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Pawnbrokers 101


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Pawnbrokers can be useful if your need for cash is short term. To pawn something you must be an adult with valid identifiction and you must own an item which has some value to it so that it can be used as collateral for a loan.  You do not need good credit, income or a bank account.

Commonly pawned items include jewelry, electronics, musical instruments and firearms. There is no limit to what can serve as collateral.

Pawnbrokers generally loan money for a short period of time, such as three to six months, based on personal property which guarantees repayment of the loan. ("Collateral.") Pawnbrokers also generally buy items.

Pawnbrokers usually charge very high interest rates plus storage fees. As a result, pawn should only be considered for a short-term loan if you have no better option. 

The downside to drfaulting on a loan (not paying it back) is that you do not get the pawned item back.

These days, pawnbrokers generally work under strict state licensing requirements. Some pawnbrokers have gone upscale. There is even at least one online pawn broker: offsite link With Pawngo, you get an online estimate. If the number works for you, you FedEx your item to the company (Pawngo pays the cost of shipping and insurance). If the item is as billed, the loan amount is wired to your bank within 24 hours.

  • Read every word of a pawn broker's contract or pawn ticket carefully. Ask if there are questions. 
  • If an interpretation of wording seems to go against what you read, ask that the interpretation be put in writing.
  • Once you turn over your item, you will be given cash plus a ticket. It is advisable to take a photo of the ticket and email it to yourself in case you lose the ticket.


  • Before approaching a pawnbroker, it is advisable to make sure your item is clean and looks well-cared-for.  The objective is to covince a pawnbroker you intend to come back for the item and repay the loan. Pawnbrokers generally prefer to make their money from interest instead of from selling an item.
  • Pawnbroker interest rates are genearlly negotiable. There is no reason not to try to negotiate your rate.
  • There is no need to tell your story when requesting a pawn. However, according to an industry insider, if you have a specific and compelling monetary need, a broker may make you a more generous offer.

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