Why Pawn Shops Pay Pennies for Your Treasures

woman handling family heirloom pearls

An Atlantic article in May, 2016 caused quite a bit of buzz by claiming: “Nearly half of Americans would have a hard time finding $400 to pay for an emergency.” The article, entitled, “The Secret Shame of the Middle Class” went on to explain that The Federal Reserve Board, in its annual survey of the financial condition of the American populace, found:
“ . . . 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover [a $400 emergency] expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all.”

Many turn to pawn shops when they have a financial emergency. The number of U.S. pawn shops has grown from 6,400 in 2007, at the start of the Great Recession, to more than 10,000 today. Before trading in your treasures or family heirlooms, consider that pawn shops may not be your best option.

Getting a Loan from a Pawn Shop

Of course, there’s also the option of giving your valuables to the pawnbroker for a loan. Typically, people come in at the end of the month, once their paycheck hasn’t stretched far enough and they need to buy food or pay the gas bill. The pawn shop manager makes a loan against the item and puts the it in storage. Many come back at the beginning of the month, once they’ve gotten their paycheck to get the item. Still, they have to turn over the legally-capped 22 percent interest rate in addition to the monies borrowed. So if the pawn shop values your diamond necklace at $500, you can get it back, but pay $610 (500 + 110) for the privilege. If you don’t come back that month or the next, the pawn shop manager is legally entitled to sell the necklace. A third way is to “roll over” the loan, where you pay just the interest or $110 and leave the necklace at the shop. The next month, you’ll have to pay $720 to get the necklace back.

Keep in mind that pawn shops make their bread and butter from “repeat” customers who come in every month and pay only the interest.

Pawn Shops Have the Power
The desperate need on the individual seller’s side means that pawn shops make very low offers. Generally, pawn shops have strict pricing rules dictating that they won’t pay more than half of what they think they can get for an item. One exception is higher priced guns and jewelry, which provide them more profit. With sales goals they need to meet every month, pawn shop managers know they need to keep cost of goods low in order to keep their jobs or even win a bonus. When they negotiate price with you, they’re considering their own survival. It’s not unusual to get $5 for a chainsaw, $50 for a bicycle or $25 for an SLR camera . . . and all must be in good working condition.

Your Treasures’ Value Are Subject to the Whim of the Markets

Like real estate and stocks, jewelry, gadgets and old silver fall victim to market gyrations. For example, the value of pearl necklaces and earrings has plummeted because suppliers have flooded the market. No matter how lustrous and lovely the piece, its value on the market is constantly checked by pawn brokers. Similarly, diamond shapes go in and out of fashion. Where ten years ago, the marquis cut was all the rage, now the pear-shaped diamond wins the highest prices. Buyers consider the marquis cut out-of-date.

Instead of selling something that may not be all the rage right now, why not wait until its value returns? A cash advance on your paycheck keeps your valuables at home until market conditions return to your favor.

When a Cash Advance Is a Better Option

The cash advance, money fronted to you based on the value of your paycheck, works differently from the sale to or loan from the pawn shop. First, cash advances typically stick to $500 or $1000, based on your proven income. The cash advance lender doesn’t negotiate with you on the value of your paycheck. It is what it is.

The advantage here is that the $500 you get for your diamond necklace can end up costing you. If you first look at eBay and see that similar necklaces are getting $2,000 and the pawn broker only offers $500, time pressure could push you into selling it for $1,500 less than you could get if you just had more time. In addition, you end up paying that $110 in interest. Your eventual money loss amounts to $1,610 just because you had to have $500 in a day or two.
The cash advance, on the other hand, gives you the time to find a better buyer on any number of websites or local estate jewelry shops.

100 dollar bills in cash

First Financial Offers the Cash Advances that Keep Your Treasures at Home

When you need to:

• avoid getting low offers for your heirlooms
• avoid bounced checks or credit impacts due to non-payment
• keep cars and computers running so you can get to work
• avoid expensive late fees

. . . turn to Better Business Bureau A+ rated First Financial for a cash advance. America’s leading source of short-term personal loans for people with low or bad credit scores, First Financial makes sure customers can transact all cash advances from the comfort of home. Just upload some documentation and once you’ve filled out the final page of the form and submitted, you’re cash lands in your bank account that evening. Apply here to find out how much you qualify for!

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