Prices in South Africa – 1995 vs 2020

Many middle-class South Africans are using debt to fund their lifestyles, according to experts.

Debt Rescue CEO Neil Roets said those affected the most by debt are between 25 and 35, as this group “wants to be seen to be living a certain lifestyle”.

A lack of salary increases and bonuses in 2019 will also see more people borrowing money in 2020 as the price of living increases.

To see how the “price of living” has increased in recent years, we looked at the prices of petrol, a Big Mac, cellphones, and Internet access in South Africa from 1995 to 2020.


In July 1995, the price of oil was $27 a barrel and the rand was below R4 to the US dollar. This equated to a petrol price of R1.88 per litre for 95 unleaded.

At the start of January 2020, the price per litre for 95 unleaded was R16.16.



In 1995, the Nokia 2110 was a new and powerful device, selling for R2,295. It was the first Nokia with the Nokia tune ringtone and included SMS functionality.

Fast forward to 2020 and one of the hottest phones available is the Apple iPhone 11 – which retails for R14,999.


Big Mac

McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in South Africa in November 1995, and currently operates over 200 restaurants across the country.

A Big Mac sold for R7 at the time, whereas today the burger costs R31.

Big Mac

Internet Access

In 1995, Internet access started to grow in South Africa.

A dial-up account cost R29 per month, but you had to pay call rates for every minute you spent online.

In 2020, you can get an uncapped 10Mbps fibre line for R499 per month – which provides unlimited usage and more than enough bandwidth for full HD streaming.

Now read: South African pupils repeating a grade costs R20 billion a year

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Prices in South Africa – 1995 vs 2020