A few weeks ago, I decided to try something that I’ve been curious about for a while – mystery shopping. The idea has intrigued me for years, but when my kids were tiny, I was intimidated by the thought of managing my kids while trying it out. But now that they are a bit older and I have some more free time, I decided to go for it, hoping that I’d earn some extra gift cards for my “donate fund”. So this month, I tried two different mystery shopping programs. I’m still waiting on payment for the first one, but the second was amazingly easy, and I have earned $25 so far. So I thought I’d share details in case you’re interested in expanding your budget, too!

Mobee is a mystery shopping company is really simple to navigate. All you need is a smartphone and their app. That’s it! You find jobs, take pictures, do reports, and earn (and redeem) gift cards all through this app.

Basically, here’s how it works. You download the Mobee app. Open it up, look at the map of your area, and see what mystery shop jobs are available. (Note: in my area, most jobs seem to be released on Wednesdays at noon, so if there isn’t anything right away, just wait a few days). Jobs that are available show up as an orange dot, and jobs that will be available soon appear as a grey dot. If there is an assignment near you that looks interesting, just head over and accept the mission, complete the task (usually 10-15 minutes, answering questions and taking a few pictures with your phone), and get paid! Your money posts to your account as soon as your task is reviewed – in my experience, typically in two business days. Reward opportunities include gift cards to Target, eBay, Old Navy, Walmart, iTunes, and more. (You can even use your rewards to make donations to organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project and Ronald McDonald House Charities.) When you redeem a gift card, it is emailed to you instantly. Just open the email and have the cashier scan the barcode at checkout. I’ve done it twice this week and it worked perfectly!

A more of my honest thoughts …

Cons:

– You can’t save a job for later, and you can’t accept it until you’re at the location. If you’re out and about and shopping, or if you live near a lot of stores, it works great. If you live in a rural area and would have to drive a long way to do a mystery shopping job, it might be pretty tricky.

– The pay isn’t a ton. Most jobs range from $1.50 to $3.50.

– Since most jobs (in my area) are released at the same time, by the time I do one or two, the other jobs are usually taken up, so I can only complete a few jobs per week.

Pros:

–  Although the pay isn’t very high, it’s pretty good when you consider how fast the jobs are to complete. If I can earn a few dollars in ten minutes by answering questions about a store I shop at anyway, I consider that a good use of my time.

– You usually don’t have to spend any money. A lot of mystery companies require you to buy something, then you wait to be reimbursed. Most of Mobee’s missions do not require a purchase, and if they do, that is clearly stated before you begin. I recently had a mystery shop at a store that required a $2 minimum purchase, and the pay was around $3.50. I looked at that store’s ad and found something on sale that I needed to buy that week anyway, so the job was totally worth it for me.

– They offer bonuses. Right now, you earn an extra $1 after your first trip, $2 after your third, $3 after your seventh, $5 after your fourteenth, and $20 after your thirtieth. There are also store-specific bonuses. As the first jobs take a bit longer than later ones (because you’re getting the hang of the program), it’s nice to have little bonuses to make up for the extra time. They also give small bonuses for things like your first visit to a store, or for traveling outside your normal area.

– The rewards are instant. This was SO helpful to me this week! I had already earned $25 and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it yet. But I was lucky enough to stumble across a bunch of 90% off clearance at Target this week, so I started cashing out my rewards. This morning, I redeemed a $10 gift card and gave myself a challenge: how much could I buy with that $10? Look at the haul I was able to get! (This is why I bargain shop!)

10-mobee-shopping-trip

(Guess what schools need? School supplies. Guess what women’s shelters need? School supplies. Guess what adult ESL classes need? School supplies. I could go on and on … but seriously, almost every organization that I’ve donated to needs school supplies. This is a fantastic time of year to shop! You can donate these things right away, or do what I do – start a “donation stash” that you can draw from when you find out about a local organization that needs some help.)

If you’ve decided you’d like to try Mobee, just go to the app store and download it! And right now, they have a refer-a-friend promo. If you enter my code (5DQG) when you sign up, we’ll both get a bonus $3 when your first mission is approved. Which, if you shop the way I shop, means we can both get a pile of stuff that looks like this:

3-mobee

So have fun mystery shopping!! Be sure to let me know if you have any questions, and if you’re able to donate some cool stuff with your Mobee gift cards, come back and share with us!

(Note: this isn’t a sponsored post. The cool people at Mobee have no idea I’m writing this. I was just really excited to find such an easy way to earn gift cards and wanted to share. And if you happen to use my referral code when you sign up –  that would be awesome! Thanks!!)

4 Comments on Stretching Your Donation Budget: Mystery Shopping

  1. Now that you have experienced it… would you do it with youngins? My 4 year old goes to preschool 2x a week, one of which is Wednesday, so I could theoretically do this before I pick him up on Wednesdays and only have my younger two, a rambunctious 2 year old, and a 7 month old…. would you do it?

    • Hum, good question. Ideally kid-free is easiest, of course, but I think it’s doable if you bring a snack for the kids. 🙂 I’ve only had one mission that requires a timer. For all the others, I can answer questions, put my phone away for a minute and shop, and move on to the next one, so if your kids need you, you’ll be okay to pause the job. There’s not a lot you need to immediately figure out/remember, if that makes sense.