Bingo is hugely competitive for operators. They need players in order to make money and to keep their bingo games afloat, and they bid strongly for your business against other operators in the market. As part of that, they offer tantalizing amounts of money, expressed as free bonuses, to encourage players to sign up and use their service over the competition.
Bingo bonuses typically come in a variety of different formats. Depending on your style of play, you may find that one type suits you better than the others. Below, you’ll find a quick explainer for each of the most common varieties of bingo bonus, along with real world examples.
Deposit bonus. These account for the majority of the bonuses out there. They reward players with additional credit once they have created their new account and spent money on bingo tickets. It’s usually promoted the same way across the majority of sites.
Here’s an example from Coral Bingo: “Spend £5, Play with £30”. That means that if you spend £5 on game tickets, you’ll receive a bonus of £25, giving you a total of £30 to play with.
Other times you’ll see it expressed differently – as a percentage deposit match, something like “100% bonus up to £100”. It’s basically the same thing, although you might get more scope to decide how much you want to deposit with the latter offer.
Either way, these deposit bonuses can be used as essentially free credit for playing more bingo – perfect if you’re a fan and you’re looking to get a good runway before you start depositing further.
Some deposit bonuses, referred to as Sticky Bonuses, only allow you to withdraw winnings that derive from your bonus money, not the bonus itself. A Non-Sticky Bonus, on the other hand, allows the player to withdraw the full amount.
No-deposit bonus. Another type of bonus you’ll encounter, although they’re becoming much rarer. These are usually of a much smaller amount, but they are paid without the need to deposit. All you have to do is register for a free account with a qualifying bingo site, and you’ll start life with a small credit balance, reflecting your bonus. Again though like deposit bonuses you’re not getting free money, as you’ll need to play-through the bonus in order to withdraw any winnings.
Because of the slightly misleading nature of these bonuses regulators have been clamping down on these types of bonuses. None of our featured sites currently carries this type of offer, so we could be seeing the no-deposit bonus era coming to an end.
You might find variations on this theme, though, such as free-play period promos like the 888Ladies “Three Days of Free Bingo” offer. It gives new players a chance to play at a specific room for a limited period of time, and allows them to keep their winnings, subject to wagering requirements.
Free Spins Bonus. Nowadays these usually come as an addition to a deposit bonus, such as Glossy Bingo’s “Deposit 10, Play 40 + 100 Free Spins” offer. In this case the spins are limited to a single game, Bar Bar Black Sheep. Any money you win from slots free spins has to be wagered a certain number of times before it becomes withdrawable.
Refer-a-Friend Bonus. This type of offer is common among bingo sites, and it’s usually targeted at existing players rather than newbies. Paddy Power Bingo, for instance, offers its players £20 for every friend they recommend. These types of offer usually require the new player to meet a threshold deposit or spend before the referrer receives their money.
Reload Bonus. What happens when you’ve already claimed that juicy welcome bonus at the site you love? Well, you hope they offer you a nice, juicy reload bonus. Operators don’t tend to advertise these onsite, but if you’re an active member of a bingo site you can expect to hear about such offers via email.
While the structure may differ, the principle is the same. The bingo rooms are able to justify these bonuses because they need customers, and they know their customer acquisition cost so can afford to pay more overtly for new accounts. For players, these represent a great way to get some essentially free money for doing something they were intending to do anyway – simply for setting up their account and playing bingo online. It’s worth remembering that it’s still possible to win jackpots from your free bonuses, so this isn’t just a purely arbitrary bonus. It could well be worth a lot more to your bankroll, particularly if you’re lucky!
Before you start dreaming up ways to spend your free bonus cash, it’s important to take a close look at the terms and conditions attached. This isn’t equivalent to a bingo room handing you a wad of free cash, and it’s crucial to draw that distinction before you let the numbers cloud your judgement.
There are, of course, restrictions – otherwise, bingo rooms wouldn’t be able to stay afloat. There are very few businesses that can survive by giving away free money unchecked, and bingo isn’t one of them. There is always small print with bingo bonuses – getting the best deal is merely a case of comparing these different restrictions.
Wagering Requirements. There are always wagering requirements, which stipulate the number of times you need to play through your deposit and/or bonus cash before you can withdraw winnings.
In the case of the Coral Bingo bonus we mentioned earlier, a player is required to wager the bonus amount twice before they can withdraw their winnings. In the breakdown above you can see that the bonus amount in this case is £25, which would require a player to wager £50 to get their hands on their winnings.
888Ladies’ deposit bonus also carries a ‘2x’ wagering requirement, but this time it applies to both the deposit and the bonus. To make things even more confusing, this operator splits its bonus between a “bingo bonus” and a “games bonus”. The latter is for use only on slots and other casino games. In the case of 888Ladies, this part of the bonus comes with a 50x wagering requirement.
Time Limits. The last thing a bingo site wants is you taking your time to claim your bonus. They want you putting your own money at risk at their site for as long as possible. To encourage action and increase the difficulty of successfully claiming the bonus, sites usually place a time limit in which all wagering requirements must be met. At Heart Bingo, for instance, players have to meet the 4x wagering requirement on their £40 bonus (£160) within 30 days.
Wagering Order. Some sites, such as 888Ladies, require you to play with your real money before any bonus money can be used to purchase game tickets. This means you have to spend all of your money first before you can start on the wagering requirements, which obviously puts you at some disadvantage, especially if you have a time limit to meet.
Withdrawal Restrictions. Most operators will cancel your bonus if you wish to withdraw your own money (deposit or winnings) before you’ve completed the wagering requirements.
Game contribution restriction. These usually apply to bonuses for slots and other casino games. Not all types of game contribute fully to the wagering requirements. Slots usually do, but other games, like video poker, might only contribute 20% of every pound wagered towards the requirement. That means on a 50x wagering requirement you would have to actually wager 250x the bonus amount in order to be able to claim it.
As you can see, there are a lot of restrictions applied to the average bingo site bonus. It can lead to frustration, but these are simply there to protect the bingo rooms from abuse, and to prevent these bonuses from having an adverse impact on their business. You can still claim them, and they are not a scam, but they’re not free cash either, and you need to adhere to the terms of the bonus offer if you want everything to run smoothly.
The best way to understand what restrictions apply to your bonus is to read the terms and conditions before you sign up. The most common complaints bingo sites receive are from players who misunderstand the structure of their bonus terms. Don’t become another statistic – read the terms for yourself, so you have a clear understanding of what the bonus is and what it isn’t before signing up.
With that in mind, getting the very best bonus for you boils down to a simple three point plan:
Remember: Easier bonuses to claim are more valuable than bigger bonuses with tighter restrictions. It’s all about choosing the best bonuses to suit your situation. Here at PlayRight we think a lot about these things, mainly to prevent you from having to. On this page you’ll find our latest ranking of the best bonuses currently on offer from the bingo sites we consider the best.