Best Things To Pawn To Get Quick Cash: What Do Pawnshops Buy?

jewelry
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If you’re a fan of reality shows like “Pawn Stars” or “Hardcore Pawn,” you’re already familiar with how pawnshops work. While you can sell almost anything at a pawnshop, certain items are more in demand than others and are more likely to fetch higher dollar amounts. Knowing what to expect can be helpful if you’re in a pinch and need a certain amount of cash quickly — say $500.

What Is a Pawnshop?

There are about 10,000 pawnshops nationwide, according to the National Pawnbrokers Association, many of which are family-owned businesses. You bring in an item to a pawnshop, and the pawnbroker will offer you a short-term loan based on the item’s value. If you pay off your loan in time, you get your item back. If you don’t pay the loan in time, the pawnshop is free to sell your item. You can also sell your items outright.

A personal loan from a bank is a better alternative if you qualify. Otherwise, pawning might be a viable option.

Pawnshop Advantages

Pawnshops have several distinct advantages. First, they don’t care about your credit, so you can get a loan even if you have poor credit. Also, if you fail to pay back your pawnshop loan, it won’t affect your credit score — you’ll simply forfeit your pawned item. Another advantage is that you’ll be able to get cash on the same day, so if you need money in a hurry and have no other options, a pawnshop may work for you.

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Disadvantages of Pawnshops

Pawning items for cash has serious drawbacks, the largest of which is the exorbitant annual percentage rate you’ll pay on the loan. The shops are regulated by states, so how much interest they charge varies widely but can range anywhere from 12% to over 240% APR, according to Nolo. A 240% APR means you’d pay 20% interest per month until the loan is paid off.

Note that pawnshops only loan you about 25% to 60% of an item’s resale value. If you pawn a piece of jewelry worth $1,000, you might get a loan amount of between $250 and $600, but you won’t get the value of the item. And, of course, you’ll risk forfeiting a $1,000 piece.

The average loan from a pawnshop is $150 and lasts 30 days, according to the NPA. About 85% of people do pay back their loans and reclaim their items.

What Can You Sell at a Pawnshop?

You can sell almost anything at a pawnshop, but some items command higher prices. Keep in mind that if you never pick up your item, the pawnbroker needs to sell it to make a profit. If they have a lot of inventory of whatever you’re selling, they might not buy it at all, or you may get a very low offer.

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High-Demand Pawn Items

Pawnshops know certain things have good resale value, and they’re almost always looking to buy these items:

  • Jewelry
  • Precious metals
  • Watches
  • Firearms (registered to you)
  • Electronics
  • Power tools
  • Musical instruments
  • Sporting goods, such as bikes
  • Gaming consoles
  • Antiques
  • Smartphones

You can try to negotiate the price they offer you if you think it’s too low. Different pawnshops make different offers, and loan amounts can vary widely depending on the broker, the popularity of the item in a particular market and the item’s condition. If you have time, visit several pawnshops to get the best offer.

What Can I Pawn for $50?

The following items can often fetch $50 or more:

  • Designer sunglasses
  • Designer belt
  • Lawnmower
  • KitchenAid mixer
  • Leaf blower
  • Laptop
  • Beats by Dr. Dre headphones

Clean items in excellent condition have the best chance of getting top dollar.

What Can I Pawn for $100?

According to Pawn Guru, these items bring in $100:

  • Hoverboard
  • Flat-screen TV
  • Tablet
  • Bose speakers
  • Firearm (registered to you)
  • YETI cooler
  • Apple watch
  • Refrigerator
  • GoPro
  • Power tools
  • Jewelry
  • AC unit
  • Golf clubs
  • Game consoles

Certain in-demand items can be worth more than $100. A new, in-the-box Nintendo Switch can net you between $200 and $230.

What Can I Pawn for $500?

Since pawnshops typically offer somewhere between 25% and 60% of an item’s resale value, you’ll need to pawn an item worth between $835 and $2,000 to get $500.

Jewelry

Concentrate on items with gold, diamonds or platinum. Pawnshops sell a lot of jewelry, and they often have someone on hand with specific expertise in gold and precious stones. They’ll be familiar with things like cut, carat weight and melt value. If you aren’t familiar with current prices on jewelry, it might be smart to bring the pieces to a jewelry store that sells pre-owned and estate jewelry to get a quote for comparison, and perhaps a better deal.

Other Precious Metals

Precious metals are easy to pawn because they tend to appreciate over time. This makes them a good risk for a pawnshop.

New High-End TVs

If you’re looking to pawn a nice, new TV, it needs to be high-definition or 4K to fetch a significant price.

Collectibles

Collectibles can be tricky, with some commanding far more money than others. Some collectors’ items are worth well over $500, so do your homework by researching values on WorthPoint or checking sold prices on eBay before you head out to a pawnshop. Note that some collections aren’t worth much at all; your collection of Beanie Babies, vintage band T-shirts or royal memorabilia probably won’t get you much.

Coins

Much like collectibles, coins can vary widely in value. A 1964 Kennedy half dollar is worth about $10, whereas a 1913 Liberty Head V Nickel averages over $3 million, so be sure you know what your coins are worth before pawning them.

Firearms

High-end firearms that are registered to you and are in good working order can easily get you a $500 loan.

Vintage Technology

If you happen to have one of the following, you can probably get $500 for it at a pawnshop:

  • Macintosh 128K — Worth $1,500 to $2,000
  • Pioneer SX-1980 Stereo Receiver — Worth $10,000-$15,000
  • An original, unopened iPhone — Worth $4,000 to $6,000

Final Take

If you need cash in a hurry and you have an item you won’t miss, a pawnshop could be a good option for you. Keep in mind that interest rates and finance charges can be quite high, so consider other sources of cash if you can afford to wait a bit.

Unique Side Gigs

Daria Uhlig contributed to the reporting for this article.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

About the Author

Gail Kellner is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance and investing. She has written for Bankrate, Retireable, MoneyGeek, and a host of other small business websites. She is located on the east coast, in Massachusetts where she lives with her sons and her husband.

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