Top 3 High Paying Mystery Shopping Jobs

by Beth

Those advertisements you’ve seen proclaiming that you can make $50,000 a year and bring home a ton of freebies all by mystery shopping only a few hours a week?

Forget them.

A select few mystery shoppers can and have made $50,000 a year but it takes far more than a few hours a week and it is hard work. One of the best ways to increase your income as a mystery shopper is to score high paying assignments. Let’s discuss three of the highest paying mystery shopping assignments then look at how to score those coveted assignments, which generally requires you to have previous mystery shopping experience.

Video Mystery Shops
Video mystery shops are the same as traditional mystery shops except for two very important details: You wear video recording equipment that records the entire mystery shop and you receive a higher fee per shop.

With the higher paycheck offered for video mystery shops also comes more responsibility. You must ensure that you complete the shop to the exact specifications and that your shop records. If your battery dies in the middle of the shop or if you only record the floor, for example, you may only earn a partial fee or no fee at all.

Companies generally prefer that video mystery shoppers have previous experience and may also require that mystery shoppers hold gold certification from the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA).

Hospitality Shops
Hospitality mystery shops, which include hotel shops, are highly coveted assignments both because of their pay and for such perks as a free night at a hotel. A mystery shopper might also be assigned to evaluate cruises, spas, casinos, or other high end travel and hospitality services. Hospitality mystery shops often include both a flat fee and reimbursement. Coyle Hospitality ( is one of the most popular mystery shopping firms that specializes in travel and other high end shops.

Hospitality and other high paying mystery shops have strict limits on how often you can conduct the shop. You may only be allowed to complete a shop with a particular hotel, for example, once a year or, in some cases, one time and that’s it. If you live in a big city, like New York or Los Angeles, that may not affect your overall potential for earnings. However, if you live in a small town or in a rural area, you will have a much harder time consistently scoring the high paying mystery shopping assignments.

Home, Apartment, and Car Shops
Big ticket items – such as homes and cars – often net higher pay for mystery shoppers. You might score an assignment to drive the latest model of a popular car, or you might be sent to pose as if you are looking to move to a new apartment or to purchase a new home. Apartment shops can be fun, if you enjoy checking out complexes in your neighborhood. You generally must go for a tour of the complex, viewing different apartment options and asking plenty of relevant questions, just as if you really were looking for a new place to live. You must follow guidelines thoroughly and look the part. For example, you may be instructed to look for an apartment that does not allow pets. If you have pets, be sure you don’t have any fur on your clothes.

The shop itself is straightforward, but apartment shops generally require much more narrative, garnering the higher pay. EPMS Online,, is only one of several mystery shopping companies that send mystery shoppers to evaluate apartments.

How to Score High Paying Mystery Shops
No matter in what industry you work, you start at the bottom. Don’t expect to score high paying mystery shops in the beginning. You, like countless mystery shoppers before you, have to earn the right to those high paying assignments. Mystery shoppers who score high paying mystery shops have extensive experience, have built a reputation based on their reliability and good work, and have the keen eye for detail necessary for complex shopping assignments.

The good news is you can work your way up to those high paying assignments and it’s pretty easy to do.

Do your job well. Mystery shoppers play an important role in how a company conducts business by providing an accurate, objective view of a particular shopping experience. Follow instructions carefully (which is also essential if you want to earn your pay). Pay careful attention to details. Complete mystery shopping reports thoroughly and accurately, proofreading your written work before you hit submit. Take your job seriously, and you will begin to develop a strong reputation as a mystery shopper.

Complete all assignments you accept. Only accept those assignments you are absolutely certain you can complete on time. Completing assignments illustrates that you are a dependable, trustworthy mystery shopper. You begin to cultivate a solid reputation, which will lead to more assignments and, in time, to more lucrative assignments.

Accept last minute assignments. Shoppers often back out of assignments at the last minute. Some have legitimate reasons, such as illness, inclement weather, or even the death of a family member. However, some shoppers are just, well, flakes and cancel or simply do not complete a shop without informing the mystery shopping company. These so-called flakes put schedulers in a bind. You, however, can be the answer to the scheduler’s problem by accepting the last minute assignments, which often include a bonus. If a scheduler knows she can count on you to complete a shop, she will likely turn to you more often.

Get certified. MSPA certification isn’t mandatory for most mystery shopping companies. However, earning silver and gold certification certainly does illustrate you are serious about mystery shopping and you have knowledge about the industry and your responsibilities.
If you really want to score those high paying assignments, you have to work at it, building your reputation and becoming known as a reliable mystery shopper. It really is that simple: Gain experience. Provide a stellar writing sample when asked. Build a reputation with the companies for which you work and, most importantly, apply to work with those companies that offer the higher paying assignments once you’ve got some experience.

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