How Much Money Can a Mystery Shopper Make?

Mystery Shopper Money Pic


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Yesterday, we talked about Mystery Shopping Myths that might have deterred you in the past. One of the most common myths is “mystery shopping is more hassle than it’s worth,” and that is due, in part, to some companies who offer low wages. Today, we are going to go into a bit more detail about reasonable wages you can expect to make.

Although it probably is not what you want to hear- I cannot tell you exactly how much you will make as a mystery shopper. Many factors go into the bottom line, including where you live and how quickly you pick up on the job. How much you make is directly affected by how many mystery shops a week you are willing to complete. It depends on your goals for the job.

As a mystery shopper- my goal is to supplement my family’s income so we can enjoy time together without cutting into the budget. Because of this, I aim to complete one mystery shop as a week which usually pertains to eating out or shopping at the mall. However, if I am trying to save money for something special or we are tight on cash, I am always able to pick up more if that’s what I choose to do.

Some factors that may affect how much you make as a mystery shopper are:

  • What region of the United States you live in. I only have experience with my state, therefore, the wage in your area might vary from mine.
  • What company you are working for. Some companies offer a very low wage all of the time while others are more reasonable.
  • The number of shoppers in your area. If there is a higher demand for jobs to fill in your area, wages might be lower due to the fact that the company assumes the job will be picked up, anyway.
  • The “shopping period” aka- the deadline the company must have the shop completed. If a shop is not completed, the mystery shop company will not get paid. Therefore, toward the end of a shopping period, companies often add bonuses in a last-ditch effort to get the job filled. Bonuses and increased commissions will affect your overall wage.
  • How “fast” you are. If you process information or type slowly, this job will take a little longer to complete. After some practice, you will improve in these areas. I believe the learning curve is worth it, though!

I wanted to provide you with an accurate depiction of the offers I receive. This morning, I went to my email and took a few screenshots of recent job offers. I did black out the pertinent information to the company, but the pay rate is still visible. Take a look:

This offer is for a grocery store chain. You’ll notice the shopping period  is 6/19-10/3, and because they are at the end of the period, the have offered a bonus in addition to the base pay and reimbursement.

Store Pay

This was an offer for some apartment mystery shops available in my area.  Notice that the shop needing to be done tomorrow is $50 while the others are $35. (Note- they almost always extend the deadlines if you contact them.)

Apartment Pay



This offer is for a local retail store. This particular company offers a “commission” pay which slowly raises throughout the month.

Retail Store Pay



And just for fun, I took a screen shot of some past jobs I have done. All of these shops took 15 minutes or less to complete, and 30-45 minutes to file my report. 

Recent Pay



Is it possible to make a good hourly wage as a mystery shopper?

Absolutely! The opportunities are there. It will vary based on some of the factors I have talked about, but for the most part, I believe if you are interested in signing up, you have nothing to lose by giving it a try.

I have two more tips to leave you with-

1) Be picky! Nobody is going to make you accept a job that pays $5 total, and I wouldn’t recommend it. I only accept jobs that will average me at least $10 an hour because to me, that is a fair wage. Often times, if it’s a job I wouldn’t necessarily enjoy (like shopping for a mattress) I prefer that number to be closer to $15-$20 an hour. Do not sell yourself short and accept a job that will give you less than minimum wage.

2) Track everything. It’s a good idea to track what jobs you complete so you can make sure there are no errors in your payments. Also, as a mystery shopper, you are considered to be self-employed. You will have to pay taxes (around 13%) if you make over a certain dollar amount, and you can deduct mileage. Later in this series, we will talk about the taxes more specifically as well as ways to track your work.

mystery shopping blog

After learning some of the basics, I think we’re ready to take the next steps into learning how to apply for companies. It will most likely be divided into a two-part post (on Friday and Monday), so check back for more details!


  1. Thank you so much for all this information you are posting. Our family could definitely use some help with income. We are a one income homeschooling family and money is tight. This is so helpful!

    • I’m glad to help! I know how nice it is to have the extra wiggle room with our single income, so I’m passionate about telling others about it too. Thanks for your encouraging words!

  2. Thank you for this information! One question on the taxes – if you make over the threshold that would qualify you to be taxed, are you also taxed on the amount that you’re reimbursed? So if the job pays you $15, that’s your salary, but then you’re also reimbursed for the $10 you spent on food (for example). Is the whole $25 that you’re paid taxed? Or just the $15 that’s truly income? Thanks for your help!

    • That’s a great question, as far as I know, reimbursement does not count toward taxed income. It’s still good to track it, but I was told by an accountant that I would only be taxed on the actual wages or commission. However, that information should definitely be verified. :-)

      • Thank you!

      • That is not correct. The amounts you get reimbursed for are also taxable. It’s as if instead of paying you cash they were giving you stuff in exchange for your services. The value of stuff is income.

        • Do you have a source? I only ask because I am getting a lot of conflicting information on this- even from the mystery shopping companies themselves. Some are saying you don’t claim reimbursements, and others are saying you kind of claim them, but the reimbursement is cancelled out and somehow doesn’t actually get taxed. I’d love to hear more from who you talked to/where you read. Thanks!

  3. This is excellent information! When I began reading, I was wondering if living in a big city wold affect wage amount. And a bit lower was my answer! Thank you for sharing so much with us. :)

    • Keep in mind, just because you’re in a bigger city doesn’t mean you will get a lower wage. In a big city, there will be *a lot* of opportunities, so companies may have to offer a bit higher wage to compete with all of the other jobs available. The amount of mystery shoppers in your area has a much greater impact than the size of city you live in. :-)

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