Life happens. We’ve all been there – a major bill or an expensive repair pops up out of nowhere, and now you need cash, fast. Where do you turn?

One of the most often asked, and misunderstood, questions about pawn shops is if they provide safe, reliable loans. And the answer is – YES! In fact, if you need cash quickly, your easiest bet may be to consider getting a loan from your friendly local pawn shop.

Pawn brokers generally prefer to issue loans because it is easier and more cost-effective to pawn property – even items that are pawned multiple times – rather than to buy or sell items. Let’s take a look at how simple and convenient the pawn shop loan process is versus asking friends or family for help or applying for a traditional loan.

The roots of modern banking

The pawn business is considered one of the oldest forms of banking. The concept of pawning items, or using something of personal value as collateral to borrow money, can be traced back 3,000 years to ancient China, where the earliest pawn brokers were established, owned and operated by Buddhist monasteries.

Evidence of pawn shops can be found across history. Pawning was common in ancient Greece and Rome, especially as citizens sought money to start businesses and paid back those funds, with interest, as their businesses grew. During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church essentially closed pawn shops by restricting interest, which severely limited credit options for anyone outside the noble families.

The industry became popular again in the 14th and 15th centuries in Europe, especially as commerce became a priority. Interest rules on pawn brokering were relaxed, and short-term credit became essential to funding businesses and granting temporary aid to the poor. Prominent families, including the Lombards in England and the Medicis in Italy became known as money-lending families. King Edward III and Henry V pawned royal jewelry to support England’s wars against France. Queen Isabella of Spain also supposedly pawned her jewels to fund Christopher Columbus’ expeditions to the New World.

Benefits of pawn loans

Pawn shop loans can be an easy, no-hassle way to get cash quickly. Most transactions can be done in minutes, require little to no paperwork, are paid on the spot and, unlike traditional loans, have zero effect on your credit.

Pawn shops regularly pay out cash in the same visit, with average loans ranging from as little as $5 up to $10,000 or more. The overall process is simple, pressure-free and confidential. You do not need to schedule an appointment, and there is no waiting period to receive your cash.

Unlike traditional loans, you don’t need to complete a loan application or complicated paperwork. Simply show your driver’s license or photo ID to prove you’re 18 or older and provide your contact information. There are no background, income or credit checks involved. In some cases, you may need to show proof of purchase or ownership before your collateral is accepted.

If you decide not to pay or are unable to pay off your loan, you give up your property and the pawn shop keeps it for resale. Your credit score isn’t impacted and you don’t need to worry about collection calls, penalties or fees.

The pawn loan process simplified

It’s pretty easy to take advantage of a pawn shop loan.

To get started, look around your house for any valuables you can use as collateral. Pawn shops typically accept a variety of high-value items, including coins, collectibles, jewelry, firearms, home audio equipment, computers, video game systems, televisions, precious metals and gemstones, power tools, musical instruments, sporting goods, even vehicles or homes.

Your local pawn broker will appraise your item to assess its value, checking carefully for scratches, flaws or any other damage, and, if applicable, test the item to verify it works properly. If you bring in jewelry, most pawn shops have experts on staff to appraise your item based on cut, carat weight or melt value. Your pawn broker will also use a variety of resources, including catalogs, blue book listings, and their experience to help determine your item’s age, condition, market value and resale potential before making a free, no-obligation offer.

If you accept the offer, the broker will record some details about your item, including a description and serial numbers, and take photographs. The broker will pay you on the spot and provide a pawn ticket, which serves as your receipt to reclaim your property later. Your pawn ticket contains important information about the terms of the loan, the name and address of you and the pawnbroker, and a detailed description of your property.

At Gene’s Pawn, you have 30 days to repay your loan. All loans are confidential and fully insured. We work with you to make sure you understand the loan terms and offer features like principal buy downs, partial payments and easy renewals to make it easy to repay your loan.

What about regulations?

Pawn shops must follow strict state and federal laws. Pawnbrokers must abide by the same major federal laws that apply to traditional financial institutions. Under federal law, the pawn industry is regulated by the Patriot Act, Truth in Lending Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Federal Trade Commission rules on Data Privacy and Safeguard of Consumer Information.

With three locations across South Carolina, our shops are licensed and regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs. All of our employees are required to pass a criminal background check and are fully bonded. As a proud member of the National Pawnbrokers Association (NPA), we are also committed to the NPA’s Pawnbroker Code of Ethics, which includes conducting our business in a positive, professional manner; obeying all local, state and federal laws, and assisting in the prosecution of those who do not.

What can I sell?

If you haven’t visited a pawn shop recently, you may be surprised by the amount and quality of goods you’ll find available. Most pawn shops are also going digital, with options to ask questions or get appraisals online.

While most folks generally know about the “big-ticket” items like jewelry, expensive watches, firearms or electronics, don’t overlook smaller items that can help you snag some quick cash. Items like designer sunglasses, belts or purses, or even a pair of high-end brand-name headphones, could help you score a quick bit of cash, especially if your item is clean and in good condition.

Larger items like flat-screen TVs, tablets, brand-name speakers or smart watches, cameras, GoPros, gaming systems or even a set of decent golf clubs could earn even more. More common items and unusual collectibles, like coins, stamps or sports memorabilia, all vary widely in value depending on the item’s age and condition and local demand for such products. We’re happy to work with you to get the best price possible for your property!

If you need cash quickly and have a valuable item to pledge as collateral, a short-term pawn loan could be a great option. At Gene’s Jewelry & Pawn, we specialize in treating customers like family and offering you the best prices for your items. For more than 29 years, we have offered our customers the high level of service they deserve. Visit one of our locations in North Charleston, Moncks Corner or Goose Creek, SC, today!