Secret shopping has been a way to earn extra money for decades. But only since the advent of smartphones has this practice become something anybody can do, as and when they feel like it.
We're going to take a look at the best secret shopping apps and how they can earn you some extra spending money. All three apps are straightforward and don't require a lot to set up. Read on for an overview of secret shopping, what it involves, and how to get started.
What Is Secret Shopping, and Is It Worthwhile?
A secret shopper is a member of the public, employed to act as a representative for a company on a covert basis. This means taking jobs that require you to go into certain shops and pose as a customer.
The exact details vary; you may have to check shelving labels, take photographs, or make a purchase. In return, the companies will compensate you via the app for your time and any expenses you accrue.
These tasks sound pretty simple, and they are, but they're paying you for a good reason. Companies hire people to do these jobs to ensure their staff follows company guidelines, treats customers well, and keeps stores clean. Accordingly, secret shopping jobs can be well-paid if you know where to look, and often only take 20 or 30 minutes of your time.
It's probably not something you'll give up your day job for, but it's a nice side income for anybody after some spare change.
Can Anybody Become a Secret Shopper?
Secret shopping is something most people can try their hand at, given that the only requirement for these tasks, in most cases, is to look like a regular customer. It's not a role you need any qualifications in, and the companies typically aren't interested in your previous employment history.
The only exception would be if you have worked, or currently work for, a business you might visit as a representative.
That said, there are a few key details to keep in mind. Most apps require you to be at least 18 if you're to work with them, and you'll need to provide an ID to verify both your age and identity. You'll also need to set up a way to receive payment, which varies from app to app.
As long as you do all this, you should be good to use secret shopping apps. Get started with the best apps below.
1. Field Agent
Field Agent has been around for quite some time and is thus one of the best-known secret shopping apps. You'll only need to download the app and enter a few details before you can get started, at which point it should generate a map of all the tasks in your local area. You'll find a variety of different jobs to keep you busy, most of which are well-paid and respectful of your time.
Job briefs are detailed and cover everything you'll need to get your job done. If you encounter any issues, customer service is responsive and will help with problems. The app is intuitive to use, smoothly designed, and gives you a reasonable window of time to reserve and complete your jobs. You'll receive payments via bank transfer, which may or may not be a positive depending on how much you prefer alternatives like PayPal.
Be mindful of what exactly you're signing up for when accepting jobs, however. Some only offer payment in the form of prize draws, which is nice, but probably not what you're after. There are plenty of paid jobs available, so don't be deterred. You'll naturally find more jobs in big cities, so your mileage may vary if you live far from a city.
- Easy account setup
- Wide variety of jobs
- Generous job reservation period
- Payment by bank transfer within 2-3 days
- Some jobs pay only in prize draw entries
- No guarantee of availability in your area
Download: Field Agent for Android | iOS (Free)
Gigwalk was one of the first secret shopping apps on the scene and has remained popular ever since. It's similar to Field Agent in many ways, with tasks such as product checks, photo-taking, and rearranging marketing materials making up the bulk of the work available. You'll need to verify your ID before you get started, but Gigwalk's jobs are often the best-paid, so it's worth the effort.
The app itself is easy to use, and tasks are easy to follow. You're able to see all local gigs arranged helpfully on a map of your area, and tapping any jobs that interest you brings up a detailed summary. You have 24 hours to complete any assignments you accept, and they're usually verified quickly and paid promptly. You'll need a PayPal account to receive your payments, so make sure that's all set up beforehand.
Though we didn't struggle to find jobs in our testing, some users have reported limited availability in certain cities. You'll have to download the app to see if this affects you, but since jobs come and go often, it doesn't hurt to keep Gigwalk installed to see what's added. We found jobs across all of North America while testing it out, but once again, you may not find as many in rural areas.
- Simple registration process
- 24-hour job application period
- Highest average pay rate
- Immediate payout via PayPal
- No bank transfer options available
- Limited job availability in some cities
Download: Gigwalk for Android | iOS (Free)
EasyShift takes the same concept as the previous apps but approaches jobs a bit differently. You'll still complete shop audits, take photographs, and ask questions, but you won't always see a set price per job. Instead, the app offers a payment scale for most assignments, with the sum you receive depending on how much of the job you're able to do.
For instance, you may receive extra cash if you need to move stock around because of poor placement, which is a nice acknowledgment of your effort.
We didn't find fault with anything in the registration process or general app layout, though some users have noted technical issues. It's not as smooth as Field Agent or Gigwalk, but it's serviceable, and we didn't find any bugs in our testing.
Reservation periods are sufficient and lengthen as your rank increases, which is neat but perhaps unnecessary. We found plenty of jobs to choose from, and payment is made directly to your PayPal account, just as it is on Gigwalk.
Some users have raised concerns that submission guidelines have become more restrictive in the past few years, so you must read your brief carefully and cover everything it asks you to. It's irritating to see a job fail its audit because of a lack of detail or blurred photograph, so read through the app's FAQs and Community Forums to get a proper grasp on your assignments and avoid disappointment.
- Easy to set up
- Plenty of jobs
- Promotion system for early reservations
- Fast payment via PayPal
- Stricter submission guidelines than most
- Occasional technical issues
Download: EasyShift for Android | iOS (Free)
Which Secret Shopper App Should I Choose?
If you're hoping to make as much extra money as you can, your best bet would be to give all three of these offerings a try. After all, you're under no obligation to continue if one isn't a fit for you, and secret shopping tasks tend to ebb and flow.
Some weeks, Easyshift might be loaded with tasks, while in other weeks it could be much slower. Job availability depends on what manufacturers and marketers are looking into at the time, so using all three apps will give you a broader field to pick from.
With so many options available, it's really down to what you prefer and how much effort you want to put into your side hustle. Don't forget that there are other ways to earn a little bit of income on the side that don't involve going out to stores, either.