How Much I Earned From My Secret Shopping Excursion

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secret shop excursionI’ve always dreamed of being a secret shopper. It’s the closest I’ll ever come to seeing my fantasy of being an undercover spy like Jason Bourne come to fruition. Going undercover to infiltrate foreign governments…going to Runza and checking restroom cleanliness…pretty similar right? Since I’ve recently upgraded to a smartphone (yes, the date on this post is correct…I owned a flip phone until March), my dream has become a reality with the iSecretShop app.

I was referred to the app by a colleague who said she earned some quick cash doing random secret shopping assignments in her free time. I looked into it and gave it a shot this past month. Here are my initial experiences and observations.



Secret shopping is fun!

Maybe it’s the geeky fantasy about being a spy, but it’s fun to walk into a store with an objective and not be able to tell anybody what you’re doing. I’m sure it’s what James Bond feels like when he goes to Famous Dave’s with a top-secret mission.

Secret shopping is flexible

The iSecretShop app just provides opportunities in my area for assignments. I decide if and when I’ll complete the assignment. I’m really hoping the next update to the app will have a recording that says, “your mission, should you choose to accept it…”. A guy can dream, right?

Secret shopping takes time

Most assignments require a thorough investigation. When I completed an assignment at Runza, answering the questions took close to 25 minutes. What did the outside advertisements say? Were the window sills clean? Did a person greet you within 10 seconds of arrival? Were the paper towels properly stocked? The life of a spy isn’t easy!

Secret shopping provides a nice “bonus” income

Each assignment either provides a reimbursement based on a receipt or a direct compensation amount to cover costs plus additional cash. Since iSecretShop deals with different consumer agencies, the method of payment varies. Most payments are paid via PayPal. Not to blow my cover, but here are the places I was a secret shopper, how much I was compensated, and how long the assignments took.

Location Compensation Time
Runza $13 30 minutes
Prairie Life Fitness $20 45 minutes
Cox Internet $5 5 minutes (from home)
McDonald’s $7 1 hour
Famous Dave’s Full compensation for $20 meal. 1 hour

As you can tell from the chart, each assignment paid differently. Each assignment’s tasks were very different as well. The only assignment I regret taking is the McDonald’s one because it required me to basically list all of the prices from the menu board. To do this, I had up to set up shop right in front of the restaurant and awkwardly gawk at the screens for long periods of time. Don’t worry, I disguised my true intentions in a way that would make even The Condor proud.

I’d recommend checking out the iSecretShop app if you’re like me and want to be thrifty and sneaky.

What about you? Have you had any good or bad experiences as a secret shopper?

Matthew’s three-year review of Ting Mobile is just as entertaining. Check it out

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8 comments

  1. Beau says:

    Great story! Over what period of time did you partake of these five secret missions and do you think there are ample assignments available to keep doing this on a regular basis? Thanks!

    • Matthew says:

      Great question. There are typically 3-5 available assignments to choose from at any given time. I am currently doing about 1 shop per week.

  2. I love mystery shopping too and have used the iSecretShop app. Just a heads up, it may be a violation of your mystery shopper/ independent contractor agreement to list the names of the companies that you shopped for iSecretShop. Often these companies like to keep their details of shops and client lists proprietary.

  3. D Money says:

    I checked into this site/app, and the majority of the opportunities in my area involve spending money to go to an establishment in order to gain the reward. For example, spending $5 on a pizza in order to get a $10 reward, which seems like a very small amount to make, especially if you’re not a fan of what you’re buying.

  4. Martin says:

    So it sounds like you made about $65 in just under 4 hours = around $16+ an hour. Better than minimum wage. I may look into this app. Are there plenty of assignments available to keep it going as a part time job?

    • Aaron says:

      Martin – Matthew reviewed this app several years ago and he lives in a fairly large metro area. I assume if you were in an suburban area, it could be harder to get jobs. The app is still around though.

  5. Lindsey says:

    I do mystery shops and last year made about $900 in cash and a few hundred in free product (primarily gas and pop). Not enough to live on but it not only gives me a bit of spending money I would not otherwise have, when we do shops my husband and I often make it into an outing—so when I get a fast food or coffee shop one, we turn it into a frugal date.

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