I highly suggest starting with a non-aggressive pair of shoes (i.e. something with a flat bottom rather than the more advanced down-turned toe style). Also, try different brands! Certain brands just fit certain feet better.
I second the point about the "snug but not tight" fit. Think: would you be comfortable walking around the gym for a few hours without taking them off. This will also be a good shoe if you ever want to get into doing long easy climbs or slab climbs outdoors (Unless of course, your friends only do overhanging sport climbs. To each their own I guess). I eventually got my first pair of shoes resoled and it was perfectly shaped to my foot for spending many hours on a climb.
When you get more advanced, you will probably want your second pair of shoes to fit your foot more closely and have a little bit of down-turn for those steep gym routes. Keep in mind that a shoe with a leather top should stretch out over time a bit more than a synthetic top.
I also agree with the sub $100 point, but they aren't making it easy these days. I see no reason why a beginner pair would cost more than that.