Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does a pawn shop work?
A: Pawnbrokers lend money on items of value ranging from gold and diamond jewelry to musical instruments, televisions, tools, household items, etc. These items maintain their value over a reasonable period of time and are easy to store, especially jewelry. All customers provide collateral, eliminating the need to distinguish high risk from low risk borrowers. Typically, loans are small, averaging between $70 and $100, although they can be as small as $5 or as high as fifty thousand dollars depending on the value of the collateral. The process is much the same as any other lending institution, with the primary difference being the size of the loan, the collateral and the holding of the merchandise until the interest or the loan has been repaid.

Q: Why would someone go to a pawn shop to get a loan?
A: Pawnshops offer the consumer a quick, convenient and confidential way to borrow money. A short term cash need can be met with no credit check or legal consequences if the loan is not repaid. A customer receives a percentage of the value the broker believes the collateral would bring in a sale. Although the loan to collateral ratio varies over time and across pawnshops, a loan of about 30 percent of the resale value of the collateral is typical. When a customer pawns an item, terms of the loan are printed on a pawn ticket that is given to the customer. The ticket states the customer's name, address, type of identification provided to the pawnbroker, a description of the item, amount of loan, maturity date, interest rate and amount that must be paid to redeem the item. Most states regulate pawnshop interest rates and other charges, such as storage or insurance fees.

Q:What happens if I don't pay my debt?
A:If you can't pay back a pawn shop loan from a pawnbroker then they keep your items you brought to secure the loan. The loan is then considered to be paid in full. They will then sell your items in their store.

Q: How long do I have to buy my items back?

A: The basic pawn agreement is 90 days, but as long as you pay the monthly fee... you can take as long as you want to buy the items back.

Q: What if I lost my ticket?

A:Don't panic!!! As long as you have your valid, government issued picture ID you'll be able to redeem your items, no problem. The only exceptions are cars or firearms. Those items can only be picked up by the person who originally pawned the item.

Q: What kinds of items do you accept?

A: Bellingham Pawn accepts gold/platinum and silver jewelry with or without diamonds, including rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, cufflinks, gold or silver US coins and high quality watches. We accept Scrap Gold as well as vehicles, guns, construction tools, newer high end electronics including digital cameras, stereo equipment, TV's, DVD Players, sporting goods, game systems or gaming equipment, musical instruments, and many other kinds of valuables. As long as an item is in good condition, there's a good chance we'll considerate it for a loan. If you are unsure if we will accept your items for collateral, call or visit our store.

Q: How long does the loan process take?

A:Our process is quick and easy. A loan value will be determined within a matter of minutes, and you can be on your way with cash in your hand moments later. All business done with Bellingham Pawn is strictly confidential.

Q: How do I know that my collateral will be returned to me in the same condition?
A:Your collateral is safely packaged or stored and labeled with a unique loan number that matches the number on your loan slip. The collateral is then stored securely. Upon repayment of the loan, the collateral is returned to you. We have been in business for over 20 years and that has earned us a excellent reputation of integrity and service.

Q: How long do I have to repay the loan?

A:Washington State mandates that loans are written for 90 days.

Q: What if I cannot redeem my merchandise after 90 days?
A: You may request Bellingham Pawn re-pledge your property for an additional 90 days. If agreed, a new ticket will be generated after all interest and fees are paid.

Q: I cannot come into a store. Can I get a loan through the mail?
A: At this time we are not able to get loans through the mail, however you can make a payment by mail with a cashier's check or money order. Please visit us at our store to discuss how we can help you.

Q: Are there firearms in pawnshops?

A:Pawnshops are registered firearms dealers with permanent places of business. Pawnshops comply with all Federal (ATF) regulations as well as furnishing local law enforcement with information regarding every transaction. No other dealer does this. As registered licensed dealers, pawnshops comply with the 5 day waiting period and back ground checks required by the Brady Bill. Federal firearms regulations require an individual to be 21 years of age to purchase a handgun and 18 years of age to purchase a long gun. Pawnshops provide a unique public service by taking guns as collateral for pawn loans. They are the only business that actually takes guns out of circulation and keeps them locked up in secured vaults. There are an estimated 1.5 million secured firearms in pawn shop vaults across America.

Q: Are pawnshop rates excessive?
A:To provide the service, all lenders must charge rates commensurate with risk, size and duration of the loan, collateral offered, and recourse. Pawnshop loans are small dollar, high risk, short duration loans. The item stands as the sole collateral offering no other recourse. There are no hidden charges as with other lending institutions. On the other hand, pawnbrokers cost basis is far greater. They incur cost for security, handling, storage, and regulation not incurred by others. Due to the 15-20% of pawn shop customers that elect not to repay their loans, pawnbrokers are forced to turn their "bad debt" into a retail center to recover their cost. Other lending institutions do not incur retail cost including additional floor space, gondolas, counters, personnel, advertising, shop lifters, retail competitive cost, and new merchandise cost to supplement the unredeemed goods.

Q: How can I be sure the merchandise I purchase at a pawnshop isn't stolen?
A:Less than one fifth of one percent of all collateral is even suspect as having been misappropriated in any manner. Thieves and robbers are a pawnbrokers worst enemy. Pawnbrokers work closely with local law enforcement to catch and prosecute these perpetrators. Pawn tickets are electronically sent or mailed to the local Police Department on a daily basis. A customer must provide positive identification to show evidence of the transaction. This information is then presented to the police department, therefore decreasing the likelihood that a thief would bring stolen merchandise to a pawnshop. Pawnbrokers are trained to look for signs of stolen property to avoid these costly mistakes. It is not in the interests of the pawnbroker to accept potentially stolen merchandise because the police can seize the merchandise and the pawnshop owner loses the collateral and the loaned money.

Q: Can I have my friend or family member pick up my stuff for me?
A:Yes, as long as they have the yellow ticket you received when you pawned your items. They'll also need a valid, US Government, picture ID. However, if the item is a vehicle or a firearm, you will be required to come in person to get your items. We take the safety of your valuables very seriously.

Q: What are the loan rates?
A: All rates and fees are strictly regulated by the The Washington State Department of Commerce and Division of Financial Institutions. Fees are generally between five and ten percent.

Q: Is Bellingham Pawn state licensed?
A:Pawn shops in the State of Washington are strictly regulated by State, City, County, and Federal regulatory agencies. Pawn Brokers have state, regional and national industry associations which work diligently toward self-policing the industry. In the case of public companies, the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission can be added to all of the other agencies that oversee the industry.

Q: I need a loan. What do I need to bring with me?

A:That's simple. Just bring a valid, US Government issued, picture ID, and the item you want to borrow against.

Q: How much money can I get for my valuables?
A:That depends mainly on the overall value and condition of the items your looking to borrow against or sell.