With so many different types of online casino bonuses on offer these days, I thought it would be useful if I put together a complete guide with the good, the bad, and the ugly. Indeed, some bonuses out there may look like the cat’s pyjamas but once you try em’ on you’ll quickly realise that you’re wearing the Emperor’s new clothes in public.
Hopefully, this guide will prevent you from being caught with your pants down. Lord knows I have, and it wasn’t pretty. I can laugh about it now, but it sure wasn’t funny when I first understood how wagering requirements work.
In this guide I will discuss the pros and cons of each bonus and list a bunch of trusted online casinos where you can find them. I won’t start with the Big Kahuna. Not the fictional chain of Hawaiian-themed fast-food joints from Tarantino movies, but the GOAT of all bonuses – the Welcome Bonus!
I will start with something even better…
I’m on a mission to offer as many Exclusive Bonuses as humanly possible. These are all unique offers which you can only claimed from this site. Because they are all different, I won’t go into details here. To find out more details about these bonuses, go to the individual casino review where you’ll find all the information you need about each offer and how to claim them.
Think of this as a one-time only offer because if you don’t claim the Welcome Bonus with your first deposit, you won’t be able to later. This is the bonus that casinos dangle in front of your face in hope that you will register your account. Tons of players base their decision on signing up with a casino based on this initial proposal.
But there are things to consider beyond the amount of bonus money you can get which are far more important in my opinion. For starters, the more you get, the more you have to wager until the money is converted into real money and possible to withdraw.
This is what I look for in the terms and conditions before I register and claim the Welcome Bonus or any other deposit bonus for that matter:
As you can see, there are many things to consider before you sign up with an online casino just because the Welcome Bonus looks good at first glance. To be totally honest, you should never claim a Welcome Bonus and think that it will improve your chances of winning.
It’s a lot harder than it looks to beat wagering requirements of any online casino bonus. The nest thing to do is to use your Welcome Bonus to get acquainted with the casino, unless you’re allowed to play progressive jackpot slots with bonus money. Then ALWAYS GO FOR THE BIG WIN!
Only the top dogs can afford to offer a Welcome Bonus of 200% on three figures or higher on your first deposit. And if they throw in other goodies like Free Spins, even better. Still, don’t forget to check off the list above before you take this bonus. There might be cause for concern.
I’ve seen one casino that offers a 200% Welcome Bonus up to £50 with a wagering requirement of 50x on the bonus money, and a max win of 3x the received bonus amount. Apply what you know to look for above and then decide if this is a good, bad, or ugly offer. I should add that every withdrawal from this particular casino comes with a £2.5 fee… I will come back to this one later when I walk you through wagering requirements.
We are currently working hard to get the best 200% Welcome Bonus-casinos, so you can pick one that meets your other requirements from an online casino. Once this happens, we will list them here!
These days, the 100% up to X is pretty much industry standard. It’s often referred to as a match bonus since the casino will match your deposit 1:1 with bonus money. If you deposit €100, the casino will add €100 in bonus money and you’re good to go.
There will be strings attached, obviously, like wagering requirements and time constrictions. But you’ll find that this rings true for virtually all deposit bonuses.
A Welcome Bonus package is spread over several deposits, normally 3-5, and often includes Free Spins on a specific game or a narrow selection of slots. It usually looks something like this:
This is just an example and would be advertised as Welcome Bonus up to €1,000 + 100 Free Spins. That sure looks like a great deal, but here’s what you need to know:
With so much going on, it’s vital that you read all the terms before you sign on and start claiming these bonuses.
A no deposit bonus is often called registration bonus and it can vary greatly from casino to casino. It’s a little something-something you get simply for signing up with the casino. It can be anything from a small amount of bonus money to Free Spins.
Since this is a “free” gift, you shouldn’t get your hopes up too high when it comes to winning enough to retire early. I mean, you can still win something from a no deposit bonus, think of it as a nice gesture and a great way to get started in the casino.
Would you like to get rewarded for simply creating an online casino account? All of these casinos will give you something before you make a single deposit:
When you’re done with your Welcome Bonus, or even if you skipped it, an online casino may decide to “randomly” offer you a deposit bonus of sorts. I say randomly, but there’s no such thing when you’re signed up with a company as data driven as an online casino.
Most likely the casino is looking to offer you a deposit bonus because you’re a loyal customer (read: someone who deposits regularly and plays often), or because you haven’t played in a while and the casino is trying to re-activate you.
Either way, the offer will be sent to you via email as long as you’ve ticked the box that says you’re open to receive promo material. Your deposit, in this case, will be used to trigger a reward or opt you in on some kind of pay-back deal.
After you’ve signed up and been a player for a while, the casino might start showering you with bonuses. One of these will invariably be the reload bonus. It’s a deposit bonus where the percentages and amounts will change from time to time.
Make no mistake, this will come with wagering requirements, time constraints, and be subject to all other bonus terms and conditions applied by the casino. Make sure you read them before you accept a reload bonus, or any other bonus for that matter.
Hands down, this is the most popular bonus sought by players no matter what level they’re betting at. This is probably the easiest bonus to understand. If you’ve ever played a slot than you’ll know that most of them will have a free spins as a bonus feature, usually triggered by landing three or more scatter symbols.
Free Spins as a bonus are essentially a number of spins that you’re allowed to play without wagering your own money. You play each spin individually and the game works just as it normally does. With a bit of luck, you can trigger the bonus feature which will potentially increase your winnings.
There’s a catch, though. Well, a couple actually. First of all, there will probably be a wagering requirement on your winnings, and you won’t be able to withdraw until you’ve completed the playthrough. Secondly, your winnings will for sure be capped at a relatively low amount. Any winnings above the cap will be lost.
Lastly, when you play a slot you get to set the betting amount every spin. But when you’re playing Free Spins from the casino, each spin is played at the same wager. And to be honest, it will most likely be the lowest betting amount allowed by the slot.
Over the years, the term Free Spins has changed depending on the jurisdiction. There’s a chance that you may have seen it worded differently: Extra, Bonus, Super, Mega, etc. These are all Free Spins under different guises.
The main reason for the different monikers is largely due to legislation. It simply not allowed to call Free Spins “Free Spins” in the UK since they aren’t exactly free. That’s why they’re normally referred to as Extra Spins or Bonus Spins.
Other terms like Super- and Mega Spins are also Free Spins but the added coolness to this branding has to do with the value of each spin. While Free Spins are normally played at €0.10 per spin, Mega Spins could be played at €5 per spin.
Cashback from an online casino works pretty much like a loyalty scheme from a supermarket. The more you spend, the more you get back. But don’t ever think that the more you spend, the more you save. I don’t understand why anyone would ever believe in this logical fallacy. The more you spend, the more you spend. Period.
How Cashback works is very simple. The casino will return a specified percentage of your net losses after a specific time period to your player account. In some cases, the total amount that the casino will return could be capped.
Let me offer you an example of how Cashback is offered and then I’ll break it down to explain what it really means.
So, how can you get and claim Cashback offers? In many different ways. The offer in and of itself will always work in the same way when it comes to getting money back based on your net losses. How you get and claim the offer may vary.
There are three ways, as far as I know, that you can claim a Cashback offer:
The most important aspect of Cashback as an offer is whether or not the money returned is yours to withdraw or bonus money that you have to wager. Obviously, real cash is better than bonus money, always!
These are super rare so don’t count on getting these regularly or even ever. I just felt that I should include payment method bonus as a possibility because they do happen. Let’s say that a casino signs with an eWallet and in an effort to move players over to that payment method, they may run a promotion where you’ll get a deposit bonus if you make the switch.
Personally, I’m not desperate enough to sign up with a new payment method just for a bit of extra bonus money. Which will obviously come with terms and conditions. Not to mention that now I have a whole new payment method to remember to use.
Some casinos will run a drive when they are low on players where they offer their existing players to bring in new ones in returns for bonus offers. Still, the rules surrounding these refer-a-friend bonuses usually comes with so many rules that it’s most likely not worth the hassle.
Check this out. I’m not going to point fingers, but one casino with a refer-a-friend bonus that I found had these terms. I won’t copy paste them so I will explain them, and then you make up your mind.
The offer itself is a 100% deposit bonus up to €50 with a 35x wagering requirement on the bonus amount. Winnings from the bonus is capped at €150. So far so good. Now, here’s what needs to happen before you’re qualified to deposit and claim that bonus.
It’s just feels like a lot of requirements have to be met before you can deposit more money just to claim a bonus, which in itself will come with additional requirements. Personally, I’m too lazy…
But if you have some really great friends who won’t mind signing up with a casino, making a deposit, and claiming the Welcome Bonus, and you’re desperate for a deposit bonus…
All casinos treat their top players, those who play with bit bets and/or make frequent and large deposits, like royalty. These players often end up as VIPs and are enrolled in the casino’s loyalty program. All casinos do this, even those that don’t advertise this.
VIP/Loyalty programs all work the same. For every specific amount you wager you earn points, points which you can later trade in for different things, including withdrawable money. It’s a simple and straightforward system.
All bonuses in this guide are often available for points, with the difference that they’re a lot more favourable. For example, percentages on deposit bonuses and Cashback are higher while wagering requirements are lower.
Many casinos will include all their players in their loyalty program from their first bet with real money. Take advantage of this opportunity and spend your loyalty points wisely.
Competition breeds innovation and the risk free deposit bonus is definitely the result of casinos vying for new players. In my opinion, this is one of the most interesting offers available to casino players to date.
There’s of course a risk involved. Every deposit comes with the risk of losing it all, or does it? This is what I love about this bonus. It’s not an actual bonus. Think of it as a challenge where you either double up your money or get it back.
Here’s how it works. You make a deposit of a specified amount, usually €25 or lower, and if you lose any or all your money, it will be returned to you in full up to your initial deposit amount – without wagering requirements!
There are four terms you have to be aware of when it comes to risk free deposit bonuses:
I have a really hard time trying to figure out what’s negative about this offer. I’m usually pretty good at finding things in terms and conditions that I might disagree with. But this one, nothing. I thought I did, but then I realised that I was wrong.
This bonus is normally offered only on your first deposit as a Welcome Bonus. Let’s say that you claim this offer with a €25 deposit and lose your money. You wait up to 48 hours to get your money, and now there’s a chance that you still have to wager your deposit 1x.
At first I thought “ha, gotcha!” But then I realised that this has nothing to do with the offer. This is pretty much standard anti-money laundering regulations. No online casino will allow you to deposit money and withdraw it without playing at least some of it.
It’s just the world we live in…
These aren’t actually bonuses, but rather a description that differentiate how bonuses work. On the surface there’s no way to tell if a bonus is sticky or non-sticky. The only way to find out is to do a bit or reading. Yes, reading. Hey, if you’ve made it this far, what harm could a little more reading possibly do?
The “sticky” part refers to how your deposit money is connected with bonus money after you claim a bonus offer. For a change, the term sticky actually makes perfect sense and is rather self-explanatory as I will show, right now:
Practically, you should be looking in the terms for the line that explains what you’re wagering. If it says that you’re wagering deposit + bonus, then it’s a sticky bonus. If it says that wagering is only applied to the bonus money, you’re looking at a non-sticky bonus.
There is another thing you could look at, the offer itself. A sticky bonus is normally bigger than a non-sticky, which means that you’ll have more total money to play with, but with the boost in funds comes a hike in the wagering requirements.
Let me clarify with two examples of the same bonus offer as either sticky or non-sticky:
So why would anyone ever accept a sticky bonus? Looking at these two instances of the same bonus it’s pretty obvious that a sticky bonus is worse when it comes to the possibility of withdrawing your money. BUT, this is only true if all things are equal when it comes to the amount of bonus money that’s up for grabs.
What you’ll find is that sticky bonuses usually have a higher percentage, meaning that you risk less of your own money for a bigger total amount of money to play with when you get started in the online casino. This is actually a great way to get started if you’re a beginner and are trying to figure out which games you like to play.
Non-sticky bonuses are usually smaller because there’s always the chance of players winning and deciding to cash out. What it all comes down to is a very simple distribution of risk.
The more bonus money a casino is willing to offer, the more risk it takes on since bonus money comes out of the casinos account. It’s only natural that a casino would like to protect its investment with more stringent terms and conditions.
So what’s the investment the casino is making? Well, it’s in the casino’s interest that you return and make future deposits and offering a lot of bonus money is a good way of creating an image of a place where you want to play.
You might want to consider what type of player you are or want to become when you contemplate online casino bonuses. If you’re a casual player who just want to have a bit of fun with the added excitement of possibly winning money (this is in my opinion the healthy way of looking at gambling), then go ahead and claim bonuses that will increase the fun.
If you’re more interested in going for big wins without cumbersome wagering requirements, then you should perhaps stick to Cashback bonuses without wagering that doesn’t require deposits. Still, don’t ever lose sight of what really matters, and that is to have fun.
The moment you feel like you’re losing control and you feel like gambling has become more of a habit than some harmless entertainment, then you should first read up on responsible gambling and possibly self-exclude for an extended period of time.