$20 in 2003 → $28.12 in 2020

Inflation Calculator


U.S. Inflation Rate, $20 from 2003 to 2020

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today's prices in 2020 are 40.59% higher than average prices since 2003. The U.S. dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 2.02% per year during this period, meaning the real value of a dollar decreased.

In other words, $20 in 2003 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $28.12 in 2020, a difference of $8.12 over 17 years.

The 2003 inflation rate was 2.28%. The current inflation rate (2019 to 2020) is now 2.33%1. If this number holds, $20 today will be equivalent in buying power to $20.47 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest official inflation rates.

Inflation from 2003 to 2020
Cumulative price change 40.59%
Average inflation rate 2.02%
Converted amount ($20 base) $28.12
Price difference ($20 base) $8.12
CPI in 2003 184.000
CPI in 2020 258.678
Inflation in 2003 2.28%
Inflation in 2020 2.33%

USD Inflation since 1913
Annual Rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI

Buying power of $20 in 2003

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $20 in 2003 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $20, you would need to end with $28.12 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $20 is equivalent to $28.12 over time, that means that the "real value" of a single U.S. dollar decreases over time. In other words, a dollar will pay for fewer items at the store.

This effect explains how inflation erodes the value of a dollar over time. By calculating the value in 2003 dollars, the chart below shows how $20 buys less over the past 17 years.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, each of these USD amounts below is equal in terms of what it could buy at the time:

Year Dollar Value Inflation Rate
2003 $20.00 2.28%
2004 $20.53 2.66%
2005 $21.23 3.39%
2006 $21.91 3.23%
2007 $22.54 2.85%
2008 $23.40 3.84%
2009 $23.32 -0.36%
2010 $23.70 1.64%
2011 $24.45 3.16%
2012 $24.96 2.07%
2013 $25.32 1.46%
2014 $25.73 1.62%
2015 $25.76 0.12%
2016 $26.09 1.26%
2017 $26.64 2.13%
2018 $27.31 2.49%
2019 $27.79 1.76%
2020 $28.12 1.18%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 11 more rows

Inflation by City

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 2003 to 2020 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $20):

San Diego, California experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 17 years between 2003 and 2020 (3.30%).

Detroit, Michigan experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 17 years between 2003 and 2020 (1.58%).

Note that some locations showing 0% inflation may have not yet reported latest data.

Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £20.00 in 2003 would be equivalent to £31.83 in 2020, an absolute change of £11.83 and a cumulative change of 59.15%.

In Canada, CA$20.00 in 2003 would be equivalent to CA$26.43 in 2020, an absolute change of CA$6.43 and a cumulative change of 32.17%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $8.12 and total percent change of 40.59%.

Inflation by Spending Category

CPI is the weighted combination of many categories of spending that are tracked by the government. This chart shows the average rate of inflation for select CPI categories between 2003 and 2020.

Compare these values to the overall average of 2.02% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $20 in 2003 → 2020
Food and beverages 2.19 44.45 28.89
Housing 2.26 46.16 29.23
Apparel 0.09 1.46 20.29
Transportation 1.65 32.03 26.41
Medical care 3.25 72.31 34.46
Recreation 0.74 13.44 22.69
Education and communication 1.40 26.74 25.35
Other goods and services 2.56 53.76 30.75

The graph below compares inflation in categories of goods over time. Click on a category such as "Food" to toggle it on or off:

For all these visualizations, it's important to note that not all categories may have been tracked since 2003. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.

How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $20 since 2003

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2020CPI in 2003
2003 USD value
2020 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 184 in the year 2003 and 258.678 in 2020:


$20 in 2003 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $28.12 in 2020.

To get the total inflation rate for the 17 years between 2003 and 2020, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2020 - CPI in 2003CPI in 2003
Cumulative inflation rate (17 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

258.678 - 184184

Alternate Measurements of Inflation

The above data describe the CPI for all items. Also of note is the Core CPI, which measures inflation for all items except for the more volatile categories of food and energy. Core inflation averaged 1.91% per year between 2003 and 2020 (vs all-CPI inflation of 2.02%), for an inflation total of 37.99%.

When using the core inflation measurement, $20 in 2003 is equivalent in buying power to $27.60 in 2020, a difference of $7.60. Recall that for All Items, the converted amount is $28.12 with a difference of $8.12.

In 2003, core inflation was 1.45%.

Chained CPI is an alternative measurement that takes into account how consumers adjust spending for similar items. Chained inflation averaged 1.78% per year between 2003 and 2020, a total inflation amount of 37.99%.

According to the Chained CPI measurement, $20 in 2003 is equal in buying power to $26.99 in 2020, a difference of $6.99 (versus a converted amount of $28.12/change of $8.12 for All Items).

In 2003, chained inflation was 2.04%.

Comparison to S&P 500 Index

The average inflation rate of 2.02% has a compounding effect between 2003 and 2020. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 40.59% over 17 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $20 in the S&P 500 index in 2003, our investment would be nominally worth approximately $103.83 in 2020. This is a return on investment of 419.15%, with an absolute return of $83.83 on top of the original $20.

These numbers are not inflation adjusted, so they are considered nominal. In order to evaluate the real return on our investment, we must calculate the return with inflation taken into account.

The compounding effect of inflation would account for 28.87% of returns ($29.97) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our $20 investment is $53.86. You may also want to account for capital gains tax, which would take your real return down to around $46 for most people.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 2003-2020
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal $20 $103.83 419.15%
Inflation Adjusted
$20 $73.86 269.28%

Information displayed above may differ slightly from other S&P 500 calculators. Minor discrepancies can occur because we use the latest CPI data for inflation, annualized inflation numbers for previous years, and we compute S&P price and dividends from January of 2003 to latest available data for 2020 using average monthly close price.

For more details on the S&P 500 between 2003 and 2020, see the stock market returns calculator.

News headlines from 2003

Politics and news often influence economic performance. Here's what was happening at the time:

  • Despite a lack of support from the United Nations, a coalition lead by America and Britain invades Iraq.
  • Baghdad falls, ending the invasion of Iraq.
  • 10 new members are admitted to the European Union after signing the Treaty of Accession in Athens.

Data Source & Citation

Raw data for these calculations comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (CPI), established in 1913. Inflation data from 1665 to 1912 is sourced from a historical study conducted by political science professor Robert Sahr at Oregon State University.

You may use the following MLA citation for this page: “$20 in 2003 → 2020 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 10 Apr. 2020, https://www.officialdata.org/2003-dollars-in-2020?amount=20.

Special thanks to QuickChart for providing downloadable chart images.

in2013dollars.com is a reference website maintained by the Official Data Foundation.

Ian Webster

About the author

Ian Webster is an engineer and data expert based in San Mateo, California. He has worked for Google, NASA, and consulted for governments around the world on data pipelines and data analysis. Disappointed by the lack of clear resources on the impacts of inflation on economic indicators, Ian believes this website serves as a valuable public tool. Ian earned his degree in Computer Science from Dartmouth College.

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» Read more about inflation and investment.

Inflation from 2003 to 2020
Cumulative price change 40.59%
Average inflation rate 2.02%
Converted amount ($20 base) $28.12
Price difference ($20 base) $8.12
CPI in 2003 184.000
CPI in 2020 258.678
Inflation in 2003 2.28%
Inflation in 2020 2.33%