When you come to betting, the first thing you will want to know about is how the odds work, how to sign up with a bookie, what markets are available and more. Usually, most of your questions will revolve around how betting itself works, meaning the whole notion of a free bet may pass you by.
However, free bets are a hugely important part of betting. Failing to properly understand what they are and how they are used could see you miss out on getting a lot more value out of signing up with a bookie. In this guide, we will take an in-depth look at what a free bet is, what forms they could take and more.
Best Free Bets for Football (UK)
Before we get into the nitty gritty of how free bets work, we wanted to cover the most important bit. The free bets themselves. In the list below you’ll find new customer offers from a wide range of football betting sites, all tried and tested by us.
You may noticed that as well as the headline offer, we also include the key terms of the deal. This should make it easy to compare the free bets and pick the one that best suits your betting style.
Definition of a Free Bet
A free bet is something that a bookie will provide to customers as an incentive to sign up or remain loyal to them. While existing customers may sometimes get free bets, free bet offers are usually given to new customers, and they are provided to those that bet on their mobile, desktop or tablet and not in betting shops.
A free bet will be provided to try to make a bookie stand out above the rest. As mentioned, any customer can technically get a free bet, but existing customer offers are far more rare, and are provided to reward loyalty or keep a customer with a bookie rather than them leaving to sign up with a new bookie.
What Is the Difference Between a New Customer Offer & an Existing Customer Offer?
A new customer offer is something that a bookie will advertise to try to get bettors to sign up with them and create a new account. In the UK, you will usually see new customer promotions offered on TV by major bookies before sporting events.
To get a free bet, you will need to sign up with a bookie and bet an initial amount or make a certain deposit into your account. A free bet will often match the amount of your first bet or deposit, although some free bets provide a much bigger return to you.
An existing customer offer is provided by the bookie to a customer that is already signed up. An existing customer is provided this offer as they are no longer eligible to claim a new customer offer. Bear in mind that existing customer offers are not usually as generous as new customer offers. Some bookies are not very good at providing existing customer offers though, with some supplying offers with little value, while others fail to offer anything at all. Before you sign up with a bookie, make sure they also incentivise continued betting from their customer through existing customer offers.
What Are the Most Common Types of Free Bets & How Do They Work?
The most common type of free bet is the aptly named ‘free bet’.
Bet £X, Get £X
A free bet is a very straightforward style of bonus, which is why it is provided to new bettors and customers. A free bet will usually look something like ‘Bet £x, Get £x’. You can substitute the x’s for any amount of money. A standard for the industry right now is a Bet £5, Get £5. This means that you will need to place a qualifying bet of £5, with the bookie then rewarding you with a £5 free bet.
Some bookies will be fairly miserly with the amounts they look to give. However, there are some that are very generous. There have been Bet £10, Get £50 in the past, while you cannot beat a smaller initial bet amount that leads to a larger free bet amount, such as Bet £5, Get £50.
Remember, the amount of ‘money’ you get back will usually be credited to you in the form of a free bet. This means that it is not possible for you to bet £5 with the bookie to unlock £50 before immediately withdrawing it. Instead, you will have to adhere to certain wagering requirements first before you can get your hands on any winnings from these free bets.
It is important to note that there will be a number of terms you must adhere to in order to unlock the full bonus amount. Factors you need to take into account will be the amount you need to bet, the odds you need to bet at, where the free bet amount can be used (some are locked to specific sports, markets and/or events), the expiry date and more.
No Deposit Free Bet
The golden goose of the free bet offers is the no deposit free bet. This type of a free bet really is as good as it sounds, but bookies rarely provide much in the way of value here. Usually, you would see a £5 or £10 no deposit free bet. The reason for this is because there is no deposit required to unlock the free bet amount, it is far harder for the bookie to retain the new bettor.
This type of free bet is usually veiled in a number of terms and conditions that make it very difficult to withdraw a real cash amount. You will usually need to wager the free bet amount a number of times at a specific length of odds. Nowadays, this type of free bet is used to give new players a sense of what betting with a bookie is like.
Matched Deposit or Deposit Match Bonus
Another very popular free bet is the matched deposit or deposit match bonus. A matched deposit will usually give you the largest bonus of any free bet. You may see an offer like 100% up to £100. This means that, depending on the amount you deposit, you can get up to £100 in free bets. Therefore, if you deposited £20, you would receive 100% back from your bookie, meaning you would get £20 in free bets. This is true all the way up to £100, meaning a deposit of £100 will see you matched with £100 from your bookie.
Minimums & Maximums
Your bookmaker of choice will have a minimum and maximum deposit amount that will qualify you for different amounts. Usually, the minimum you can deposit will be around £10, while there is no maximum amount. While there is often no max to the amount you can deposit, there is a maximum to the amount you will be matched by which, in this case, is £100. This means that if you deposited £500, you would get £100 back in free bets. It is worth noting that, much like other free bets, a matched deposit can change in both the size of the percentage and monetary value.
For example, you could get 100% up to £300. This means that you will be matched 100% up to £300 for whatever you deposit. If you decided to put down £200, you would get £200 back. You may also see 200% up to £200. This means that the amount you put down will be doubled up to £200. You could therefore deposit £100 and get £200 back, or £20 and get £40 back.
Be careful though, as the lower the percentage amount, the less you will get back as free bets. If you took a matched deposit of 50% up to £100, it means that you will get half the amount of your deposit back as a free bet. If you put down £60, you would then have your £60 deposit plus £30 in free bets.
Common Terms to Know
Here we discuss some common betting terms that are useful to know when it comes to free bets.
This is a condition that is applied to a welcome offer or promotion that impacts how many times you have to play through an amount of money before you can withdraw the winnings. This is used to stop players from activating a free bet amount, wagering on a bet that is supposedly very likely with short odds and then withdrawing the bonus amount as real cash.
If your bonus amount was £20 with a wagering requirement of 10x, you will need to spend £200 (£20 x 10) on eligible sports, games or markets before you can withdraw the pending winnings.
Time Limit/Expiry Date
This is the amount of time you have to utilise your bonus amount. Usually, you will have at least seven days to play through your bonus, while you will often have up to around 30 days as a time limit. If you fail to utilise your bonus within the relevant time frame then it will be voided and you will lose the bonus amount.
Minimum odds are the lowest possible odds you can use while ensuring your bet qualifies for the bonus amount. In sports betting, the minimum amount usually ranges from around 1/2 up to 1/1. You can still bet at lower odds, but these will not count towards releasing your bonus amount.
You can also bet at longer odds, which is something the bookie wants you to do. By utilising your free bet amount at longer odds, you increase the size of any potential return. However, with greater potential reward comes a larger risk of losing your stake amount.
This refers to the markets you can use your free bet with. For example, a bookmaker may decide that the free bet amount can only be used on goal scorer bets, meaning that if you were to bet on the match winner, then your free bet would not qualify for this market.
Similarly, a bookie may link a free bet with a specific game or sport. For example, you may see a Bet £10 Get £20 to use on Manchester City vs Manchester United. This means that you have to use the free bet amount on this match otherwise it will not count. There are also sport-specific free bets that mean you have to use the bonus on a particular sport.
Free spins are an incentive that a bookmaker can give to customers alongside/instead of a monetary free bet. In sports betting, free bets will usually come as something to sweeten the deal, such as get 100% up to £100 plus 10 free spins. The star of the show here is the matched deposit, but the free spins also incentivise going onto a bookmaker’s casino site and using those spins.
Payment Method Restrictions
This is something that is set by a bookmaker and restricts the payment options you can use to unlock a free bet. A bookie may say that bettors using prepaid Visa’s and e-Wallets are not eligible. This means that if you use a prepaid Visa or e-Wallet, then you cannot unlock the free bet amount and need to use a different payment method.