PayPal and Mystery Shopping

Many mystery shopping companies require that you have a PayPal account in order to shop for them. Here we will talk about what PayPal is, how it works, why mystery shopping companies want you to have a PayPal account, and what you need to watch out for when using PayPal.

PayPal was established as a way for people to exchange money over the Internet. It is used by merchants, individuals, and eBay auction sellers to receive payments via credit card and electronic check. In fact, it is used so much on eBay, that eBay bought PayPal a couple of years ago.

PayPal also has a feature called Mass Pay where payments can be sent to a large number of people at once. Many secret shopping companies use Mass Pay to send payments to shoppers because it is faster, more reliable and less expensive than printing and mailing hundreds or thousands of checks every month.

Here is how it works: Start by signing up for a PayPal account. Or, if you already have an account, add the email address you use for mystery shopping to your PayPal account. This is important, because your email address is how you are identified as the recipient of a payment.

If your PayPal account is used for receiving funds from mystery shopping jobs, and buying stuff online, all you need is a Personal account. If you want to accept payments at your web site, or as an eBay auction seller, you will want a Premier or Business account. The type of account is not all that important, and it can be changed later.

When a mystery shopping company pays you via PayPal, they submit a file with data about all of the payments they are making. The file includes information such as the email addresses, amounts of the payments, and the currency type (e.g., USD). They also make funds available to PayPal to cover the total of the payments and the PayPal fees. PayPal then distributes the funds to the appropriate accounts. When you receive a payment, PayPal will notify you via email.I always love getting emails that say, “You’ve got cash!”

It is important to note that you will not be charged a fee to receive a Mass Pay payment. The fee is paid by the mystery shopping company.

You also will not pay to get your money out of PayPal unless you use an ATM card or request a paper check. You can have the money transferred from your PayPay account to your bank account, use the PayPal debit card as you would a MasterCard credit card, or use the money to make a purchase from any of more than 42,000 merchants who accept PayPal for online purchases.

PayPay is a safe and easy way to receive payments online. However, there are a few things to watch out for.

Safeguard your account information. Use a password that is not easily guessed, and that is different from other passwords you use (e.g., to access mystery shopping sites).

Do not access PayPal though an unsecured wireless connection. If you do not enter a password to access the wireless network (such as at many public wi-fi spots) it is unsecured and your data may be intercepted by someone. They can then use that data to access your accounts.

Some shoppers who transfer money from PayPal to their bank accounts set up bank accounts especially for that purpose. Whenever they get a couple hundred dollars in PayPal, they transfer it to this special account, then withdraw most of the money from the bank account. That way, even if their information is somehow compromised, a thief does not have access to their primary checking or savings account. This is a little extreme, but can provide an extra layer of safety.

Do not assume that emails you get about a problem with your PayPal account are legitimate. Most likely, they are part of a phishing scheme, designed to capture your account information. If you believe there may be a problem, visit PayPal’s Security Center to learn more.

The best part of getting paid with PayPal? I can use the money to buy stuff online, and my husband will never know! Uh . . . you aren’t reading this, are you, honey?


  1. crawdaddydoo92 says

    One downside is that some of the payments I have recieved say that they will expire after like 30 or 90 days if not withdrawn. I do agree with Cathy though definatly protect yourself and read up on the paypal spoof process. The first way to spot a fake PayPal email is the same as with most banks, that bieng when it is not addressed to you, ie it doesnt say “Dear Cathy Stucker” and instead says “Dear PayPal member”

  2. Cathy Stucker says

    I have never seen a circumstance where a payment received in your PayPal account can expire. I searched for this and could not find any mention of it. PayPal works something like a bank account–when money goes in, it stays there until you withdraw it through a transfer, debit card, etc.

    Perhaps you received some kind of promotional credit that had an expiration date or . . .?

    And you are right about the generic form of the emails. They tend not to have your personal information in them, such as your name. Although I would not trust it even if the email used my name. It is too easy to put a name and email address together.

  3. Wavs says

    I love Paypal. Whenever I get an email supposedly from Paypal though I will forward it to and they will reply back saying whether it’s a scam or not.

    I never seen anywhere where my deposit will expire either.

  4. Danielle says

    I just got a 800$50 deposit from a mystery shopper job and my payout is 100$ idk if its legit or not and don’t know what to do

    • says

      Sounds like a scam. If they paid you BEFORE the shop and want you to wire money to someone, it is definitely a scam. Don’t withdraw any money, don’t wire money and don’t have further contact with the scammers. Alert your bank that you are the victim of a scam and the check you deposited was a forgery.

  5. Sergey says

    Hey Danielle! I just received the same payment of $850.00 They want me to transfer it to my bank account and then withdraw the money. Let me know if you had any trouble with that!

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