Martin Lewis urges holidaymakers to avoid this mistake when paying for goods abroad

The money saving expert warns families not to get caught out when travelling abroad for your holiday

Martin Lewis
(Image credit: Getty)

Martin Lewis has highlighted the one button holidaymakers should never press when using a card or cash machine when abroad. 

Speaking on The Martin Lewis Money Show, the money saving expert explained how pressing the 'convert to GBP [pounds]' button on an ATM or when paying by credit or debit card could be costing families significantly more than if they paid in the local currency. With inflation still high, it's never been more important that families understand how to save money on holiday, both before they go and when they are away. 

This warning comes soon after Martin issued a desperate plea for families to get travel insurance as soon as they've booked their holiday to protect their investment and ensure peace of mind should you, or someone in your family become ill or have an accident on holiday. The money saving expert has also warned families around data charges while abroad. If you're planning on staying in a hotel on holiday, make sure you try this hotel hack to see if you can save money on your booking.

Never 'convert to GBP' if using a card abroad

Especially in a post-pandemic world, we've all become used to using plastic to pay for most things rather than cash. When you're at home, it's not usually problematic as you are paying for goods and services in your local currency. But when you go abroad, you might feel that you need to convert the payment into pounds when paying my card or using a cash machine. 

But these machines charge a conversion fee, which is added on top of the exchange rate, meaning you're paying even more. 

Martin Lewis said: "You want your card company at home to do the conversion because, even if it's not a good card, it's a better rate. Continue with conversion? No way, it's going to cost me 20 quid more than it should.

"When you go into a shop, when you go to a cash machine, and it says "do you want us to do the conversion for you", no, no, no. Pay in the local currency."

Martin added that holidaymakers could consider one of the best travel credit cards (our sister site The Money Edit has rounded up their top picks) to avoid any unnecessary charges. This can be preferable to travelling with cash, which might be lost or stolen, and you might be unable to claim the amount you lost back on your travel insurance policy. Always use an eligibility checker before applying for any kind of credit card or loan to see your chances of being accepted. This will prevent your credit score from being negatively impacted. 

Looking for more Martin Lewis money tips? Check out Martin's council tax tip that could save you hundreds of pounds each year, Martin's energy tariff warning, the trick he uses to save money on medication, and the passport mistake all holidaymakers should avoid this summer.

Sarah Handley
Money Editor,

Sarah is's Money Editor. After segueing into the world of personal finance from the Homes sector, and acting as launch editor of Goodto's sister brand, Sarah now focuses on family finance. She is passionate about cutting through confusing jargon to help people make sound financial decisions, avoid overspending and set themselves and their families up for a financially-stable future.