I love a freebie.
A couple of weeks ago I popped into Accessorize – a shop I'm not exactly a regular in - simply because as an O2 customer I was entitled to a free bag of Haribo. I know the idea of the giveaway was to entice me into spending money on other stuff while I was there, but I'm alright for headbands at the minute thanks very much.
Barclaycard has adopted a similar tactic with its latest giveaway, with the other of a free soft toy with all credit cards.
The toy is Mr B the monkey, a character from Barclaycard's latest TV advertising campaign. With a child of nearly two (who just happens to love monkeys) I know it's a toy that will have a certain appeal as a cheap Christmas present.
But the offer of a free toy is an awful reason to go for a credit card. What's most important is how good the card is. And luckily for Barclaycard, its range of credit cards is pretty special at the moment.
0% balance transfer credit cards
When it comes to credit cards which offer a decent interest-free period on balance transfers, you won't do much better than a Barclaycard.
The top card at the moment offers you an incredible two years before you start paying interest on your debt. That's an awful long time in which you can pay off your debt in manageable chunks.
Barclaycard also has cards with 23-month and 12-month 0% periods, relying on smaller balance transfer fee or 0% purchase periods to help them stand out.
Let's start by looking at the top 10 cards offering the longest interest-free balance transfer periods:
So the top two cards both come from Barclaycard. Pretty impressive. It's worth bearing in mind that the 24-month Platinum offers the longest interest-free period ever. Barclaycard launched a card offering the same 0% period at the end of 2011, but it came with a much higher fee of 3.2%.
What about cards that are aimed at borrowers who don't need such a long time to pay off their debt? These come with much smaller 0% periods, but also boast smaller transfer fees.
Again, a very strong offering from Barclaycard. So a toy monkey is not a reason to go for a card from Barclaycard – the fact that its cards are the best is clearly the selling point!
All-round 0% cards
What about if you want a single card that offers an identical interest-free period on both purchases and balance transfers? An all-round card certainly makes life easier as you have all you want with one card.
Below are the best all-round credit cards:
So a very solid, if not market-leading, offering from Barclaycard.
It can be a pain moving between various 0% cards though. I can see the appeal of a lifetime credit card, which offers a much lower rate on both purchases and balance transfers for as long as you have the card.
Below are the top five cards offering a low APR:
So while Barclaycard's offering is again not the best around, it's not far off it.
Cashback cards can be difficult to compare, since they all work in so many different ways. Barclaycard has a Cashback Visa, which pays the highest rate of interest in the first three months of any cashback card at 6%, capped at £120.
After that, the card is a little more problematic, paying 2% on your top five monthly purchases, and 0.5% on everything else. And each anniversary with the card that rate doubles to 4% for the month. The Cashback Visa is great for the first three months, after that, it's best for people who use the card sparingly for big purchases rather than lots of smaller purchases.
On the plus side, it's no fee free for the first year if you take it out before the 2nd December - previously it came with a £24 annual fee.
For a full rundown of how it compares to other cashback credit cards, read The best cashback credit cards.
Will I be getting a free monkey?
Personally, no. I'm not in the market for a new balance transfer card, and prefer to get rewarded for my spending in the form of Tesco Clubcard vouchers to cash, as silly as that may seem.
But if I was in the market for either a balance transfer card or a cashback card, I'd have a hard time picking a card that didn't come with a Barclaycard logo and a free toy monkey.