Free Bets Explained
Most bookies offer free bets, bonus bets or bonus credit to attract new customers and encourage you to bet online instead of using more traditional methods like high street betting shops.
These new customer offers usually involve offering potential customers free bets, betting offers or boosted odds on a sporting event when registering a new online betting account.
Free bets come in all shapes and sizes from 100% matched bets to offers that give you three to four times the value of the first bet that you place as free bet credit on your account.
What Are Free Bets?
Free bets are bonuses of a specified value, that are offered by a range of online bookies to bettors when they open an account or place a bet via the bookies website or App.
Using a free bet means that you could place a bet without having to stake any of your own money, although you'll usually need to place a bet with your own money to release the free bet.
Bookies offer new and existing customers free bets on a regular basis, sometimes when you open a new account or bet on a specific event or place a certain type of bet, like an ACCA.
With bookies offering so many free bets, there are literally hundreds of pounds of free bets up for grabs at any time, whether you're already a member or not.
You can typically use bookies free bet on most sports markets, however, if you’re not sure what markets are applicable, make sure that you check the free bets terms and conditions.
Free bets can also usually be used either in full or partially, up to the total value of the free bet that the bookie has credited your account with, but it does vary between bookies.
Free Bets summary
To summarise, a free bet is a basically a bonus that bookies offer you when you register an account as a new customer and fulfil the signup offers betting or depositing requirements.
When betting online, a free bet is usually a complimentary sum of money/credit on your account that's awarded to you once you've placed your first bet or made your first deposit.
Some bookies call them free bets, bonus bets, or Bet365 Bet Credits if you're our favourite bookie, but they usually need to be used bet online; i.e. you can't withdraw the cash.
Bet365 Open Account Offer - Up to £100 in Bet Credits for new customers at Bet365. Min deposit £5. Bet Credits available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply.
Some bookies do however let you withdraw any winnings that you generate from a free bet. You can usually find this information in the terms and conditions of their free bet offer.
How to Choose Free Bets
Online bookies are currently offering so many different types of free bets for UK punters to claim that it can be a pretty daunting task deciding which offers you want to claim.
To help you with the process of choosing a free bet, we've reviewed loads of online bookies and only allow the best in the business to display their free bet offers on our site.
Check out our bookies reviews section to find out how each bookie rated and which we consider to be the better bookies you should consider claiming free bets from.
The next step that we recommend would be to compare the free bets that bookies offer new signups in our comprehensive free bets for new account holders section.
This page offers a quick summary of each of the bookies free bets for new account holders and also allows you to access further details, including the terms and conditions of each free bet.
This is probably the easiest way of comparing the free bets that bookies offer new signups.
Registering At new Bookies
Once you've chosen the free bet offer you want to claim simply click through to the online bookie's website using any of the big green buttons on our site.
At this stage, you'll need to enter some personal details, including your contact details in order to register the new online betting account and start the ball rolling in claiming their free bet.
Once you've registered an account you'll usually need to deposit some money into it using a credit card or debit card or via an online payments service like PayPal.
In most cases, the online bookie will require that you place a first bet with the money you've just deposited before they credit your new account with the signup offers free bet.
Providing you meet the free bet offers criteria, the bookie will credit your account with a free bet voucher or code that can usually be used on any sports market they offer odds on.
This can vary between free bets so make sure that you read the signup offers small print.
Steps To Claiming Free Bets
One thing that we've learn't from running this website is that bookies tend to require that you undertake a number of steps in order to claim their free bet offers.
These can include such things as registering a new account and providing some personal information including your name, address, age, contact details etc.
You will also need to provide a valid payment method to make your first deposit.
First Deposits Usually Dictate Free Bet Value
The first deposit is generally a set amount that provides you with enough funds to place your first bet and activate your account and in turn release free bets to your betting balance.
In some cases you will also need to place a specified bet which in turn determines what value free bet the bookie will credit your account with; ie bet £28 for a £28 free bet.
With these types of free bets it can be quite beneficial as you'll be able to choose your free bets value as it's based on the value of the first bet that you place after joining.
This gives you the opportunity of keeping your first bet within the budget you've set yourself.
What Are Free Bet CRITERIA?
The criteria in how free bet offers are claimed can vary depending on the online bookie offering it, but for the most part, they all have certain requirements that you will need to meet.
One of the first things you'll need to do is to login to your account via a bookies website or App where you'll be able to start the process of fulfilling the free bets activation requirements.
Once you’ve done that there are usually some specific criteria, for example, placing a specific type of bet on a sporting event such as a Win Singles bet or a 4+ ACCA bet.
Free Bet Minimum Odds Requirements
The free bets that bookies offer new account holders also tend to have a minimum odds and stake requirement that you will need to meet in order to "earn" the free bet on offer.
This varies depending on the bookie, so you’ll need to check the exact details of each free bet.
One thing you'll want to be make sure of is that you know what time the bet needs to be placed at, as some free bets are pre-match, while others are only applicable for in-play bets.
Types of bets also come into play, so you’ll need to check out what bets qualify for the free bet offer. Cashed out bets or multiples don't usually count towards a free bets betting requirements.
If you’re lucky and your free bet wins, any winnings will be credited to your account, however, the original free bet that you used for the bets' stake is not normally included in the returns.
When Do I Get My Free Bet?
Although bookies vary in how they award free bets, standard practice is to generally credit accounts with a free bet after you've placed your first real-money bet.
Some bookies hand over a free bet once you've registered your details, while most reward you with free bets once you have credited your account and placed your first bet.
This is the case with William Hill's free bet offer and means you'll have to bet first in order to gain a free bet - but even then it's a pretty cheap way of finding out if you like betting at William Hill.
Each bookie will also have different the terms and conditions for their free bet offers. These details can always be found on the bookies website, and are extremely easy to locate.
Finding a Free Bets Terms and Conditions
If you want to find the terms and conditions of any bookie free bet, the best way to find them is by first logging in to your betting account and checking out the bookies FAQ section.
Alternatively you could head to their promotions or offers section on their website or App. Here you’ll usually find all of their current betting offers, enhanced odds and free bets.
What Can I Use Free Bets On?
Good question, this usually depends on the free bet offer that you want to claim, the free bets criteria, or the online bookie that you've decided to start betting at.
When placing free bets, most bookies allow you to use it on any of the sports betting markets they offer odds on where as some may limit your options to specific markets or bet types.
Most of the bookies we've reviewed also impose some form of time limit on the free bet token or voucher that they gave you when you joined and place a qualifying bet.
This means that you may have to use the free bet within a certain number of days since you joined, usually around 30 days, but each bookies' different.
Every Free Bet Offer is Different
Again, we recommend taking the time to look into the free bet offers criteria, or the terms and conditions associated with the offer, to determine how long the free bets' valid for.
Some free bet offers are also tied to specific sporting events and so in this case, the free bet would obviously need to be placed before the event has ended.
Do Free Bets Expire?
While we all love it when a bookie credits our account with a free bet, whether it’s for opening a new one or it’s simply a generous betting offer, they all have an expiry date.
But how long do we have to use them and when do free bets expire?
Every bookie is different and therefore they will have different rules about how long your free bet is valid for, and what sports, markets or events it can be used on.
As most free bets have some form of an expiry date, you must make sure that you know what that date is, or else you could miss out on the opportunity to take advantage of the free bet.
Once you’ve qualified for a free bet, be that from a signup offer, or an event specific betting offer, the bookie will have a certain period of time to credit your account with the free bet.
From there they will also state the time you have to use it before your free bet expires.
There are always terms and conditions associated with free bets, alongside criteria such as minimum or maximum stakes/odds or turnover requirements, you’ll also find a time limit.
As each bookie is different, you should check each individual offer to see when your free bet expires so as to not miss out on placing it. We recommend creating a reminder on your mobile.
Most Free Bets Expire in 7 Days
For example, new customer free bets tend to be valid for approximately 7 days with most of the larger online bookies, however you can find some that are valid for 30 days.
On rare occasions, you’ll also find bookies offering free bets with even longer expiry dates.
Other event specific bets such as pre-match football betting offers can be available for 2/3 days before an event kicks-off, or in-play free bets are only valid for a certain period of the event.
If you've received a free bet from an online bookie, make sure you check out how long you have to use it and when it actually expires, so you don’t end up wasting it.
Do you get stakes back on free bets?
As a general rule of thumb, you don’t get your stake back on a free bet, as the bookie will just credit your account with any winnings from your free bet as the stake was gifted to you.
The majority of free bets work in this way, however you may come across some where you'll be credited with your winnings and the original stake, but free bets like this are not that common.
The majority of bookies offer new customers Stake Not Returned (SNR) free bets.
This is where the bookie requires you to place a qualifying real money bet of a specific value with minimum stated odds. Once you have placed your qualifying bet, the bookie will credit your account with a free bet that can be used within a specific time period.
When do You Get Your Stake Back on a Free Bet?
While there are a lot of different types of free bets being offered by bookies, they basically come down to the following two types when it comes to getting your stake back:
Stake Not Returned (SNR) Bets
SNR free bets are the most common amongst bookies, so let’s see how they work.
- A bookie gives you a £10 free bet and you bet on a selection at odds of 4/1.
- If it wins you'll receive £40 (instead of £50) as the £10 free bet stake is not returned.
Stake Returned Bets
These are much harder to find as they make less sense for bookies, as nearly all free bets are SNR bets. Stake returned bets are where you will get both your winnings and your stake back.
- For example, you place your £10 free bet on a selection at odds of 4/1.
- If that selection wins, you would receive £50 back as the £10 free bet stake is returned.
Sometimes you’ll find that bookies offer loyal customers the opportunity to bet and get their stake back on a free bet, but you’ll need to keep an eye out for them as they're so rare.
Free bets are more of a bonus for bettors, and while they can be seen as a reward for opening an account or becoming a loyal customer, the bookie is in this to make money.
Therefore, the chances of you getting your stake back on a free bet, is extremely slim!
Can I Cash Out A Free Bet?
As a general rule, when you claim a free bet from a bookie, it can’t be cashed out.
That means if your bet is partly or entirely funded by a free bet, then you won’t be able to use the Cash Out option that a lot of online bookies offer their members these days.
In some very rare cases, some bookies may offer you the option of using their Cash Out feature on a free bet, but in reality, you’re unlikely to come across this very often, if ever.
What Is Cashing Out A Bet?
Cash Out is a feature that online bookies offer, which basically allows you to end a bet early and take a settlement amount that they offer you when you request it - usually via the betslip.
The bet can be either a winning or a losing bet, that you feel you can get a favourable return on by ending the bet early, instead of letting it run its course.
A lot of punters love Cash Out as it gives you a bit more security when placing bets, as you still retain an element of control over even after the event you're betting on has started.
If you thought that a bet was going to go much better than it has, you could chose to Cash Out the bet early and get a smaller return, which is much better than losing your entire bet.
Why Can’t I Cash Out A Free Bet?
There are a number of reasons why you can’t Cash Out a bet, with the main reasons being:
- Your bet is part or fully funded by a free bet.
- There are ineligible selections in your bet e.g. an ACCA with selections that don’t qualify.
- Specific types of bets, such as scorecast bets, that may not be eligible.
- The market you are betting on isn’t eligible for Cash Out.
- In game events can cause the market to be suspended and for Cash Out to be unavailable.
Bookies offer a range of bets that you can use the Cash Out option on, but unfortunately on most occasions bets that are placed using free bets aren’t typically included.
Cash Out may not be available when you place a bet using a free bet, however you can still take advantage of the option when placing real money eligible bets.
This means that you can lock in a profit or loss before waiting for a sporting event to finish.
The Cash Out option that most bookies offer gives you the security of taking less risks on your bets, as you can secure a profit on a bet that looks like it may lose if you let it play out.
This is especially so when betting on football as a team can be absolutely destroying a team for 70 minutes but only score once, leaving it open for the other team to score two late goals!
If you want to cash out a bet, or at least have the option to use this service, our recommendation is that you make sure that you don’t place your bet using any free bets or bonus funds.
That way you won’t have to worry about not being able to Cash Out a free bet.