A Beginners’ Guide to Online Casino Bonuses

We all know that online casinos have a house edge that means in the long run they will always make money. However, if you know how to make the most of the bonuses they offer, you can turn things to your advantage.

In order to know you’re picking the best offers available to you way, it’s important to understand the various types of bonus that are typically offered, as well as the restrictions and conditions you can expect come up against. Getting the best bonus out of an online casino should be every player’s highest priority.

With online casinos popping up all over the web there’s more competition than ever. The big online casino boom has seen the explosion of bonuses offered by casino sites.

These various casino bonus offers are to entice players like you to pick their casino over the others, as they represent the most effective way of getting players to make a deposit straight off the mark.

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The Different Types of Casino Bonus

Here are the most popular types of bonuses online casino sites offer, along with some tips on how to benefit from them:

No-Deposit Bonus (also known as a ‘Welcome Bonus’ or ‘Sign-Up Bonus’)

Used as a marketing strategy to allow new customers get a taste of the games, no deposit bonus offers usually have a value of between £5 and £30. As these bonuses have no strings attached, it gives you a chance to see what you’ll get once you decide to deposit.

The first thing you need to know about no-deposit bonuses is that if you are lucky enough to win using this bonus money, many casinos will only let you withdraw your winnings. Only a few will allow you to withdraw the bonus amount and the winnings.

Furthermore, in almost all cases no-deposit bonuses will have very high wagering requirements (sometimes referred to as playthrough requirements). In many cases the bonuses need to be wagered around 50 times before you are eligible to withdraw any winnings. On top of that, it’s possible your favourite game won’t count towards the wagering requirements. The bottom line is: read the terms and conditions.

Deposit Bonus (also known as a ‘Matched Bonus’)

Most online casinos offer first deposit bonuses of at least 100% of the amount of money you put in your account, but the percentage can go as high as 500%. The beauty of these casino offers is you can deposit £100 and end up having £600 in your account ready and waiting.

Sign up bonus will usually have lower wagering or withdrawal restrictions than the no deposit bonus, and is a real reward for choosing to deposit at your preferred casinos. Most of the bonuses detailed on Top 5 Casino Sites are the matched ones, and wherever possible, we’ve secured exclusive sign-up bonuses for you that are even better than the already generous standard offers.

Reload Bonus

Most online casinos don’t stop rewarding you after the first deposit, but let you qualify for a bonus on subsequent deposits too. This means that the house will credit your account with a certain percentage of your deposit. Not all gambling websites offer bonuses on redeposit, and, usually they are lower than the first deposit ones. Others offer reload bonuses on a certain day of the week, or if you achieve a specified number of loyalty points. There are also some common caveats to reload bonus such as the payment method you use, time restrictions, or a limited number of qualifying games. Always read the terms and conditions.

Multi-Stage Welcome Bonus

Perhaps the most attractive of all the online casino offers, is the multi-stage welcome bonus to reward you on your first few deposits. As the casinos are so happy you are enjoying your stay, they will typically reward you with a matched bonus on your first, second, and third deposits, and sometimes even more. Usually the bonus percentage varies from deposit to deposit, with the first one attracting the highest amount. The benefit of multi-deposit offers is greatest for those who plan on making larger deposits, as it can cost hundreds of pounds to claim the maximum bonus possible.

Free Spins

Another type of online casino bonuses is free spins. They are used to reward both new and existing players. There are generally two types of free spins: those offered as a bonus for a deposit, and those for which no deposit is required. Sometimes, free spins are part of a bigger package: a deposit can be rewarded with both match bonus and free spins. Often, free spins offers are restricted to a particular slot, or limited group of titles, but this should be stated clearly in the promotional materials. It’s also important to check if there is a limit to the amount of winnings you can take.

Loyalty Points

Although different than the other types of bonuses, loyalty points are yet another rewarding strategy online casinos use. Loyalty – or comp - points are usually awarded based on the amount of cash a player wagers. For instance, for a bet of £10, you can get 1 loyalty point, no matter if you win or lose. When you have amassed enough points, you can convert them back in to money, or exchange them for prizes. If you are considered a VIP player, these comp points will have a higher exchange value than if you are a newbie.

Cash-Back Bonus

Less common than the other types of casino offers, a cash back bonus is sometimes given to players based on the money they wagered.

Refer-a-Friend Bonus

Another marketing technique, refer a friend bonus is offered when you recommend the respective online casino to a friend, and they sign up and starts playing. The value of these bonuses differs from one gambling site to another.

VIP Treatment

The moment you get confirmed as a VIP customer of your favorite online casino, the array of bonuses instantly diversifies: cash rewards, free spins, monthly loyalty bonuses, access to special features and unique games, and even real-world events.

Always Read the Fine Print

All in all, there are many ways to make your gambling buck go further. Thanks to fierce competition, online casinos fight tooth-and-nail to encourage you to play at their casino. But all “free” money and bonus money will always come with wagering restrictions so always make sure you read the terms and conditions before you redeem any bonus.

Many online casinos boast some very generous welcome bonuses that give you a lot more to play with on top of your bankroll, but there are a few things to consider:

Wagering Requirements

Online casinos apply wagering requirements to their welcome bonus offers to protect themselves from bonus abuse. These are known as playthrough requirements, which means a player needs to play the bonus stake a set number of times before it can be released into their account.

Playthrough requirements are usually around 40x the bonus amount. So, if you were required to deposit £40 to qualify for the bonus, you would have to wager £1,600 (40 x £40) in order to be able to withdraw the bonus as cash.

The idea is to prevent players from claiming a 100% online casino bonus and cashing it out without wagering it. Otherwise players could deposit £100, get another £100 bonus, and walk away.

One of the most important – and overlooked – considerations is whether the wagering requirements apply just to the bonus, or to the deposit and the bonus. Sometimes, the latter type of offer looks more favourable because the headline playthrough requirement might be lower than average (say, 25x), but once it’s applied to both the deposit and bonus, it can easily work out as more restrictive than the typical 40x offer.

Game Restrictions (known as Game Contribution Percentages)

There will be game restrictions when wagering your bonus funds. Games like blackjack and roulette might not count towards the playthrough because of the low house edge these games have. You can still find plenty of casinos that do allow table games, but their contribution to the wagering requirements will limited to around 10% - 20%. That means that for every pound wagered, only 10 to 20p will count towards the total you have to meet. If you favour a game other than slots, read the T&Cs very carefully before committing, no matter how enticing the offer is.

Check the promotions tab on the online casino. Many casinos will offer bonuses for roulette, slots, live casino, etc. Check if you can take more than one, and if not decide the one that suits you best. No point taking a live casino bonus if you only intend to play slots.

Time Limitations

Another often overlooked condition is the time limit imposed on the player to reach the wagering requirements. Carefully consider how often you are likely to play before committing to a generous bonus offer that gives only a week or two to meet the playthrough. Thirty days should be the minimum if you’re realistically going to release your bonus.

Sticky Bonuses

Some bonuses only allow you to cash out the winnings made from the casino bonus, and not the bonus itself. This can end up limiting how much you eventually are able to withdraw.

Cashing Your Bonus

If you have not completed the wagering requirements on the selected games then the casino will likely void your request to withdraw funds. We can’t emphasise enough how important it is to understand the terms and conditions for every bonus offer you receive. Misunderstandings of the finer points of the T&Cs are usually responsible for most disputes between players and casinos. Don’t be afraid to ask. If anything is unclear contact the casino support and they will be happy to explain any requirements in more detail.

Avoiding Casino Bonus Scams

Players will often vent their anger towards casinos on one of the many review sites, and a casino’s reputation can be easily tarnished through player reviews as many players will at least perform a Google search before depositing with a particular casino.

Usually the reviews will be about the same problem so you will know it’s not as trusted as it appears. It’s best to stick to those casinos that have a trusted reputation and use reputable casino software. The casino software provides the platform that you play on, the casino games and added security.

You should also make sure the online casino is licensed and regulated within the jurisdiction that they conduct business and have their computer servers. The loose online gambling laws can leave casinos open to take advantage of the player.

The UK has very strict requirements to become a licensed online casino, therefore if a casino has their UK license then they are much more likely to be trusted. Here at Top 5, we only feature licensed and reputable UK casinos.

If the online casino does not mention any location where they are licensed and regulated, then it would be best to avoid at all costs. Make sure you check out the terms and conditions too, as casinos usually try to hide the terms and players don’t want to read them, but it’s always worth skimming through as you could come across some unfair and scheming terms.

If a casino only has one or two deposit options, then it’s likely that it’s an unsafe environment. Make sure you’re playing at a casino that offers plenty of deposit options, including Visa, MasterCard, (credit, debit, and prepaid cards), eChecks, PayPal, Neteller, eWalletxpress and Moneybookers.

A Final Word on Bonuses

It can be a bit off-putting to find out that you can’t withdraw your funds because they are tied up in some ‘hidden’ wagering requirement. But in general, bonuses usually work in your favour, although there are requirements and restrictions, you still get more to play with and who knows where that can lead. Just remember to check the terms and conditions before you deposit for a bonus.

We’ve got together with some of our recommended casino sites to bring you exclusive casino bonus offers just for Top 5 Casino Sites users.

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