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Casino Bonuses – How to choose which one to use
Receiving a bonus means you’re getting something extra. That is true no matter where the bonus comes from and so it is true for online casinos as well. The vast majority of online casinos offer some type of welcome bonus and most of them will continue to offer various bonuses to existing customers as well.
The Internet is a maze and there are hundreds of online casinos out there. Navigating all of them, figuring out which one might be best and what bonuses they offer is no easy feat. We are here to help. Not only will we explain what kinds of bonuses are available, but also what to look out for when deciding which bonus is offering the best conditions.
The welcome bonus is the first one you will encounter when deciding whether or not you want to sign up at an online casino. It’s one of the most important criteria when choosing one casino over another, but it is by no means the only aspect to look out for. In our casino reviews we discuss various points for all our recommended casinos, including the bonuses.
Here we will give you helpful information on bonuses in general.
Types of bonuses
It’s possible to make several distinctions between types of bonuses. The general breakdown is pretty easy and that’s what we’re concentrating on here. Some simply consider the difference between a cashable or a non-cashable bonus, whereas others prefer to distinguish between deposit and no-deposit bonus. As it stands, both are very valid aspects and should be taken into consideration.
Cashable – A bonus is cashable when the initial bonus amount that you receive can also be withdrawn once all wagering requirements have been fulfilled.
Non-cashable – A bonus is non-cashable when the initial bonus amount that you receive cannot be withdrawn, even though all wagering requirements have been fulfilled. In this instance only your winnings can be withdrawn.
Deposit bonus – This bonus can include cashable or non-cashable bonus funds and/or free spins. You will need to make a minimum deposit in order to claim the bonus funds and/or free spins. This is the most common type of bonus and comes in different forms such as a welcome bonus, reload-bonus or random match-bonus.
No-deposit bonus – This bonus can include cashable or non-cashable bonus funds and/or free spins. No deposit is required to claim this bonus. The amount of bonus funds and/or free spins you receive is typically small and often there is a cap on withdrawable winnings, meaning you may only be able to withdraw a maximum sum even if your actually winnings were higher.
No deposit bonuses are quite rare nowadays, but some casinos do still offer them. Whilst a no-deposit bonus can be a nice offer to get to know a casino without having to deposit any of your own money, wagering requirements are often pretty strict.
Free spins – Free spins should be looked at as a distinct category as well, especially since some online casinos offer nothing but free spins, whether you have to make a deposit in advance or not. Any of the bonus cash offers give you extra money which allows you to play just about any game a casino has to offer. Free spins on the other hand are specific to slot machines and often restricted to the use of particular slots such as Starburst or Gonzo’s Quest.
Additionally free spin offers almost always come with wagering requirements. That means your initial winnings, which accrued once you’ve used up all your free spins, need to be wagered a certain amount of times. Any winnings accrued later become cashable funds that you can withdraw once wagering is completed.
Some online casinos also offer free spins without wagering requirements. In those cases you usually have to make a deposit in advance or wager a certain amount of money to receive a small amount of free spins.
What about special offers?
Whilst all offers or bonuses that online casinos may offer can be distinguished into above mentioned general categories, one might also wish to consider special offers here.
They usually fall under the category of a promotion. Promotions can be run by a specific casino or by a software provider across a network of casinos. Sometimes it’s possible to win cash or free spins, which may or may not have wagering requirements. Other times prizes such as trips, gadgets or even cars are part of the promotion.
The main difference to a normal bonus offer is that a promotion does not guarantee you any winnings. You are usually participating by completing certain requirements, but that doesn’t mean you will win anything.
On the other hand, if you do win, you can win big.
VIP and loyalty bonuses
Generally speaking VIP or loyalty bonuses are also simply deposit or no-deposit bonuses that are cashable or not. But they are much more exclusive than the normal bonuses you can get at online casinos and they often have better wagering requirements and/or you may well get more for the deposits you make.
Loyalty bonuses are more readily available, because most loyalty schemes are available to all players at an online casino. One is enrolled automatically once one signs up at a casino, has made a first deposit and starts playing.
The main differences players will experience are the advantages each loyalty level brings. That includes more generous bonus offers.
VIP bonuses are only available to VIP players. Depending on the casino a player may eventually reach a VIP level as part of the loyalty program, or players are exclusively invited by the casino, which usually depends on their activity there.
The bigger the better?
One of the main criteria when deciding on what bonus to choose is its size. Here we need to consider the percentage matched as well as the actual bonus amount on offer.
Percentage – The percentage to which a deposit amount is matched typically ranges between 20% and 200%. More or less than that is definitely possible, but quite rare. Let’s look at a few examples.
A 20% bonus is almost always some type of reload bonus, which you can claim as a regular player at many casinos. If you want to claim such a bonus and deposit €100 of your own money, the casino will give you €20 on top of that. Often wagering requirements are fairly reasonable with such a small amount.
On the other hand, if you get a 200% bonus, it may well be part of a welcome offer. Here your own deposit is actually doubled. So, if you deposit €50 and claim a 200% bonus, you will get another €100 in bonus funds. Wagering requirements tend to be quite strict in this case.
Most of the time you will encounter 50% and 100% match bonuses.
Bonus amount – This one is quite important to look at as well. Some casinos may offer a 200% bonus, but only up to an amount of €50 extra. That means your own deposit will be €25, which means you only get to play with €75.
With a 100% bonus, then, you may get a match amount of anything between €20 and up to €4,000 (though most commonly between €100 and €300). Here you have to keep in mind that a deposit of €150 of your own money when claiming a match bonus of 100% and up to €100 still means that you will get €100.
So, first and foremost you’ll decide how much extra money you want to play with. And how much of an investment you want to make yourself. Receiving €100 on a 200% bonus is more to your advantage than receiving €100 on a 100% or 50% bonus.
But before you make your final decision, you are going to want to look at the wagering requirements that apply to your bonus and other bonus conditions you will need to be aware of.
These are among the most important factors to consider when deciding on signing up for or opting out of a bonus. Before you decide on either, you will need to read the full terms and conditions that apply to the bonus you are offered. They are almost always rather extensive and it is in the small print that players overlook something and their bonus is cancelled. That tends to be one of the most common complaints players have about casinos.
But you need to keep in mind that you are essentially given free money, which you can use to potentially win large amounts of money with. The casino doesn’t want to you to cheat them out of money, so the terms and conditions are aimed at protecting the casino’s interests as well as your own.
We can generally only give you an overview of what to expect from a given online casino, but we will always recommend that you check all details yourself.
So, what should you look out for when considering the wagering requirements a casino offers for its bonuses?
- How many times do I need to roll over (or play through) my deposit and/or the bonus money? – The industry standard is at 30 to 35 times the bonus amount. That means, for every €10 you receive in bonus money, you have to wager €300/€350, because you have to wager 30x/35x the €10 you received. Anything above 50x for deposit or bonus is too high. Also, if a casino has wagering requirements of 25x the deposit AND your bonus money, it essentially means wagering 50x deposit/bonus.
- How much time do I get to fulfil the wagering requirements? – Again, the industry standard is usually 30 days. We have seen 7 or 14 days with some casinos, which is very strict and very difficult to manage. Other more generous casinos will give you three to six months, however.
- Is there a maximum withdrawal of winnings? – Some casinos put a cap on the winnings you may be able to withdraw once you’ve completed wagering requirements. For instance, you received a €100 bonus, rolled it over as required and managed to win €375 in the end. A casino may decide that you won’t get more than twice the bonus amount in winnings, which means you can withdraw €200, but will lose the remaining €175. That, too, is detailed in the bonus conditions.
Some of the best wagering requirements we have seen around allowed players to roll over their bonus money only 20 times within 30 days without a cap on winnings. Some of the strictest we’ve seen required players to wager their bonus money 60 times in 14 days and then there may still have been a cap on the winnings.
If you find a casino with very strict bonus requirements that has everything else you are looking for in an online casino, you may decide to either opt-out of the welcome bonus (or any other bonus later on) or you may decide to claim only the minimum amount, which means you won’t be missing out on too much money in the end.
Other bonus conditions to be aware of
The wagering requirements are only one part of the bonus conditions that you need to be aware of, however. Another important consideration when claiming a bonus is the weighting of games that you may wish to play in order to fulfil the wagering requirements.
Slot games typically contribute the most when rolling over your bonus money and/or deposit. Live games on the other hand may not contribute anything at all. That means, if you wager €10 on slots those €10 likely count fully (100%) towards meeting the wagering requirements. If you wager €10 on live roulette and it only contributes 5%, it means that only €0.50 is counted towards completing the wagering requirements.
If casino doesn’t list the weighting, you should stay away from it. Most, however, will give you a detailed breakdown of how much each game type contributes to completing your play through requirements.
That may look something like this:
- Video slots and ‘other games’ (for instance scratch cards, keno, bingo, etc.) – 100%
- Classic slots – 75%
- Table and card games (roulette, baccarat, blackjack) – 10%
- Live tables – 5%
- Video poker – 0%
There are always exceptions, of course. Some video slots contribute nothing, because they have a high RTP. Other casinos allow those slots with a 50% contribution. There are also casinos that only allow slot play to contribute to the completion of wagering requirements. It’s almost always different and you will need to check for yourself.
As a rule, the fewer restrictions there are and the more games or game types contribute towards meeting the wagering requirements, the better it is for you.
Choosing the best bonus for you
There is no one-size-fits-all solution here. It really does depend on what you are looking for in a casino and what bonus meets your needs the best. A few things to consider in summary are the following:
- Check a casino’s reputation – Online casino reviews try to give you a good overview of what a casino has to offer. We encourage players to add their own opinions about our reviewed casinos. That gives you an even better insight into a casino’s practices. You’ll learn what players liked and what they may not have liked so much. So be sure to check our players’ review section as well to get a more complete idea of what a casino might be like.
- What games are you looking for? – The most attractive welcome bonus is useless even at a reputable online casino, if you don’t find the games you want to play there. Are you looking for slots? Which developer is your favourite? What does the live game section look like? Can I use my bonus for all types of games?
- Available payments options – Most people want to know how quickly they will get their winnings when they look at payment options. But it is just as important to keep in mind that a casino offers a good variety of payment methods. You want to be able to use the most convenient one for you, preferably without having to also open a new eWallet account or something along those lines. Sometimes it’s better to wait a little for your money than having to deal with unsuitable payment methods.
- Bonuses conditions – Whether you sign up at a casino and then claim a bonus or not very much depends on the conditions offered. Many online casinos of good reputation are quite reasonable here. The less complicated the terms are, the better for you. Some online casinos present such convoluted terms and conditions that you want to throw up your hands and give up before you even signed up. Since you now know what to look out for in terms of conditions, you will be able to make an informed decision.
Keep in mind that our guidelines are fairly general, because we want to cover as many possible scenarios as we have encountered. We are also taking into consideration our own research and experience with online casinos. In the end you will have to make your own, but we want you to be safe and have fun when doing so. If you have questions or feedback you’re welcome to get in touch.