Unless you can get the 600D or 650D for a similar price as the 550D, I would not recommend spending the extra unless you have money to waste. The only significant improvements are the touchscreen, fold out screen, and a few other insignificant factors that allow canon to price it at a premium over the 550.
I was in a similar boat as you when researching gear for the first time. 99% of people on the internet will encourage you to get the best of the best because.... why not. If I was just starting over with a limited budget, Id get the cheapest crop frame body as possible... 550D (probably used), and the 50mm 1.8.
Almost EVERY benefit beyond this until you get to Full Frame falls in features you won't need for VFX most likely. Durability, weather proofing, AF speed, FPS, etc. I got my 550D about when it was first released and use it for product photos, stock photos, VFX, portraits. Recently upgraded to a 5D mkiii with a few L lenses.
For VFX, id save the money you spend on cosmetic upgrades and features you dont need--spend that on continuous lighting and other VFX specific gear you might need.
This photo was taken with a 550D w/ 50mm 1.8 (cheapest lens you can get--also one of the best quality)