How To Use A Pawn Shop

Not so long ago, pawn shops were seen as dark, dimly lit businesses that were “Known” to participate in underhanded practices and deal in stolen goods. That couldn’t be any further from the truth in today’s modern pawn shop.

If you go into most major pawn shops today, you will find organized, well lit, bright operations with helpful staff, friendly demeanor, and a welcoming atmosphere.

But if you have never been in a pawn shop, you may not understand how the loan process works, or how to go about selling something to them. This quick guide should help you out!

Before You Get To The Pawnshop

cleaning items before taking them to the pawn shop

Make your items presentable for the pawn shop...

Before you even leave your house, you should take a few minutes to quickly clean whatever you may be headed to the pawn shop with.

In the case of hard goods like tools, electronics, or anything else that isn’t jewelry, take a second and wipe it down with a cloth.

Try to remove any stickers or heavy marks and debris. In the case of jewelry, using a toothbrush with a small amount of soapy water and brush around away diamonds or stones to remove any died lotion or debris from around and underneath them.

Please refer to our Cleaning Tips guide for additional help.

Make sure your items are charged and you have all the parts...

Beyond just cleaning, be sure that you have all of the parts and accessories that go with the item that you are planning on taking to the pawn shop.

In the case of hard goods, that means things like controllers, cords, stands, charged batteries (so the pawn shop can be sure the item works), and anything else that normally comes with what you are intending to pawn.

In the case of jewelry, this can mean things like any appraisal you may have previously had done on your items. In the case of high end watches, this will mean things like boxes and paperwork if you still have them.

Please refer to our What To Take With You guide for additional help.

charge your batteries
pawnshop ID

Have your ID...

Many states require that you provide pawn shops with at least a driver’s license or state ID before you make a loan on or sell something to them. Be sure that you have this with you so that you can provide it to the pawn broker when they ask for it.

Once You're At The Pawnshop

There will be a quick inspection of your items...

The pawnbroker will have to perform a quick inspection of your item to make sure it is working properly, or in the case of jewelry, determine the value of the metal and, if applicable, diamonds involved.

In the case of hard goods such as electronics, hunting equipment, firearms, and all other non-jewelry items, they may have to do some brief research on eBay or elsewhere to determine the value of what you’ve brought in.

pawn shop inspection
pawn loan offers

They will then make you an offer...

Based on their inspection they will then be able to present you with an offer for your items.

Typically speaking, the offers present for a pawn loan on your items is slightly less then the offer they would make if you were selling your items.

Just remember, if you sell what you’ve brought in, you will not be able to get them back at a later point in time. If you think you may want what you brought in back, be sure to just make a pawn loan on them, even if the offer is slightly lower.

The pawnbroker will then complete some paperwork for you to sign...

Hang tight for a few minutes, the pawnbroker will have to fill out some loan or sale paperwork that you will often have to sign.

In most cases, the state you live in regulates what this paperwork involves or has on it, but it will often include your name, address, a description of the items, and if a loan, the terms of the loan.

You will then need to sign it signifying that you agree to the terms and understand that if you don’t repay the loan, the pawnbroker can keep and sell your items to recover the money they gave you (along with a little profit in most cases.)

pawn loan paperwork
leave pawnshop with cash

Then you leave with cash in hand!

Once the pawn shop has completed your paperwork, that’s it! You get to leave with cash in hand.

You will have to come back at a later point in time and repay the loan. This often means paying back the amount the lent you plus some interest and possible storage (depending on the state you’re in.)

The amount of interest you pay back is set by state law and can vary from 3-25%. 

Some pawnbrokers will compete with each other by lowering their interest rates, so keep this in mind when initially getting the loan.