Free bets are currently the most popular types of welcome offer that you can find with different online bookmakers. When bookies talks about giving you a ‘free bet’ what is normally meant is that you’ll get a token added to your account that you’ll be able to use on a sportsbook market or event. If they say that you’ll get £30 for free if you bet £10, for example, then normally that £30 is added as a single token that can only be used for one bet. Sometimes the amount may be subdivided into several free bets, e.g. 3 x £10 tokens. Winnings from free bets are usually awarded as withdrawable cash, although free bet stakes themselves are not returned.
Most free bets are awarded when you place your first qualifying bet, this will usually have minimum odds attached, around 1/2 (1.50) generally. You place your qualifying bets on what you like usually so long as the cumulative odds are higher than the minimum. Some free bets are awarded when you make your first deposit, although you may need to bet the deposit amount first for the free bet to be activated. Alternatively you may need to bet the deposit before you are allowed to withdraw any free bet winnings, which is fair enough.
Some bookmakers promise a ‘risk free’ bet. What this typically means is that you place a bet with cash that you’ve added to your account and if the bet loses then you’ll get a free bet token of the same value as you stake added to your account. If you win the bet placed with your free bet token, you will again get to keep the cash winnings but the stake itself will not be returned.
Things that you need to look out for when it comes to the free bet tokens themselves include the minimum odds required to take advantage of the offer. Obviously bookies don’t want to just give everyone free money, so they normally require you to place your bet on an event that isn’t a certain winner, although these minimums are still very low, usually not more than 1/2+ or evens+.
Rarely you may also have to ‘rollover’ your free bet winnings several times before you can withdraw your winnings. This simply means that you place a bet the free bet amount several times over to convert from promo to real cash. This offer is the worst type of free bet as you don’t get to keep the free bet stake itself but you still need to rollover the funds. In general if you have a choice go for a free bet deal that awards cash winnings immediately or go for a bonus where you will need to rollover but at least you get to keep the stake.
Free bet winnings may be capped, this however should be a high limit and should be at least four figures, i.e. £1000+. On occasion some free bets have maximum odds caps too, this is is effect a winnings cap by a different name, the lowest max odds I’ve seen is 10/1.
Free bets don’t last forever. It’s quite common for bookies to say that there is a seven day expiry date on their free bet tokens, for example. Fail to use it within that time and it will disappear from your account as if it never existed. Always check as validity times can vary from 24 hours to unlimited.
The whole point of this site is to tell you about different bonuses that you can get from reputable licenced bookmakers. A bonus is normally something like “Deposit £10 and get £10 free”. These bonuses work in a very similar way to the free bets I’ve just told you about. They vary from bookie to bookie, of course, but the overall rules of how bonuses work stay the same.
There are any number of different bonuses that you’ll be able to take advantage of if you’re a new customer. That’s because online bookmaker want to entice you in and convince you to place your bets with them, so it makes sense to offer you an incentive. A bonus let’s you split your free funds into several bets if you prefer, unlike a free bet token, which gives you a greater opportunity to try the betting site out to see if you like them.
Most bonuses match you first deposit up to a certain value, another way of thinking about this is a 100% bonus. Other bonuses give you a fixed percentage of your first deposit, 50%, 200%, etc. Obviously bigger sounds better but this isn’t always true as bonuses come with further wagering requirements and it is a balance between getting the biggest percentage, largest amount of cash and favorable wagering terms.
Much like with free bets, bonuses often need to be rolled over before you can withdraw, this is also often termed the wagering requirement. This means you must bet the bonus amount several times over to convert the bonus, and bonus winnings, from real to withdrawable cash.
A good bonus rollover will be less than 10x the bonus amount. Be careful as some offers state the rollover as the bonus amount and others as the deposit + bonus amount, obviously in the case of the latter you will need to factor in the deposit amount to get the real rollover, e.g. for a matched bonus 10x the bonus rollover would be the same as 5x deposit + bonus.
As an example, if the bonus offer was ‘Deposit £10 Get £10 Free’ with a rollover amount of 6x the bonus, you’d need to bet £60 (£10 x 5) before you’d be able to withdraw your winnings. If it was 6x deposit + bonus this would require you to bet £120 (£20 x 6).
Minimum odds usually apply, again these tend to be low at around 1/2+ and not more than evens+. This means the bets you place to rollover your deposit must have odds, or cumulative odds, greater than the minimum amount.
If you attempt to withdraw your deposit amount before meeting the wagering requirement of your bonus it will often mean you will forfeit your bonus. Remember this when deciding what bonus to take and also what bets to place. For example if you place a bet that doesn’t settle for 3 weeks let’s say then you will have to wait at least that long before you can withdraw the deposit, bonus and winnings.
Finally most, but not all, bonuses have expiry times in which you must meet the wagering requirements. This means you will need to place bets that settle in sufficient time. Bonus expiries tend to be longer on average than free bets with most set at around 30 days and some of the better ones at 90 days.
For more frequently asked questions about free bets and bonuses see out free bet FAQ page.
|Free Bet Pros||Free Bet Cons|
|Usually cash winnings||Stake not returned|
|Typically no rollover of winnings||Token(s) must be used in one go|
|Usually shorter expiry (average 7 days)||Less wagering terms compared to bonus|
|Lower number of bets required||Less opportunity to try out the betting site|
|Often no minimum odds||Maximum odds / winnings can apply|
|Most free bets can be used on any markets||Cannot be used with/on other offers|
|Sports only, cannot be used in casino||May need to play through deposit before free bet activated or withdrawals allowed|
|Quicker returns||Generally lower amounts|
|Easier to manage||Less flexibly|
|Bonus Pros||Bonus Cons|
|Stake returned with winnings||Rollover required to convert to cash|
|Bonus can be split into several wagers||Minimum odds usually apply|
|Longer expiry times (30+ days usually)||More betting required for rollover|
|Better opportunity to try out the bookmaker||If bonus expires you will lose it + winnings|
|Bonus can often be used on more bet types, not just singles||Bonus winning caps can apply|
|Splitting the bonus up mitigates risk||Can not often be used in connection with other offers|
|Can sometimes be used in casino too||Deposit & withdrawals often locked until bonus terms met|
|Slower returns||Generally higher amounts|
|Requires more pre-planning||More flexible|