Get paid to eat: How to make extra money as a restaurant mystery shopper

What if you could make extra money every week eating in restaurants you’ve always wanted to try anyway? That opportunity exists with

I signed up with MarketForce as a mystery shopper after another member of Team Clark told me about other ways to get paid by testing food. I was skeptical at first, but then I saw how this could be a good way to try some cool restaurants in the city without it costing me a dime.

How to make extra money as a mystery shopper for

MarketForce helps food companies, restaurants and even wireless service providers with quality control and customer service assessments. Those firms rely on mystery shoppers to objectively tell them how their businesses are doing, whether employees are applying their training and if their food is being prepared as it should be.

When you go to mystery shop, you will be reimbursed for the “shopping” as well as for expenses like parking or tolls.

Full disclosure: Most of these places are fast-food restaurants, with the occasional full-service eatery thrown in. Since I’ve been doing it, I’ve eaten at places like 5 Guys Burgers, Hooters, Church’s Chicken and shopped at T-Mobile wireless stores and the like.

How to get paid to eat at restaurants as a mystery shopper

The key to getting paid is that you must keep meticulous records of your experience. Different “shops” have certain activities that you must accomplish or fulfill. If you accept a shop that wants you to confirm the business hours of operation, many times you can do that over the phone (usually, you’ll get paid $3 to make a phone call).

Other shops involve going into the business or restaurant and dining inside. That’s where the real money is. You’ll typically get paid around $12 for a basic meal, but it could go up depending on what food items they want you to try. Other times, you may be required to take a photo of a restroom or ask a server where the restroom is.

When you sign up for, you do give up a bit of personal data, including your information that allows you to be paid. Once you’re approved, you can find shops on the site via a map. All you need to do is put in your ZIP code or one where you want to mystery shop.

Scrolling through the restaurants and other businesses on the left-side rail, you can select shops to accomplish at the times listed. Usually, there are several days and hours that you can choose from.

Get paid to eat: How to make extra money dining at restaurants
Photo credit: Screenshot via

Mystery shopping: How not to get disqualified

One of the easy ways that your shop can be disqualified is if you go to a particular restaurant at the wrong time of day. Once you approve a shop and you are sent the specific details (either as a PDF or Word doc), make sure you follow it accordingly.

If it’s a lunchtime shop — usually between 11:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. — and you arrive there at 4:30 p.m. you’ll basically be wasting your money. They won’t reimburse you, even though you may have followed all of the other instructions.

Another thing that makes your shop null and void is if you fail to report the shop in a timely matter. MarketForce asks that you upload the receipt and fill out the report no longer than eight hours after you’ve left the establishment. If you exceed that time limit, again, that meal is on you.

How much money can you make as a mystery shopper

As with some other mystery shopping sites, MarketForce pays monthly (the 15th of every month). That means if you do all your shops in the first few days of the month, you won’t see that check until the middle of the following month (about 45 days later). That’s why it’s best to sprinkle in some shops throughout a 30-day period. You can get your money back quicker if you shop on the back end of the month.

One other great thing about MarketForce is that you don’t have to accept the price they give you to shop. That’s right, you can negotiate. Once you select a business, if you think you deserve more money for the shop, click the green “Make An Offer” button and input your desired price. If MarketForce agrees, it will be accepted.

Get paid to eat: How to make extra money dining at restaurants
Photo credit: Screenshot via

From the above example, it will cost you $15 to eat and try the entree choice that this restaurant wants your feedback on. They are offering to pay you $5 to eat there. So you’ll be reimbursed for the $15 + $5 for the shop, meaning you’ll get $20 total for this one shop.

MarketForce is a great way to passively supplement your income by doing something you’d likely do anyway. After all, we all have to eat! I only “shopped” at only two restaurants last month, spending about $15 each time, and was paid $42.82. That’s not bad!

Get paid to eat: How to make extra money dining at restaurants
Photo credit: Screenshot from bank statement

Here are 21 more ways to make extra money in 2018

Keep up to date with the latest money-making tips and more at Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

Get paid to eat: How to make extra money as a restaurant mystery shopper