The City of Chicago is notorious for high gasoline prices relative to the rest of the Nation. The population density, 1,000-mile distance from Gulf of Mexico oil refineries, and hefty gas taxes converge to destroy our wallets at the pump. In fact, the state of Illinois imposes a 58-cent per gallon tax, which is the fourth highest in the U.S., after California, New York, and Connecticut. Additionally, motorists must also tack on a 6.25% sales tax upon all fuel purchases.
Of course, Chicagoans remain responsible for the 12.75 cent per gallon tax on top of the aforementioned charges. These rates do include Federal excise taxes of 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline, which jump to 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel. Chicago frequently posts the highest gas prices in the United States.
In other words, never purchase gasoline in the City of Chicago, if possible.
“If possible,” is indeed, a loose contingency, dependent upon one’s location, fuel tank levels, and the prevailing spread of area gas stations. For example, it would be penny wise and pound foolish to drive to the state of Indiana to buy 2 gallons of regular 87-octane gasoline. Desperately driving throughout the extensive Chicagoland area simply to save a few cents per gallon on the fill up would be sheer madness.
For example, the West Loop Shell at 1001 West Jackson Boulevard is posting $3.08 per regular at the time of this writing and the BP at 31st and S. Michigan is charging $2.82. This is a savings of $3.90 for a 15-gallon tank.
Do you really want to high tail across town to save four bucks?
The purpose of this guide is to identify the areas and gas stations that typically feature the lowest prices. Chicagoans will make it a point to stop at these locations to fill up, while locals are already en route to the particular area, rather than altering plans and dropping everything to save $2.
We will begin by presenting specific neighborhoods where one should not buy gas and list viable alternatives to those particular locales.
Where NOT to buy gas in Chicago
Never buy gas at the Chicago Loop, Lincoln Park, Hyde Park, or Kennedy Expressway, unless you are running on fumes. This mandate is logical, because these areas represent Chicago’s commercial and high rent districts on both sides of town, respectively. The I-90 / 94 – Kennedy is also the most heavily trafficked route on the North Side and the only viable connection to O’Hare Airport.
The Lincoln Park BP is a total joke.
The BP at 1647 N. LaSalle, which is the confluence of LaSalle, Clark, and North Avenue, just west of Lake Shore Drive is dominated by full service aisles and is notorious for outrageous prices. This Lincoln Park BP is charging $3.25 for regular at the time of this writing.
Chicago Loop BP’s are also a big no-no. Certainly, management is raking in the cash, with these gas stations that are right off Lake Shore Drive (1221 S. Wabash), the Eisenhower (50 W. Congress), and the Ontario-Ohio Kennedy feeders (631 N. LaSalle). These Loop area BP’s charge $3.11, $3.19, and $3.11 for one gallon of regular gas, respectively.
The River North Shell at 350 W. Chicago is the best alternative for downtown, Old Town, and Lincoln Park drivers. This Shell station at Chicago and Orleans is charging $3.09 for regular at the time of this writing and routinely undersells the neighboring competition.
Lastly, the Hyde Park community is a complete sham for purchasing gas. Hyde Park – Kenwood is a nugget of middle to upper class living that is surrounded by urban wasteland on the South Side. Of course, Hyde Parkers and University of Chicago affiliates must pay up for this tranquility at the pump.
The 53rd Street Mobil (1330 E. 53rd St.) charges an outrageous $3.17. Not to be outdone, the Kenwood – 47th Street BP currently posts $3.19 for one gallon of 87-octane. These listings are actually higher than prices at the Chicago Loop!
The pricing is quite comical, considering the fact that surrounding South and West Sides do feature the lowest rates within Chicago’s City Limits.
For example, the BP at 31st and Michigan is selling gas at $2.82, one of the lowest prices in all of Chicagoland, including the suburbs. This BP is 3 miles north of Hyde Park.
Where to buy Cheap Gas in Chicago
Logically, cheaper prices prevail, the further one travels away from downtown and Chicago’s expressway network. Again, traversing deep into the suburbs to “save” a couple of dollars is not exactly intelligent. Still, we must begin with what I refer to as Chicagoland’s Gasoline Alley.
Indianapolis Boulevard, across the Indiana border at Hammond and Whiting is the best place to buy cheap gas for City of Chicago residents. The area is accessible per the I-90 Chicago Skyway / Indiana Toll Road and U.S. 12-20-41. Gas is going for $2.89 and $2.87 at Shell, Citgo, and Luke’s service stations.
South Side, East Side, and South Suburban Chicagoans should always cross over into Indiana to take advantage of Indiana’s 50-cent and 6% sales tax rates that compare favorably to the alarming Illinois duties.
Of course, Indiana is a lengthy commute from the Loop and North Side; and Chicago Skyway tolls will also wipe out any gains in terms of per gallon savings.
Far North Siders will converge at Evanston, IL to escape wretched Chicago taxes. Evanston prices remain in the $2.90 – $2.95 range.
Fiz Marathon at 555 Howard Street is especially popular. This gas station is moving fuel at $2.86 per gallon at the time of this writing. Expect wait times during peak periods as lines often spill onto Howard towards Clark Street.
The J&L Oil Company – Mobil is now charging $2.89. This station is located at Evanston’s 140 Chicago Avenue, which is a stone’s throw away from the Evanston – Chicago border. Remember, Chicago Avenue does transition into Clark Street at Howard.
Rogers Park – Chicago gas stations simply cannot compete with the lower tax rates available at the outskirts of town. Several prominent gasoline retailers at Clark Street, just within the City have gone bust recently, despite the oil boom of yesteryear.
Lastly, finding cheap gas at the West Side and Cook County suburbia is rarely an issue. I would recommend that motorists locate nearby Thronton’s Oil service stations. Thornton’s always features the cheapest gas prices in Chicago.
Where to Buy Cheap Gas in Chicago, Sources:
Kofi Bofah, Chicago Street Guide and Grid, http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1718194/chicago_street_guide_and_grid.html?cat=16
The Official Web Site for the City of Chicago, http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/webportal/home.do
Chicago Gas Prices, http://www.chicagogasprices.com/
Chicago Tribune, Search Gas Prices in your Area, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-localgasprices-map,0,3733554.htmlpage