The Old Republic went F2P last week and brought with it cash shop. Here is what I've gleaned about what works and what you should avoid (Special Thanks to Darthhater and Dulfy for research purposes). First of all, there are tiers of packs to buy Cartel Coins; the cash shop currency in TOR, each one is bigger than the last. Buy the largest pack, the $39.99 pack; it’s the only one that makes sense. Look some things are cheap in the cash shop and some things are not, but getting the biggest bang for your buck is ideal when looking at any cash shop. Essentially the $5 pack comes out to 90 coins per dollar and the $39.99 pack is 137 coins per dollar. That’s a nearly 50% increase in spending power. What you use those coins on depends on your playing style and how much time you have.
For the player who makes alternate characters. You know who you are; you make at least a couple characters before you even have one that hits 50. For you the cash shop should be seen as a work around to the fact that you rarely have very much in-game money. Stay away from XP boosts of any kind, either from the legacy or the cash shop. You’ll likely have enough rested experience to avoid needing any experience boosts. Frankly it’s tough right now for you but there is one important thing to unlock and that is legacy ship unlocks. They can be unlocked with in-game currency but it’s a pretty penny and time intensive. The legacy ship unlocks including a mailbox and neutral GTN, allow you to move, buy, and sell items on your ship. Also take note of the inventory and cargo bay account unlocks. This will allow every character you make to have a lot of space for stuff. Hoarders unite!
For the returning raider or high level PVPer. Bite the bullet, resubscribe for one month. It should garner you somewhere around one to two thousand cartel coins. This should allow you to buy most of the features you’ve lost from going to Preferred Status. Avoid any of the shiny object buys and stick to either the Operation weekly pass or the Warzone weekly pass. Not only do you likely have a boatload of cash and thus able to buy most of the cash shops items on the GTN, most of the items won't do much of anything for a level 50. In the long run, this is going to be cheaper than paying a subscription. Hurray for you!
For the gamer with responsibilities. You have work, school, family or all of the above. Either way you don’t have a lot of time and/or money. Leveling a character from scratch to level 50 in TOR should take somewhere between 40 – 50 hours; depending on play style and skill level. It is imperative to buy the 5-pack of major experience boost. It allows you to have a 25% experience boost for 3 hours per item use on all activities. It’s cheap and easy. It doesn’t drop when your character dies or logs out of the game. With the rested experience you should experience a rapid experience gain that gives you all of the joys of leveling in a short time span without most of the headaches.
For the gamer with money to burn. All of the above. Take the experience packs, the legacy unlocks, and the inventory/cargo bay unlocks. Take the artifact unlock account-wide as well so that you can get the equipment suit at level 31. A 5-piece suit of armor of all purples for every class, some of them including the cunning based and strength based equipments look fairly impressive and what is more are going to give you a serious edge boost in leveling at the time when the difficulty real kicks in, the end of chapter one. Stay away from the cartel packs unless you’re not looking for any one item, or go through life wearing a four-leaf clover. If you love to PVP don’t forget to take the legacy unlock its now a 30% boost up from the 10% before F2P. There are 5 legacy lines dealing with PVP, Flashpoints, Space Missions, Exploration, and Class Missions experience boosts; but the PVP legacy line gives you the most bang for the buck
The Cash shop is not your enemy. It's all about finding what works for you and making it work for you. Few things are likely to break your bank if you plan, plan, plan.