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Free bets are a risk-free opportunity to wager on your favourite sports. Think of them as a ‘thank you’ for your custom. Free bets are credited to your bookmaker account, either upon sign-up or after placing a qualifying wager of your own. On comparison sites such as oddschecker different types of free bet promotions can be found, each of which allow you to have a bet without risking a penny of your own money. If it’s a new customer offer, you’ll be redirected to the site of your chosen bookmaker to register a new account. If it’s an offer for existing customers – known as a reload offer – the available bonus is often already visible inside your active account.
Each free bet promotion has its own terms and conditions. These terms are set by the individual bookmaker and differ from site to site. Below, we explain some of the most prominent terms and conditions to put you firmly in the picture when making the most of free bet offers.
Some free bet promotions will require you to place a real-money wager of your own to activate the bonus. This real-money bet will also need to be placed at odds acceptable by your chosen bookmaker. Most bookies will set minimum odds for customers to hit to be eligible for subsequent bonuses.
Let’s give you a simple example. Bookmaker A requires you to place a £10 real-money bet to qualify for a £20 free bet. This £10 bet must be placed at minimum odds of 1/2 (1.50 in decimal odds). If you were to place a £10 bet at odds of 1/3 (1.33 in decimal odds), you would not activate the free bet. If you placed a £10 bet at odds of 1/2 or higher, the free bet will be triggered upon completion of your qualifying bet.
Minimum odds limits are included in free bet promotions to prevent the manipulation of bonuses, as these promotions are dished out in good faith. If no minimum odds existed, there would be nothing stopping a customer placing a £10 wager at odds of 1/100 (1.01 in decimal odds) to all but guarantee a win, as well as their free bet credits.
On occasion, online bookmakers may also set a maximum stake limit per wager with bonus funds. For example, let’s say you receive £100 in free bet credits, but the maximum stake limit is £50. You would have to place two separate maximum wagers of £50 to utilise all your free bet credits.
If you wish to place a wager that’s above the maximum stake limit for free bet credits, you’ll need to top this up with real money from your account balance. For example, if the maximum stake limit is £50 and you want to place a wager worth £75, you could use a maximum of £50 in free bet credits and a further £25 of your own money.
For many sports bettors, maximum stake limits shouldn’t be an issue. A large majority of those who receive £100 in free bet credits would prefer to use it to make multiple risk-free bets, perhaps ten free bets at £10 apiece.
Wagering requirements are also applicable to most free bet bonuses with online bookmakers. The size of wagering requirements differ from site to site, so it’s important to read the fine print of your chosen promotion. Wagering requirements state how many times a free bet must be rolled over before it can be converted into real, withdrawable cash.
For example, if Bookmaker A offered 1x wagering requirements on a free bet bonus of £50, you would need to wager the £50 once before any subsequent winnings can be converted into your real-money balance. If Bookmaker B offers 10x wagering requirements on a free bet bonus of £50, you would need to bet £500 before any remaining winnings are transferred into your real-money balance.
Ultimately, it’s a good idea to hand-pick the free bet bonuses with the lowest possible wagering requirements. This would give you a legitimate chance at turning any free bet winnings into withdrawable money that could boost your long-term betting bankroll.
In some cases, free bet bonuses will have expiry dates attached to them. If you don’t read the small print, it’s easy to overlook the expiry date of free bet credits and you run the risk of losing them altogether. In some cases, free bets will be credited to accounts for a maximum of seven days. This is typically the case with welcome bonuses for new customers, encouraging new users to sample the betting interface of their chosen operator.
Some operators will commit to offering free bets without expiry dates. This is obviously the best scenario, allowing you to take your time to find the right betting opportunities. In other cases, online bookmakers will state the date on which their free bets expire. This means the free bets will still be valid on the date of expiry until midnight.
In some cases, free bet credits will be made eligible for use on specific betting markets. Free bet promotions are often dished out to new and existing customers ahead of premier sporting events. Whether it’s the Cheltenham Festival, Grand National, the FA Cup final or the Olympic Games, some free bets are reserved solely for use on these headline betting markets.
For instance, if you sign up to a new bookmaker ahead of the next Grand National and receive a £20 free bet, this free bet will only be eligible for use on the outright Grand National betting market. The free bet will expire and disappear from your account the moment that the Grand National is in-play.
It’s always a good idea to go into any free bet promotions with your eyes wide open. Online bookmakers are always up front about the terms and conditions of their bonuses, but some bettors forget to drill down into the specifics in all the excitement of activating a bonus. Hopefully this guide outlines all the key specifics to look out for before hitting that all-important ‘claim’ button.