When you think of mystery shopping, you probably imagine going to a restaurant and quietly checking out the environment, service and food. You’ll get a free meal, maybe a few bucks and that’s it.
But you might be surprised by many of the other niches in mystery shopping, some of which are more interesting and more profitable.
For example, I’ve reported on being a “mystery worshipper” for $45 per church service. You secretly rate the church, and it uses the information to improve its services and attract new members.
11 Unusual Mystery Shopping Opportunities
Sometimes a mystery shopping company specializes in one niche, while other times they have several departments. Here’s a look at some of the more unusual mystery shopping opportunities.
1. Get Paid to Enjoy Spa Treatments
Coyle Hospitality evaluates companies in travel-related niches, and one of its specialties is spa mystery shopping. These assignments are all over the world, so this could be a good gig if you want some freebies and extra income while you travel.
The company also offers hotel and restaurant assignments, but if you just want the spa treatments, don’t worry. The sign-up page says evaluators “may request assignments at their discretion.”
As for potential earnings, the page says “All mystery shopping assignments pay a fee plus reimbursable expenses as directed by the client.”
2. Make Money Going to the Movies
As a “certified field associate” for Market Force, you go to theaters to watch movies and trailers, to count patrons and sometimes to set up movie posters. Some visits are traditional mystery shopping assignments, while at other times the management knows who you are and why you’re there. In that case, your task might be something like, “Watch and record all advertisements shown prior to the feature.”
The pay varies, but getting to watch movies for free in exchange for counting ads or patrons isn’t such a bad deal.
3. Get Free Beer
Secret Hopper specializes in mystery shopping at breweries. The company states on its site that its goal is to “help craft beer businesses maximize their customer experience, find new areas of opportunity, monitor changes in their customers’ habits, and learn to grow from it.” Secret Hoppers help in this process by providing feedback about not about the beer they drink about the overall tasting room experience.
To sign up, you must be 21 years or older, but you do not need any prior experience. The FAQ section says specifics about pay will be discussed once you are selected to be a Secret Hopper.
Read about one writer’s experience as a Secret Hopper here.
4. Get Paid to Go to the Doctor
The Baird Group does medical mystery shopping.
As a medical mystery shopper, you’ll “pose as patients on the phone to hospitals and clinics, or observe on-site interactions to help us create more positive patient experiences and stronger provider/patient relationships,” according to their careers page.
Sometimes, “mystery patients will present as patients with symptoms of a non-threatening matter.”. The website does not mention what you’ll be paid, but as with many mystery shopping companies, you’ll need a PayPal account to collect.
5. Make Money Test Driving Cars
BestMark is one company that does automotive mystery shopping. Shoppers go to car lots and pose as potential buyers, meaning you test drive a car and listen to a sales pitch, and so on.
As with most mystery shopping gigs, the pay varies and can be made as a cash payment and/or reimbursement for money spent.
6. Mystery Shop Banks
Customer Impact does financial institution mystery shopping. As a shopper, you evaluate banks, credit unions, and investment companies for their service, facilities and more. Assignments are both for in-person visits and phone call shops.
7. Evaluate Apartments
Jancyn has a division focused on apartment mystery shopping. You pose as a potential tenant and go through the process of looking at apartments.
Don’t be sloppy filling out the shopper application. Jancyn says, “Mystery shoppers we engage are evaluated for their integrity, writing skills and attention to detail before becoming independent contractors with us.”
8. Mystery Shop Real Estate Agents
AdvancedFeedback pays you to look at houses and rate the agent who shows them to you. .
You might do phone call shops or become an “Advanced Undercover Video Specialist” and work in the field. The latter position requires you to get a couple of certifications first, and the application page notes that you must own your own equipment to apply.
9. Get Paid to Gamble
OK, they’re not really going to cover your losses if you gamble, but both Imyst and BestMark have casino mystery shopping opportunities. You might be evaluating the slot attendants, the table games or the casino’s restaurants and bars.
10. Mystery Shop the Government
Shopper Confidential does mystery shopping of government agencies and services. As a shopper, you might use websites, make phone calls and visit offices of municipal, provincial and federal governments in Canada and the U.S.
The website says, “Typically, Shoppers receive payments of $15-$20 per assignment, plus any expenses incurred are reimbursed.”
11. Get Paid to Go to Concerts
BestMark has been targeting the producers of “sporting events, concerts, conventions, plays and many other public events” for its mystery shopping service.
“If you’re fortunate enough to snag an assignment where you get to cover a concert, football game or another public event, you’ll be tasked with making note of how facilities are operated from the perspective of a patron,” the company says.
Have Fun But Be Careful
Mystery shopping scams do exist, so be careful. It’s usually a good idea to stick with companies that are members of the MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers Association).
In any case, here are some simple rules you can follow to avoid being scammed:
- Never pay to become a mystery shopper.
- Never pay to see a list of mystery shopping jobs.
- Never agree to cash a check and send money back.
You generally don’t make much money as a mystery shopper. For most shoppers, it’s not a way to pay the bills, but a fun way to generate some extra income and get some freebies.
Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).