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Guide to Online Casino Bonuses

Online casinos offer players many benefits that traditional venues don't, including the comfort of playing from home and a wider selection of games.

Casino bonuses, too, are a reason many people prefer to play online today, and there are many sites who offer them in exchange for a deposit, or sometimes just for registering.

If you've received an online casino bonus and you'd like to know what it's all about, or you just want to learn about these special offers in general, then this is the page for you.

What are online casino bonuses?

Before we delve into the nuts and bolts of bonuses, we should clarify what one is.

An online casino bonus is a reward of free credit or prepaid spins which you can receive for several reasons, most commonly for registering or making a deposit.

Bonuses are not a way to make a lot of money. Instead, when we use them correctly, we can treat them as a small perk that gives us a bit more playing time or extra funds.

Types of online casino bonuses

There are thousands of online casino bonuses out there, but they typically fall into just a few categories.

Knowing which type of bonus you're dealing with will help you get the most out of it, so here are the types to look out for.

1. Deposit bonus

The most common bonus type, this is where the casino gives you prepaid spins or bonus funds right after you make a deposit.

You'll typically get this bonus after the first deposit, also known as the welcome bonus, but it's possible that the casino will award more – known as reload bonuses – after further deposits.

These bonuses are often a percentage of your deposit amount, typically ranging between 50-100%, however they can be much higher.

Deposit bonuses are also worth the most on average yet may also be subject to strict wagering requirements (WR) and other bonus conditions, which we'll come to later.

2. No deposit bonus

A smaller amount of prepaid spins or free credit that you get just for registering with a casino, no deposit bonuses are many players' favourite.

These also normally come with WR, and you can see the details of this in the information box next to each bonus in our list of no deposit bonuses for UK players.

3. Loyalty bonus

With the vast range of casinos available to players nowadays, many sites like to reward players for their custom, and loyalty bonuses are one way of doing this.

As well as normal bonuses, you may find that you get free entry into exclusive tournaments, or higher withdrawal limits. You might receive points, too, which you can exchange for prizes.

4. Cashback bonus

If you bet and lose a certain amount, you could receive a percentage of it back in the form of a cashback bonus, also known as a top-up bonus in some places.

A typical example is 10%, so if you lose $100, you get $10 added to your balance.

Be aware, though, that your balance needs to be very low, probably zero, for you to activate this bonus.

Things to be careful of when using a casino bonus

Want to know the truth? Casinos don't want you to profit from their bonuses, as it means they lose money.

To deal with this, they add certain restrictions to their offers which can catch you out if you don't study the T&Cs. These terms make bonuses much less profitable by limiting what you can and can't do with them.

To make it clearer, we're going to lay out the most common roadblocks, and how you can deal with them.

1. Wagering Requirements (WR)

Wagering Requirements are the most common and important bonus restriction.

Put simply, WR is the amount you need to stake to withdraw your bonus winnings, and is expressed as a multiple of either.

  • Your deposit amount
  • Your bonus amount
  • A combination of both.

Here are two examples.

  1. You deposit £100 and get a £100 bonus with a WR of x25.
  2. You'll need to stake £2,500 to withdraw your funds.

  3. You receive a bonus of £10 with a WR of x40.
  4. You'll need to stake £400 to withdraw your funds.

To add to this, some games only count a small percentage of the stake toward WR, if anything at all. This is known as the wagering contribution.

Slots are your best bet as they often count 100% of the stake, but it can be as low as 5% in games like Blackjack.

2. Time limits

Time limits can take two forms.

  • You must make a deposit within a certain amount of time, say three months, to claim your deposit bonus.
  • Once you get your bonus, you only have a certain number of days to use it in.

These are often hidden in the small print of the T&Cs, but Casino Meter will make them clear in each bonus's info box.

3. Maximum bet and win amounts

Players often bet aggressively on high-variance games to try to win as much possible with their bonuses.

Maximum bet and win amounts are a casino's way of countering this, so you may find you can only stake, say, $5 at any one time, or win a maximum of $50 with your bonus.

4. Other restrictions

Bonuses might have non-numerical limits imposed on them, too. It might be that some games with a high Return to Player (RTP) are exempt, or that they only contribute a small percentage to WR, as mentioned above.

Some bonuses might only be available to players in certain countries or in a specific currency, so make sure you're aware of all bonus conditions before claiming them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I find the best online casino bonus?

At Casino Meter, we want to help you find the best possible bonus, so we've designed a special system to help you.

To use this, go to our list of casino bonuses and check out the filters and sorting tools there.

We advise you to start with the bonuses that appear when the 'Recommended' tab is selected, as these are the best offers according to the Casino Meter team of experts. You can also see the latest bonuses, or exclusive offers (available to just Casino Meter users) by choosing the appropriate tab.

You can also filter the bonuses according to their type, value, WR, or maximum cashout, so feel free to play around with these so that you end up with a specialised list of offers.

OK, I've found my preferred bonus. How do I claim it?

Simple. Each bonus has an information box with important related details. This will tell you what you need to do to claim the bonus. Here are the possibilities.

  • The bonus appears automatically in your account once you've registered or made a deposit
  • You need to enter a promo code (more common with exclusive offers)
  • You must contact the casino to activate the offer (very rare).

If you have any problems receiving the bonus once you've followed the instructions, then contact the casino's customer service team for further help.

Are online casino bonuses safe?

All the bonuses you see here will be offers from UK casinos who hold the Gambling Commission (GC) license. This is a governing body that obliges them to act lawfully and to promote safe gambling initiatives like GamStop and Be Gambling Aware.

That said, things can still go wrong with bonuses, so be sure to follow Casino Meter's instructions when claiming an offer and flag up any problems you encounter.

Can I win lots of money with a casino bonus?

Almost certainly, no. Casinos use various limits to ensure that they don't lose enormous amounts via special offers.

Bonuses, typically of the 'no deposit' variety tend to be pretty small, too, so it's best to treat them as a bit of fun rather than a money-making venture!