No deposit bonuses are possibly the most appealing type of bonus that you'll see at an online casino. You just sign up for an account, and you get some house money to play with. Who doesn't love that?
Of course, casinos can't simply give away huge amounts of free money and expect to stay in business. There are some terms and conditions attached to every no deposit bonus to help protect the casinos from massive losses, and it's important to understand them to get the best deal for yourself. Sign-up bonuses only come once, so you'll want to make the absolute most of them!
Look for answers to the following questions before you claim that no deposit bonus.
Is There A Code You Need to Enter?
Some no deposit bonuses will not be applied to your account unless you enter a specific alpha-numeric code at some point.
You might be prompted for this code during the sign-up process, in which case you might miss out on the bonus if it is not entered at that point. At some other casinos, you just need to enter it within a certain time limit after creating the new account (more on these later) to opt in. If you miss either of these windows to enter the code, the opportunity is gone forever.
Does Taking the No Deposit Bonus Invalidate a Better Bonus?
A number of online casinos will offer you the choice of several different welcome bonuses. For example, they might have you choose from either a no deposit bonus or a deposit matching bonus; you can take one or the other, but not both.
Some online casinos also have sportsbooks, poker rooms and bingo sites. At these sorts of gaming sites, taking the casino's no deposit bonus might make you ineligible for welcome bonuses in the other segments of the site.
It all comes down to the expected return of each bonus offer, and how well the offer fits into your budget and play style. In general, the no deposit bonuses offer a small expected return and are best suited to players on a smaller budget. Taking advantage of the deposit bonus instead often yields a much better expected return, provided you have the budget to max out the initial deposit and can meet the wagering requirements. If you're a sports bettor (or thinking about branching out into it), you might end up finding better value in the sportsbook welcome bonus. Also check to see if there are different bonuses for the standard casino and the live dealer casino (the one that has video streaming games run by actual human dealers).
It's always worth taking at least a few minutes to look over any other areas of interest at the betting site to see what their welcome offers are. If you're being asked to choose just one when you set up a new account, you'll want the one that offers you the best value.
Do You Have to Deposit to Withdraw?
Some no deposit bonuses aren't exactly "no deposit", if you check the terms carefully.
It's true that you should never be asked to deposit any money to play a no deposit bonus. However, some casinos do require that you make some sort of deposit before you can withdraw any winnings from your no deposit bonus play.
At first glance, this might seem a bit sneaky. And it's true that you can make a fair argument that bonuses with these terms shouldn't really be called "no deposit." The reality is that you'll see a number of reputable casinos doing this, however, and in most cases the deposit terms are not egregious and not really worth getting up in arms about.
The casinos often ask that you only deposit a very modest amount (think £10 to £30), probably less than you were planning on playing with anyway. So long as that's the only term and there are no excessive wagering requirements attached to it, the no deposit bonus is often still a good value for the player.
Can You Opt Out of the Bonus?
A good bonus offer will allow you to opt out of it if things don't go your way. Why is this important? The way that things are structured at some online casinos, you may have to play through any existing bonus funds before you can take future bonus offers. Or you may not be allowed to withdraw funds while in the midst of a bonus offer that has a wagering requirement. If you encounter a situation such as this, most reputable UK online casinos have an "opt out" option that lets you terminate the bonus offer at any time and go back to the normal status of your account.
What Games is it Available For?
The no deposit bonus may only be available for use at certain games. For example, free spins will often only be good at particular slots, or free play may only be used at certain types of games.
If there is a wagering requirement, you should also check to see what games contribute to it. Some games may contribute partial amounts or may not contribute at all. The higher return to player (RTP) the game has, the more likely its contribution to the wagering requirement will be limited.
Is There A Withdrawal Limit?
Online casinos sometimes limit how much you can withdraw from no deposit bonus winnings. For example, let's say you were given 50 free spins as a no deposit bonus for opening your account, and you ended up winning a nice £600 from them. If there is a withdrawal cap or limit, however, then you won't get that full amount. Let's say the limit was £100; then all you would get is £100. The other £500 would simply vanish as if it never existed. Withdrawal caps are often in place if the no deposit bonus doesn't have a wagering requirement.
How Are Progressive Jackpot Wins Handled?
If you're planning on using some no deposit free spins or free play to chase a big progressive jackpot, first make sure that progressives are eligible. You should also check to see what happens if you actually hit a progressive. Some online casinos make an exception to their winnings cap or withdrawal limit for progressive jackpots, but some don't.
Is There A Time Limit?
There are a couple of time limits to take note of once you've accepted a no deposit bonus. First, check to see if the bonus has to be used within a certain amount of time (seven days is a common limit). Then, see if there is a time limit for meeting the wagering requirement for any winnings (often somewhere between 7 to 30 days).
Does Part of the Overall Bonus Number Consist of "Free Entry" Tickets?
When an online casino flashes you a total no deposit bonus number, such as £50 or £100, that doesn't necessarily mean the full amount is going to consist of free play. It might be split into different elements that have different values; one portion of the no deposit bonus sometimes consists of free entry tickets to things like slot tournaments, poker tournaments and bingo. These are valued at what they would normally cost, so that £50 no deposit bonus might actually be £25 in free play and £25 in free entry tickets.
Not that free entry tickets are necessarily bad, as they can lead to much bigger wins. But the customer service lines of online casinos that do this are usually full of confused punters who just assumed that £50 they saw in the advertising meant £50 for free play at their favourite game plopped into their account!
No Deposit Bonuses: When to Play, When to Skip
The "terms and conditions" (T&C) page of each casino is your best friend when evaluating new deposit bonuses. The advertising is required to show some of the terms, but not all of them. Regulated UK casinos will have to disclose the full terms on a T&C page, however. Find out whether your games of choice are eligible, and get a sense for the expected value once you meet any wagering requirements.