Plastic is no panacea. A colleague was surprised last month when a remote fishing lodge in Mexico declined to take credit cards. Another colleague reports cash machines are scarce in parts of Eastern Europe. The best tactic, especially when going abroad, is to take along several methods of payment.
Before you order a prepaid card, check out the fees. American Express, for instance, charges $5 to reload its TravelFunds Card and, starting Jan. 1, $14.95 for the card. (It's free now.) AAA's Cash Passport is free to AAA members who load $300 or more onto it; nonmembers' costs vary by club.