Whilst there are several factors to consider when choosing which online casino to join, there’s no denying that the casino welcome bonus plays a huge part in the decision making process. With such fierce competition within the online casino industry, the welcome bonus, which is sometimes referred to as a sign-up bonus or first deposit bonus, has become an integral feature designed to catch the eye of potential new customers. Want to get the best bang for your buck? Our guide to casino welcome bonuses is sure to get you off to a flying start at your next online casino.
Types of Welcome Bonus
Casinos can offer a lot to attract new customers to their site meaning that the types of welcome bonuses can be pretty varied. Let’s have a look at what you can expect to find.
If you’ve had a look around at what’s on offer, you’ll have noticed that the majority of new customer bonuses on offer come in the form of matched deposits. A matched deposit does exactly what it says on the tin – you place your first deposit and the casino matches it in bonus funds. While many casinos offer a 100% matched deposit, it’s not uncommon to find matched deposit offers as low as 50% or as high as 200%.
Here’s a common example of a matched deposit bonus:
- 100% up to £100 – deposit £100 and get an extra £100 to play with
This offer is broken down into two parts. The first is the percentage matched. In this example, you’re essentially getting your deposit doubled. The second is the maximum amount of free cash the casino is willing to give you. Of course you can deposit more if you wish, but the bonus funds you’ll receive won’t go beyond the stated limit.
There are several promotional sign up bonuses that offer free spins to existing players, however, as a new customer, you’ll usually find free spins bundled with your deposit bonus.
Here’s a common example of a matched deposit offer with free spins:
- 100% up to £500 + 100 free spins
Getting your hands on free spins is never a bad idea. A few online casinos offer a standalone free spins welcome bonus, where you receive a certain number of free spins dependent on the value of your initial deposit. In most instances, you’ll find that your free spins come packaged with your cash deposit bonus. This allows you to use your cash bonus on games away from the slots category, should you wish to! Of course, just like your bonus winnings, any winnings made using free spins will be subject to wagering requirements. Remember to keep an eye out for the terms and conditions to find out how many times you’ll have to play through your bonus winnings before they can be made available for withdrawal.
No Deposit Bonus
A no deposit bonus is as straightforward as it sounds. All you need to do is create an account and the bonus is yours! The idea behind it is to give new players a taster of what the casino has to offer without the need to place a deposit, in the hope that they’ll sign up and become paying customers. While many no deposit bonuses come in the form of free spins or other game tokens, there are a few operators that dish out no deposit cash bonuses. This gives you a licence to roam the casino and take your pick from the vast selection of titles in the games collection. Of course, there are wagering requirements and winning caps to prevent any huge losses being made by the casino operator. All things considered, we think it’s an offer well worth snapping up, especially if you’re on a tight budget. It’s the perfect way to try before you buy!
There are a number of huge bonuses that may appear attractive at first, but come coupled with huge wagering requirements. This can make it quite difficult for you to get your hands on any bonus winnings, especially if you aren’t a frequent player. Over the last few years a new, player-friendly form of welcome bonus has surfaced and it’s fair to say that it’s already a firm favourite. It should come as no surprise – any winnings earned using a no wagering bonus are immediately available for withdrawal.
There are a few no wagering cash bonuses out there, but the most common offer is no wagering free spins. A good example of this is PlayOJO’s welcome bonus which offers 1 no wager free spin for every £1 deposited (up to 50 free spins). So if you deposit £50, you’ll have that money to play with as you see fit but you’ll also receive 50 free spins courtesy of the casino.
No Deposit, No Wagering
At some sites you’ll even get the best of both worlds. No deposit no wager bonuses give you a boost to your bankroll for absolutely free and allow you to withdraw your winnings as cash whenever you want! There will be other terms and conditions attached to these bonuses, so keep your eye out for those.
How to Choose the Best Casino Welcome Bonus
Use our expert reviews to find a welcome bonus that suits you using the steps below.
How to Claim a Casino Welcome Bonus
Follow these simple steps to claim your first casino sign up bonus:
- Compare online casinos
Welcome bonuses come in several shapes and sizes, so you need to find the right one for you. Our carefully curated list of top online casinos features the best welcome bonuses available online today, and all our recommendations are licensed by the UKGC so you can play with confidence. Simply compare and pick out one you fancy.
- Review terms and conditions
Remember not to be swayed by the big numbers. A bonus offer may seem generous on the surface, but we recommend taking a closer look. Take your time to read the terms and conditions and keep an eye out for the wagering requirements. This will give you a much better idea of the true value of a bonus offer.
- Sign up
Once you’ve picked out a favourite, follow our link which redirects you to the casino’s registration page. From here, you’ll be able to sign up and become eligible for your exclusive welcome bonus. Creating an account takes just a few minutes, all you need to do is provide a few personal details.
- Deposit & claim
Unless you’ve grabbed a no deposit welcome bonus, you’ll have to deposit to claim your bonus. Simply head over to the cashier page of your chosen casino to make a payment. The top online casinos offer support for a range of payment methods, from bank transfers to Skrill. Once your deposit settles and you receive your bonus, you’re ready to play!
Terms and Conditions
Another important aspect of a welcome bonus is what, if any, limits are imposed by the casino. This information is usually found in the terms and conditions, but it’s important to take a look to ensure you don’t end up missing out on claiming any bonus winnings.
The most common limits are time constraints. You’ll want to know how much time you have to claim your welcome bonus (i.e. the time between creating an account and making your first deposit) and how long your casino welcome bonus is valid for. We’d also recommend finding out how long you have to clear any wagering requirements, to assess whether or not this would restrict your ability to cash out your bonus winnings.
Certain bonuses may look pretty good value on the outside, but it may be the case that you can only use it on specific games. Free spins will most likely only apply to slot games, but other bonuses like matched deposits may only be played on certain table games and some can’t be used in the live casino, for example. It’s worth making a note of where you can and can’t use your bonus before you claim, in case you had your eyes on making the most of a particular game.
If you manage to find a bonus with no wagering requirements, you may think you’ve hit the jackpot. However, there are usually caps on winnings earned using these types of bonuses. A casino could hand out 50 no deposit free spins, for example, but cap your bonus winnings at £50. Casino operators are in it to make money, after all.
For online casino bonuses that require a qualifying deposit, a minimum deposit amount often applies. For example, a 100% up to £100 deposit match bonus allows you to claim up to £100 in bonus cash by depositing £100 in real money. However, the minimum deposit required to participate in the offer won’t be £100. Instead, it will be something like £10 or £20. It’s worth remembering that the maximum bonus for matched deposit deals is tied to your deposit amount. So, if you deposit £20 in this example, you’d get £20 in bonus money, and not the full £100.
Payment Method Exclusions
Terms for even the best welcome bonuses may exclude players from using certain payment methods to claim offers. The most excluded options are e-wallets such as Neteller and Skrill, pay by mobile services, and Paysafecard. On the other hand, bonus eligibility for debit cards and bank transfers via Trustly is excellent. As a new player claiming a welcome bonus, these terms apply to your first deposit only, and you’ll be free to use your preferred deposit method afterwards. Just remember that payment exclusions may apply to existing player promos too.
Where casino bonus offers have wagering requirements, game weightings mean that not every bet you place will contribute in full. For example, if a game has a weighting of 50%, every £1 you bet contributes 50p to the wagering requirements. In practice, game weightings usually apply to RNG table games such as blackjack and baccarat, and usually sit somewhere between 5% and 20%. Live casino games are often excluded entirely. Slots like Starburst and Book of Dead usually offer a 100% wagering contribution but high RTP slots like Mega Joker may attract a lower weighting or be discounted entirely.
Put simply, a wagering requirement is the number of times you’ll need to wager your bonus winnings before it can be made available for withdrawal. Casinos usually include wagering requirements in the terms and conditions of a bonus offer and state that players must meet them within a certain period of time.
Here’s an example of a matched deposit bonus with wagering requirements:
- 100% up to £200. Wagering requirements are 25x the bonus amount.
In this instance, if you deposit £90, you’ll receive £90 in bonus funds from the casino. This bonus comes with a wagering requirement that will require you to play through any bonus winnings 25 times before they’re available for withdrawal. This means that you’ll have to wager £2,250 before any bonus winnings can be withdrawn. While this isn’t completely out of reach, many players might find it difficult to reach this figure, especially over a short space of time.
The importance of looking into wagering requirements when comparing sign up bonuses should now be clear. Don’t simply be swayed by the big numbers, as these often have little bearing on the true value of the bonus.
Claiming Your Welcome Bonus on the Go
One of the best things about modern online casinos is that playing on the go is easier than ever before. Virtually every casino offers the same offers across their mobile apps as they do on their desktop site. Some sites even offer mobile-exclusive welcome bonuses.
All of our featured UK casinos have a mobile optimised site, but the very best sites will give their players the option of a native app. With quick loading times and push notifications, mobile casino apps are one the best ways to play with a welcome bonus around.
Pros and Cons of Mobile Casino Apps vs Mobile Casino Sites
Best Mobile Casino Apps
There are a lot of ways to pay at an online casino these days, with each option suiting a specific set of requirements. What payment method you choose can have an effect on your ability to claim your welcome bonus, however.
Debit cards offer plenty of benefits to players, not least that they are accessible, familiar, and pretty much universally accepted at online casinos. Debit card deposits also tend to be instant, are safe and secure, and qualify for most bonuses too. A potential drawback arises with payout times, which can stretch to five days or longer at some sites. If you’re hoping for faster payouts, it’s worth looking out for casinos that offer speedy withdrawals using the Visa Fast Funds service. This can reduce your waiting time to as little as 30 minutes after internal processing, although it’s only available to Visa customers — Mastercard holders are out of luck.
Gambling with your credit card is no longer possible following the Government’s Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures. The ban was announced by the UK Gambling Commission on April 14th 2020
e-Wallets are becoming an increasingly popular payment method and it’s easy to see why. Services like PayPal, Skrill and Neteller are completely free to sign up to, don’t require you to share your financial information with the casino and often process transactions within 24 hours. But the use of certain e-wallets may exclude you from particular welcome bonuses. The exclusions will be laid out in the offer terms and conditions so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on those before you sign up.
New Casino Welcome Offers
It may seem like a good idea to stick to the more established names when signing up to a welcome bonus, but new casinos can offer some of the best promotions out there. As a way to stand out from the crowd, new casinos offer some of the best value welcome bonuses to attract fresh customers. Some, like Play Ojo, even offer no wagering bonuses that allow players to withdraw their money without being restricted by wagering terms. Want your winnings within 24 hours? Check out our fast withdrawal casinos.
Claim Your Bonus and Play!
Now that we’ve taken you through everything you need to know about welcome bonuses, it’s time to sign up and claim your very own. We’re sure our carefully curated list of casinos will provide you with an option that caters to you. Simply check out our list, compare and sign up to become eligible for your casino welcome bonus today!
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best casino welcome bonus?
There is no universal best casino bonus. The best offer is the one that gives you the greatest chance of cashing out your bonus winnings. Frequent players with large budgets may be tempted by huge matched deposit, regardless of wagering requirements. On the other hand, players with a smaller bankroll may prefer to claim a no wagering bonus to avoid jumping through hoops to get their bonus winnings.
Do I need a bonus code to claim my casino new customer offer?
A few casinos require players to enter bonus codes to claim their welcome bonuses. If you’re required to do so, this is almost always clearly stated beforehand. In other instances, you’ll either need to make your first deposit or simply sign up to claim.
Are all welcome offers only for the first deposit?
No, several casino offer multiple deposit welcome packages, which could be split over your first three, four or five deposits. It’s important to check the bonus terms so you know exactly what type of bonus you are signing up for and you can deposit accordingly depending on the offer.
Is there a minimum amount I must deposit to claim a welcome bonus?
Yes, there will be. Most often it is only £10 or £20 but some casinos offer high-roller packages that require a minimum first deposit of £50. Once again, we urge our readers to check out the terms and conditions first, so you can select the right bonus for you.
How many casinos have sign-up bonus offers?
Pretty much every online casino has a sign-up bonus offer. They’re clearly displayed and are very hard to miss.
Should the sign up offer be the deciding factor when choosing an online casino?
While the sign up offer is undoubtedly an important factor to consider when choosing a new online casino, it’s definitely worth checking out what else a casino has to offer. It’s game collection, regular promotions and loyalty schemes are arguably just important, especially if you plan to return once your welcome bonus runs out. Your ideal casino may not necessarily be the one that has the best sign-up offer.
What other bonuses do casinos offer?
After you’ve claimed the best sign up bonus for you from one of our recommended casinos, and settled in, there are often plenty of deals in store for you as an existing player. Just fire up the promos page to see what’s up for grabs. You’ll often find you can get bonus offers such as reload bonuses and cashback deals as a loyal customer. Plus, there may be slots tournaments promoting games from certain providers like Pragmatic Play, and even bespoke offers, such as the chance to grab a slots bonus by wagering a certain amount on a particular online slot game.
Does any site offer free play for signing up?
Yes. Some of the best online casinos feature no deposit offers that allow you to claim free spins or a small amount of bonus money for free. All you need to do to claim the bonus is sign up for your new account. Bear in mind that just like bonuses that require a deposit, these no deposit offers often come with terms and conditions attached. For example, free spins might come with a time limit of 1–3 days and wagering requirements may apply to free spins winnings. A max bet amount when playing through your winnings is another stipulation to watch out for.