Free Bets: The Beginner´s Guide

free bets

In this guide you´ll learn the difference between Free bets and how to ensure you successfully meet the terms and conditions of each and every one of them.

I had the idea to create this free bets guide after realizing the fact that many people struggle trying to get free bets or bonuses.

A key reason for this is the bookies terms and condition that apply to them. This can sadly lead to them losing money or even seeing their bonus cancelled.

That´s why I´m sure that this free bets guide will help you to take the best profits when using the matched betting guide and allow you to make the most from bookies offers.

In what is now a very competitive market, the majority of bookmakers offer a free bet or bonus as an incentive to attract new customers. This can also be used to encourage existing customers to make more bets with them.

Free bet offers: 24 Essential things you should know

When it comes to get any free bet offer, the only thing you need to know apart from matched betting is its terms and conditions. Checking it thoroughly will allow you to be able to take the best profits from each and every free bet and bonus.

Initially I thought in writing this guide with details of the terms and conditions of each and every offer in the market.

But that is really complicated to achieve.

You see the free bets being offered are continually changing. They also differ depending on which country they are being offered in.

That’s why I thought that it would be better for you to list the 24 essential terms and conditions that bookmakers use for their free bets offers and many new customers struggle to understand.

Let´s take a look at each and every one of them:

1. Seriously. Check the Free Bet terms and conditions!

Don´t be lazy, make sure that you take a little time to thoroughly check each and every point that the bookmaker requires of you in their terms and conditions. You´ll appreciate it later when you succeed in receiving your free bet.

Remember, although it may be that some of the following requirements listed below might be missing in the terms and conditions that you are checking, I recommend you meet them anyway. This is because some bookies can change their terms and conditions whenever they want too.

2. Use the bookmaker´s customer service if you have any questions.

This is probably the best advice that I can give you. When there is some requirement in the terms and conditions that you don´t entirely understand, don´t hesitate for even a moment to get in touch with their customer service staff. I recommend you contact them via chat (taking screenshots) or email.

This is crucial because if they give you any wrong information then you can show this and protect your interests.

3. Free bet expiration date

This is very important!

Most bookies set an expiry date on their qualifying bets, free bets and roll-over bonus offers.

Therefore, it is essential that you always check the offer’s expiry date. Imagine that you keep qualifying for a €100 roll-over bonus for two months and suddenly you realize that the expiry date offer was for only one month… I never want that to happen to you!

4. What is a Free Bet

A ‘ free bet ‘is an introductory incentive offered by online bookmakers  to attract new customers. For example, the free bet offer may be ‘Bet £25 with us and we will give you a £25 free bet ‘.

Since free bets can’t be withdrawn until you actually bet with them, free bet offers normally consist of two bets – the first with your own cash in order to qualify for the free bet and the second with the free bet itself.

Bookies free bets can be broken down into two types of free bet -stake returned free bets (SR Free Bets) and stake-not-returned free bets (SNR free bets). Both free bet types normally require a qualifying bet of equivalent value to be made with your own money before the free bet is credited to your bookmaker account.

5. Stake returned free bet (SR Free Bet)

This is the same as placing a bet with your own cash. Say you place a £10 free bet on a selection priced at 4.00 (3/1 in fractional terms). If the bet wins you are lucky enough to win £30 and you will also receive the £10 stake as this has been a stake returned free bet (SR Free Bet).

This means that in total £40 goes into your account, an excellent result for your free bet.

6. Stake not returned free bet (SNR Free Bet)

Unlike the above, when you bet with a SNR free bet, only the free bet winnings are returned to you if your free bet wins, excluding the actual free bet stake

For example, if you placed a £10 SNR free bet at odds of 4.00 (3/1 in fractional terms) just as above, your £10 free bet would again make a £30 profit. However, as it is a stake not returned free bet (SNR free bet), you only receive that £30 profit. The £10 stake is not paid into your account.

7. Deposit bonus

Unlike free bets, deposit bonuses are credited as cash. They are awarded to the customer as a percentage bonus which is based on your first deposit with the site.

For example, you may receive a 100% bonus on your first deposit up to £100. Normally this bonus will be added to your balance after the deposit has been made. Sometimes though a qualifying bet has to be made.

Naturally bookmakers will not allow you to simply withdraw this free bonus. In order to prevent this happening they will attach terms and these come in the form of ‘wagering requirements.’

Wagering simply refers to the total amount that you must bet (deposit + Bonus) when gambling on the site before the bonus can be withdrawn.

For example, a bookmaker may offer a 100% deposit bonus up to £100, the bonus and deposit must then be wagered three times before the bonus can be withdrawn

Starting balance = Deposit £100 + Bonus £100 = £200

Wagering Requirement = Deposit £100 + Bonus £100 x 3 = £600

Note: Wagering requirements do not have to be completed in one single bet, they can be completed in any number of bets at any bet amount as long as the total bets placed meets the set wagering requirement. Again check the terms and conditions thoroughly to ensure you meet any expiry date.

8. Post wager deposit bonus

A post wager deposit bonus is similar to a normal deposit bonus; the bonus amount that you receive is based on a percentage of the size of your initial deposit with the site.

For example, you may receive a 100% bonus up to £100. The difference is that deposit bonuses are credited instantly whereas post wager deposit bonuses are not. The post wager bonus is only credited after you have met the set wagering requirement.

This means you need to bet a certain amount in total before the bonus is released, once it’s released it can then be instantly withdrawn.

For example, you may receive a 100% bonus up to £100 based on your first deposit, the deposit amount must be turned over 5x before the bonus will be released

Starting Balance = Deposit £100

Wagering Requirement – Deposit £100 x 5 = £500

This means you must make a total of £500 worth of bets with the site before the £100 bonus is credited to your account. This can be made up of one or a series of bets, if you lose your initial deposit, simply re-deposit and make another bet until the required wagering is complete

Note: Wagering requirements do not have to be completed in one bet, they can be completed in any number of bets at any bet amount as long as the total bets placed meets the set wagering requirement. Again read the terms and conditions and make note of any expiry date that has to be met.

9. First bet refund offer

A first bet refund offer gives the new customer a risk-free bet. If your first bet with the site I a losing one, the bookie will refund your stake. If your first bet is lucky enough to be a winning one, then you get to keep your winnings.

The potential refund amount is stated on the bookmaker’s website and will be based on your first deposit and the amount of the bet.

For example, 188Bet offer a £25 first bet refund, if your first £25 bet loses they will refund your stake, if your bet wins you keep the winnings.

10. Existing customer offers

Existing customer offers are offers that are available to existing customers i.e. those that already hold an account with the bookmaker. These come in the form of reload bonuses, loyalty programs and unique offers based around various sporting events such as the World Cup, Cheltenham Festival or Champions League games.

11. What means minimum odds

These are the minimum odds that your first bet must be placed at or above in the bookmaker in order to qualify for a particular free bet or bonus. This information is displayed in the free bet terms and conditions on the bookmaker’s website.

For example, in order to qualify for the £25 free bet your first best must be of £25 and placed at odds of 2.00 (evens in fractional terms) or above. Be careful because usually the odds for qualifying bets and free bets are different!

12. Place your qualifying bet only on football

Although you can place your qualifying bets on any sport you want, definitely the best one to choose is football.


Because on football, a match can only be postponed due to bad weather and in top competitions the risk is very low due to the high quality of the pitch.

Even so some people prefer to diversify their qualifying bets. They often choose tennis because there are so many games being played every day. This way the free bet/bonus can be received soon after joining the site.

I don´t recommend you employ this strategy at all because occasionally tennis players get injured while they are playing and the game cannot be finished. The problem is that Betfair and bookies often have different policies regarding such cases, which may result in losses.

13. Don´t place other type of bets apart from the typical “1 / X / 2”.

When you start to place bets to qualify for the free bet or bonus I recommend you to focus only on the typical 1 / X / 2.


I have two main reasons:

  • “1 / X / 2” is the easier bet when you compare odds between the bookmaker and Betfair, because it´s the first football betting market that you´ll see.
  • Some bookies don´t allow you to place bets on markets as Handicap, Under / Over… in their offers.

14. Don´t place multiple bets on the same event

Some people try to place multiple bets on the same event simply because there are more probabilities to find closer odds between the bookie and Betfair…

Forget it!

Limit yourself to placing one single bet for event, doing the opposite may result in losses for you because many bookies ban this practice in their terms and conditions.

15. Pre match odds: Place only pre match qualifying bets

The main reason to do that is because the pre-match odds change less often than the in-play match odds (during the match any circumstance may change the odds being offered).

This gives you more time to place the back and lay bet when you find close odds and it reduces the risk of losing the opportunity if the odds change and are no longer really worth it.

16. Postponed matches

This is not a common scenario but you definitely don´t want to get involved because bookies have different rules about this requirement and some of them won´t be beneficial for you…

Therefore, my advice is to avoid lower league or cup matches in countries which have often bad weather as: Scotland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and non-league games.

This is because their pitches aren’t as well looked after as top league clubs are. Poor weather can easily lead to high numbers of postponements.

17. Exchange bets excluded

You have to be aware of this requirement when you go for a free bet or bonus in an exchange bookmaker as: Betfair, Betdaq, Smarkets etc.

So remember, in this case you have to place your qualifying bets only in their respective sportsbooks.

18. Casino, poker and bingo bets excluded

When you want to get a sports betting free bet or bonus be aware that the most of bookies don´t allow you to place bets in other games like: poker, casino, bingo… etc. Therefore, it’s important to focus on sports betting bets.

19. Free bets do not qualify for special offers

Don´t be a clever clogs trying to get new free bets via the free bet you already have. When it comes to free bets or bonuses, the bookies are always right and they won´t think twice about penalizing you.

Therefore, when you get your free bet or bonus just use it to place normal bets.

20. Don´t use the Cash Out tool to get your free bets

Cash out is a tool that allows you to secure your profits or minimize losses before the referee´s final whistle. Some people use this thinking that they´ll reduce losses while they are qualifying for the free bet or bonus. This breaks the terms of the bet though so all that will happen is that your free bet or bonus will be declared invalid and cancelled.

21. Do not try to withdraw or transfer any amount of the bonus

When you deposit £100 at Bet365 and ask for the £100 Bonus automatically, this turns your account balance into £200.

Now, this may seem for some people to win an extra £100 in a piece of cake.

But it´s not!

Bet365 will not allow you to withdraw the entire £200…

You just have to follow their requirements in order to be able to get that £100 bonus, again read and then follow the terms and conditions.

22. If you have a Neteller or Skrill account

This is especially important for casino players who generally use Skrill or Neteller cards to cash out their earnings.

Due to abuse of free bet promotions, most bookmakers don´t allow customers to make deposits via Neteller, Pay By Mobile or Skrill for their offers.

My recommendation is that you only use your credit card or bank account to make deposits or you face seeing your free bets or bonus being cancelled.

23. Only one offer/account per new customer

If your family all enjoy sports betting, be aware of this requirement. Many bookies limit their free bet offers to one per person, family, household address, email address and/or shared computer.

They even may reserve the right to withdraw the availability of free bet offers to any customers.

I therefore recommend you to contact the bookie’s customer support team and fully explain your situation to them to avoid any problems.

24. Look for partner friendly´s bookies.

Some bookmakers are partner friendly meaning that all members of the household can open an account with that particular bookmaker and still qualify for the free bet.

This information can be found at the bookie´s website.

Get free bets now!

Well, now it´s time to check the terms and conditions of each and every one of bookie´s free bets offers.

To do that, I recommend you to use the table below following these two steps:

  • Check every bookie´s reviews to ensure you have a good idea about how they work
  • Finally visit the bookies sites and get one of the free bets they have on offer!