WOrld of Tanks manages to avoid that trap quite handily. It's no doubt very much easier to advance with a (paid for) premium account, but hardly necessary. Indeed the premium account only speeds the grind, and does nothing tangible to gameplay. Premium tanks are only as good as the people who use them, and truth be told, I look forward to engaging such "wallet warriors" because more often than not, they're significantly worse players than their same-tier kin without a premium tank. Exceptions exist, and frequently, but not enough to make me dread going against a premium tank in a tank that's a tier or two (out of ten) lower, let alone the same tier.
The only real hands down performance bonuses are premium ammo and consumables, which are typically left to the realm of Clan Wars, where the payout for controlling territory is the in-game currency used to pay for premium ammo and consumables. Indeed, said bonuses are left out of random battles for the most part entirely. The need to spend actual (or won) money on the equipment pretty much kills any desire to use it where you can't earn back enough to buy it again (random battles give no gold). That, and there's a huge stigma attached to using something like that in a random battle on a purely sportsmanship level.
tl;dr, it's not that bad.