How to become a mystery shopper in the UK

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How to become a mystery shopper in the UK

“Become a mystery shopper”

“Get paid to eat out”

“Earn up to £50 per hour”

These were the sort of emails I was getting, very soon after I took my first paid online survey.

I hadn’t set out to become a mystery shopper (I didn’t even know what one was) it just sort of…happened!

Survey panels began to send me mystery shopper invites, but to be honest, they sounded a bit too good to be true!

As far as I could tell, they wanted me head into local stores, buy some stuff, take note of certain criteria and send a report to get paid.

Invites to be a mystery shopper – just another scam, right?

Maybe it was, but I could do with the money.

So with no previous experience and nothing to lose, I decided to give it a go.

And before I knew it, a whole world of paid mystery shopping jobs and opportunities had opened up to me.

It meant I was earning money for things like:

  • meals out with my girlfriend,
  • bowling games,
  • having my eyes tested
  • heading into banks to enquire about a loan
  • and loads more!

And not only was I earning money for taking these mystery shopper assignments, the actual task was paid for too!

The meals, bowling games and eye test costs were all reimbursed, i.e. these mystery shops let me do stuff I wanted to do…FOR FREE!

But it was actually better than that!

I was being paid to shop or eat at some of my favourite stores….

Mind. Blown!

Finding out being a mystery shopper pays you for doing stuff you like...Mind. Blown!

“What previous experience do you need to be a mystery shopper?”

I’m sure this puts off a lot of would-be mystery shoppers, but here’s what so many people don’t realise…

You don’t actually need any experience or equipment!!

No, really!

For most of my mystery shopper jobs, I just go out armed with a smartphone or digital camera to take pics of the store I visit, and an internet connection to receive and return the completed assignment.

Can’t get much simpler than that!

“And where do I find mystery shopping jobs?”

I found myself asking that at first too.

They occasionally found me through my registration to survey sites, but I wanted more!

After a little digging, it turns out most big retailers use mystery shops to check their procedures and standards are being followed.

They’re used to supply feedback on the quality of their service – all from the point of view of an anonymous mystery shopper (that’s YOU!)

And to do all this, specialist firms recruit mystery shoppers to carry out ‘assignments’. Check out some of this month’s biggest and best mystery shopping, product testing and other free competitions at FreeClub.

he normally involve being given a set of clear instructions to follow, and aspects of the shop to try out.

Then once complete, you write up and submit a report of your mystery shop, and receive payment for doing so.

“How do I get rewarded?”

Along with refunds for the products and services I’m mystery shopping, I’ve had cheques, money paid straight into my account and gift cards.

Cheeky little tip blue box:

It’s worth noting that a lot of mystery shopper jobs will reimburse travel costs too – fuel, bus or train fares, but they don’t mention this up front!

Don’t forget to ask for clarification beforehand, as this can make your trip much more worthwhile!

“How do I get started?”

With a little research, you’ll find there are a whole bunch of mystery shopping companies out there.

Just keep an eye out for the tell-tale signs of a scam. If they ask you to pay THEM to join, walk away.

Also try to group assignments based on your availability, location and how much you value your time.

For example, I’d be less tempted to travel 15 miles for a single £10 assignment, but if there are 2 mystery shopper jobs that are close by, and I’m reimbursed travel expenses – the journey is a better use of my time.

And if I happen to be doing something in that area anyway (like heading into town), I’ve just got my travel covered for free!

It doesn’t always work out this way, but it feels pretty damn great when it does!

“What are the best mystery shopping companies in the UK?”

You can sign up to as many mystery shopping companies as you like, you’ll get more opportunities (and more money) this way.

But to get you started on the right foot, I can recommend a few that I personally use.

Each requires a quick, free registration. Then you’re matched to roles that suit you.

1) Ragdoll research

They offer an annual banking mystery shop that pays £50 for an hour of your time. That’s pretty decent by any standard!

In my case, I visited my local Lloyds bank and met with a loan advisor. They have multiple banks available.

For this assignment, I was sent 2 voice recording devices that hid in my pocket, and just posted them back straight after the mystery shop.

No forms to complete, no hassle, and Alex at Ragdoll was available on the phone to walk through any questions I had at the time.

I was sent a cheque within a week, and cashed it the same day.

Take their short survey here to see if you’re eligible

2) Market force

They’ve been around since the 70’s and over that time have grown a huge, nationwide selection of mystery shopping jobs you can choose from in the UK.

I find it handy to search for assignments based on your current location – ideal if you’re out and about!

It means you can still find jobs if you’re away from home and there’s even airport-specific mystery shops to earn a little extra cash as you head off on holiday!

Payment generally covers any purchases you’ve made, plus a bit extra to cover your time.

It’s not enough to replace a full time job, but it’s a great way to get freebies AND a little extra cash each month.

You can normally haggle travel expenses with them too. Just pop them a message when you accept a job and try your luck!

Start work with Marketforce by joining here

3) Red WigWam

I found Red WigWam as they tend to have a lot of supermarket mystery shops.

I try to fit in their mystery shopper jobs at the same time that I’m doing the food shop. It doesn’t always go to plan, but getting paid for something I need to do anyway…it kind of sweetens the deal, and I get to try out new products I wouldn’t buy normally too!

They also have adhoc job vacancies. Mainly one-off bar staff and waiting jobs at client hospitality events. Fine for an extra cash top up, but not something to rely on as full time work.

And although it’s not much, you’ll earn an extra £1 – £2.50 for each friend you refer to Red WigWam too.

I don’t know it’s just down to where I live, but I found jobs get snapped up quick.

To be first in line for new assignments, I’ve signed up for their emails alerts.

Getting a message each time a new opportunity comes up makes it far easier to catch a job before it’s gone!

Join Red WigWam with a hop, skip and a click here

Bonus ways earn whilst you’re out and about blue box:

Job spotter

A free app run by Indeed recruiters.

Earn money simply by taking pics of job ads in shop windows (weird, I know!)

It’s become a new habit for me, and has no minimum to withdraw your earnings.

Just snap a pic and cash out straight away

Download the free app here


I use his free app to get free and discounted food when I’m doing the weekly shopping.

Simply buy a product, scan the barcode and your receipt using your phone, and get the money straight back into your account or PayPal.

Oh – and you get a free jar of Nutella just for joining using my referral link below

Check it out – I bloody love this app!


I use this little beauty at the same time as Shopmium.

Same thing, just different freebies and discounts, and includes a few more stores too (Londis, Onestop, Co-op etc).

(I found this pairs really well with the Asda Price Guarantee trick I use in this post)

Doing this each week I have my fair share of free stuff – beers, cider, yogurts, crisps and more.

Their freebies and deals are updated weekly too, so the list is always fresh!

You can earn cashback with CheckoutSmart by registering here

What mystery shopping companies do you use and how have you found the jobs you’ve been sent on?

What are the assignments like, what’s the most fun you’ve had and how well do they pay?

Let us know in the comments below and we’ll be sure to share them with other cashback users

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