A couple changes coming out from the American Express Membership Rewards program here in early 2010, one good and one bad.
First, the bad news. Southwest Airlines will no longer be a transfer partner for the Membership Rewards program as of July 1, 2010. They’ve given ample notice which is nice but the loss of a partner is unfortunate. The Rapid Rewards program never did anything good for me but I understand that a lot of folks do enjoy the program, especially with the companion ticket program. So that’s an unfortunate loss of benefits.
And, now, the good news. The American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program now has an online booking engine. Finally. The new website allows US-based Platinum and Centurion card-holders to research rates, benefits and availability online. Members can also complete bookings directly through the website. The site is a bit slow, flash-based (which I find annoying since it adds no value) and doesn’t display rates at all until you click through to the individual properties. Still, it is a nice improvement from the old system of having to call in. Also, the functionality is set only at the Platinum cardholder level. For Centurion members to receive their added benefits (time-of-booking upgrade and better rates) they will still have to call.
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