On this page you’ll find a list of betting offers currently available from my recommended betting sites. All of the offers below are for new customers only and will come with terms and conditions – see the bookies site for full details.
If you’ve read pretty much any of the pages on my site before this one then you might well have noticed that the whole point of it is to help people get to know the best bookmakers in (cyber)town. I’ve reviewed them individually, had a look at which ones are best to bet on football, horse racing and other sports with, and looked at so much more than that besides. One of the big things that bookmakers do to try to entice people to use their services is have offers and promotions running on a regular basis. In fact, I’ve told you on the individual bookmaker’s page how good each of them are at doing just that. And then there’s the big guns that they pull out for new accounts, the introductory free bet.
It’s entirely understandable that some people may not even know what sort of thing I’m talking about. What is a free bet? How do they work? Can you use them more than once? Most importantly of all, are they even worth claiming? On this page I’ll attempt to answer some of those questions. Those of you that are particularly au fait with free bets and the like might like to use this as something of a refresher, whilst if you’re reasonably new to the world of betting then you’ll want to give it a good read so you know what to look out for.
How Do Free Bets Work?
Unsurprisingly, there is no easy answer to this particular question. The answer depends entirely on the free bet you’ve been offered. One thing that’s worth pointing out is that bookmakers aren’t secretive, they’re never trying to pull a fast one or trick you. Everything about the offer will be made as clear as possible in the terms and conditions and as long as you follow those then you’ll be able to take advantage of the various offers. I’ll do my best to explain things in general terms here, though, so you can at least bear these things in mind when you’re looking at the various promotions that are out there.
There are essentially two types of offers that you’ll find various bookmakers making: welcome offers and retention offers. These do pretty much what they say on the tin, with welcome offers aimed at bringing in the business of new customers and retention offers aimed at keeping hold of those customers that are already using a bookmaker’s services. I’ll tell you more about retention offers in the moment, starting instead with welcome offers.
Welcome offers can range from the likes of matched deposits through to risk free bets, via free bet tokens and even increased odds. How the mechanics of the bets work will differ with each company and each offer, but here are some things to look out for:
How Do You Claim?
Most of the time offers will be applied to your account automatically and there won’t be any issues as long as you’ve never had an account with that company before. There are some exceptions to this rule, however. Sometimes you’ll need to enter a code when you take up the offer, whilst on other occasions you may need to specifically cancel the bookie’s customer service department in order to get them to activate your offer.
Time To Claim or Redeem
There are often restrictions put in place to stop you opening an account to claim a welcome offer, forgetting about it and then turning around two years later and saying ‘I’ll take my free bet now’. Typically speaking you’ll be looking at a period of about two weeks from opening your account to needing to have placed your bet or claimed your free bet tokens.
Once you’ve claimed and placed the bet, you may then have a period of time in which you need to complete any rollover requirements. I explain those in more detail in a second, but it’s not uncommon for bookmakers to give you a period of another two weeks in which you need to turnover your winnings the required number of times.
Talking of timings, another thing to look out for is whether or not your bet needs to be settled within a certain time limit. You might be thinking of placing a bet on something that won’t be decided for a decent length of time, such as the next James Bond or who will win the next General Election. If that’s the case then you’ll need to have a look to see whether your bet needs to be both placed and settled within a given time frame like a month or so.
Do You Need To Place A Bet?
Sometimes bookmakers will be feeling generous and all you’ll need to do to take advantage of the offer is make a deposit. Most of the time, however, you’ll also need to place a bet with your initial deposit in order to trigger the free bet or promotion that’s on offer. There’ll likely be a minimum odds requirement on that bet, which I’ll explain in a minute, and you might lose it. A ‘Risk Free’ bet is a good one to look out for in this regard. They essentially say that if you place a bet and win then well done, collect your winnings. But if you place a bet and lose then you’ll get your stake refunded as a free bet so you get to have another try.
I’m not going to say that no bookmaker has ever offered customers a free bet without the need to make a deposit as they definitely have, but it’s certainly not common practice. The vast majority of offers require punters to make a deposit meeting a minimum value requirement into their account when it is first opened. If, for example, the offer is that you’ll get a free bet of £10 as long as you deposit at least £10 then you can deposit any amount, provided it is over £10.
No bookmaker is going to actively discourage you from depositing as much as you wish to into your account, so that’s not quite what this means. A ‘maximum deposit’ comes into play when the offer is something like a matched deposit. In that instance your first deposit will be matched with free bet tokens up to a certain amount, say £200. You can deposit £5000 if you’d like to, but only the first £200 will be matched.
It’s normal for companies to ask you to ensure that your bets meet a minimum odds requirement. This means that your qualifying bet has to be of at least something like 2/1 or Evens. Again, you don’t need to do anything specific other than ensure you bet on something like a horse with odds of 2/1 or greater.
One of the big things to look out for is whether certain bets don’t count towards the offer. The deal might be limited to single Wins or multiples, but will likely exclude Lucky bets, for example. As a rule of thumb, the less likely the bet is to win the more likely it is to be accepted as part of the offer! That’s why full cover wagers are often ineligible.
The very best free bets are the ones where the winnings get added straight to your account, should the free bet be a victorious one. Sometimes, though, bookmakers require you to ‘turnover’ the winnings a certain number of times. Say, for example, that you place a £50 bet at odds of 2/1, that will normally mean that you’ve won £100. The bet’s terms and conditions might require you to ‘turnover’, or re-bet, your winnings five times. That will mean that you’ll need to have placed £500 worth of bets with your winnings before you’ll be able to withdraw it.
Do You Get Your Free Bet Stake Back?
More often than not the stake of your free bet will not be returned with any winnings that you get. Imagine that you’ve placed a deposit of £10 and been given a free bet token of £10. Assuming that there are no turnover requirements and that both bets have odds of 2/1, if you place your first bet with real money and it wins the you’ll get a return of £30, which is the £20 winnings plus your £10 stake. When it comes to the best with the free token, however, all you’ll get paid into your account is the £20 winnings and the £10 free stake will disappear as though it had never existed.
Are Offers Worth Claiming?
On this front my short answer is always a resounding ‘yes’. More often than not you are, in essence, being offered ‘free money’. In practice things aren’t quite that simple, but you are, at the very least, being given an opportunity to limit any potential losses. The reality is that you’ll all feel slightly differently about this topic and I think a lot of it will depend on the offer itself. For me personally I’m never all that keen on promotions with a high turnover requirement, mainly because you could win several times but not hit the turnover then lose on your last bet. I’d rather have placed those bets with real money, but I know others who love those offers as they use them to place bets they normally wouldn’t do.
Another thing you’ll want to look into is how good the odds are of the bookmaker making the offer when compared to others on the market. Let’s look at an example:
Bookie A is offering a £10 free bet if you deposit £10 and their odds on two horses are 2/1 on each. If you win your initial bet then you’ll get £30 back, with £20 coming back to you if you win your free bet, too. That will mean that you’ll have ‘won’ £40 and received £50 into your account that you’ll be able to withdraw.
Bookie B, meanwhile, has no free bet offer going on but the odds on those two horses we’ve just placed our imaginary bets on are 3/1. Win you initial £10 bet and you’ll get £30 winnings plus your stake back into your account. If you then win your second bet as well then you’ll get another £30 in winnings but this time you’ll also get your stake back, meaning that you’ll have ‘won’ £60 and received £80 into your account.
Now to be fair, most of the big bookies are rarely that far apart on odds, so you’re more likely to see an odds differential of something like 2/1 versus 5/2, but even that would see you receive more winnings through Bookie B.
If, therefore, that’s the sort of thing that bothers you then my advice would be to only take advantage of a free bet with a company you were going to join and bet with anyway. When that’s the case, you’ll have been placing the bet regardless so it doesn’t really matter about the odds. Alternatively, make sure you only use your free bet on something with the same odds as you’d have received from any other bookmaker you’re already a member of, so you won’t feel like you’re missing out.
Betting Offers For Existing Customers
I mentioned earlier that there were two main types of offers: welcome offers and retention offers. I’ve obviously covered the welcome offers now, so I’ll give you a little bit of information about what I’m calling retention offers. These are perhaps better known as offers for existing customers, but I call them retention offers as they’re really there to try and ensure a bookmaker retains your custom.
The great thing about these types of offers is that they can be used by anyone who has signed up with a company, providing you meet whatever minimum requirements have been laid out. The slight downside, if you want to look for one, is that existing customer offers are rarely as good as the ones for new customers. The massive upside, on the other hand, is that they tend to reward loyalty so those that like to bet regularly can find themselves in a much better situation thanks to retention offers.
This is the quintessential example of a retention offer that rewards loyal customers. The idea behind this is that you’ll get a free bet of, say, £5 as long as you’ve placed, say, £25 worth of bets with real cash during the week. As with most clubs, you’ll need to join to be a member, which you do by opting in order to take advantage of the offer. Different bookies do this offer in different ways but the principal is the same: place regular bets and get regular rewards.
This is another way to reward customers for their loyalty, but the beauty is that you don’t need to do anything specific to take advantage of it. Unlike the Free Bet Clubs, that require you to place bets in order to get a free one in return, Loyalty Points schemes reward you simply for doing things you were going to do anyway. You’ll notch up a ‘point’ every time you do something like log into your account or deposit money and when you’ve got enough points you can swap them for a free bet or similar.
Best Odds Guaranteed
This is a perfect example of an offer for existing customers that you don’t need to do anything in order to take advantage of, but that’s genuinely brilliant and rewarding. The vast majority of bookmakers now offer a Best Odds Guarantee on horse and greyhound racing, with the idea being that if you place a bet early in the day and the Starting Price ends up being higher than the odds you took then you’ll be paid out at the Starting Price. It means you don’t miss out on winnings by placing a bet in the morning for an afternoon race, for example.
This is like the Best Odds Guarantee but on some sort of performance enhancing drugs. Not all bookmakers offer this, so keep an eye out for the few that do. The deal here is that if you place a bet with Bookie A and you could have got better odds with Bookie B then Bookie A will pay you out ad Bookie B’s odds. Nowadays all of that is worked out automatically by the bookmaker’s computer systems so you don’t need to do anything. The offer doesn’t apply to any old bookie, though, but rather specific rival bookmakers that Bookie A is keen to take custom from.
Acca Insurance & Bonuses
Acca Insurance is great, especially as I often find it’s only one or two legs that let me down. The idea is that if you place an accumulator of, say, eight legs and just one of them loses then you’ll get your initial stake refunded to you as a free bet. Accumulator bonuses work slightly differently, normally seeing your accumulator’s winnings ‘boosted’ by a percentage depending on the number of legs it had. As an example, winnings on a ten-fold accumulator might be given a ‘boost’ of 20% if they all come home. The boost is normally either in cash or free bets, with cash obviously being the better offer.