Up for a FREE meal? Perks of Mystery Shopping

Our Adventure Is Everywhere contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Affiliate Program. If you make a purchase using one of my Amazon or other affiliate links, I may receive compensation at no additional cost to you. Read my full privacy policy for more information.

Are you up for a free meal? Who doesn’t love getting something for free?  Especially a meal at a nice restaurant, a hotel room, or even an afternoon of bowling.  Thanks to the twenty-plus years I’ve been mystery shopping, those are a regular part of our lives.

We've bowled for free thanks to Mystery Shopping

Perks of mystery shopping – in just one month!

In just the last month, I’ve had a breakfast date with my hubby ($42), went bowling and played laser tag with the kids ($115), had pizza and beer for lunch over Spring Break ($50) and got a carry-out lunch at a national chain restaurant ($35).  This is just me doing a shop or two here and there.  If I had the time I could do so much more. 

My history with mystery shopping

I started mystery shopping almost twenty-five years ago when the company I was working for closed its doors and I was out of a job.  I started doing a few dinner shops a month so we could still enjoy a nice meal out without spending money we didn’t have!

Now I just do it for fun, to stretch our entertainment dollars, and to force myself out of my routine and try new things. My philosophy is that the more money I save, the more we can travel.

Free fast food like this sandwich is a common perk of mystery shopping

Can you make a full-time living mystery shopping?

It would be challenging to make a full-time living mystery shopping; most shops don’t pay much outside of reimbursement, but for cutting costs or adding extras to your life, it’s a great part-time gig.

Some of the work involved in mystery shopping

It is important to understand that once you conduct the shop, you will have to come home and fill out an online form (sometimes within 12 hours of doing the shop), upload some pictures, and be available for the next few days for questions.

At first, it would take me an hour or so to fill out a shop form, but after years of doing it, I can typically be done with the paperwork portion in 30 minutes or less.  It’s also something I can sit on the couch and do while watching TV with the family.

Ready to get started mystery shopping?

If this sounds like something you would enjoy, I’ve created an online class that will teach you exactly how to begin as a mystery shopper.  It takes about an hour and when you are finished you’ll be ready to find, sign up for, and conduct your first shop.  Interested?  Check it out HERE.

Mystery Shopping

Mystery Shopping 101

Take this quick online course and be ready to book your first shop! Start making money as a Mystery Shopper this week!


If you aren’t ready to take the class yet but want to give it a go on your own, please take this bit of advice:  you should NEVER have to pay to conduct a shop – if the company wants you to pay money before you work for them, they are probably not a legit mystery shopping company.

FAQs about mystery shopping

Is it a good idea to be a mystery shopper?

Mystery shopping is not a “get rich quick scheme,” but it IS a great way to make a little extra cash in your free time.

Is mystery shopping a good side hustle?

If you have a good memory, can pay attention to detail, and don’t mind “working” while you are shopping or enjoying an evening out, it can be a good side hustle.

What are the cons of mystery shopping?

The pay can be low – especially at first when it takes you a long time to fill out the forms. Some companies can be very picky and if you make a mistake or two refuse to reimburse your expenses. It can also be difficult to find a lot of high-paying/ upscale shops in your area.

Do mystery shoppers get free stuff?

Sometimes. If the shop you are doing requires you to make a purchase to evaluate the service and purchase process, you’ll often get reimbursed for the item.

Looking for more ways to make extra money?

Wrapping up: Is Mystery Shopping worth your time?

Is mystery shopping the side hustle you’ve been searching for? Well, it’s not a path to instant riches, but it does have its perks. If you’re the type who enjoys shopping and dining out, and you’ve got a keen eye for detail, then absolutely, it could be a perfect fit. You’re essentially earning while doing activities you might already love.

Sure, the financial rewards might start off modest, and, yes, the paperwork can be a bit of a drag. But remember, it’s about more than just the money. It’s about the experience, the opportunity to influence service quality, and let’s not forget the occasional freebies. Who doesn’t like getting reimbursed for a meal or a product?

However, it’s crucial to go in with realistic expectations. This isn’t your ticket to early retirement. Approach it as a fun, engaging way to earn some extra cash and enjoy some neat experiences. Who knows? That little bit of extra income and the occasional free product could add up to a nice bonus over time.

In the end, like any side hustle, it’s all about what you make of it. If you’re up for a bit of adventure, mystery shopping could be just the right blend of fun and earnings. Give it a try and see where it takes you. Happy shopping!


Who doesn't love getting something for free?  Especially a meal at a nice restaurant, a hotel room, or an afternoon of bowling.  Thanks to the years I've been mystery shopping, those are a regular part of our lives. Keep reading for more of the perks of mystery shopping!