Free Bets and Bonuses
Free bets as well as other betting bonuses are a common incentive awarded to new customers when signing up with a betting site. This is not the only factor to consider when deciding which betting sites are the best but it is definitely important. Making the most of your free bets can give you a nice head start against the bookie.
View the table below for a list of bonuses from top betting sites. These are all good offers, but of course some are better than others. Most offers are matched bets, but some are deposit bonuses. The difference between matches bets and deposit bonuses is explained below the table.
Remember that all of the offers below are only for new customers.
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Free bets explained
At first it may seem that many bonuses are the same, but some can be quite deceptive and it is important to understand the real value of a free bet or bonus in order to compare two different offers.
One example of this is whether or not your free bet stake is returned to you. Some free bets allow users to keep the stake AND the winnings. On many other sites your free bet is a token where you will only get the winnings on your bet.
Here are the main points to consider when comparing offers:
Is it a free bet or a bonus?
Firstly, you need to determine exactly what kind of offer it is. There are usually two types – free bets and betting bonuses.
Free Bets – A free bet is awarded as a token or credit which can be used to place a bet on the site. If the bet wins the profit is yours to keep. Free bets are usually issued as a matched bet after you have deposited and placed a qualifying bet with your own money. There are some free bets which require no deposit, but these are rare. It is also possible to receive a “risk-free bet” which awards a free bet if your initial bet loses.
Do I get my free bet stake returned?
Most sites offering free matched bets will not return your free bet stake as well as your winnings. This prevents bonus abuse and means customers can’t simply make easy money by backing selections at very low odds.
If you receive a £50 free bet token and back a selection at Evens you will get the £50 winnings and most likely will not get to keep the original £50 stake.
What are the requirements to claim the bonus?
There are a few different types of free bet qualifying requirements.
No Deposit Free Bets – These are quite rare and very attractive. They are one of the best types of free bets around as they require no deposit with the user’s personal funds and are therefore risk-free. Some sites may require you to register a credit or debit card as a proof of age and identity.
Low Deposit Free Bets – This type of offer is also very good. Customers receive a bonus that is of greater value than the deposit. So you may only have to deposit £5 to receive a £10 free bet. These offers are great value but are usually low end –i.e. around £5 or £10.
First Bet Matched – The most common form of free bet offer is a matched bet. Customers receive a free bet of the same value as the first bet you make with your own money. For example, a user signs up, deposits and bets £25 and then receives a free matched bet of £25. Usually with this offer, the first bet is matched up to a maximum value and you would receive a free bet for any amount below that. So if the maximum free bet was £25 and you bet £10, you would receive a £10 matched bet. Sometimes betting sites offer the free bet at a set amount. In this case you may have to bet £25 or more to receive a £25 free bet, with any bet under £25 not qualifying for the free bet. We always recommend maximising the value of your free bet whenever possible as this is a great initial offer which is worth taking full advantage of.
First Deposit Bonus – With a first deposit bonus, you receive a bonus amount relative to your first deposit. This bonus can often be as good as a matched bet depending on the percentage of your first deposit bonus and the wagering requirements before you can withdraw. For example, some sites may offer a 100% bonus on your first deposit up to a maximum value. So deposit £100 and you will get a £100 bonus in your account. These bonuses usually have to be ‘turned over’ a certain number of times before withdrawal. Remember, the higher the bonus percentage the better. A 100% bonus up to £200 is significantly better than a 25% bonus up to £500.
No Lose Bets – This type of offer awards players with a free matched bet if their qualifying bet loses. If your bet wins you don’t receive any free bets. This offer can sometimes be confusing as players may not realise that their stake isn’t refunded as cash but only in the form of a free bet.
Multiple Qualifying Bets – This type of offer is not as good as those mentioned above because it requires multiple qualifying bets to receive a free bet. For example, players may need to place three £25 bets to receive one free £25 bet. This kind of offer can also be offered together with a matched bet. For example, a site may advertise £100 in free bets in this format. In this case your first bet of £50 could be matched with a free £50 bet. But you would have to make several more bets in order to receive another £50 free bet. Many sites use this kind of offer to advertise more attractive looking promotions at greater amounts of money.
What about Wagering Requirements?
It is important to consider whether there are wagering requirements attached to a bonus offer before you can truly assess their value.
There are always some wagering requirements with deposit bonuses since the bonus is awarded up front before a bet is made. Wagering requirements on sports betting sites tend to be much lower than what you would find at online casinos. Any turnover requirement of 5 times or less is a good offer. The lower the turnover requirement, the better!
Usually, matched bets don’t come with any wagering requirements and whatever you win is yours to keep with no strings attached. However, this is always worth checking as in rare cases some sites may attach a wagering requirement to your free bet winnings.