How We Rate Casino Bonuses
When it comes to casino bonuses, the devil is usually in the details. When we rate a new player bonus offer there are several important criteria we take into account:
Bonus amount. This is usually the easiest question to answer, mainly because it’s what the casino want you to focus on. What is the maximum bonus amount you can get when you make your first deposit? Without taking anything else into consideration, the higher the amount, the better. This can be anywhere from £50 to £1,000, with £100-£200 being about average.
Percentage match. This is the other big number, at least as far as the casino marketing departments are concerned. This refers to what percentage of your deposit will be matched with bonus money. Again, the higher the better. A ‘100% up to £100’ bonus will require you to deposit £100 to get the full bonus amount of £100. A ‘200% up to £100’ bonus only requires a £50 deposit to claim the full £100 bonus.
Wagering requirements. Sometimes referred to as a playthrough requirement, this sets out the number of times you have to wager the bonus amount in order to be able to withdraw it as cash. Wagering terms used to be more generous, but these days the average has drifted out towards 40x with some casinos requireing evenx50. That means if the bonus amount you receive is £50 and the wagering requirement is 35x that you’ll have to wager 35 x £50, or £1,750, before you would be able to withdraw it as cash.
Another important question is whether the wagering requirement applies to your deposit as well as the bonus amount? Again, a short sentence buried in the T&Cs can make a big difference to the viability of a bonus offer.
Game limitations. Every casino we’ve reviewed places restrictions on which games contribute to the wagering requirement, or what percentage money wagered on those games contributes towards the overall playthrough requirement. This is usually based on the volatility of the games. For that reason, slot games generally contribute 100%, while games like blackjack, where you can place bets that minimize volatility, can contribute as little as 10% towards play-through requirements. That means, if we took the example set out above, if you were playing only blackjack you would have to wager £1,750 x 10, or £17,500.
Restrictive terms and conditions. Wagering requirements and game limitations are the two big ones, but there are other things to look out for in the bonus T&Cs that can also impact the quality of a bonus. Time limitations for wagering is one common one – if this is too short a period, a high play-through requirement is likely to be unviable. You might also see a restriction on the maximum bet you can place at any one time, again making the wagering requirement difficult to meet. Another player un-friendly term to look out for is the voiding of wagering on low odd bets e.g. betting on black/red on online blackjack.
Bonus variety and flexibility. The best casino bonus for one person might not work for another. We look for casino bonuses that are flexible enough to work for occasional players and high rollers, or casinos that offer multiple bonuses to meet different players’ needs.
Different Types of Casino Bonuses for New Customers
The main focus of this article has been welcome deposit bonuses – the bonus casinos offer to tempt new players to the casinos. These are the main bonuses that casinos offer, but there are other types of bonus promotions that casinos offer – both for new and existing customers:
No Deposit Casino Bonuses
The no-deposit bonus is one of the oldest and most commonly offered casino bonuses. These are usually fairly small in size, say £5 or £10, and they’re issued to any new customer who registers an account with the casino. The bonus money can usually be used to play a variety of casino games but you’ll only get to cash out your winnings after wagering this money many times over. What’s more, there’s always a limitation to how much you can withdraw from your no deposit bonus winnings, and this is usually not much more than £100. If you win a major jackpot however, the casinos will almost always pay those winnings out.
Multi-Stage Welcome Bonuses
Some casinos offer more than just one deposit bonus. Often you will see that your first two, three or even several deposits will be matched to some degree. For instance, you might receive a 100% match on your first deposit, a 50% match on the second deposit and a 200% match on the third deposit. The multi-stage bonus also comes with play-through requirements and represents a casino’s best way to get you to make multiple deposits. That doesn’t mean that they can’t represent good value, as long as you plan well and make sure not to pick a bonus that is too onerous in its wagering requirements.
Free Spin Bonuses
Some casinos tend to only give their players free slots spins instead of bonus cash. This is done to emphasize the importance of video slots as opposed to other casino games. Such casinos are often known as free spins casinos.
Other casinos give free spins as an additional part of their welcome bonuses, one example being Hippodrome which offers a standard 100% up to £250 deposit bonus together with 65 free spins. Alternatively casino will give out free spins separately on later dates in order to get inactive players to play again. Free spins often come with restrictions preventing you from using them on any game you like, and any winnings you make are almost always subject to play-through requirements similar to the play-through on a match deposit bonus.
The idea of comp points is one taken from live brick-and-mortar casinos. Every time you wager a penny, a certain number of comp points are awarded to you. Comp points can later be used to purchase bonuses, cash or promotional items in the casino store. They are a great way of getting a little something back for all the time you have invested, win or lose.
Some casinos offer slightly different welcome bonuses. Instead of just receiving a match on the amount deposited, players who end up losing that initial deposit receive a certain part of it back as cashback. This kind of bonus is meant to award those players who end up being unlucky on their first attempt at the casino, while other players will have no restrictions on their withdrawals that they would have with a match bonus.
Casino Bonuses for Existing Players
Of course, casinos are not only interested in new customers and this is why they will often issue reload bonuses to existing customers. While some reloads apply to all existing players, others may only be given to certain players, for instance those who have not deposited in a while.
Reload bonuses often come with really difficult wagering requirements, and while there are times it’s a good idea to take them, you should make sure to read the fine print on these every time before accepting them.
Refer-A-Friend bonuses are a relatively inexpensive player acquisition strategy, promising a small cash reward for every one of your friends that you bring to the casino. You’ll usually receive £25-£50 when your friend makes his first deposit into the casino account. For instance Casino.com offers a £50 bonus if you refer a player to them. Again, this bonus comes with play-through requirements like any other.
You can usually refer your friends by sending them dedicated links or by asking them to enter your username when prompted during the signup process.
Casinos also reward players via loyalty programs and VIP clubs. VIP These are usually reserved for higher stakes players who accumulate lots of comp points and tend to wager lots of money over the course of time. Achieving higher VIP levels in the VIP club will unlock privileges such as participation in special draws, access to dedicated account managers, further bonuses, bigger cash-outs, access to high stakes tables, free vacations and other perks.
How to Choose the Right Casino Bonus
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all bonus. Which is best for you will depend on how much money you want to deposit, how often you play, and so on. Here are some key questions to get you started:
Do you want to make a single deposit? If you don’t plan on making multiple deposits, then it makes sense to choose a high-percentage match sign up bonus that’s tied completely to the first deposit, rather than a multi-stage bonus.
Do you have a favourite type of game? Casinos often limit how much each type of game contributes towards bonus wagering requirements. Not a problem if you mainly play slots, which generally have a 100% contribution, but there are usually tougher restrictions on games like blackjack, which can contribute from 20% to sometimes 0% of the play-through
Do you play often? If you’re only an occasional player, make sure that the bonus you choose gives you a reasonable time limit to complete the wagering requirements. A generous bonus that only gives you a short time frame to meet those requirements should be avoided.
Are you a high roller? We know how tempting those £1,000 bonus offers can look, but if you’re just a ‘play for fun’ type it’s unlikely you’ll be able to meet the wagering requirements to release the bonus. It makes more sense to go for a lower bonus amount with a high percentage match and fair wagering requirements.
The one thing you can bet on is that no matter which online casino you choose to play, there will be plenty of bonuses and promotions on offer. It is up to you to decide which type of bonus you prefer.If we could offer just one piece of advice it would be to read the fine print carefully, as this is likely the best trick to actually understanding which bonus carries the most actual monetary value.
Good advice can’t hurt either, so on this page you’ll find our automatically updated list of the casinos that we think currently have the best bonus offers, based on the value they offer and the fairness of their terms and conditions.
However, there can be some restrictive bonus terms, and depending on the offer, this can affect how worthwhile the bonus turns out to be in practice. The best casino bonuses are those with the lowest wagering requirements and the most generous maximum win caps - check out the terms and conditions before you decide to sign up based on a welcome offer.
If you’re 100% sure that you don't want the bonus then the best way forward is to contact customer support, ideally by live chat and ask them not to apply the bonus to your account
These vary significantly from casino to casino, so again, always look out for the wagering requirements when weighing up whether to accept a bonus offer.
On the flip side, other games tend to contribute at a lower percentage to your wagering requirements than slots, which are usually 100% contribution games. Plus there’s also the chance you can land a jackpot win with a slot which might make free spins the better choice.
Both are good types of bonuses to take advantage of, and depending on the terms and conditions, both can be lucrative in their own right.
Casino bonus credit is usually indicated in a separate balance within your casino account so you can keep track, and it's the winnings that you can ultimately withdraw (subject to any maximum win clauses in the bonus terms) once you’ve met all the other qualifying conditions.
However, it’s worth looking out for any quoted bonus codes in any bonus ads or graphics you come across - if a code is needed, you’ll almost always find it provided here.