Jail shell is fine. I certainly don't need root! I thought SSH was just a secure telnet, and the shell was the command line processor (like bash, tcsh, etc.). I use it all the time on our FutureQuest accounts at work. Basically, it's easier and faster to just login via SSH to perform some maintenance. I upload a tarball to the server and untar it via SSH, etc.
I don't really need more than say 250MB of space, and no more than 3 gigs of transfer per month. (Really not even that, I just don't want to feel limited). I would probably be just fine on the $9.95 DixieSys.com plan if they had SSH and multiple domains on those accounts. Those have 200 MB and 3gig transfer. I just went with the $8.95 deal because it was less and I didn't need the guaranteed uptime on this account.