For how little it costs to get a decent programmer, you might as well. That way if you go down, you can reprogram it right away. Mind you, getting a subbed bin will ensure that your bin never goes bad and you'll just have tiers fall off.
Lee, if you have a programmer, you can reprogram your card after you've been hashed. If you have a subbed bin, you won't go down completely, you'll just have to re-add the stations that aren't part of the subscription.
Ballz, yes you can get something called an AVR for ExpressVu units to unlock all the stations. It looks similar to a bootstrap for Directv. They work pretty well, but when the codes change, the picture blacks for a second or two while the AVR unit changes to match the new codes.