How to earn money as a mystery shopper

Published on: Thu, 22 Aug 2019
By: Anne, redwigwam

I first started mystery shopping last summer.

I retired in April at the age of 65 and decided that I would try to replace some of my lost income by working from home. Thanks to websites like The Money Shed I have been dipping my toe into the world of secret shopping.

My first surprise was that a lot of shopping could be done at home.

So far jobs have included ordering groceries online and phoning up to enquire about insurance. Also receiving letters and even tweeting companies about various things.

In fact, so far mystery shopping has involved very little actual shopping.

My favourite jobs have involved visiting local stately homes.

What you need

Mystery shopping actually needs very little equipment.

I bought myself a new mobile phone (a Samsung galaxy) and a new computer (which I needed anyway). The phone acts as my camera, voice recorder and stopwatch. The computer is needed for writing sometimes lengthy reports.

I am lucky enough to have a bus pass so get free local travel – the retirement perks!

I also already had a printer needed for printing out a paper copy of the questionnaire. Most importantly – you also need internet access. 

Reports generally have to be written within 24 hours of a job.

You need to have a reasonable memory and a good standard of written and spoken English. You need to be able to remember what was said and what the team members looked like. 

I take a notebook with me so I can jot down details particularly if I have to ask for something like options for a train fare. I also try to find a nearby coffee shop or library so I can write up my notes while my memory is fresh.


Payment is usually about minimum wage for the jobs themselves (not including travel.) Some jobs include the cost of purchases.

A job last year included £5.00 to spend in any department of a local department store and £3.00 for a drink in the cafe.

Payment method varies between the companies you work for.

A company like redwigwam treats you as an employee and deducts tax.

Other companies pay you a set fee and leave you to sort out your own tax and payment is usually by BACS.

I am slowly getting to grips with terms like gondola end and shelf barker.

Another useful distinction to understand is the difference between a shop audit where you have to check if a product or poster is present in a store and if goods are correctly priced and displayed.

As a mystery shopper, you are expected to buy something and report on the service received.

A recent job wanted an audio recording detailing my experience which I could do on my phone. Many mystery shopping companies seem to use Sassie software and once you are signed up to the Sassie system you are given login details for Presto maps which shows you jobs in any part of England. 

You have to apply to the individual job agency for a particular job but you can see what is available locally.

Beware of scams you should never have to pay to join an agency and I have never been offered £100.00 to spend on a product of my choice.

Fancy mystery shopping as a side hustle? Click the link below to sign up and get started. Or have a look at this article showing 30 jobs to try before you're 30! 

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