionnaire at the end – carefully remembering all the details.

Mystery shopper: telephone

Perhaps you’re more of a talker and fancy a few phone calls to conduct your research? Being a mystery shopper over the phone might be the best option for you.

You’ll be asked to call a company and ask them ‘typical’ questions as an average customer would. You’ll then have to assess their responses and provide feedback.

You might not get as much money per task with this option though. Usually around £1-£5.

Covert video mystery shopping

For well-trained shoppers and (wannabe spies) covert video mystery shopping could be for you. It’s pretty specialist as you’ll be secretly filming your selected destination with a covert video camera and will need to follow your brief entering as if you’re a customer (avoiding awkward feet shots and clear pictures only!)

Other options

There are a couple of different options if you prefer a different path.

Postal monitoring – which requires only a teeny amount of effort. With this you’ll get some brochures and other promotional material in the post and you have to return the items. How fast they’re delivered to you and the contents is then assessed.

Email mystery shopping basically just involves sending questions to websites and monitoring how fast and how well they get back to you. You assess it and then pass on what you thought.


Never have to pay to join a mystery shopping website – any site that asks you for money is likely to be a scam.

One scam currently doing the rounds is a fake mystery shopping company will ask you to receive money into your bank account, and then send this onto a foreign account as a ‘test’. This is a scam! Avoid at all costs and report to Actionfraud.

See below for a list of legitimate mystery shopping companies.

How do I get started?

If you want to know how to become a mystery shopper first you’ll need to sign up to a mystery shopping agency. There are plenty about but it’s always best to check they have a valid UK phone number and address.

Here are some we recommend:

Market Force


JKS Mystery Shopping

Grass Roots


Tips for success

Related articles

  • Sign up to a few mystery shopping companies to up your chances of getting more regular assignments
  • Check the website often
  • Read the details in the brief properly, so you’re sure of what you’re looking out for and reporting on once you’re there
  • Note down details discreetly on your phone for reference (if you’re sitting enjoying a meal for a couple of hours, it’s easy to forget small details you may need to remember)
  • Check spelling, punctuation and grammar before submitting your report
  • Ensure you have access to a computer and the internet after the assignment – in general there is a 24 hour turn-around
  • Remember, the more assignments you take on, the better they’ll get – for example, you won’t get offered a great hotel break as your first assignment, but you might do after building a reputation as a competent mystery shopper.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide on how to become a mystery shopper. Have you tried it? What do you think? Leave your comments below.