How To Calculate What Percentage Pawn Shops Give You

How To Calculate What Percentage Pawn Shops Give You

Pawn shops can vary based on a number of factors. Learn how pawn shops calculate offers when you pawn and sell your items.

Last updated December 18, 2022

Person using calculator on phone for percentage

Source: Pexels / Karolina Grabowska

People often ask what percentage do pawn shops give you expecting a quick and easy answer. In reality, pawn shop valuation can vary greatly given the number of variables that determine the price. In this post, we will cover valuation basics to help you better understand what percentage pawn shops will give you when you pawn and sell your item to a pawn shop.

For those who want a quick answer, pawn shops generally give you 20% to 60% of an item’s current resale value. We encourage you to read the entire post because it will help you get a better idea of how to calculate a more precise number.

Calculating The Price

Calculating the percentage illustration

First, we must make sure that our basic terminology is the same so we are on the same page. People often refer to an item’s price as the original retail price (also called MSRP price), while others refer to the price as the current resale price (market price). In this post, we will use the current resale price because it is more accurate.

  • Retail price: The retail price of an item is the original price that it sells for in a store when it is new. Retail prices are often very similar because the item manufacturer guides retailers on how the price should be set (this is why it is called the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, MSRP). Retail prices are accurate for new items, but they are not for used items. Most consumer items drop in value once they are purchased. In most cases, used items cost less than new items.
  • Resale price: The price of an item when it is re-sold as a used item. The resale price can also be called the market price, fair market value, or liquidation value. Resale prices are more accurate for used goods sold to pawn shops. Resale prices can vary a lot for similar items because resale prices include extra factors that adjust for condition, regional market supply and demand, age, and more.

Many pawn shop internet resources do not specify the price which they are using. This can lead to a lot of confusion because the price is the starting point for the equation to calculate how much a pawn shop will give you.

The general pawn shop formula for calculating the percentage a pawn shop will give you is:

(Resale value * Discount) / Resale value = Percentage of the resale price that a pawn shop will give you

You can also calculate the percentage of MSRP that a pawn shop will give you with this calculation:

(Resale value * Discount) / Retail price = Percentage of the retail price that a pawn shop will give you

The next step is to plug in numbers into the formula.

  • Resale value: You should research your item to figure out its resale value. The pawnbroker will likely do their work to estimate the resale value, too. We have an entire post that walks you through the steps: Figuring out how much your item is worth at pawn shops.
  • Discount percentage: The discount percentage is the difference between what a pawn shop buys and sells an item for. This difference is the profit for the store. Pawn shops are businesses that need to make money to pay the rent, staff, and utilities. You can read more in our post covering How pawn shops work. Typically the discount percentage is 20% to 60%. The discount percentage can vary store-to-store, so you should try to get quotes from many pawn shops when you sell or pawn your item. You can use our map to find pawn shops near you.

Let’s consider the following example: Bob bought a new drum set for $2,500. Bob needs money this month to pay his bills, and he does not use his drum set anymore. Bob chooses to sell his drum set to a local pawn shop he found using Pawn Shop Map. Bob performs the following analysis to calculate how much a pawn shop will give him for his drum set:

  1. Research the resale value: Bob determines similar used drum sets are selling for $900
  2. Calculate the discount percentage: Bob applies a 20% to 60% discount percentage to the resale value. He then ends up with a range of $180 to $540. To make things simple, let's choose $360 since it is in the middle of the range.
  3. Calculate the percentage: Bob then determines the percentages for the resale value and retail value.
    • Percentage of resale value: The resale value percentage is 40% or $360 / $900.
    • Percentage of retail value: The retail value percentage is 14% or $360 / $2,500.

As you can see above, the percentages that pawn shops give you are very different depending on whether you are using the resale value or retail value. The resale value percentage is almost always higher than the retail value percentage because resale prices are almost always lower than retail prices.

Factors That Affect Discount Percentage

Retail percentage tag illustration

The discount percentage is the biggest unknown factor in the equation. Pawn shops do not advertise this percentage, and it can vary a lot from store to store. The discount percentage generally varies based on these factors:

  • Store profit margin
  • Costs to repair the item
  • Costs to clean the item
  • Time it will take to sell the item

Pawn shops will often apply a greater discount percentage to items that need to be fixed and repaired because this process requires time and money. We recommend trying to fix and repair your item before taking it to the pawn shop. Many pawn shops refuse to accept broken items.

Pawn shops also look at the item’s condition. Dirty and unkempt items will have a greater discount percentage applied to them because the pawn shop must spend time and money cleaning the item. We recommend that you clean your item before taking it to a pawn shop. Spending 15 to 30 minutes cleaning your item can fetch you a higher price at the pawn shop. You can read the following post: How to clean jewelry.

Pawn shop valuation is part art and part science. Often it is a result of the pawnbroker’s estimate of the item’s resale value. The same item at the same pawn shop can get two different offers from two different pawnbrokers at the pawn shop. Given this dynamic, we encourage you to practice negotiating skills at pawn shops and learn about the differences between pawning versus selling.


The percentage that pawn shops give you can vary based on many factors. We encourage you to study your item’s resale value and visit many pawn shops near you to get the best quote possible. Doing research ahead of time to determine the percentage that pawn shops will give you can help you get more money.

Pawning and selling at pawn shops gets easier after you have done it a few times. You can always pawn or sell an inexpensive item before pawning or selling a more expensive one to your local pawn shop to understand how the process works.

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