Portland, Oregon – On the Road Again


I arrived in Portland at the beginning of October 2014. I unloaded my belongings into an apartment for two days, but never slept there. The nonsmoking apartment smelled of cigarettes, an upstairs neighbor directed a garish tirade at his girlfriend, and the place creeped me out.

I took to my favorite hobby, collecting miles and points, for assistance. I spent nine weeks in Portland and paid full price a handful of occasions, only to take part in promotions. I stayed many nights at Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) properties, including Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Staybridge Suites.

I hold Platinum status, the highest tier, with IHG, a benefit of adding their credit card to my wallet. As a Platinum member, I receive 500 welcome bonus points on each stay. Most properties include free breakfast, and I particularly enjoy the cinnamon rolls at Holiday Inn Express. Platinum status often equates to a room upgrade, a pleasing perk. Especially at Holiday Inn Express, the staff is genuine and helpful.

An apartment in Portland is at least $30 a night. A hotel seemed simpler than renting an apartment: Free WiFi, High-Def Television, a coffee maker, often a fridge and microwave. I became a connoisseur of toiletries, and enjoy Hyatt and Marriott properties for these amenities. Also, the coffee at these two chains is superior to IHG, Best Western, or SPG.

One reason I stayed at IHG properties was to participate in their “Into the Nights” Fall Promotion. The promotion was different for everyone, but mine offered two free nights at any IHG property and 18,000 points, after a total of three paid stays.

Another reason I frequented IHG is because certain properties cost only 5,000 points per night under the Point Breaks list. 5,000 points is equivalent to $35 and the Portland area had two participating properties this fall. Additionally, I stayed a night in the Tri-Cities in Washington at a hotel on the list. At the tail end of my journey, I stayed three nights at a Holiday Inn Express in Vancouver, Washington, on the Point Breaks’ winter list.

For those considering the IHG MasterCard from Chase, look for the 80,000-point offer. It’s available on Flyertalk, a website dedicated to travel hacking. Below is a summary of nights stayed, points used, and cash spent on rooms.

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG)

5,000 points – Holiday Inn Express (HIX) Richland, WA

5,000 points – HIX Gladstone, OR (5 nights)

5,000 points – HIX Salmon Creek, WA (3 nights)

5,000 points – Staybridge Suites Vancouver, WA (4 nights)

10,000 points – HIX Troutdale, OR (4 nights)

5,000 points + $40 – HIX Troutdale, OR (2 nights)

$98 – HIX Lake Oswego, OR (Into the Nights Promotion)

$101 – HIX Vancouver, WA (Into the Nights Promotion)

$116 – Holiday Inn Gresham, OR – (Into the Nights Promotion)

FREE – Best Rate Guarantee – Staybridge Suites Portland Airport

Club Carlson

28,000 points – Radisson Portland Airport (3 nights)

FREE – Radisson Portland Airport (3 nights) – last night of any award stay is free

$122 – Radisson Portland Airport


Category 5 Free Night Certificate – Residence Inn by Marriott Lloyd Center

10,000 points – Fairfield Inn & Suites Beaverton, OR (4 nights)

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)

4,000 points – Four Points by Sheraton Portland East (4 nights) – weekday nights

3,000 points – Four Points by Sheraton Portland East (5 nights) – weekend nights

$108 Best Rate Guarantee – Four Points by Sheraton Portland East (earned 2,000

points for BRG + counted toward Free Night Promotion)

$98 – Four Points by Sheraton Portland East (Free Night Promotion – this stay

netted a Category 5 Free Night Certificate – I booked The Phoenician in

Scottsdale, AZ for my parents with the certificate)


8,000 points – Hyatt Place Portland Airport

$109 – Hyatt Place Portland Airport (earned 6,000 points on two promotions)

Best Western

$81 – $50 Gift Card = $31 – Best Western Inn Vancouver, WA

$81 – $25 Gift Card = $56 – Best Western Inn Vancouver, WA

$81 – Best Western Inn Vancouver, WA

$125 Best Rate Guarantee – Best Western Inn Meadows (BRG netted a $100 Gift Card)


4,000 points + $37 – Hampton Inn Clackamas, OR

$85 Best Rate Guarantee – Hampton Inn Portland East (BRG netted a $50 Gift Card)

Choice Hotels

$80 – $78.50 for BRG = $1.50 – Quality Inn & Suites Portland Airport

Phoenix Inn & Suites

$117 – $100 Cyber Monday Orbitz coupon = $17 – Lake Oswego, OR

Priceline Express Deals

$65 – Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham – Bozeman, MT

$55 – Guesthouse Inn & Suites – Gresham, OR

$56 – La Quinta Inn & Suites – Salmon Creek, WA

$55 – Extended Stay America – Gresham, OR

$63 – Red Lion Portland Airport

$43 – Howard Johnson – Missoula, MT

 My Truck

FREE for one night – thankful for warm blankets


Best Rate Guarantees

Best Rate Guarantees (BRG) – Hotel chains guarantee their website carries the lowest price for a room. If you find a cheaper rate, submit a BRG form. The hotel will likely match the rate, and reward you. Below are my recent BRG claims.

–Choice Hotels: Free night – Quality Inn & Suites Portland Airport

–IHG: Free night – Staybridge Suites Portland Airport

–SPG: Matched rate + 2000 points – Four Points by Sheraton Portland East

–Best Western: Matched rate + $100 Best Western gift card – Best Western Inn Meadows

–Hilton: Matched rate + $50 American Express gift card – Hampton Inn Portland  East/Gresham

–Marriott: Match rate + 25% off

–Club Carlson: Match rate + 25% off

–Hyatt: Match rate + 20% off


Million Mile Secrets Guide on BRG’s:


American Express – Small Business Saturday

Don’t forget to register your American Express credit cards for Small Business Saturday (November 29th). Get up to $30 in free purchases on each card.

Register Here: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-small/

Portland, Oregon

I love Portland! My dog and I lived in Hillsdale, a neighborhood in Southwest Portland, in 2006 and 2007. In that timeframe, I enrolled in master’s courses in Urban and Regional Planning at Portland State University. I also took the Oregon bar exam. And then I returned to the Midwest.

I set sail once again for the West Coast in late 2014, hoping to find steady income. En route, I spent a night in Bozeman, where I lived for two years, and Ritzville, a small town in the midst of scrubland in eastern Washington.

Eventually, I arrived in Lake Oswego, in Southwest Portland. I coexisted as a grateful guest for five nights with a friend, his girlfriend, and their daughters. The apartment, surrounded by lush forest, yet close to downtown, felt like home.

Afterward, I ambled to Northeast Portland, near the airport, landing at a Radisson for four nights. Two of those nights were free, and the other two were booked with points. The staff enjoyed serving guests, a welcome sign of good hospitality. The check-in agent provided vouchers for evening drinks and appetizers, as well as breakfast, all included with the room. My abode, on the private fourth floor, had a lounge down the hall, where I topped off mochas and lattes.

I stayed one night at the Hyatt Place, also near the airport, using a free night certificate. I might have used the award at the Grand Hyatt in Seattle, but in Portland, the only option is a Hyatt Place. The hotel is encompassed by new, chain development, with convenient rail links.

The next day, I drove to the eastern suburb of Gresham, spending four nights at the Four Points by Sheraton, using SPG points. The walls are paper thin, but the staff is obliging. The location, distant from downtown Portland, is connected by rail, but Gresham is a worn-out section of town.

Following the Four Points, I crossed the Willamette River into Washington, spending a night at the Staybridge Suites in Vancouver, using IHG points. I retreated back across the river the next day, staying two nights at a Holiday Inn Express in Troutdale, a suburb on the eastern edge of Portland, at the entrance to the Columbia Gorge. I redeemed additional IHG points.

On my return to South Dakota, I stopped in Missoula, Montana, for a night at the Holiday Inn Downtown, booked via Priceline. My final day on the road was a twelve-hour stretch to Fort Pierre, through rain and scattered snow.

The adventure endlessly entertained. My move to Portland is impending. Below is a re-cap of accommodations and hotel points used. While the trip dissipated a substantial amount of points and awards, it confirmed my suspicion that wise utilization can prove opportune, and financially rewarding.


Friday August 22

Bozeman, MT – Holiday Inn Express

15,000 IHG points

Upgraded to a King Suite



Ritzville, WA – Best Western Plus Bronco Inn


Nice hotel for this isolated locale


Sunday through Thursday

Portland (Lake Oswego) – Joe’s Place


Thankful for an air mattress and a welcome home



Portland – Radisson

28,000 Club Carlson points

With Club Carlson Gold Status, upgraded and received certificates for breakfast and evening drinks and appetizers in the restaurant.



Portland – Radisson


With the Club Carlson credit card, the last night of any award stay is free. I booked two two-night stays (see below).



Portland – Radisson

28,000 Club Carlson points



Portland – Radisson




Portland – Hyatt Place

Category 1 – 4 Free Night Certificate (obtained after $91 paid night in Denver).

Enjoyable, but should have saved the certificate for a more desirable property.



Portland (Gresham) – Four Points

4,000 SPG points

Walls are paper thin, but staff is obliging



Portland (Gresham) – Four Points

4,000 SPG points

Earned SPG Gold Status after this stay



Portland (Gresham) – Four Points

3,000 SPG points

Reduced rate on weekends



Portland (Gresham) – Four Points

3,000 SPG points

Another weekend night…



Portland (Vancouver, WA) – Staybridge Suites

15,000 IHG points

A quiet suite with comforts of home



Portland (Troutdale) – Holiday Inn Express

10,000 IHG points

Sandwiched between two truck stops, but pleasant staff



Portland (Troutdale) – Holiday Inn Express

10,000 IHG points

More of the same…



Missoula, MT – Holiday Inn Downtown

$70 booked via Priceline

Late arrival and early departure with view of lobby


Hotel Points for US Travel


Best Western

  • Program: Best Western Rewards
  • Hotels: Best Western Premier, Best Western Plus, Best Western
  • Rooms start at: 12,000 points
  • Credit card:
    • Best Western Rewards MasterCard (Barclays)
      • Sign-up bonus = 16,000 points

Choice Hotels

  • Program: Choice Privileges
  • Hotels: Comfort Inn, Cambridge Suites, Sleep Inn, Quality Inn, EconoLodge, Clarion, Cambria Suites, Mainstay Suites, Ascend Hotel Collection
  • Rooms start at: 8,000 points
  • Credit card:
    • Choice Privileges Visa Signature (Barclays)
      • Sign-up bonus = up to 32,000 points

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

  • Program: Club Carlson
  • Hotels: Radisson, Radisson Blu, Country Inn & Suites, Park Inn, Park Plaza, Hotel Missoni
  • Rooms start at: 9,000 points
  • Credit card:
    • Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature (US Bank)
      • Sign-up bonus = up to 85,000 points

Drury Hotels

  • Program: Gold Key Club
  • Hotels: Drury Inn, Pear Tree Inn, Drury Plaza
  • Rooms start at: 25,000 points
  • Credit card:
    • Drury Gold Key Club Credit Card (Commerce Bank)
      • Sign-up bonus = 10,000 points

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

  • Program: President’s Club
  • Hotels: Fairmont Hotels
  • Rooms start at: 25,000 points
  • Credit card:
    • Fairmont Visa Signature (Chase)
      • Sign-up bonus = 2 free nights

Hilton Hotels & Resorts

  • Program: HHonors
  • Hotels: Waldorf Astoria, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites
  • Rooms start at: 5,000 points
  • Credit cards:
    • Hilton HHonors Reserve Card (Citibank)
      • Sign-up bonus = 2 free nights
    • Hilton HHonors American Express
      • Sign-up bonus = 50,000 points


Hyatt Hotels & Resorts

  • Program: Gold Passport
  • Hotels: Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Place, Hyatt Regency
  • Rooms start at: 5,000 points
  • Credit card:
    • Hyatt Visa Signature (Chase)
      • Sign-up bonus = 2 free nights

InterContinental Hotels Group [IHG]

  • Program: Rewards Club
  • Hotels: InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, Hotel Indigo, EVEN Hotels
  • Rooms start at: 5,000 points
  • Credit card:
    • IHG Rewards Club Select Visa (Chase)
      • Sign-up bonus = 85,000 points

La Quinta Inn & Suites

  • Program: Returns
  • Hotels: La Quinta Inns & Suites
  • Rooms start at: 6,000 points
  • Credit card:
    • La Quinta Returns Visa (First Bankcard)
      • Sign-up bonus = up to 40,000 points


  • Program: Marriott Rewards
  • Hotels: JW Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, Renaissance, SpringHill Suites, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Courtyard by Marriott
  • Rooms start at: 6,000 points
  • Credit card:
    • Marriott Rewards Visa Signature (Chase)
      • Sign-up bonus = 70,000 points

Starwood Hotels

  • Program: Starwood Preferred Guest [SPG]
  • Hotels: Le Meridien, Aloft, Four Points, Westin, W Hotels, Sheraton, St. Regis, Element
  • Rooms start at: 2,000 points
  • Credit card:
    • Starwood Preferred Guest American Express
      • Sign-up bonus = up to 30,000 points

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

  • Program: Wyndham Rewards
  • Hotels: Wyndham Hotels, Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Ramada, Super 8, Knights Inn, Hawthorn Suites, Wingate, Travelodge, Microtel Inn & Suites
  • Rooms start at: 5,500 points
  • Credit card:
    • Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature (Barclays)
      • Sign-up bonus = 30,000 points


Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) American Express

There’s less than a week left (June 30th) to apply for a Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) American Express credit card to get up to 30,000 points after qualifying purchases. The deal is usually for 25,000 points. The SPG card is highly regarded by frequent travelers. Rooms start at 2,000 points for a weekend night. Starpoints transfer to many airlines at a 1×1 ratio. And, SPG tacks on a 5,000-mile bonus when transferring 20,000 points, equalling 25,000 airline miles. The $65 annual fee is waived the first year. If you’re interested, send a message and I would be glad to refer you. Then, you can refer friends and family when the deal comes round again, which it does every 6 months or so. Enjoy!

(Starwood Hotels include: Sheraton, Four Points, Aloft, Le Meridien, Westin, W Hotels, and the St. Regis)

-I also have referrals available for the SPG business card, which is offering the same bonus.

-contact me at: mriter@hotmail.com