Income-Earning Opportunity: Become a Mystery Shopper with MSI Services/TrendSource


Looking for a way to earn some extra income? Mystery shopping might be a great option for you!

When we were first married, I did a lot of mystery shopping. And while it was sometimes tedious work, there were also many fun opportunities — like beauty shops, expensive restaurants that we would have never been able to afford to eat at otherwise, fast food restaurants, and more!

There are many different reputable mystery shopping companies out there that you can apply to work with. One such company is MSI Services/TrendSource and they are recruiting right now, specifically for grocery store mystery shop projects. Here’s what they emailed me about this opportunity:

MSI Services/TrendSource is recruiting Independent Field Agents to participate in Unrevealed Mystery Shop Projects at local grocery stores. An Independent Field Agent is an independent contractor who is paid to anonymously complete an evaluation and inspection of a local business based on specific criteria.

Independent Field Agents pose as regular customers while performing their evaluation. After the project is complete, Independent Field Agents submit their collected data through an online evaluation form.

A typical evaluation looks for the following information:

  • Counting the number of associates in each department.
  • Evaluating whether associates actively engage with customers.
  • Reporting how associates engage with customers.
  • Reporting how associates respond to specific questions.


Becoming a mystery shopper is a great way to get reimbursed for your groceries. MSI Services/TrendSource pays agents twice monthly for their projects. Independent Field Agents spend approximately 30 minutes on-site.

Are you interested in applying for this opportunity? Head over to MSI Services/TrendSource to learn more and apply to become an Independent Field Agent today!

{Note: This post was underwritten by TrendSource. Read our disclosure policy here.}

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  1. anonymous says

    I can vouch for this company, having worked for them in the past. They pay VERY regularly, which is not the case for every mystery shopping company.

  2. Debi says is another reputable mystery shopping site. I have worked for both Trendsource and Marketforce. Blessings!

  3. Jen says

    Yes, Marketforce and Trendsource are great mystery shopping companies. I’ve been with them for 7 years!

  4. Melanie says

    Also Grassroots Measures! However, this company reimburses with a gift card to the shop in question so you have to pay out of pocket first, and then you’re paid forward.

    • Dawn says

      I’ve done mystery shopping with this company as well and they have nice to work with! You can only do a certain amount a year, so it is pretty easy, but I just save the gift cards to pay for the next shop. We get to eat out at a restaurant our family loves every few months thanks to GM. :)

      • Lisa says

        I’m sure you’re trying to help, but it’s against your ICA (Independent Contractor Agreement) to list which particular restaurants and/or retailers are shopped by a specific company. I’d suggest that you edit your post to remove the exact restaurant name.

      • Dawn says

        You are right, not sure what I was thinking! Crystal, I am so sorry but I can’t figure out how to edit; is there anyway to delete my comment? Thank you, Lisa, for pointing out my total brain freeze.

    • says

      Pay varies by shop, but you’ll usually make between $7 to $15 per hour as a mystery shopper + get reimbursed for items you purchase. At least that’s what my experience was.

      • Ann says

        I wrote a lengthy comment that I think is fair-minded and honest, yet it is awaiting moderation. I used my middle name for the post so as not to burn bridges should Trendsource change their pay scale. I see that your post was underwritten by Trendsource, so is that an issue for you? Do you receive a stipend for touting their company? This should be a forum for honesty and for a way for your readers to make informed decisions.

        • says

          Hi, Ann!

          As your comment gave specific store and shop details about mystery shops with Trendsource, I didn’t post it as that is in violation of their terms you sign when you agree to be a mystery shopper. I wanted to protect you from being liable for breaching your contract with them.

          However, if you want to re-write comment without sharing specific details on stores you shopped with TrendSource, the specific shop instructions, and specific payment details, you are more than welcome to. I truly appreciate people give their honest opinions on their experiences with a company so that it helps others to make an informed decision.

          Thanks so much — and have a wonderful day!

  5. Becky says

    This a really dumb question… does the reimbursement for items purchased count as income we would report for tax purposes? Or, only the actual amount we earn? Thanks to anyone who knows!

    • Catherine says

      Since you are an independent contractor, they won’t send any tax forms unless you make over a certain amount (I think $1000) during the year.

        • Amanda says

          I work as a mystery shopper and received a W2 when I exceed $600 in payment during a year period.

          • Jen says

            Yes, speaking as an accountant, if you make over $600 as an independent contractor, you will be issued a 1099-MISC. This income will be reported on your 1040 under miscellaneous income, not wage income.

            • Brandette says

              Also an accountant here, can vouch for this reply. Anything earned for a specific employer over $600 in a calendar year will need to be reported on your tax return.

    • Stephanie says

      I don’t have a source of the top of my head, but I’ve researched in the past and only the income is reported for tax purposes, not the reimbursement for items purchased. You have to report income even if the company doesn’t send you a tax form.

      • Brandette says

        Only the actual income portion of the payment should be tax reportable. But, it would entirely depend on how the company is handling the reimbursement. I have never worked for them, so I can’t vouch for how they handle it. But, the grocery reimbursement portion of it should be classified as “an employee reimbursement” type expense, not salary or income. This would make it non-taxable. Almost as if say your employer reimbursed you for office supplies your bought for work use.

    • Debi says

      I will add to what Catherine said, only the fee amount counts as income….at least according to my tax preparer. Don’t forget you can also deduct mileage if you itemize.

    • Leah says

      The items you buy could be considered cost of doing business if you file as self-employed, owning your own business. These are expenses, because you are having to buy them in order to earn that income.

  6. amanda says

    what should I select under program interests? only mystery shopping? I don’t know what the others are.

  7. Molly says

    since my husband is out of work, I think we will give this a shot. sounds like everyone has had good things to say about them. And of course, if it comes from Crystal, then it’s legit! Thanks Crystal!

  8. KT says

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU for this post. I signed up the day you listed it, not sure if I should expect anything from it, but figuring it wouldn’t hurt to try. This past weekend, I completed my first 3 secret shops and it went great! It was a fabulous way to pay for my groceries this week. THANK YOU!