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What are free bets?
It really is as simple as it sounds! A free bet is when betting sites UK offer you the chance to place a wager on a sports game, match or event for free. This means that you can potentially win real cash, without spending a penny of your own money. Pretty sweet right? Well, yes and no.
It’s important to remember that with any type of bookmakers’ bonus, there will be T&Cs attached. Not to mention, you may be limited to which events in the bookies’ sportsbook you’re allowed to place your free bet on.
With that in mind, we’re going to unpackage this type of bonus for you, so that you can see both the pros and the cons of this fun and exciting offer.
Why bookmakers have free bet offers
The online betting industry is a tough place, with new companies going up against established sites that have been in the game for years. And all of them want your business. So, to entice you in, they have to come up with exciting and attractive offers. And what could be better than placing a bet without spending a penny?
Freebets appeal to just about everyone. They are simple, fun and effective. For example, if you like football betting sites, then snapping up a bet to place on the next Champions League match is going to tickle your fancy!
And these types of bets are just one of the generous offers put out by the best online betting sites, in order to get you to play on them.
Are they really free?
Well, yes and no. Free bets are a type of bonus, so most of the time you’ll need to ‘unlock’ this offer by making a deposit first. So, while the bonus you’re given is indeed a free bet, you won’t get your hands on it without paying into the bookies first.
That being said, the amount you need to deposit could be very low (e.g. £10), so bookies aren’t asking the world in order for you to snap up this deal; just a small cash amount.
Some bookies do offer a free bet without the need for you to deposit with them, but these are considered very hot deals that don’t pop up too often. Plus, the bet you’re offered will probably come with a lot of restrictions attached, like only being allowed to place it on a specific event. And the amount of the wager will be very low.
To summarise; while free bets do exist, you can expect to have to make a deposit first in order to get your hands on one.
Different types of free bet offers
You’ll find a variety of free bet bonuses at different bookmaking sites. Both new betting sites, and more established ones, offer these bonuses to their new and existing customers.
So let’s take a look at them, and how they differ, in a little more detail.
Promotions for new customers
Being a new customer at a bet site means having access to the most generous bonus offers. And with a free bet, you have the chance to place a wager on hundreds of games, matches and other events in the bookies’ sportsbook for nothing.
No deposit free bets
You might be offered a free bet no deposit, which is where you’ll be given a bet for free without having to make a deposit with the bookmaker. This is a favourite among gamblers, as there’s no risk on your part whatsoever. If you win, fantastic! And if you lose, you haven’t spent anything anyway.
However, these free bet no deposit will come with some T&Cs and restrictions. Firstly, you can expect to see a time limit on the bet, so you’ll have to use it within the time frame given. Secondly, you will probably only be offered specific matches, games or races to bet on. As well as events with odds over a certain amount. Finally, the original stake is also discounted from any winnings.
With all these things to keep in mind, it’s important that you read and understand all the terms before signing up.
Deposit bonus free bets
The other type of popular offer is one where you have to make a deposit in order to trigger the bonus. Most bookies will require between £5 and £20 to unlock these promos; so there is some financial risk on your part. That being said, these offers tend to be more generous than their no deposit free bet counterparts. And you could double your bankroll with a good deposit bonus.
Match deposit bonuses
Deposit bonuses are usually done as a percentage, and called ‘matched deposit bonuses’. This is when you could be given 100%, or more, on top of your stake. For example, if you deposit £10, the bookies will match that with a further £10. So now you have £20 to play with. But, if you deposit £100, you’ll get £200. So this bonus is better for bettors who like to wager big amounts.
However, these types of bonuses come with some pretty hefty T&Cs attached, like wagering requirements and odds limits. So, always read the terms before taking on a deposit bonus.
Promotions for existing customers
It’s a common misconception that bonuses are only offered to new customers. And, while new punters are offered a greater variety of welcome packages, there are plenty of betting offers for existing customers too. Let’s take a look.
Existing customers can expect to be rewarded for their loyalty. It’s in the bookies’ interest to keep you coming back for more. So the best sites around will have a great loyalty program for their returning clients.
These programs will offer sporadic bonuses, like bets for free and others promos. So always check a site’s loyalty program, to see how you could be rewarded for your continued custom.
This is where you will be rewarded for making another deposit with the bookmakers. Reloading refers to loading up your balance again. So you may be offered another deposit bonus by paying into the bookies for a second or third time. If the bookmakers is also part of a casino group, you might find you’re given free spins to use on slots games on their sister site.
Nobody likes to lose! And some of the best sites around will offer their customers consolation prizes, to soften the blow. Obviously, these don’t apply to every match or race. However, things like ‘justice payments’ mean that you could receive a bet for free, in the event that something unexpected happens and you lose your bet. For example, maybe your horse doesn’t even make it off the starting point. Or your next match gets interrupted by a streaker!
Important terms and conditions explained
As we’ve seen, free bets UK are a great way to boost your betting balance and give yourself a chance to win big, without huge financial risk. However, all of these bonus offers are subject to some lengthy terms and conditions. And it’s important that you understand them, if you want to get the most out of your bonuses.
So, let’s break down these T&Cs and see what they’re all about.
Minimum deposit to qualify
This one is pretty straightforward. In order to ‘unlock’ or ‘trigger’ a bonus, you are sometimes required to make a minimum deposit.
It goes without saying that this condition doesn’t affect no deposit bonuses. But, in the case of a deposit bonus, it refers to the amount of money you’ll need to pay into your balance before you can access your bonus.
The minimum deposit amount will be clearly displayed in the T&Cs, so make sure you know what it is. Otherwise, you won’t be able to unlock any bonus cash or bets for free.
Another requirement that you must adhere to is the expiration date on your offer. In the case of freebet bonuses, these will have a specific window of time that you need to use your bet by. This could be up to 30 days from the time you’re given the bet. But this time frame will differ from site to site, so you must make sure you’re aware of when your bet will expire.
It’s easy to calculate when your offer will end, as the expiration date will be clearly displayed in the T&Cs.
Odds limits usually refer to minimum odds and they stipulate the type of bet you must place in order to qualify for the bonus.
Your first bet will usually need to be one with odds of a minimum of 1.5, for example, to ensure that you are at least taking a small gamble. It is, afterall, the name of the game and you’ve got to show that you’re willing to take a bit of a punt with your playing money.
Another condition that you might not have considered is the cashout limit. They call this a ‘maximum payout’ and refers to the amount you can withdraw in winnings. Most bookies will also have a bet limit, to insure against seasoned pros placing giants bets on sure things, and effectively cleaning out the bookmaker.
Both bet and cashout limits follow the same rules. By combining the odds and maximum stake (bet limit), they will come up with a maximum amount that you will be able to withdraw. This amount won’t affect casual gamblers who only bet and win a few quid here and there. But, if you were to bet on a horse that had terrible odds, and it somehow came good, then you might be shocked to find that your winnings exceed the maximum cashout amount, and are therefore capped.
Cashout limits vary from site to site, so it’s important to find this amount and remember it!
Betting websites that offer deposit bonuses and deposit bonus bets for free will often have wagering requirements attached to their offer. This is where you have to bet your stake a number of times over, before you can claim any winnings.
Some bonuses will clearly state that they have no wagering rules. And others, like a no deposit free bets, also don’t usually have wagering requirements either. However, where you’ll almost certainly find them is with a deposit bonus.
These bonuses are more generous, and so they come with heavy T&Cs attached. You might have to bet your stake once or twice over, in order to convert your bonus cash to winnings. But some sites will require you to bet through more than 10 times.
We recommend avoiding deals with huge wagering requirements attached as, for a lot of bettors, these amounts are simply unrealistic and unattainable.
You should always be on the lookout for other terms that applies to bonuses. Things to watch out for include:
Some payment platforms, including e-wallets like Skrill and Neteller, are not eligible for bonus offers at some sites. You may have to pay with a debit card or your internet banking to unlock bonus offers. Something to consider if you usually use a digital wallet to deposit at online bookies.
Know Your Customer
Also known as KYC, Know Your Customer are the protocols put in place by licensed bookmakers to ensure that you are who you say you are. While these processes are necessary and a legal requirement, they can be long and tedious.
You will have to submit documents like your passport, proof of address and proof of deposit to the site. Some bookies require even more paperwork, so always check what KYC rules each site has in place. Be aware that, if you don’t fully comply with KYC rules, you won’t be able to touch any of your winnings.
Exclusions on certain sports and games
Some bonus offers, including bets for free, will only apply to specific matches or events. For example, a bet that you pick up for free might only apply to the Grand National horse race. So you won’t be able to use it on your favourite football team’s next match.
The bookies will clearly display any restrictions in the T&Cs. So, if you want to use your bet for something specific, make sure it’s on the list of applicable events.
How to pick the best free bets
Bonuses may vary slightly from site to site and it’s up to you to decide which one works best for you. Some punters prefer top betting sites with huge free bets, and accept the inevitable wagering requirements. While others want something smaller and more straightforward such as free bets no deposit, for example.
✅ Choose a reliable UK betting site
Whatever your favourite type of bonus may be, you always need to choose a safe and reliable place to play.
Large betting offers at offshore sites are tempting to say the least, but have they got the necessary UKGC licence in place? This is a legal requirement when accepting a bet from a customer who lives in the UK.
Also, you may want to do a little digging online. Get a feel for how well the brand treats its customers and what their experience was like.
✅ Read the small print
Freebet offers come in different shapes and sizes and so, therefore, read the T&Cs. You might take one look at the small print and think it’s a little overwhelming. However, you should ignore this at your own risk.
The fine details are there to tell you how the promo works. Make sure you have this straight before reaching for your debit card.
✅ Things to consider
Here’s what our experts say you should think about when looking at an offer:
- Do you have to part with any cash to get the bonus?
- Will you have to make any bets with your deposit money first?
- Is there a time limit for claiming a free bet?
- Are there any wagering requirements?
- Does the bookie restrict the bet to one event?
Pros and cons of free bets
As we’ve seen, all of these fantastic offers will come with a certain amount of restrictions. But it usually depends on how big the bonus is. More money, more problems!
But you shouldn’t let the caveats put you off. The key here is to understand the promos. Spend a little time getting your head around them and you’ll have a far more enjoyable experience.
Here’s a little ‘nutshell’ guide to what’s good and what’s not so good to help you with your research.
There are plenty of motives for going ahead and accepting those freebet deals. Here are just a few of the reasons why we always love to get our hands on these types of deals.
Free bets give you extra money to bet with
The most obvious reason to play with free wagers is that you can score a ton of extra money to play with. This means that you can bet on games that you wouldn’t normally consider. Most of the bets we place are due to some instinct we have based on a little prior knowledge. But when it isn’t affecting your bankroll, then you can try out different things and just see what happens.
Many online bookmakers offer them
There are loads of these promos up for grabs. It isn’t hard to land a deal like this so it’s super accessible to everybody. And the great thing is that the operators all want to outdo each other. The one-upmanship can produce tidy results for the punters.
You can increase the odds of winning
And having spare bets to place means that you can have a regular bet and cover your back at the same time. Placing wagers on some of the other potential outcomes can save you from potential losses.
And in the interest of remaining neutral, here are a few reasons why these deals may not be your perfect choice.
Many terms and conditions to consider
T&Cs are often cited as the biggest downside to freebets. You can’t usually just place your bonus bet and walk off with the winnings. They need to be wagered and various other rules must be adhered to.
Usually restricted to one offer per sportsbook
Most of the time, you can only grab a deal like this once. After you have joined up with the site, you will no longer be eligible to take advantage of the same promo again.
Withdrawing your winnings from free bets
The reason we all love a little flutter is for the thrill of the sport and the chance of winning some money. So once you’ve placed your free bet and have won, what next? How do you get hold of the winnings?
The first thing to reiterate is that you need to make sure that you comply with any terms that come with the offer. Trying to cash out any bonus money too early may result in the bookie removing the bonus. It’s a standard rule and you need to keep it in mind.
Assuming that you have complied with any wagering requirements etc., it’s time to get that cash back in your pocket. So, you’ll need to have an adequate payment method set up.
In general, the method you use to make a deposit is the same method you use to cash out any winnings also. If you deposit by debit card, then you’ll withdraw by debit card as well.
However, some bets for free don’t require a deposit. To keep the process as smooth as possible, the bookmaker will ask for you to enter your bank or card details when you sign up. This ensures that any winnings will find their way back to you effortlessly when you request them.
Remember that a lot of UK sites won’t accept e-wallets as a payment option if you are collecting a bonus.
As we said, there is always an issue with collecting welcome deals if you use this product in the UK. However, they are top payment products that can get your cash moving extremely quickly. Moreover, they are super secure.
Signing up for an e-wallet is simple and only takes a few minutes. By having one of these accounts, you are able to move your money digitally to anywhere in the world. Funds can enter your wallet from your bank account or from anyone else that wants to send you them. It can cost a small amount to use this feature. But once the money is in there, you can use it to make a deposit at any sports bet site. And they will rarely charge you for this. Limits are pretty high and you can use them for withdrawals too.
The big guns of the debit card world have the industry pretty much sewn up when it comes to this type of payment. Whenever you see these products advertised, you can simply get out your debit card and make a payment. The money comes directly from your bank account. And it should hit your betting account instantly.
Withdrawals are possible and there aren’t usually any fees
Bank wire transfer
Bank transfers can take some time to take effect. And for that reason, they aren’t the favoured method. You can ask the bookie for their bank details and then send the money directly to them from your internet banking or in branch.
Expect your cash to take a few days to get moving.
Check out our payment guide for more information on the various types of deposit and withdrawals you can use at betting sites in the UK.
Combined sports/casino offers
Many bookies have their own casino sites too and they like to combine their deals across both platforms. Great news if you like to spice up your gambling!
It’s a fantastic deal for fans of both types of betting. Let’s take a look at a few of those extra casino-based deals that you can pick up.
Free spins no deposit are an awesome little gift that let you try out some slots with zero risk to your bankroll. They will often apply to a fixed number of games and the site will predetermine the size of the stake
As with the other types of bets, some deals will require you to wager any winnings a certain number of times.
If you pick up the spins as part of a deposit bonus, then you can expect to see more of them. No deposit free spins deals are almost always significantly lower.
Casino deposit bonus
A casino bonus that requires the player to part with some cash is always an eye-catcher. As we’ve seen, the amounts on offer are pretty attractive.
All you need to do is signup and opt-in to the deal if required, and then start playing with your bonus cash or spins.
It’s pretty straight forward but you should check the small print. Some deals require you to simply make a deposit while others will request that you spend that deposit before you see the bonus arrive.
Casino no deposit bonus
Bagging cash or spins without spending a penny is great. In general, to claim a no deposit casino bonus you only need to complete a registration form and that’s it. The bonus will usually arrive immediately.
Although you shouldn’t expect to see eye-watering amounts of cash up for grabs. You can typically find deals worth around £10 or 50 free spins, for example. Moreover, there is often a limit to the amount that you can win.
Our readers ask us a lot of free bet related questions. These are some of the most popular.