How Much do Pawn Shops Pay in 2022 (My Experience)

by John-Paul Cody

Updated

Pawn shops pay cash for just about anything, but it comes at a price.

The potential drawback is how much pawn shops pay.

I recently sold several items to my local pawn shop, and wanted to share what percentage the pawn shop paid, and when to consider other options.

How much do pawn shops pay?

In my experience, pawn shops pay approximately 7-35% of the original retail price. For example, if you bought a power drill for $300, a pawn shop would typically offer between $21-$105 for the item.

Biggest reasons for low offers from pawn shops:

  • pawn shops need to buy low enough to still have room to make a profit when selling to the final buyer
  • there is a risk they cannot sell the item they are buying from you, so they hedge their bet by offering a low amount

My Recent Pawn Shop Experience

A few months ago, I decided to pawn my guitar, vintage radio, and KitchenAid mixer. The retail prices for the items totaled about $1,000, and the pawn shop originally offered me $125 for everything.

If you know how to sell to a pawn shop, you’ll know that the first offer is never their best offer. Instead it’s just a starting point in the negotiation.

After going back and forth a few times, we settled on $325 for everything or ~32% of the original retail price.

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Fortunately we were able to agree on a pretty good price. My biggest tip to increase your payout from pawn shops is stand your ground, and be okay with walking away if the price isn’t right.

selling-to-pawn-shops-pros-and-cons

How does a pawn shop determine value?

Pawn shops determine value by analyzing sold prices of similar items online, current precious metal values (if you’re selling jewelry), and how quickly similar items sell in their store.

Using Sold Listings

Just about every pawn shop also sells their inventory online. So they usually check sold listings on websites like eBay to know what they could sell your item for online.

This is a super simple process that anyone can do, you don’t even need an eBay account. See below for the process.

sold-listings-on-ebay-2

If you want to sell on eBay, this is something you’ll be doing all the time to figure out current market prices.

Current Precious Metal Values

Certain items like rings, watches, and coins are often made with precious metals like gold, platinum, and silver. The value of these items are not only based on their inherent value, but also current “spot prices” of the precious metal.

Spot price refers to the current price a commodity (in this case, precious metals) is being sold/purchased.

So if you’re selling a gold wedding ring, usually the current “melt value” plays a big role in the offer (amount if you melted the item down), and will be near the lowest amount offered since it’s a commodity.

The ‘melt value’ is an easy number to determine beforehand, by weighing your item and checking the current precious metal price index. If you own something with precious metals, these are usually items you can pawn for $500 or more.

Pawn Shop Inventory

If you were pawning a game console, and that item sells well at one pawn shop and poorly at another, the second pawn shop will offer you less because the item simply isn’t a great seller in their store and they don’t want to get stuck with it.

For this reason, some pawn shops might offer a little more or a little less than the next pawn shop down the street.

Not to mention, some pawn shops simply pay fairer prices than others. To determine which pawn shops pay better rates than others, check Google Reviews of shops in your area.

Most of the time you’ll find reviews that talk about whether they got fair prices or were lowballed.

Do you get more if you sell or pawn?

You’ll usually get more for selling rather than pawning, because pawn shops sometimes have to sell the item after having provided the loan if the item’s owner skips town.

As with all loans, lenders want to receive interest on their money, so the pawn shop will ultimately offer a little less to account for loan interest.

Oftentimes though, people do repay the loan and simply need gap funding for a life emergency. Luckily there are numerous ways to get cash immediately, so always remember you have options.

However, if you do think there’s a good chance you won’t be able to repay the loan, you might want to consider selling the item rather than pawning since you’d receive a slightly higher amount.

Places that Might Pay More than Pawn Shops

In some situations, pawn shops might not offer you the highest payout. Fortunately there are countless sites to sell stuff, both locally and online.

I’ve experimented with each of these methods, and will share a few reasons why they are worth considering.

Plato’s Closet

This is a highly underrated way to get quick cash for clothes, shoes, and smaller accessories. I recently did a massive closet cleanout, and brought a giant basket of clothes to Plato’s Closet.

I was shocked how much Plato’s Closet pays for clothes.

Plus, most people don’t realize Plato’s Closet accepts a pretty wide assortment of items including: belts, handbags, bracelets, hats, necklaces, sunglasses, boots, running shoes, jackets, scarves, tank tops, and sandals.

Garage Sales

Making money at garage sales is best when you have a large amount of stuff to liquidate. One nice thing about selling at garage sales is you probably won’t be dealing with skilled negotiators like you would at pawn shops, which can be stressful.

If you don’t have a large amount of stuff to sell but still like this method, many people do ‘multi-family’ yard sales, where you could team up with someone else doing a yard sale and not have to do all the setup yourself.

Online & Local Marketplaces

Today, there are tons of marketplaces to sell stuff including: eBay, Amazon, Facebook Marketplace, Mercari, Poshmark, Craigslist, flea markets, and more.

If the item you want to sell is collectable or very popular (ex: graded trading cards, rare watches, Jordans, etc), you can probably sell it at a higher price online rather than to a pawn shop.

For example, selling on StockX was built for selling collectable and rare items.

selling-shoes-on-stockx

The drawbacks are the selling process usually takes longer and requires more work, but you’ll earn more money.

If you’re looking for the easiest marketplace, I recommend selling on Mercari. I’ve sold a bunch of stuff with the platform and love the features, such as shipping things locally using Uber.

Whether you want to sell your Apple Watch or a family heirloom, online marketplaces help you reach buyers for just about anything.   

Wrapping Up

So, how much do pawn shops pay? Now you know they usually pay 7-30% of the retail price.

If you are not pleased with the offer they make, remember there are many other ways to sell things today.

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About the Author

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John-Paul Cody has been an avid online seller for years, across platforms including eBay, Mercari, Craigslist, and more. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from UNC Chapel Hill, and works in data analytics and marketing.