Looking for a way to earn a little bit of extra money this month? Maybe a gig as a secret shopper is right for you.
These jobs are in crazy high demand, and it’s clear why. You get reimbursed for your purchases, and earn extra scratch on the side. You won’t get rich, but you might get some free dinners. All you need to do is report back and give someone your opinion.
Because demand is huge, a lot of these jobs you’ll find online are scams. Most of them are, actually.
Fortunately, there are a few legit companies out there that really will pay you to be a secret shopper. Here’s how to get paid, for real.
But first... Here are the four big scams to look out for
Before we go any further, let’s be clear: We checked out the companies we list below with the Better Business Bureau. But you still need to know how to spot a secret shopper scam before you sign up anywhere. They’re just that common.
A legit secret shopper company will never charge you to work for them. You shouldn’t respond to a secret shopper spam message or an ad in the newspaper’s “Help Wanted” section -- these are usually scams too. And a secret shopper company will never ask you to cash a cashier’s check and then send money back to them.
You should also be wary of secret shopper offers that sound too good to be true. Expect to be paid $10 per secret shopping trip, or maybe you’ll just get a free lunch. No one is going to give you a new iPhone or a $1,000 gift card for doing this.
These companies really do pay you to shop
One company that is a legitimate provider of secret shopper services is Bestmark, Inc. It has an A-plus rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and a number of positive reviews on job sites such as Indeed.
Every secret shopper job is different, but working for Bestmark, you might be asked to purchase something at a local retail store. You’ll get “a little income,” one reviewer explains, while others note they can be a little slow to reimburse for your purchases.
You can sign up for Bestmark so long as you’re 19 years old or older, have a reliable car and have good writing skills. There’s no cost to do so. Here’s the link to their webpage.
Market Force Information is another widely known mystery shopper company. Like Bestmark, it’s an accredited business with the BBB.
Market Force partners with grocery stores, gas stations, fast food restaurants and similar establishments to get information on how well their cashiers and other employees are doing. In short, it’s literally your ticket to a free lunch.
You can sign up to be a Market Force shopper directly on their website. It’s free to do so.
And if you really want to up your odds of landing a secret shopper job, you might want to apply at IntelliShop as well. It has an A rating with the BBB.
You’ll need to pass a short 5-minute test to prove you’ve got the writing chops first. But once you do, their Shop Notifier app will help you schedule secret shopping gigs when you’ve got the free time. There are gigs at restaurants, shopping malls and even at theme parks. IntelliShop then pays out via PayPal once a month, including reimbursements for your purchases.
You can sign up to be a shopper for IntelliShop at the company’s website. And of course, doing so is free.