You can also buy points (up to 100,000 for 2 spouses) every year from Marriott for $0.0125 per point. I wouldn't advise you to trade your points in for hotel stays or airfares, but to save up to 540,000 MR points for two Category7 air+hotel packages that gives you 240,000 FF miles and 2 week long stays in Category 7 hotels. Right now, with the dollar situation, a Europe trip is real value for the points as it costs a fortune in cash otherwise. I figure that two biz class seats and 2 weeks in top hotels would set a cash payer back about $14,000.
There has always been a fee for turning in your week for points, and it's a nice benefit if you work the plan properly. As the previous poster says, it takes a long time to get 540,000 points buying groceries...but it all adds up sooner or later.