The iGaming industry is flooded with attractive casino bonuses of all shapes and sizes. But how do you choose the best one? Check out our detailed guide to navigating this vast sea of casino promotions and finding the most lucrative and worthwhile bonuses of them all.
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Last Updated on 2 Jan 2021 by Boris Pelzer, Chief Casino Analyst
As a new player, you can claim a staggering amount of deposit bonuses – from your 1st to your 6th deposit!
Everything You Need to Know About Casino Bonuses
There are myriads of different types of casino bonuses out there, based on what they give you and what you need to do to claim them. So we’re here to help you determine what type of bonuses are best for you and where to find them.
Whether you are new to the world of online gambling or you’ve already been around for some time, you likely already know that casino bonuses offer a number of different perks. It’s no coincidence that the large banners on every casino site try to announce as loudly as possible about their ongoing promotions. It’s because everyone wants a piece of the pie!
And what better way to make your platform more attractive than the next one? So all the best online casino sites strive to offer the most value with their bonuses and promotions. And we’ll have a closer look at what they entail. But first, there are a few basic requirements that any bonus needs to meet in order to even be considered.
Casino License and Regulation
Before even acknowledging the promotional offers, the casino must first demonstrate at least one valid license issued by a respected gaming authority. This proves that the casino is authorized to provide gambling services, and players’ rights are therefore protected by the respective regulatory body.
Every casino bonus has certain wagering requirements, which need to be fulfilled by players in order for them to withdraw any winnings. These requirements can vary greatly from casino to casino, and even from one bonus to another. So it’s important that players are familiar with these before accepting any casino promotions.
Fair Bonus Terms
Bonus offers can seem very attractive on the outside, but unless they have fair terms – players can’t really benefit from them. So we carefully examine the terms and conditions of every bonus we list on our site to ensure that players can make the most of it to complement their gaming experience.
What Bonus Types Are There?
There is a wide range of different bonus types, each of which caters to different players, different gaming styles, and even different players status at the casino. So in order to understand what bonus to go for, it’s important to first know what the different types of bonuses are actually good for.
Deposit Match Bonus
Perhaps one of the most common types of promotional casino offers, these are basically any bonus that is given upon a deposit. Typically, the bonus amount is a certain percentage match of the deposit amount and can be anything from 20%, 50% to 100%, 200% and beyond. And depending on who the deposit bonus is aimed at, it can either be used as an incentive to encourage existing players to continue playing at the online casino or attract new customers.
Free Spins Bonus
Free spins bonuses are a type of bonus that is game-specific. Namely, free spins are intended for online slot games. And sometimes, depending on the bonus terms, the free spins may be given along with a welcome or deposit bonus or in any other combination to form a more attractive package deal. In addition, the free spins bonus may be intended for select titles, or it may be used for all slots without restriction.
No Deposit Bonus
Contrary to the deposit bonuses, no deposit bonus offers do not require players to deposit money in order to be eligible for the bonus. These are less common, but also quite attractive to players. And a great thing about no deposit offers is that they allow a risk-free opportunity to try out new games and possibly even a new gaming site is the bonus is aimed at new players.
Welcome bonus offers are usually the flagship promotion at any online casino. It’s always seemingly the most lucrative offer, and it is geared towards new customers as an incentive to register. Welcome bonuses can come in numerous forms, typically as a deposit bonus. But they can be entire package deals with free spins. And often they may extend to cover multiple of your first deposits at the online casino site.
No Wagering Bonus
These are an especially rare treat because such bonus offers are not burdened by the wager requirements that all other bonuses have. This means that any money you win with the help of such a bonus is yours to keep and is not subject to any wagering. The form of and eligibility for the bonus may vary greatly from casino to casino, ranging from cash and free spins to deposit bonuses or cashback.
A reload bonus is specifically aimed at existing casino players to encourage them to make a subsequent deposit. Reload bonuses are typically also match bonuses, although not necessarily. And as a rule, when they are match bonuses, they offer a lower match percentage than the more generous welcome bonus offers. As with most other promotions, reload bonuses are in most cases also subject to certain wager requirements, in order for any winnings to be cashed out.
Cashback bonuses are another type of casino promotion that is aimed at existing players at the online casino. The concept of cashback bonuses revolves around how much loss a player has accumulated at a given site. And based on that amount, the casino may reward you by “restoring” some of your losses in the form of a bonus, similarly to a refund. In these cases, it’s more common for there not to be any wager requirements.
Used as a means of expanding its client base, refer-a-friend bonus offers encourage recommending the online casino to your friends. And if your friend registers and perhaps even makes a deposit or fulfills the terms of the respective offer, then you are rewarded a bonus. Typically, you will need your friend to enter a bonus code or use a link sent by you to register, in order to be eligible for the bonus.
Loyalty bonuses are a great way to reward returning players and keep them interested in still staying at the casino. And gambling platforms can get very creative with these. If there’s a designated VIP or loyalty program, and depending on your status in it, the casino can give you cash bonuses, free spins, free chips, as well as real-life gifts and special event invitations. Naturally, the terms of any of these bonuses will depend on each particular case.
Deposit Bonuses VS No Deposit Bonuses
One of the main ways to distinguish bonuses is by whether or not they require a deposit from you. Deposit bonuses, as we already determined, are the more popular type and they have a variety of subtypes, such as welcome bonus or sign-up bonus promotions. But no deposit bonus offers tend to be more attractive because they don’t require you to invest any funds. Hence, these types of bonuses are significantly less common. However, they, too, have their disadvantages that may have your think twice before you accept them. Here’s a handy comparison of the two.
Deposit vs No Deposit Bonus
Requires a deposit
Lower wager requirements
Usually of larger value
No Deposit Bonuses
Don’t require a deposit
Higher wager requirements
Less common at online casinos
Usually of lower value
What’s in it for the Online Casinos?
It’s perfectly normal to be asking yourself how the online casino site benefits from giving away “free” money in the form of bonus offers. And here’s how it works. By giving out free bonuses, especially the generous and eye-catching welcome packages, casinos strive to attract players and keep them on their platforms. That is why it has also become such a popular practice for gaming sites to extend their welcome offers over the course of several days – to incentivize you to keep coming back consistently over a period of time. And then once you get into the flow of wagering the bonus, they hope you will like it enough to start making deposits and continue playing at the casino with your own money.
Bonus Terms & Conditions
All bonuses, regardless of their type and format, have certain terms and requirements. For instance, the most common one that all casino bonuses share is that the player claiming them must be of legal age (18 or over in most jurisdictions). But for each bonus, you need to check what requirements must be meant in order to be eligible for the respective promotion. And moreover, there are also requirements to be met for players to be able to withdraw any winnings from casino bonuses, hence why being aware of them is so important.
Most bonuses out there have specific wagering requirements that need to be fulfilled before you can withdraw any amount won with the help of the bonus. This means that you will need to stake the amount of the bonus a given number of times, often also within a limited period of time.
Payment Method Restrictions
Some bonus offers are designed to promote the use of a certain payment method. Hence, in order to be able to claim such a bonus, you will have to make a deposit via the specific method. And with that in mind, you may also be required to make withdrawals using the same payment method.
In the event that you want to claim a deposit bonus (be it part of the new player promotion or a reload offer), there will usually always be a minimum deposit amount required. Unless your deposit is at least equal to the necessary minimum, you will not be eligible for the desired promotion.
Some bonuses have win limits attached to them, and this is usually the case with no deposit offers. This means that you will only be able to win up to a certain amount using the bonus you’ve claimed. However, we tend to prefer casinos with very high or no win limits, so you won’t find restrictive bonuses here.
Many if not most casino bonus promotions are time-based in one way or another. This means that you will usually be given a certain fixed amount of time in which to fulfill the wagering requirements. Failing to do so within the allowed time frame usually results in the bonus funds being forfeited.
Very often some bonuses may be restricted to certain game types or even specific titles, which is especially common with free spins bonuses, for example. And in other cases, you may still be able to play all games, but not all of them will contribute to meeting the bonus wager requirements.
Wagering Requirements: What They Are and How to Clear Them
Wagering requirements exist for the casino to encourage players to actually use the bonus for gambling at the online casino site. And what’s in it for the players? Upon fulfilling the wager requirements of the bonus you’ve claimed, you will be free to withdraw any winnings you’ve accumulated with the help of said bonus.
Usually to incentivize players to gamble more and start using their bonus quickly after receiving it, gaming sites will also put a time limit on the bonus. And once the given timeframe expires, the bonus funds as well as any related winnings are typically forfeited.
But what does wagering actually mean? When reading the bonus terms, you will usually see something along the lines of “35x” or “40x” stated there. This shows you the amount of times you are required to stake the received bonus amount so as to meet the requirements. So if, for example, you received a bonus worth $20 and the terms and conditions say you need to wager it x30 or 30 times, the amount you will have to bet on casino games will be equal to $20 x 30 = $600.
Wagering Requirements Calculation Examples
Bonus offer: $20 no deposit sign up bonus
Bonus amount: $20
Wagering requirements: 50x
How to calculate: 50 x $20 = $1,000
In other words: In order to be free to withdraw any winnings, you will have to wager the bonus amount 50 times, which is the equivalent of betting $1,000.
Bonus + Deposit
Bonus offer: 100% match up to $200
Deposit amount: $40
Wagering requirements: 30x
How to calculate: 30 x ($40 + $40) = $2,400
In Other Words: In order to be free to withdraw your winnings, you will have to wager the bonus amount and the deposit 30 times, which is the equivalent of betting $2,400.
Bonus offer: 20 free spins
Wagering requirements: 40x
How to calculate: 40 x $35 = $1,400
In Other Words: In order to be free to withdraw your winnings, you will have to wager the total amount of your winnings 40 times, which is the equivalent of betting $1,400.
There’s also another reason why casinos have wagering requirements for their bonuses and it’s to prevent fraud. Yes, just as players can be victimized by online casinos, the casinos, too, can be cheated and fall victim to fraud committed by players. So wagering requirements also serve as a protection measure against such instances, as well as against possible money laundering.
So, now that we know why these requirements are in place, the more important thing is learning to work with them. Or in this case, we want to know how to calculate them so that we can decide whether it makes sense to claim this or that bonus. And there are three ways to do this, depending on the terms of the bonus and its type. The possibilities include having to wager the bonus alone, the bonus + the deposit, and then if you have free spins – those are calculated in a completely different way.
If you are unsure of how much you will need to stake in order to meet the requirements of a given bonus offer, feel free to use our bonus calculator to find out.
Free Bonus Money: 0.00
Total Play Money: 0.00
Wager Amount: 0.00
Game Contribution Percentages
Something to keep in mind when looking to fulfill the wagering requirements of an accepted bonus offer are the game types you’re going to play. Not all casino games will have an equal contribution towards the fulfillment of the requirements, and some may even have no contribution.
In other words, the amount of every bet you make in any given game can have a certain percentage of it counted towards meeting the wagering requirements. Depending on the game, that percentage can be anything from 0% to 100%. Obviously, if you want to complete the requirements faster, it would be wiser to play games with a higher contribution percentage.
How to Claim a Bonus
Aside from being of legal age and falling into the target audience of a given promotion, there are still a number of technicalities that you will want sorted out in order to take advantage of a given casino bonus. Hence, here is a very comprehensive set of steps to take in order to be able to claim your desired online casino bonus.
Register an account
Obviously, this step is meant for users interested in a casino’s welcome or sign-up offer, so to be eligible for it, you will need to create an account. Be sure to use a valid email address and enter all your real personal details, because these are essential for the next step. Also, some casinos often have demo play accounts, so if that’s the case, make sure you select a real money casino account.
Make a deposit
Assuming the promotional offer includes a deposit bonus that you want to claim, you will most likely need to make a deposit before the bonus can be credited to your balance. First choose your deposit method wisely, by making sure it is also available for withdrawals, as this is the same method you will have to request payouts to. Then make your deposit that is equal to or greater than the minimum deposit amount necessary to claim the bonus.
Verify your identity
In order to be eligible for withdrawals at any reputable online casino, players are required to pass what’s known as a KYC (know your customer) procedure. This involves sending your ID and POA (proof of address) documentation to the casino’s customer service department. Once the casino confirms that your account has been verified, you will be free to request withdrawals after you’ve fulfilled the bonus wagering requirements.
Read bonus terms carefully
It sounds like a no-brainer at this point, but players very often overlook certainly details in the fine print of different promotional offers. So double check that you haven’t missed any information and make sure you fully understand the conditions you will be agreeing to. Last but not least, be sure to also complete any added steps necessary to claim the bonus, such as typing in the specific bonus code for the promotion of interest.
Are Casino Bonuses Really Worth It?
Choosing whether a certain bonus is worth claiming or not is entirely up to each and every player to decide for themselves. At this point, we have done our best to provide enough details about how casino bonuses work, what different types of bonuses there are, how to claim them, for that decision to be an informed one.
But essentially your choice should be based on your personal style of gambling (how much you bet, how often, what games you enjoy, etc.). If the wagering requirements of a certain bonus seem unrealistic to you – they probably are. And in that case it would certainly not be worth claiming the particular bonus.
If, on the other hand, you feel like the terms are reasonable and you can realistically meet the wagering requirements within a certain amount of time – then certainly it’s worth a shot. Casino bonuses offer a great way to increase your bank roll and therefore potentially boost your winnings, as well.
There are numerous types of bonuses that cater to new players and returning players at a casino. Furthermore, bonuses are also distinguished based on whether they are offered upon a deposit or not, as well as the form in which they come.
Do all bonuses require you to make a deposit first?
No, there are a number of no deposit bonus types, as well. These can be offered to both new and existing players, such as cashback bonuses, loyalty bonuses, free spins bonuses, etc.
What are bonus wagering requirements?
Most bonuses have wagering requirements that mean players are expected to stake the bonus amount a specified number of times before they can withdraw any money won using bonus funds.
What are the best online casino bonuses?
Each player must decide for themselves what type of bonus is best for them personally. But to help you along the way, we’ve listed all the most attractive bonus offers from the world’s best online casino sites.
How do I know if I am eligible for a casino bonus?
Read the bonus terms and conditions and determine whether you fit them, and whether you are in the target audience of the promotion. E.g. if you have already been playing at a given casino for some time, you won’t be able to claim the current welcome bonus offer.
Can you use casino bonuses on all games?
Every bonus has its own rules as to what games it can be used on. And while you may be able to play certain games with the bonus funds, not all games will contribute equally towards the wager requirements. Usually, slots have the highest contribution, though, so have a look at our top slot game picks to use your next bonus on.
Boris Pelzer is our chief casino analyst. Beyond compliance and regulations lies a plethora of factors that determine the quality of the casino. He ensures the casinos we recommend are the perfect blend of those crucial factors and are capable of providing top entertainment.