Stan, Shelly, Sharon, and Randy are seen visiting Marvin Marsh, who has been placed in a retirement home. Randy attempts to politely leave by claiming they cannot stay for dinner, as the food gives his wife diarrhea. Marvin tells them to wait, saying he has a gift for his grandson. He gives it to Stan, who opens it; it turns out to be a gold, turquoise, and diamond-studded bolo tie. Randy asks Marvin how much he spent on the tie; he says six thousand dollars, angering Randy, as Randy thinks he should be saving his retirement money so he, Sharon, and Stan can have it when he dies. Sharon says that tomorrow is picture day, presumably at the school, and that Stan can wear the tie there. Marvin proclaims that this will make him extremely happy.
The boys are seen at the bus stop. Stan is wearing his bolo tie. Cartman sarcastically complements Stan. After Stan sees through his sarcasm, Cartman simply begins insulting the tie, calling it "fucking gay as fuck". Stan says that he knows and that he wishes his grandfather would simply give him money as a gift, as opposed to material items. Kyle recommends taking it to a Cash For Gold.
Shortly afterwards, the boys enter a Cash For Gold. An employee, after confirming that the boys did not steal the tie, offers them fifteen dollars for the item, much to their chagrin. Kyle proclaims that the guy is scamming them, so they take the tie and leave. They go into another Cash For Gold, where the employee offers them eight dollars for the tie. After Stan angrily mentions that it's the same tie worn by King Henry the Fifth, she offers them nine dollars. They reject the offer and leave; they once again attempt to sell the tie to a Taco Bell, which is also a Cash For Gold. The employee offers them a six layer burrito for the tie. After Kyle angrily proclaims that they do not sell six layer burritos, the employee offers them a seven layer burrito in exchange for the tie.
The boys are seen sitting on the sidewalk, confused. Stan, dumbfounded as to how someone could possibly be scammed into paying a large sum for a very cheap item. The scene then "switches" akin to switching TV channels to the J&G Shopping Network. Dean, an employee, is seen selling overpriced gold earrings to an old lady over the phone. The scene then switches back to the boys, who were watching the channel. Kyle mentions that what the channel is doing is horrible, and Stan, once again dumbfounded, asks how they get away with scamming elderly people. Cartman reveals a seemingly complex, but in reality, simple mathematical formula that the shopping network uses to make money. Stan's grandfather is heard on the phone with Dean, attempting to buy a Topaz-studded copper ring as a gift for Stan, causing Stan to quickly leave and visit his grandfather.
Marvin is seen watching the aforementioned shopping network in his room, while Stan is seen outside his door. After telling his grandfather that Shelly will not like a necklace he wants to buy for her, Marvin reveals that he can no longer remember his beloved dog's face, which saddens him. Stan, suddenly motivated, says he will "take care of this", presumably referring to stopping the shopping network scamming people.
Meanwhile, Cartman is attempting to get South Park Elementary's students to sell him their old jewelry. Leroy Jenkins sells him a gold ring for three dollars. Cartman happily proclaims to Butters that "they have crappy jewelry" and all they need now is old people to buy it.
Dean is seen once again selling an old woman a piece of overpriced jewelry. After he finalizes the deal, he attempts to sell another piece of jewelry, however, Stan calls him, claiming that he should kill himself, as what he is doing is unjustifiable and the very definition of evil. Deans tells him he shouldn't say these things, because if he actually did it, Stan would feel guilty for having indirectly caused his death. Stan responds, saying that he would not feel bad, and he should still kill himself. Dean threatens him with a lawsuit, however, Stan proclaims that he does not care, that he only cares about his grandfather. After Dean attempts to lower the price of the threatened lawsuit, Stan says that the price does not matter, that the only way Dean can right his wrongs is to kill himself. Dean responds that saying such things are not funny. Stan says he was not trying to be funny, telling Dean to "do it", before hanging up.
Cartman is shown, having started his own shopping network, the Old People's Shopping Network. After selling a ring, he asks the buyer if she likes to "fuck little boys" as she is getting such a good deal, that it is akin to "fucking" him.
Stan, Kyle, and Kenny are seen at a gold refining factory. Stan is angrily criticizing a man who appears to be a higher up in the company. The man proclaims that it is not his fault, but the people that advertise the Cash For Gold services. Afterwards, they are seen criticizing the employees who flip signs advertising the Cash For Gold services. After calling them fat cats who take advantage of the elderly, Butters interjects, revealing that they do not make that much money. Another employees claims they should yell at those who melt down the gold, however, Kyle interjects, saying that it is in fact their fault. Yet another employees proclaims that they are both wrong, that it is in fact the fault of the Indians who manufacture the jewelry. The others then agree to this.
Meanwhile, Cartman is attempting to buy jewelry from a discount jewelry store to sell on his network. Three stereotypical Asian employees are seen congratulating him on buying the jewelry. An employee states that he is taking advantage of their low prices, even "fucking" them. Cartman angrily states that he is not.
Cartman and Butters are seen in India, attempting to make a deal with India Manufacturing Inc. to "cut out the middle man" and buy jewelry directly from them. Cartman then notices Stan, Kyle, and Kenny yelling at one of the child employees about scamming Stan's grandfather. Cartman angrily confronts them, saying that they are trying to steal his idea. Stan claims that he simply wants retribution for his grandfather. The employee offers him a gold necklace, however he rejects it. The employee then puts the necklace into a bag, and drops the bag into a box. The endless loop of selling, melting down, being made into jewelry, and sold once again is then documented, ending with the employee giving Stan a jewel-encrusted, gold picture frame.
Stan is seen in the park with his grandfather, Marvin, telling him about what happened. Stan then gives a present to Marvin, who opens it, revealing it to be the gold picture frame with a picture of his beloved dog, Patches, in it. This makes Marvin extremely happy. Marvin, seemingly have forgotten he was the one who bought him the tie, tells Stan that the tie is "fucking gay as fuck". Stan says that he will no longer wear it. Marvin proclaims that that is a good idea.
Dean is once again seen selling overpriced jewelry, however, three different elderly people call him, saying that Stan was right, he should kill himself. This results in him saying that this incident is "the straw that broke the camel's back". A gunshot is then heard, while blood splatters across the jewelry carousel.
AV Club gave "Cash For Gold" a "B-" rating saying: "While some of my favorite South Park episodes are the ones that don’t aim for any social commentary and just revel in being crude and weird, the strongest episodes often are the ones that satirize subjects ripe for being ripped into. The main problem with this, however, is that the strength of the episode rests on the meatiness of the target. In last week’s episode, the invasion-of-privacy concept with the T.S.A. was a good one, easy to appreciate as most of us have either been groped in the name of airport safety or seen photos of T.S.A. agents patting down kids in strollers, the ridiculousness of it all eclipsing the meaning behind the security. So there was trepidation going into this episode, knowing it was going to be taking on home shopping channels, because those are such benign targets that it’s hard to think of the show getting any mileage out of the topic. To the show’s credit, it does ultimately muster some righteous anger, but the commentary winds up falling short of previous efforts, the satire not nearly as sharp and relying too heavily on crude humor to carry the weight."
IGN gave "Cash For Gold" a "B-" rating saying: "As someone who has literally received a bolo tie as a gift from a family member, I instantly clicked with tonight's "Cash For Gold" episode. I can tell you from experience that there are few miseries greater than pretending to like a southwestern, turquoise-encrusted pendant. So when Stan was forced to wear that bolo out in public, I was right there with him. It's really just awful. What's more painful is that those things really do sell for upwards of a thousand dollars... a thousand. So as far as synopses go, this one was pure gold (pun intended, I guess). However, it did take a few scenes to really get cooking. The initial "Cash 4 Gold" sequence was kind of whatever, and I didn't really get the Taco Bell gag. Was that just a marketing ploy to plug their new Doritos Locos Tacos? (See what I did there?)"