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In a survey of 1000 travellers by leading travel money provider ICE – International Currency Exchange , 44% confessed to committing a cultural faux pas on holiday and 49% have seen someone else make a cringe-worthy slip up abroad. The most common is using the wrong word/phrase (18%) but 1 in 10 has used the loo of the opposite sex by mistake and around the same has used the wrong language when speaking to a local person. Furthermore 16% have seen others cause offence by wearing inappropriate clothing for a formal or religious occasion.

“Getting the etiquette right for the country you are visiting can be the difference to a warm welcome or a cold shoulder” says Koko Sarkari, COO of ICE. “Pleasurable pass times such as eating and drinking can be a minefield, not finishing your meal in France implies the food is poor, or the serving is incorrectly balanced whereas in Russia leaving a small amount on your plate suggests enough food has been provided to fill you up”.

“It’s not just food and drink that can catch out holiday makers, taking care when greeting locals, and watching those hand gestures are important to remember as interpretations vary depending on the country you’re visiting. A little research beforehand can go a long way to ensuring a smooth trip”.

“Paying for goods and services can also be fraught with uncertainty in some countries. For example in Thailand and India, the custom is to haggle rather than have a set price which can catch UK travellers’ unawares. In the US, you may be chased down the street if you forget to tip between 15% and 20% after a meal and in France and Italy an extra tip on top of the service charge is often expected.

However, savvy travellers planning their break to Europe can take advantage of the current strength of the Pound by loading up a PIN-protected prepaid currency card from ICE – the ICE Travellers Cashcard in Euros. With rates fixed at the time the money is loaded, the ITC cash card enables holidaymakers to withdraw the local currency they need at ATMs and the flexibility to pay for larger purchases in shops and for meals out as they would with a debit or credit card. The ITC adds some certainty for travellers tackling local customs.” concludes Koko.

Common Cultural faux pas to avoid in Europe

Waving your hand in front of someone’s face in Germany & Austria, is regarded as an offensive gesture

Don’t start eating unless everyone at the table is seated and ready to start their meal in France

Take shoes off when entering somebody's home in Ukraine, Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic & Poland

In Bulgaria, if asked if you like something, make sure you shake your head for yes. The gesture is reversed the other way, so remember to nod for no

Displaying too much flesh could see you ejected from churches in Italy and Greece, so dress modestly if you intend to visit.

Flashing the thumbs up sign in parts of Italy and France is regarded as an insult

Showing your palm of your hand to a Greek is regarded as highly offensive

Don’t sit down at a dinner table until you’re asked to in Austria, as you may be met with disapproving looks

Putting a piece of bread on one's plate in France is poor etiquette. Leave it on the table beside the plate as bread is not considered part of a meal

Failing to make eye contact while clinking glasses with Germans is considered bad luck

In some parts of Italy and France tips are expected even when service has been added to the bill

Cross cultural faux pas to avoid in USA

Urinating in public is not socially acceptable anywhere, but in the USA it could land you with a fine

Asking where the toilet is in the USA is likely to result in a frown; call it a restroom or bathroom to avoid appearing rude.

Don’t steal another’s cab whilst in the Big Apple

Try and ensure you have change or a metro card ready when stepping up to get on a bus or approaching a turnstile for the metro in New York

Not to tip in the USA is considered rude, and tipping is customary in restaurants, bars, hotels and taxis.

Key Benefits of the ICE Travellers Cashcard|

• 1.5% cashback on all purchases made of £50/$50/€50 or more on the respective cards
• No commission
• Free to obtain if the initial load is £700 or more. £4.75 if the initial load is less than £7001
• Free cash withdrawals from ATMs 2
• Free backup card in case of loss/theft
• Free supplementary Family Cards for up to 2 family members
• Free to top-up the Euro and US Dollar cards 3
• Free balance enquiries either online or at ATMs 4
• Free 7 day same rate buy-back guarantee – funds can be converted back to sterling at the same exchange rate5
• No penalty fees, e.g. no charge if you fail to use your card for long periods of time and if you lose your card and need a replacement ICE will replace it for free
• Accepted wherever the MasterCard® Acceptance Mark is displayed 6

1 There is a Top Up fee of 2.85% for sterling card. Top ups made by credit card incur a fee 2%
2 Some ATM operators and merchants may charge a fee or set their own limits
3 A 2% fee will be levied if topping-up with a credit card
4 Some ATM operators may levy their own charge for checking account balances
5 Up to $100/€100, 7 days from the date of the last top up
6 The card cannot be used for participating in online gaming websites, at casinos or other gambling institutes, or to make regular money transfers

All cultural information in this release sourced from the following websites:


July 2015
For further press information please contact the ICE Press Office at HSL – Parm Heer, Laura Welsh or Alison Reeson on 020 8977 9132 or

Notes to editors

International Currency Exchange (ICE) has been providing retail foreign exchange for over 40 years and today has over 400 locations in 20 countries, on four continents, conducting one transaction every 6 seconds. Through its retail network, ICE offers a wide range of products and services to support the travelling public’s requirements, including foreign currency and phone cards. ICE’s online products include commission free secure next day home delivery currency and the ICE Travellers Cashcard, an innovative prepaid MasterCard® in £, € or US$, which can be loaded with holiday spending money before travelling, allowing levels of convenience that are similar to using a bank debit or credit card, but without the risks and charges sometimes associated. Find ICE on Facebook /iceplc and follow them on Twitter @icetravelmoney|

The ICE Travellers Cashcard has been recognised in the following awards:

PayBefore 2015 Europe: Winner Best Travel Companion

Moneyfacts 4 & 5 Star Rating in Moneyfacts Annual Credit Card & Pre Paid Card Star Ratings, as per below:

• ICE Travellers Cashcard Euro Travel Card 5
• ICE Travellers Cashcard Dollar Travel Card 5
• ICE Travellers Cashcard Sterling Travel Card 4

Prepaid365 2014:
• Best Free Prepaid Card - ICE Travellers Cashcard - Winner
• Best Incentives/Rewards Prepaid Card - ICE Travellers Cashcard - Runner Up
• Best Prepaid Card Website Design - ICE Travellers Cashcard - Runner Up

R. Raphael & Sons plc (Raphaels Bank) is the issuer of the ICE Travellers Cashcard and is a Bank authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, registration number 161302 and is permitted to issue e-money. Head office and registered office at 19-21 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 7ED, company registration number 01288938.

Raphaels Bank is a leading issuer of prepaid cards in Europe with over 5 million cards issued through 21 partners across 14 European Countries with over 180 programmes ranging from gift cards to full Chip & PIN cards to mobile technology payment solutions|

Payment Card Technologies (PCT) is the programme manager for the ICE Travellers Cashcard. A leading programme manager in Europe providing full debit and prepaid solutions from MasterCard and Visa, PCT is owned by Lenlyn Holdings plc and is a sister company to Raphaels Bank. PCT provides one of the most robust, reloadable prepaid card systems available in the market, offering customised and flexible prepaid card solutions to retailers, online merchants, large and small corporations operating in a fast moving, dynamic and global industry as well as driving emerging payment innovation with payment account platform.|

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