Pawning vs Selling

The difference between pawning or selling items can be a bit confusing to understand. This article will discuss both pawning and selling to help you decide which option is right for you.

selling jewelry at pawn shop

Pawning vs Selling

If you need money to pay an unexpected bill or you’re simply looking to get rid of items cluttering up your home, you might have considered selling or pawning those items.

Most pawn shops offer both sale and pawn opportunities, but it can be difficult to know which is the right choice for you if you’re not sure exactly what the difference between the two is.

Key takeaways:

  • Most pawn shops allow both pawning and selling.
  • Selling an item is an exchange of an item for cash.
  • Pawning an item is an exchange of an item for cash with the option to receive your item back.
  • A pawn shop will offer you less money than an item’s proper value.
  • A pawn shop will specify a timeframe when pawning an item.
  • A pawn shop may charge interest when pawning an item.
  • Both pawning and selling have their own advantages.
pawnbrokers loan sign


Selling an item at a pawn shop is very similar to selling it anywhere else. You’ll bring the item into the store, and a salesperson will assess the item to determine a fair value.

This value is often a bit less than what the item is worth or what the final sale price is, as the pawn shop will resell it.

Most pawn shops require some sort of proof of ownership, and you’ll sign an agreement for the cash amount you’ll be given.

Occasionally, for items such as jewelry, an expert might be called to ensure that the piece is authentic.

Once the paper has been signed, you’ll be given the agreed-upon amount of money, and the pawn shop will take the item. The transaction will then be complete.

Pawn shop worker verifies jewelry and photo or video camera
Pawn shop worker verifies jewelry and photo or video camera


Pawning is similar to selling, but you have an option to get your item back. Pawning is a little bit more like getting a loan.

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When you pawn an item, the pawn shop will assess the value of the item, just as they would if they were thinking of buying it. When pawning an item, the price offered is usually a little bit lower than the price offered if you want to sell the item outright.

Once a price has been agreed on, the pawn shop will take the item, and you’ll get your money.

However, the pawn shop won’t immediately put your item up for sale in their store, because when you pawn something, the item is still technically yours.

After deciding on the price for the item, the pawn shop will specify a timeframe, such as three weeks or two months.

Pawn shop image from 1899
Pawn shop image from 1899

If you pay the money back within that time frame, you can have the item back. If you don’t, ownership of the item reverts to the pawn shop, and they can then sell the item.

For cash pawn deals, many shops also charge interest, so you may need to pay back the amount of money you were given plus whatever interest percentage was agreed on.

If your timeframe expires but your item doesn’t sell right away, you might be able to buy it back.

However, the pawn store will probably ask you to pay retail value, so it’s best to gather the money before the timeframe ends.

The timeframe for how long you have to pay back the money in return for your item will differ depending on the store’s policies.

Generally, items that are pawned for higher amounts have longer time frames, so you’ll have time to get the money together.

Pawned items are never displayed in the store. Instead, they’re kept in storage where they’ll be safe. Only after the timeframe expires will the item be displayed.

Appraiser at a pawn shop
Appraiser at a pawn shop

What are the advantages of selling or pawning items?

Pawning or selling items to a pawn shop is a relatively simple way to make money quickly. If you have an unexpected expense, you can pawn your item, get the money you need right away, and you’ll still have an opportunity to get your item back by saving money at a more reasonable pace.

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You can even pawn the same item over and over if you need to.

When you sell an item to a pawn store, you won’t be getting the item’s full value in cash. However, selling to a pawn store does have many advantages.

First, you’ll be able to walk in and make a deal to sell the item right away, as long as it’s something the store is interested in. You won’t need to advertise the item or list it anywhere.

You also won’t need to screen buyers or meet with anyone so they can see the item. The pawn shop will instead do all of that work.

Pawn shops will also offer you secure sales, so you can be sure you’re getting the agreed-upon amount.

receiving cash from store clerk

What types of items are pawn shops interested in?

In general, pawn shops are interested in items such as jewelry, watches, sterling silverware, and any other gold and silver items.

These stores will also often accept electronics, such as game consoles or televisions, luxury handbags or designer clothes, and musical instruments.

Some pawn shops are also interested in artwork, signed items, or items with historical significance.

Each pawn shop will specialize in certain things. If you’re looking to pawn or sell an item, you can visit a few shops to get the best offer.

You might also find a store that specializes in what you’re selling or pawning.

inspecting jewelry at a pawn shop
inspecting jewelry at a pawn shop

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