Although gas prices hit new highs in 2022, that wasn’t the first time gas numbers have spiked. A look back at the average national gas price in previous decades can provide some context. So can observing how state regulations affect the price of gas in your area.
Keep reading to learn more about historical gas prices, get a sense of how things have changed over time, and learn tips for finding cheap gas in your area.
Why Gas Prices Are Rising in 2023
As anyone who’s gone to the pump in the past couple of years knows, filling up isn’t as cheap as it used to be. Gas prices have risen in the second half of 2023, due in large part to a drop in global oil production. In early October of 2023, the average price of gas was $3.77 per gallon, according to AAA — up 60 cents from the $3.17 average at the beginning of the year. Still, that’s lower than what consumers paid in June 2022, which saw the highest recorded average of $5.03.
Fuel prices have been soaring for a few reasons. Prior to coronavirus’s arrival in the U.S. in 2020, gas cost around $2.50 per gallon. During the pandemic, as fewer Americans were driving to work or for pleasure, the price of oil plummeted.
In 2021 people started driving and flying again, and demand for gas surged. The supply couldn’t keep up, so the price of gas increased.
Prices dropped a little in early 2022 as things started getting back to normal — until late February, when Russia invaded Ukraine. The ensuing war led to a steep increase in prices as Europe, the U.S., and other countries agreed to stop buying Russian oil.
Then, in mid-2023, Russia and Saudi Arabia announced an extension of their oil production cuts, which caused prices to jump up yet again. The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects gas prices to continue rising over the rest of the year.
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Average Price by State for Regular Unleaded in October 2023
Data is courtesy of AAA .
|STATE NAME||Unleaded Price in October 2023|
Average Price by State for Premium in October 2023
Data is courtesy of AAA.
|STATE NAME||Premium Price in October 2023|
💡 Quick Tip: Income, expenses, and life circumstances can change. Consider reviewing your budget a few times a year and making any adjustments if needed.
Average Price by State for Diesel Gas in October 2023
Data is courtesy of AAA.
|STATE NAME||Diesel Price in October 2023|
Average US Gas Price 1978 to 2022
Historical data courtesy of Axlewise. Prices are adjusted for inflation and shown in 2020 dollars.
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Tips for Finding Cheap Gas Stations in Your State
There are a few ways to find the cheapest gas in the nearby area and save money on your gas bill:
• Use an app like GasBuddy to locate the lowest nearby price. The app lets drivers search by gas type, payment type, the brand of gas station, and other factors. The app also offers cashback deals, paid subscriptions, and more.
• AAA has a gas price monitoring website that gets updated every day. Drivers can search by state and country to find the best prices.
• Both Google Maps and Waze keep track of gas prices. When you search for gas stations within their maps, the price of gas at local stations will pop up. Although one can’t filter by price or automatically see the lowest price, it’s fairly easy to look around and find the cheapest option.
• Another useful app is GetUpside. The app lets users compare gas prices near them, and also earn cash back every time they fill up their tank.
• Besides the ability to buy in bulk, one of the perks of getting a Costco or Sam’s membership is getting discounts on gas. It’s often the cheapest option for club members.
• Certain days of the week tend to have lower prices. Generally, Mondays are the cheapest, followed by Sunday, while Wednesday and Thursday are the most expensive days.
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Gas prices go up and down in response to a variety of global and domestic factors. But there are a few ways to source the best deals on gas and stay within your budget, including apps and membership-only retailers.
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What was the price of gas in 1980?
In 1980, the average price of gas was $1.19. That is equivalent to $4.60 in 2023 dollars.
What year were gas prices the highest?
Before 2022, the highest average gas price was $4.11 in July 2008.
How much did gas cost in the 90s?
In the 1990s, gas cost between $1.11 and $1.15 per gallon.
Photo credit: iStock/skodonnell
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