How to Use Casino Bonuses - Beginner’s Guide
If you’re new to online casinos, you might never have encountered the wonder that is the casino bonus before. A bonus can extend your bankroll, give you a greater chance of winning, and allow you to try out new games and casinos without necessarily risking your own money.
Given that the online casino industry is in a state of rapid expansion, we thought we’d give the many new players appearing every day the ultimate lowdown on the casino bonus. By the end of this article, you should know all there is to know about the promotions offered at iGaming venues.
It will cover:
- What exactly a casino bonus is and why you would want one.
- The types of bonuses available.
- The different methods of claiming bonuses.
- The importance of the terms and conditions.
- Ways to spot a profitable bonus.
- Tips to observe when using casino bonuses.
What is a Casino Bonus and Why Would I Want One?
Casino bonuses are great for both casinos and players alike. Casinos love them because they work as a marketing tool to attract new players to try their services. Meanwhile, players enjoy the boost to their bankroll, as well as an increased opportunity to win real money
When it comes to casino bonuses, they use bonus credits, which work a lot like regular cash at the casino, with one major caveat – you can’t withdraw these credits. Instead, players must bet the bonus cash a set number of times in accordance with the terms and conditions. This is known as a wagering or playthrough requirement.
The process of wagering makes it much less likely that a player will actually profit from a casino bonus. That said, many bonuses do increase the likelihood of a player winning, even if it’s by a small amount. They’re by no means a free meal ticket but if you were going to be gambling anyway, you might as well be doing it with a bonus!
Types of Bonuses
There are a few different types of bonuses that casinos will offer to players. Although there are slight differences between them, they all function in largely the same way. Once you understand how to use one type of promotion, you should find that the knowledge transfers easily enough to others.
Welcome bonuses are the first bonus a casino will offer to players. They are sometimes referred to as signup, new player, or first deposit bonuses.
Although welcome bonuses are unique in that casinos will only award them to new players, they will largely fall into the same categories as other promotions offered by iGaming venues.
No Deposit Bonuses
Often, as a lure to get new players to register at a casino, no deposit bonuses as the name suggests, do not require the player to use any of their own money to claim them. All new players registering for an account (who satisfy the other terms and conditions) will be eligible for this risk-free shot at winning.
Just register to a casino offering such a promotion, ensure you satisfy the rules of the bonus, and take your promotional spins or cash on whichever eligible games you like. You’ll find that the terms and conditions make profiting from such offers all but impossible. However, given that these bonuses are entirely free and only require registration, you might as well give them a go. Whilst the probability of profiting from a specific no deposit bonus is low, if you try a bunch of them, you’re far more likely to spike that win eventually!
Casinos will often award free spins that require no deposit to activate. Players can use these on a designated slot or small group of slots.
It’s important to note that all winnings from any free spins will be credited as bonus cash. This will be subject to wagering requirements (more on this later).
No deposit free spins are great because:
- Players get a free shot to win cash.
- Players can try new games without risking their own money.
- They’re available from many different upcoming casinos. Players can try out new operators risk-free.
The drawbacks of no deposit free spins are:
- Limited to one game or a small group of them.
- Can’t use spins themselves on table games.
- Bonus amounts are usually very small – you might get just five or ten 25p free spins, for example.
Similar to free spins is no deposit bonus cash. Casinos offering this promotion will gift new players with bonus cash to play their games. Just like with other bonus cash, this will be subject to its own wagering requirements.
A potential difference between free spins and bonus cash relates to these playthrough requirements. It’s vital to note whether the wagering requirements demand that players rollover the bonus amount, the winnings from the promotional funds, or both. This can make hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds worth of difference to the overall playthrough requirement.
Unlike free spins, bonus cash will not be restricted to one or a group of games. Instead, players can take their promotional funds to any number of titles. However, contributions to the wagering will vary depending on the average return-to-player rating of the game being played. Our no deposit bonus page is packed with manhy free offers.
No deposit bonus credits are great because:
- Players can win real money with no risk.
- Players can play a much wider variety of games than they would with free spins.
- They’re available from a lot of different iGaming operators. The more you use, the greater the chance of winning.
The disadvantages of no deposit bonus credits include:
- Usually very small – you might get 5 or 10 free spins or £5 free play, for example.
- Tough wagering requirements make chances of profiting very slim.
Deposit Match Bonuses
Deposit match bonuses require the player to make a deposit to trigger the bonus. It’s more common for deposit bonuses to consist of bonus credits only (the casino matches the player’s deposit with 25, 50, 100, or 200% of its own funds). However, casinos might also give some free spins away either as part of a deposit bonus or in the place of bonus cash.
The bonus cash awarded as part of a deposit bonus will have wagering requirements associated with it, as well as other terms and conditions about its use (more on this later). Players will be able to use it to play any games at the casino, although some games will contribute differently towards the wagering requirements.
Deposit bonuses are great because:
- Usually larger than no deposit bonuses.
- Can offer positive expected value (more likely to win than lose).
Disadvantages of deposit bonuses include:
- Not entirely risk free.
- Requires a deposit to test the casino software.
- Can still have harsh wagering requirements.
The holy grail of the casino bonus is the cashback bonus. These are incredibly rare but are essentially a gift of entirely free money from the casino to players. Being real money, rather than bonus cash, there will be no wagering requirements associated with a cashback bonus.
How Do I Claim a Casino Bonus?
It’s really not at all difficult to claim a casino bonus. The steps you need to take will depend on the casino itself, as well as the kind of offer they’re promoting. Players will find guidelines specific to the promotion itself within the terms and conditions. However, absolute novices can get a general idea from the following steps.
In this example, we’ll assume that the offer being claimed is a first deposit bonus. Therefore, players will first need to register with the casino and make a qualifying deposit.
- Browse around for a particularly juicy looking bonus.
- Click the link to the casino offering the promotion.
- Consult the terms and conditions of the offer. Make sure you understand the wagering requirements and exactly how to claim the bonus before you start the signup process.
- Click the link to “Register” with the casino.
- Fill in your personal information and click “Submit”.
- Verify your email address by visiting your inbox and following the link within it back to the casino.
- Sign in to your new account and make a deposit via the “Cashier” section.
Note on Claiming a Bonus
At some point during the above steps, some casinos might demand players satisfy some additional requirement to trigger a bonus.
We’ve detailed the most common below:
- Automatic – The bonus will just appear in the account following signup with a no deposit bonus or a deposit when using a matched deposit casino bonus.
- Bonus code – Some casinos will require players use a bonus code to trigger the promotion. This will be detailed in the terms and conditions. The most common points for the casino to ask for a bonus code is when new players enter their details as part of registration or when they’re making their first deposit.
- Customer support – Some casinos ask that players contact customer support to register interest in a bonus. This could involve emailing the support team or talking to the Live Chat agents at the site.
- Select from a list of available bonuses – Some casinos run different promotions at the same time. After registering and making a deposit, you might need to select a casino bonus from a short list somewhere in the promotions section of the casino.
Importance of Understanding the Terms and Conditions
It’s not just the requirement of a bonus code or not found in the terms and conditions. Players will discover by far the most important details of any casino bonus within the document. It’s very important that they read and fully understand these terms before starting the registration process.
The terms and conditions will detail all the rules associated with a specific offer. These will include details like which deposit methods you can use to claim a bonus, how long the promotional cash will be valid for, and details of the wagering associated with the offer.
We really stress the terms and conditions so heavily because any breach of them will almost certainly result in the bonus either not being credited in the first place or the player forfeiting their promotional funds/free spins.
The terms and conditions also define the profitability of a promotion.
We explain some of the more common rules associated with casino promotions below:
- Rollover requirement: The number of times a player needs to bet either the deposit, bonus, or winnings from a bonus before they can withdraw bonus funds.
- Bonus period: The length of time a player is given to complete wagering requirements.
- Eligible games: Which games contribute towards wagering requirements and how much. High return-to-player slots and games like blackjack might be restricted entirely or heavily limited in contributions.
- Restricted deposit methods: Some casinos will exclude players using certain deposit methods from claiming a bonus.
- Details of claiming the bonus: If players need to use a deposit code or some other method of triggering a bonus, it will be detailed here.
- Cash out limit: Sometimes the amount a player can win on a promotion is limited. Players will forfeit any funds over over this amount when they complete wagering.
Am I More Likely to Win Using a Casino Bonus?
Whether or not you’re likely to win using a casino bonus depends entirely on its terms and conditions. No two bonuses are identical and there can be quite a difference in the overall expected value of two similar looking promotions.
Take this rather extreme example. Casino A offers a 100% deposit bonus up to £10 that players can use to play literally any game in the casino. The bonus needs wagering only once before funds will turn into real cash. A player who plays perfect strategy blackjack with £1 bets is very likely to come out in profit from such a generous offer.
Now take the same promotion but exclude any game with a return-to-player rating of 90% or more. Also, instead of requiring just a single playthrough of the bonus, this casino wants players to bet the £20 a total of 500 times. After betting £10,000 from just a £10 roll, even at the lowest spin possible, the player is all but certain to bust out prior to the completing of wagering.
Casinos don’t make it easy to profit from their bonus offers. However, it is possible and, with favourable wagering requirements and high value eligible games, it gets more likely. Finally, some casino bonuses will actually be positive expected value – provided you play the right game with the right stakes.
Tips for Newcomers Using Casino Bonuses
Below, you’ll find some handy advice for new players using casino bonuses for the first time. If you stick with our tips, you’ll be much more likely to enjoy using casino bonuses, never encounter any surprises, and even increase your total expected value.
- Read all the terms and conditions thoroughly before you claim a bonus. If you break one of the terms, you can void the offer for yourself before you even receive promotional funds.
- Pay attention to wagering requirements. You want low playthrough requirements and high RTP rated games eligible for wagering.
- Pay attention to any time limitations. You don’t want to be forced to complete lots of wagering in a very small amount of time.
- No deposit bonuses are entirely risk free – use lots of them!
- Never try to cash out before completing wagering. You can sometimes forfeit your winnings.
- Avoid games that do not contribute to wagering, you’ll just increase the amount you need to bet if you do win!
Why Casino Bonuses Are Great
Even though they’re certainly not a free meal ticket, casino bonuses are still great! They increase the entertainment value provided by the casino by allowing players to place many more bets, they give a genuine (although small) chance to win, and players can test games or casino operators that they might have overlooked previously.
It’s obviously important to really know what you’re signing up to though. The biggest piece of advice we can impart on your with regards the casino bonus is to always thoroughly read all terms and conditions. This will help avoid any nasty surprises in the form of wagering or cash out restrictions later on. Good luck out there!