How Pawn Shops Work: Returns

February 28, 2020 - Pawn Resources

So a question I’ve been getting a lot from PawnGuru customers is what is the return policy at pawn shops.

Understandably when you purchase a new item, there usually is a return policy that protects the consumer from faulty manufacturing or craftsmanship.

Thanks to Brian the Pawn Nerd for his advice on how pawn shops handle returns. You can read his guide to returns to here too: How Pawn Shops Work: Returns.

Policy is what pawn manager deems fair

There are roughly around 15,000 pawn shops in america. Most of these are individually owned, unlike Wal-Mart and Target, though a portion belong to chains. Wal-Mart’s return policy is the same throughout its 13,000 locations which are determined by its CEO and board. So with individually owned pawn shops come varying return policies that are based on what the pawn manager deems a fair return policy.

New vs Used

When you buy your new iPad from apple you are protected from any poor manufacturing that may lead to it breaking down the road. When shopping at a pawn shop you’ll quickly learn that most of the items that are on sale are used. Both pawn shops and consumers that buy from pawn shops are at the mercy of the item being used because it’s unknown exactly how long the item will last. But a huge effort is put in by pawnbrokers to buy and sell items they feel are quality. Pawnbrokers don’t buy items that they feel will break the next day; actions like that will eventually run their business to the ground.

So overall its very hard to answer if all pawn shops have a return policy because each pawn shop is different. What I can generally say is that  the majority of pawnbrokers that I’m aware of will offer a refund, or return within 3-30 days. It isn’t a general rule for all pawn shops, but it is becoming a popular trend. Pawn shops know that to get consumers to buy from them, they need to offer some sort of protection.


Before buying anything from your local pawn shop, make sure you find out what their return policy is. Have that information in mind when deciding on buying any of their merchandise. Don’t be afraid to negotiate a price that you are comfortable with. Also try to check to make sure for yourself that the item you want to buy works. If you decide to buy a new TV, ask the pawnbroker to plug it to an outlet and turn it on and off a couple times until you’re comfortable.

David Stiebel

David Stiebel is one of the cofounders of PawnGuru. David was educated at MIT, where he studied Math. He subsequently worked at Bain as a data scientist before starting PawnGuru in 2015. He started PawnGuru to build a better tool for pawn shops and consumers to connect.

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