Reels, in my opinion, are simply receptacles whose use is merely one of carrying the line when not fishing.
If you are going to save money, then save it here.
Having said this there are exceptions: those all too rare circumstances, when a large fish decides to make for the next county. Then it is a real plus (pun) to have a smooth actioned reel.
I spent my first two seasons in New Zealand (home of large fit fish), with a reel which had a tendency to jam at the most inconvenient moments. I could often be seen performing rapid contortions in an effort to free the offending seizure, by shoving the reel into the water, much to the amusement of fishing companions.
I have absolutely no belief in cheap drag controls. It is just one more feature to go wrong.
Although I have said this with certainty, there are many who disagree. You can too. In fact you can disagree with everything I have said, I am sure someone out there will :-)