After years of trying out loads of different betting sites from around the world, taking advantage of thousands of pounds worth of free bets, we thought it was about time we highlight the freebies we feel are the best in the business.
Have a look at the ‘At a Glance’ summaries of each of the free bets or bonuses or carry on down the page to read a little about the types of free bet, any terms or conditions you should watch our for, and crucially, how to make the most of these bonuses.
Best Free Bet Offers For Football, Racing & Sports
Up to £40 Bonus If Your First Bet Loses
Why do Bookmakers Offer Free Bets?
You might think that bookmakers are just very generous types who like to share their wealth and make the world a happier place… but you never see a bookie riding a bike and they don’t dish out freebies just for fun!
In much the same way that supermarkets have loads of Buy One Get One Free offers to try to tempt you into their stores, bookies use free bets simply as a means of attracting new customers who they hope will turn into loyal (and active) punters in the future.
Of course, they have no way of stopping you simply joining up, using the free bet and then withdrawing any winnings and walking away to find another freebie. But the bookies we feature on this site keep the freebies coming in the form of betting offers, bonuses and promotions which are available to existing customers, not just new ones. These can range from enhanced odds offers to money back promos, additional free bets to cash bonuses, and we’ll be giving details of the best of them right here on this site.
We have decided – unlike many betting sites – to focus only on the very best bookies in the business, those which are safe, fair and secure, and who also offer attractive football betting offers and bonuses.
Free Bet Offers Explained
Free bet offers come in all shapes and sizes, from the welcome free bets that all bookies worth their salt give to new customers, to additional free bets given to existing customers for betting on a particular match or market.
All the betting sites we work with offer free bets to new customers, ranging from £10 to £200, but some go the extra mile to ensure that even once you have joined up you can still take advantage of further free bets, which is darn nice of them!
How do New Customer Free Bet Offers Work?
- For new customer free bets, simply sign up with your chosen bookmaker, make a deposit and place your first bet
- Ensure that your qualifying bet meets the criteria set out in the terms, as sometimes there will be minimum odds or excluded markets
- Your free bet – which will usually be matched at 100% or more of your stake – will then be credited to your account to use as you see fit (within the terms given)
How do Existing Customer Free Bet Offers Work?
- Simply follow the guidelines of the specific offer
- Usually this involves placing a real money, pre-match bet on a specific football match (or other sporting event), ensuring you meet any requirements such as minimum odds
- Your free bet will then be credited to your account, though sometimes only if your qualifying bet loses or some other event happens
Free Bet Tips and Guidance
There are many factors that should be taken into account when assessing how good (or otherwise) a particular free bet offer actually is.
You should always ask the following questions when deciding whether to take advantage of a free sports betting promotion:
- How much is it worth?
- Is it completely free or are there strings attached?
- If it is a matched free bet, what percentage match is it?
- Are there any rollover requirements or are all the winnings mine for the taking?
So let’s look into each of those points in a little more detail.
1. How much is a free bet worth?
The bookie will almost always explicitly state the value (usually the maximum value) of the free bet they are offering new customers. They can range from £10 to a whopping £200 with some bookies and more or less everything in between.
Most free bets are “matched” in that you will need to place a real money bet with the bookie before you are credited with the free bet (more on that below). Note that you do not always have to opt for the maximum free bet amount, but to take full advantage it clearly makes sense to max out the freebies if you can meet any conditions attached.
2. Is the free bet completely free?
Some bookies will offer a completely free – i.e. no deposit required – free bet. For instance, occasionally some bookies will give new customers a completely free bet of £10 if they join, with no catch at all.
But these no deposit free bets are now few and far between and most bookmakers will offer the aforementioned matched free bets instead, whereby you must place a bet and then get rewarded with a free bet that comes as a percentage of your qualifying bet. So while this free bet is free, you have had to spend money to get it.
3. What percentage is the matched bet?
Matched free bets can range from as little as 20% or even 10% to as high as 400%. The majority of bookies featured on this site offer matched free bets that are worth at least 100% of the stake of your first bet.
So if you had an offer of 100% and bet £10, you would get another £10 in bonus money. If the offer was 50% you would get £5.
4. Are there any rollover requirements?
Some bookies require you to bet through the bonus amount a certain number of times before you are permitted to withdraw your winnings, so always check whether this is the case before making your first deposit.
These requirements slightly lessen the chances of you seeing your winnings, but the way to play them is to use your free bets to back outcomes that you are confident will come in, rather than going for big odds outsiders. The aim is to clear the requirements more than it is to win big money at this point.
Note also that hardly any bookies return the free bet stake with any winnings; for instance, if you place a £50 free bet on a team to win at odds of 4/5 you would receive just £40 if it comes in, rather than the £90 you would receive if you had used £50 of your own cash as the stake.
Terms and Conditions to be Aware of
All free bets have terms and conditions so that both parties – you the bettor and the bookie themselves – know where they stand. The excellent football betting sites we work with are all highly trustworthy and, as huge reputable betting brands you can be sure that the T’s and C’s are there purely to explain and clarify the offer, never to catch you out or trick you.
However, terms and conditions, like small print, instruction manuals, and annoying Facebook statuses from people you keep meaning to unfriend, rarely get read in full. A quick glance, a brisk skim and most people pile into the offer. As mentioned, because all the online bookies we offer free bets with are top notch betting sites, 99% of the time that will be fine and you’ll get the free bet just as you expected.
However, even with bookies that are 100% trustworthy, the fact is that if you don’t stick to the terms of the offer then you probably won’t get your free bet, bonus or enhancement. That can be very annoying, even when it is your mistake, and the easiest way around the issue is to just read the bloomin’ terms, you might discover useless info like people from Moldova aren’t eligible and bets on Peruvian horse racing don’t count, but at least you’ll know what to expect.
Generally speaking, if you’re aware of the following free bet essentials you’ll be able to whizz through the terms and almost certainly never miss out on a free bet again.
Key Terms and Conditions of Free Bets
- Time Limits – Most free bets and bookmaker welcome bonuses have time limits and these can include the time from when you join to when you deposit, when you first bet, when you claim the free bet and also, most commonly, from when the free bet is granted. You usually get at least seven days at every step of the process – plenty of time – but check with the site you are joining to be sure.
- Odds – Most, but not all sites, have minimum odds for the qualifying bet and/or the free bet and any wagering requirements. Some sites will also have maximum odds which can apply to the free bet, the qualifying bet, or both.
- Wagering – Generally speaking stake not returned free bets don’t have any wagering requirements other than the actual free bet itself, whilst stake returned free bets normally have a term that states the value of the free bet (and/or qualifier) must be wagered a certain number of times prior to making a withdrawal.
- In-play Bets and Market Exclusions – Many free bets exclude in-play betting, bets that are cashed out or closed early, and certain enhanced odds markets. Certain markets may also be excluded entirely, though this is less common. It might also be limited to bet types, so only match winner bets, for example.
- Cash or Free Bets – Many betting sites offer enhanced odds instead of a free bet when you first join but the bonus payout is often in free bets as opposed to cash. This also often applies to money back betting offers and other ongoing promotions for existing customers.
- New Customers or Existing – It’s usually clear whether a free bet or offer is for new customers only but this is always worth checking. Some sites may class you as an existing customer if you have used their other products, such as the casino, or partner sites.
- Free Bet or Offer Code – Some free bets will require you to enter a certain code when you register, whilst some will be added automatically. The code, where applicable, will always be in the terms and conditions.
- Mobile or Not – Some offers may only be available to customers placing bets on mobiles or tablets, whilst others may only be granted to bettors using the standard online version of the site.
Whilst that may seem like a lengthy list, many of the factors are obvious and not all will apply at every bookmaker. Ultimately, free bets cost the bookie money but they are great marketing and a good way to get new people onto their site. Check the terms and conditions for the basics and you have a great chance to make some money, but miss something simple like a minimum odds requirement or a time deadline for claiming the free bet and you’ll be kicking yourself.
What are Stake Not Returned Free Bets?
Stake NOT returned free bets are the most common type of free bet around, and unlike the potentially more attractive stake returned free bets you do not receive your free bet stake as part of your payout, you only get the net win.
For example, say you are using a £25 free bet to back Manchester City to beat Bayern Munich at odds of 3/1. If City do the business and your bet comes in and you have placed the bet with a bookie whose free bet offer is stake not returned, you will receive a payout of £75. If, however, your bookie has a stake returned free bet offer, you would also receive your free bet stake along with your winnings, hence a total payout of £100.
While many people understandably prefer to opt for stake returned free bets if they can help it, it should be noted that most such offers have wagering requirements that must be fulfilled before you withdraw any winnings. Conversely, the majority of the bookies offering stake not returned free bets don’t require you to bet through more than once before withdrawing, so really it’s swings and roundabouts.
Instead, we like to focus on the quality of the bookmaker in question, and rest assured that we only work with betting sites we have extensively used ourselves and whom we trust in terms of the fairness of their procedures and the security of customers’ financial and personal data. Of course, we like them to be generous with the free bet offers too, but it is the ongoing betting offers and bonuses which really separate the wheat from the chaff.
Back to the matter in hand, and not so long ago (well, around 2004), most bookies would offer stake returned free bets and usually with no additional wagering requirements attached either. But bookies have become more clued up in recent years and put more resources into their ongoing betting offers in order to retain customers rather than putting all their eggs in the free bet basket, as customers would often take the free bet and never bet with the bookie again.
Odds Enhancements and Price Boosts
One of the most common betting offers around is the price boost, also referred to as an odds enhancement or – just to mix things up – enhanced odds. In general, this type of offer comes in two different forms. Enhanced odds were originally viewed more as a promotion aimed at existing customers, and this is still very common. However, in more recent times online betting sites have been using massively enhanced odds to replace the usual welcome bonus or free bet.
Whether you are taking advantage of a price boost as a current account holder with a particular online bookie or taking up their enhanced odds as a welcome bonus, the principle remains the same. As the name suggests, the standard odds are enhanced, boosted, made bigger – call it what you will. Bigger odds means more of a net win when you win, and with no downside to these promotions there is no reason at all why you shouldn’t grab a price boost when you see one on a market you fancy.
How do Enhanced Odds Betting Offers Work?
- If the enhanced odds offer is aimed at existing customers it is more commonly referred to as a price boost, and in this instance all you have to do is place your bet as normal to access the improved betting odds.
- If your enhanced odds are a special promotion granted to new customers only then the terms can vary a lot, but more information can be found below.
- As a general rule, you place your bet as normal at the standard odds and have the winnings topped up once the bet has won.
Things to Note
With most things in life it pays to know what you’re doing, and whilst the excellent and reputable betting sites we work with are all totally legit, it’s always a good idea to make sure you read the terms of the offer you are interested in and avoid any unpleasant surprises when your bet settles.
Below are some important pointers that often apply to the various types of odds enhancements:
- Check for minimum or maximum stakes. Most odds enhancements available to new customers have a maximum stake, and money wagered above that level will only be paid out at the standard odds.
- Check whether the offer is for new customers, existing ones, or both, as many of the very best offers are for newbies only.
- Some betting sites pay the additional winnings as free bets rather than straight cash. That’s not as good but the enhancements themselves are usually better than you’ll find elsewhere.
- Look for any extras. Some bookies include a second stage to their offer, for example they might either offer your money back as a free bet if your opening odds enhancement loses or further free bets when you place more wagers.
- Many odds advertised as huge price boosts on TV may still be lower than you could find elsewhere, so it’s still worth checking whether or not the new price is great value.
- Some offers are only available when you have clicked through a specific link or entered a certain bonus code. Our site will always make this clear and if you click through a banner advertising enhanced odds you’ll be fine, but don’t just assume you’ll get the promotional odds if a friend tells you or you see something on Twitter.