5/05/2021

The complete guide to online casino bonuses

With so many different types of online casino bonuses on offer these days, I thought it would be useful if I put together a complete guide with the good, the bad, and the ugly. Indeed, some bonuses out there may look like the cat’s pyjamas but once you try em’ on you’ll quickly realise that you’re wearing the Emperor’s new clothes in public.

Hopefully, this guide will prevent you from being caught with your pants down. Lord knows I have, and it wasn’t pretty. I can laugh about it now, but it sure wasn’t funny when I first understood how wagering requirements work.

In this guide I will discuss the pros and cons of each bonus and list a bunch of trusted online casinos where you can find them. I won’t start with the Big Kahuna. Not the fictional chain of Hawaiian-themed fast-food joints from Tarantino movies, but the GOAT of all bonuses – the Welcome Bonus!

I will start with something even better…

Exclusive Dream Bonuses

I’m on a mission to offer as many Exclusive Bonuses as humanly possible. These are all unique offers which you can only claimed from this site. Because they are all different, I won’t go into details here. To find out more details about these bonuses, go to the individual casino review where you’ll find all the information you need about each offer and how to claim them.

You won’t find any of these offers anywhere else:

Our Exclusive Bonuses

100% UP TO €200
Exclusive

 

100% UP TO €300

+30 Free Spins

Exclusive

Online casino welcome bonuses

Think of this as a one-time only offer because if you don’t claim the Welcome Bonus with your first deposit, you won’t be able to later. This is the bonus that casinos dangle in front of your face in hope that you will register your account. Tons of players base their decision on signing up with a casino based on this initial proposal.

But there are things to consider beyond the amount of bonus money you can get which are far more important in my opinion. For starters, the more you get, the more you have to wager until the money is converted into real money and possible to withdraw.

This is what I look for in the terms and conditions before I register and claim the Welcome Bonus or any other deposit bonus for that matter:

  1. Is the wagering requirement on the bonus amount or deposit + bonus?
    Wagering 40x on the bonus amount is lower than 30x on bonus + deposit. Further down I will explain how to accurately calculate wagering requirements. Ultimately, you want the wagering to be as low as possible and only applied to the bonus amount.
  2. How much time do I have to finish the wagering before the bonus is removed?
    This can vary greatly from casino to casino. I’ve seen anything from 24 hours to 30 days. Check your schedule to make sure you’ll have enough free time.
  3. What’s the max bet allowed when playing with bonus money?
    In some cases this will be written as a percentage of the amount you deposited, up to a max of either €4 or €5 per wager. Other times it will be a fixed amount. I know that this is a personal preference. You don’t have to bet the maximum amount allowed but it’s good to know what it is.
  4. How is the game weighting applied?
    You may have seen the wording “game weighting applies” in connection with a bonus before. Game weighting shows how much wagering on different games will contribute towards the wagering requirements. Slots are always 100% and Table Games are normally around 50%, but there may be quite a lot of exceptions to this because…
  5. Which games are banned or excluded from wagering?
    Certain slots will never be allowed to wager on with bonus money for a few obvious reasons: the RTP is extremely high, the slot has a “memory” so you can “save” the game right before you hit a bonus feature, or the slot has a jackpot (this is a deal-breaker for me; no jackpot, no dice).
  6. What’s the max win?
    Most Welcome Bonuses are capped these days, meaning you can only win up to a specific amount. Anything less than 10x your deposit amount should make you think twice before you accept. It’s a risk vs reward calculation that’s easy to understand. I talk about this further down.
  7. What happens if I cancel my bonus?
    This will depend greatly on the jurisdiction you’re in. In most cases, bonus money and any potential winnings will be removed from your account. What’s left is the money from your initial deposit and that might not even be enough to qualify for a minimum withdrawal.

As you can see, there are many things to consider before you sign up with an online casino just because the Welcome Bonus looks good at first glance. To be totally honest, you should never claim a Welcome Bonus and think that it will improve your chances of winning.

It’s a lot harder than it looks to beat wagering requirements of any online casino bonus. The nest thing to do is to use your Welcome Bonus to get acquainted with the casino, unless you’re allowed to play progressive jackpot slots with bonus money. Then ALWAYS GO FOR THE BIG WIN!

I would definitely recommend checking out the Welcome Bonuses in the following casinos:

Our Best Welcome Bonuses

100% UP TO €200

 

100% UP TO €300
+ 300 Free Spins

100% UP TO €225

+150 Free Spins

100% UP TO €500

+500 Free Spins

200% Welcome Bonus

Only the top dogs can afford to offer a Welcome Bonus of 200% on three figures or higher on your first deposit. And if they throw in other goodies like Free Spins, even better. Still, don’t forget to check off the list above before you take this bonus. There might be cause for concern.

I’ve seen one casino that offers a 200% Welcome Bonus up to £50 with a wagering requirement of 50x on the bonus money, and a max win of 3x the received bonus amount. Apply what you know to look for above and then decide if this is a good, bad, or ugly offer. I should add that every withdrawal from this particular casino comes with a £2.5 fee… I will come back to this one later when I walk you through wagering requirements.

We are currently working hard to get the best 200% Welcome Bonus-casinos, so you can pick one that meets your other requirements from an online casino. Once this happens, we will list them here!

100% Welcome Bonus

These days, the 100% up to X is pretty much industry standard. It’s often referred to as a match bonus since the casino will match your deposit 1:1 with bonus money. If you deposit €100, the casino will add €100 in bonus money and you’re good to go.

There will be strings attached, obviously, like wagering requirements and time constrictions. But you’ll find that this rings true for virtually all deposit bonuses.

Here’s a list of great casinos with a 100% Welcome Bonus:

Our best 100% welcome bonus casinos

100% UP TO €200

+20 No Deposit
Free Spins

100% UP TO €111
+ 100 Free Spins

100% UP TO €200
+ 20 Free Spins

100% UP TO €100
+ 120 Free Spins

Welcome bonus package

A Welcome Bonus package is spread over several deposits, normally 3-5, and often includes Free Spins on a specific game or a narrow selection of slots. It usually looks something like this:

  • First deposit – 100% up to €200 + 100 Free Spins
  • Second deposit – 150% up to €200
  • Third deposit – 75% up to €200
  • Fourth deposit – 100% up to €200
  • Fifth deposit – 50% up to €200

This is just an example and would be advertised as Welcome Bonus up to €1,000 + 100 Free Spins. That sure looks like a great deal, but here’s what you need to know:

  1. If you don’t claim the bonus with your first deposit, all subsequent bonuses are removed.
  2. The Free Spins are often paid out in batches of 10 per day for the coming 10 days. Rest assured that there will be wagering requirements on any winnings on these spins and that the winnings will be capped, which means that you can only withdraw up to a certain amount. And only after the wagering has been met.
  3. Each deposit bonus must be completed before time runs out, or you won’t be eligible for the next one.

With so much going on, it’s vital that you read all the terms before you sign on and start claiming these bonuses.

Want to get started with a generous Welcome Bonus package? This is where you’ll find what you’re looking for:

Best Welcome Package Bonuses

100% UP TO €200

+20 Free Spins

100% UP TO €300

+30 Free Spins

Exclusive

100% UP TO €200
+ 10 No Deposit Free Spins

100% up to €300
+200 Free Spins

Online casino no deposit bonus

A no deposit bonus is often called registration bonus and it can vary greatly from casino to casino. It’s a little something-something you get simply for signing up with the casino. It can be anything from a small amount of bonus money to Free Spins.

Since this is a “free” gift, you shouldn’t get your hopes up too high when it comes to winning enough to retire early. I mean, you can still win something from a no deposit bonus, think of it as a nice gesture and a great way to get started in the casino.

Would you like to get rewarded for simply creating an online casino account? All of these casinos will give you something before you make a single deposit:

Our No Deposit Bonuses

100% UP TO €200
+ 10 No Deposit Free Spins

100% UP TO €200

+20 No Deposit
Free Spins

100% UP TO €300
+ 20 No Deposit
Free Spins

Online casino deposit bonus

When you’re done with your Welcome Bonus, or even if you skipped it, an online casino may decide to “randomly” offer you a deposit bonus of sorts. I say randomly, but there’s no such thing when you’re signed up with a company as data driven as an online casino.

Most likely the casino is looking to offer you a deposit bonus because you’re a loyal customer (read: someone who deposits regularly and plays often), or because you haven’t played in a while and the casino is trying to re-activate you.

Either way, the offer will be sent to you via email as long as you’ve ticked the box that says you’re open to receive promo material. Your deposit, in this case, will be used to trigger a reward or opt you in on some kind of pay-back deal.

Reload bonus

After you’ve signed up and been a player for a while, the casino might start showering you with bonuses. One of these will invariably be the reload bonus. It’s a deposit bonus where the percentages and amounts will change from time to time.

Make no mistake, this will come with wagering requirements, time constraints, and be subject to all other bonus terms and conditions applied by the casino. Make sure you read them before you accept a reload bonus, or any other bonus for that matter.

Free Spins

Hands down, this is the most popular bonus sought by players no matter what level they’re betting at. This is probably the easiest bonus to understand. If you’ve ever played a slot than you’ll know that most of them will have a free spins as a bonus feature, usually triggered by landing three or more scatter symbols.

Free Spins as a bonus are essentially a number of spins that you’re allowed to play without wagering your own money. You play each spin individually and the game works just as it normally does. With a bit of luck, you can trigger the bonus feature which will potentially increase your winnings.

There’s a catch, though. Well, a couple actually. First of all, there will probably be a wagering requirement on your winnings, and you won’t be able to withdraw until you’ve completed the playthrough. Secondly, your winnings will for sure be capped at a relatively low amount. Any winnings above the cap will be lost.

Lastly, when you play a slot you get to set the betting amount every spin. But when you’re playing Free Spins from the casino, each spin is played at the same wager. And to be honest, it will most likely be the lowest betting amount allowed by the slot.

Over the years, the term Free Spins has changed depending on the jurisdiction. There’s a chance that you may have seen it worded differently: Extra, Bonus, Super, Mega, etc. These are all Free Spins under different guises.

The main reason for the different monikers is largely due to legislation. It simply not allowed to call Free Spins “Free Spins” in the UK since they aren’t exactly free. That’s why they’re normally referred to as Extra Spins or Bonus Spins.

Other terms like Super- and Mega Spins are also Free Spins but the added coolness to this branding has to do with the value of each spin. While Free Spins are normally played at €0.10 per spin, Mega Spins could be played at €5 per spin.

Cashback

Cashback from an online casino works pretty much like a loyalty scheme from a supermarket. The more you spend, the more you get back. But don’t ever think that the more you spend, the more you save. I don’t understand why anyone would ever believe in this logical fallacy. The more you spend, the more you spend. Period.

How Cashback works is very simple. The casino will return a specified percentage of your net losses after a specific time period to your player account. In some cases, the total amount that the casino will return could be capped.

Let me offer you an example of how Cashback is offered and then I’ll break it down to explain what it really means.

  • 10% Cashback up to €100 every month
    This means that at 23:59 at night on the last day of every month, your net losses are calculated and 10% of that amount is returned to you. If you get your Cashback in bonus money, then you’ll have to meet the wagering requirements before a deadline stipulated in the terms and conditions before you can make a withdrawal.
    Once you clear the playthrough, you’ll start accumulating Cashback on your net losses for the current month. Losses incurred on bonus money will never count towards any Cashback.

So, how can you get and claim Cashback offers? In many different ways. The offer in and of itself will always work in the same way when it comes to getting money back based on your net losses. How you get and claim the offer may vary.

There are three ways, as far as I know, that you can claim a Cashback offer:

  1. You’re a VIP player and regularly get periodical Cashback offers as part of a loyalty scheme.
  2. The offer could be connected with making a deposit.
  3. You simply click an opt-in button which triggers the calculation of your net losses.

The most important aspect of Cashback as an offer is whether or not the money returned is yours to withdraw or bonus money that you have to wager. Obviously, real cash is better than bonus money, always!

Payment method bonus

These are super rare so don’t count on getting these regularly or even ever. I just felt that I should include payment method bonus as a possibility because they do happen. Let’s say that a casino signs with an eWallet and in an effort to move players over to that payment method, they may run a promotion where you’ll get a deposit bonus if you make the switch.

Personally, I’m not desperate enough to sign up with a new payment method just for a bit of extra bonus money. Which will obviously come with terms and conditions. Not to mention that now I have a whole new payment method to remember to use.

Refer-a-friend bonus

Some casinos will run a drive when they are low on players where they offer their existing players to bring in new ones in returns for bonus offers. Still, the rules surrounding these refer-a-friend bonuses usually comes with so many rules that it’s most likely not worth the hassle.

Check this out. I’m not going to point fingers, but one casino with a refer-a-friend bonus that I found had these terms. I won’t copy paste them so I will explain them, and then you make up your mind.

The offer itself is a 100% deposit bonus up to €50 with a 35x wagering requirement on the bonus amount. Winnings from the bonus is capped at €150. So far so good. Now, here’s what needs to happen before you’re qualified to deposit and claim that bonus.

  1. You have to opt-in to the refer-a-friend promotion so you can get a special referral link that you can send to your friends.
  2. Your friend has to sign up with the casino, using the referral link.
  3. Once your friend has an account with the casino, they have to make a deposit and claim the Welcome Bonus.
  4. As soon as steps 1-3 are done, the refer-a-friend deposit bonus will be added to your account and you’ll have 3 days to claim it with your deposit.

It’s just feels like a lot of requirements have to be met before you can deposit more money just to claim a bonus, which in itself will come with additional requirements. Personally, I’m too lazy…

But if you have some really great friends who won’t mind signing up with a casino, making a deposit, and claiming the Welcome Bonus, and you’re desperate for a deposit bonus…

Loyalty bonuses

All casinos treat their top players, those who play with bit bets and/or make frequent and large deposits, like royalty. These players often end up as VIPs and are enrolled in the casino’s loyalty program. All casinos do this, even those that don’t advertise this.

VIP/Loyalty programs all work the same. For every specific amount you wager you earn points, points which you can later trade in for different things, including withdrawable money. It’s a simple and straightforward system.

All bonuses in this guide are often available for points, with the difference that they’re a lot more favourable. For example, percentages on deposit bonuses and Cashback are higher while wagering requirements are lower.

Many casinos will include all their players in their loyalty program from their first bet with real money. Take advantage of this opportunity and spend your loyalty points wisely.

Risk free deposit bonus

Competition breeds innovation and the risk free deposit bonus is definitely the result of casinos vying for new players. In my opinion, this is one of the most interesting offers available to casino players to date.

There’s of course a risk involved. Every deposit comes with the risk of losing it all, or does it? This is what I love about this bonus. It’s not an actual bonus. Think of it as a challenge where you either double up your money or get it back.

Here’s how it works. You make a deposit of a specified amount, usually €25 or lower, and if you lose any or all your money, it will be returned to you in full up to your initial deposit amount – without wagering requirements!

There are four terms you have to be aware of when it comes to risk free deposit bonuses:

  1. You only have 24 hours to double your money.
  2. If you double up your money before time runs out, you’re no longer eligible for a refund.
  3. You’re not allowed to bet more than €5 per spin, hand or game round.
  4. If you lose your money it may take up to 48 hours for it to be returned.

I have a really hard time trying to figure out what’s negative about this offer. I’m usually pretty good at finding things in terms and conditions that I might disagree with. But this one, nothing. I thought I did, but then I realised that I was wrong.

This bonus is normally offered only on your first deposit as a Welcome Bonus. Let’s say that you claim this offer with a €25 deposit and lose your money. You wait up to 48 hours to get your money, and now there’s a chance that you still have to wager your deposit 1x.

At first I thought “ha, gotcha!” But then I realised that this has nothing to do with the offer. This is pretty much standard anti-money laundering regulations. No online casino will allow you to deposit money and withdraw it without playing at least some of it.

It’s just the world we live in…

Sticky and non-sticky bonuses

These aren’t actually bonuses, but rather a description that differentiate how bonuses work. On the surface there’s no way to tell if a bonus is sticky or non-sticky. The only way to find out is to do a bit or reading. Yes, reading. Hey, if you’ve made it this far, what harm could a little more reading possibly do?

The “sticky” part refers to how your deposit money is connected with bonus money after you claim a bonus offer. For a change, the term sticky actually makes perfect sense and is rather self-explanatory as I will show, right now:

  • A sticky bonus means that your deposit money is stuck to the bonus money and cannot be withdrawn until you’ve met the wagering requirements.
  • A non-sticky bonus separates your deposit money from the bonus money and can be withdrawn at any time, which will forfeit the unused bonus money, as long as you’re not violating any terms regarding anti-money laundering.

Practically, you should be looking in the terms for the line that explains what you’re wagering. If it says that you’re wagering deposit + bonus, then it’s a sticky bonus. If it says that wagering is only applied to the bonus money, you’re looking at a non-sticky bonus.

There is another thing you could look at, the offer itself. A sticky bonus is normally bigger than a non-sticky, which means that you’ll have more total money to play with, but with the boost in funds comes a hike in the wagering requirements.

Let me clarify with two examples of the same bonus offer as either sticky or non-sticky:

  • Deposit bonus – 100% up to €100 (Sticky)
    Say you deposit €100 and claim this bonus. The casino will add €100 to your total balance, leaving you with €200 to play with. According to the terms, you’re not allowed to make a withdrawal until the wagering requirements are met because the wagering is based on the total amount of your deposit + bonus amount.
  • Deposit bonus – 100% up to €100 (Non-sticky)
    Everything is exactly the same as above. You’ll end up with €200 to play with except that your money is separated from the bonus money, and when you start playing you’re playing with your deposited money first. This means that you’re actually not contributing to meeting the wagering requirement since that is only applied to the bonus amount, which you will only start playing with once your deposited €100 is lost.

So why would anyone ever accept a sticky bonus? Looking at these two instances of the same bonus it’s pretty obvious that a sticky bonus is worse when it comes to the possibility of withdrawing your money. BUT, this is only true if all things are equal when it comes to the amount of bonus money that’s up for grabs.

What you’ll find is that sticky bonuses usually have a higher percentage, meaning that you risk less of your own money for a bigger total amount of money to play with when you get started in the online casino. This is actually a great way to get started if you’re a beginner and are trying to figure out which games you like to play.

Non-sticky bonuses are usually smaller because there’s always the chance of players winning and deciding to cash out. What it all comes down to is a very simple distribution of risk.

The more bonus money a casino is willing to offer, the more risk it takes on since bonus money comes out of the casinos account. It’s only natural that a casino would like to protect its investment with more stringent terms and conditions.

So what’s the investment the casino is making? Well, it’s in the casino’s interest that you return and make future deposits and offering a lot of bonus money is a good way of creating an image of a place where you want to play.

Which bonuses to take

You might want to consider what type of player you are or want to become when you contemplate online casino bonuses. If you’re a casual player who just want to have a bit of fun with the added excitement of possibly winning money (this is in my opinion the healthy way of looking at gambling), then go ahead and claim bonuses that will increase the fun.

If you’re more interested in going for big wins without cumbersome wagering requirements, then you should perhaps stick to Cashback bonuses without wagering that doesn’t require deposits. Still, don’t ever lose sight of what really matters, and that is to have fun.

The moment you feel like you’re losing control and you feel like gambling has become more of a habit than some harmless entertainment, then you should first read up on responsible gambling and possibly self-exclude for an extended period of time.