Free bets are one of the most common forms of betting deal, particularly when it comes to new customers.
The general principle is pretty straight forward, you place a bet with your own money and then you receive one (or more) free bet tokens which can be used to place further bets.
The first incarnation of the free bet tended to offer a pound-for-pound match, meaning that if you deposited and bet £25, you’d receive £25 in free bets.
However this has changed over the years and it’s now not uncommon to find offers where you bet £5 or £10 but receive £20 or £30 in free bets.
They are all different though, as you can see from the list below.
Best Free Bets For December, 2023
A bit of a different promotions from Paddy Power. Rather than making you place a bet and then rewarding you with a free bet, they're offering to give you your money back if your first bet loses. Unlike some other similar offers, the money back is given in cash.
- Sign up, deposit and place a £10 bet
- If your first bet wins you'll be paid out as normal
- If your first bet loses you'll receive a cash credit for £10
Betfair are best known for their betting exchange, but they also have a regular fixed odds sportsbook as well. New customers can get £30 in free bets by registering, depositing and betting £10.
- Register, verify your account and make a deposit via debit card
- Bet £10 at odds of 1/2 or higher
- Receive £30 in free bets
BetTarget are relatively new bookmaker, so you'll be excused if you haven't heard of them before. New customers who fancy giving them a try can claim a £15 free bet by signing up and betting £10 at odds of evens or more.
- Register and make a deposit
- Bet £10 at odds of evens or greater
- Receive a £15 bonus token
The Big Free Bet FAQ
In this section we’ll answer some of the questions that punters often ask, covering everything from who has the best free bets through to what happens if your bet is voided.
Which Betting Sites Offer Free Bets?
Pretty much all of them, although that doesn’t mean that they’re all equal. We would hazard a guess that well over 95% of UK betting sites on the web will offer a new customer offer of some sort, be it a free bet, enhanced odds deal or deposit bonus.
Not all of the offers will be good though, some have overly complicated terms attached, weird rules or are just poor value for money. It’s normally pretty obvious which are the better offers but pay close attention to the more random bookies that you’ve never heard of before as these are the ones that often have the worst promotions.
That’s not to say that all small bookies have bad deals, not in the slightest, just that you probably want to really make sure you know what an offer entails before claiming (which you should be doing anyway!).
One thing you’ll notice from the list above is that all of the free bets are worth claiming. This is because we hand pick which deals go onto the site and we simply exclude those that we don’t think are very good.
Do You Only Get Free Bets When You Sign Up With a Bookie?
No, but this answer comes with a pretty big “but”.
It is completely true to say that existing customers also get offered free bets and other kinds of bonus, but it’s also true to say that they won’t be as generous as the one you were able to claim when you first signed up.
The reason for this is simple economics.
They dangle the highest value promotions in front of new customers in hopes of attracting them and getting them to sign up, but they often cost the bookie money – which clearly isn’t a viable long term option. So once you’re signed up you can still get free bets, but they tend to be a little more modest.
Some would perhaps argue that this isn’t fair, but in reality if offers had to be the same for new and existing customers then the reality is that new customer offers would simply be reduced in value.
Why Do Betting Sites Offer Free Bets?
We’ve touched on the answer to this in the previous question, but essentially it’s a way of attracting new business.
By offering introductory betting offers they’re able to draw in new customers who they hope will be wowed by their website, service and odds and stick around for the long term.
The betting industry in the UK is a big money operation and there are some huge companies with very deep pockets jostling for market share, which is why you can find some very generous offers.
Whether this will continue long term is yet to be seen but the value of the offers we’re seeing at the moment is excellent.
How Do Free Bets Work?
There are a few different kinds of welcome offer that you’ll come across which will work in different ways, but for the purposes for this question we’re going to specifically look at a free bet.
Normally when you claim a free bet offer you’ll go through a pretty standard process:
- Register for a new account – pay attention to any bonus codes or special landing pages you are required to use in order to claim the bonus. If this is the case it will be clearly marked in the terms.
- Make a deposit with your own money – debit card is generally the easiest and fastest option here, it’s also the one that is normally preferred by the sites with the welcome bonuses. In fact, many ewallets such as neteller and skrill are often excluded from sign up bonuses.
- Place a qualifying bet – the details of this will be clearly marked in the terms. In most cases it’s a straight sports bet with minimum odds (often 1/2 or evens). Sometimes the offer will require a specific type of bet to be placed, such as an acca or btts but if this is the case it will be listed in the offer terms.
- Receive your free bet(s) – sometimes you will receive your free bet as soon as the qualifying bet has been placed, other times you need to wait until it has settled. If if is the latter then you probably want to pick a bet on an event that’s not too far into the future.
- Place your free bet – with your free bet firmly in hand you can now go and place it on a bet of your choice. But don’t wait around for too long, most free bets only have a limited time to use them in after which they expire.
That’s normally the long and short of it. If your bet loses then that ends the process, although if it wins there are a couple of different ways it gets paid out depending on whether the stake is returned or not. Some of the worst offers that we were talking about earlier might add a wagering requirement to a free bet, and whilst this is relatively uncommon at the moment it’s worth bearing in mind.
How Do You Use a Free Bet?
The actual process of using a free bet will vary by site.
Some will pop up with a little message to tell you that you have a bet you can place whilst others just have a little checkbox on the bet slip that says “use free bet”.
Generally speaking though all you need to do is go to place a bet as normal and then opt to use the free bet token instead of your own money.
If nothing shows up, try checking the promotions section of your account to see if there are any special requirements such as needing to opt in to the offer.
Do Any Betting Sites Give Free Bets Without a Deposit?
That would be a hard no.
Previously there has been the odd site that has tried this, but we can count the number of times we’ve seen it on one hand.
And that’s after losing a couple of fingers in a tractor accident.
Often the amount you need to deposit is minimal and starts at just £5, but you’re unlikely to find many reputable UK licensed sites that offer no deposit free bets.
You do get no deposit offers for other products, this is most common in the casino sections of the sites where you can regularly find free spins.
What Does “Free Bet Stake Not Returned” Mean?
This is a very common term but one that often catches people out when they first start using free bets.
Essentially what this means is that the free bet stake isn’t returned with the winnings of the bet, meaning that regardless of whether your bet wins or loses, the free bet portion will vanish.
- Stake Returned – You bet £10 at evens using a free bet. If the bet wins you’ll receive £20 back: £10 in winnings and the £10 bet stake.
- Stake Not Returned – Again you bet £10 at evens using a free bet. If the bet wins you’ll receive £10 back made up of only the winnings. The free bet stake vanishes.
It’s pretend money in other words, although you can use it once to potentially win realy money.
Another way to think of it is that the free bet has a nominal value of £0, meaning that whilst it allows you to place a bet of £10 (or whatever the value of the bet is) it doesn’t itself have any value.
Which is fair enough, considering the fact that it’s a free bet.
What Happens If You Win With a Free Bet?
The purpose of a free bet, as their name suggests, is to give you a free wager on a sport. If this bet loses then it’s the same as if you had placed the bet with real money, it will simply be lost. But what about when you win?
If your chosen selection comes in then you’ll be paid out according to the offer terms, with the most important factor being whether the free bet stake is included in the returns or not. We discuss this in the above question above if you’re not familiar with the term.
With most betting sites what you then receive – regardless of whether it includes the free bet stake or not – is the same as any other cash in your account. So you can withdraw it, bet with it or move it to another product on offer by the bookie.
In some cases you might find wagering requirements attached which means you need to rollover the bonus funds (or in rare cases, the winnings from them) a certain number of times before you are able to withdraw. Thankfully this is quite rare for a free bet and tends to apply more to larger deposit bonuses.
What Are Maximum Winnings?
Maximum winnings are as they sound, a limit to how much you can win.
Because you have a say in what wager you’re able to place with your free bet this isn’t so much of an issue for the free bet portion of any welcome offer, as you could just make sure you picked something that had odds below the maximum. Meaning that from a sports perspective it isn’t a common term.
However, where you could see it is where an offer comes with a casino element. For example, if you bet £10 for a £20 free bet and a £10 casino bonus there’s normally no maximum winnings on the free bet, but there could be on the casino bonus. In this scenario – where you’re not necessarily in control of the payout value of a slot spin – it can be a little trickier to avoid and sometimes you might find you win more than is permitted by the offer.
In this scenario the additional winnings will be removed when you make a withdrawal. For example, if you have a £10 casino bonus with a £100 maximum win but you win £200 then you’ll be able to withdraw the first £100 but the remaining £100 will be forfeited.
When this clause exists we’ve found that normally the maximum win is around 10x the bonus amount, but not all offers have it.
What is a Qualifying Bet?
We’ve used the term “qualifying bet” a few times in previous answers, which refers to the bet you need to place in order to receive your free bet. Most free bets will be triggered by the placing of a real money bet, and this is what we call the qualifying bet – because it’s what qualifies you for the offer.
There are a couple of bits to watch out for with these as it’s not a case of slapping down any old wager willy nilly, normally there will be criteria it needs to meet:
- Bet Size – All qualifying bets will have a minimum amount, often £5 or £10 but can be more depending on the offer. Your bet will normally need to be equal or greater than this, meaning that if you need to place a £10 bet but you want to bet £20, that should be fine. Occasionally you will see sites that require a set bet amount to be placed, but normally this relates to enhanced odds related offers rather than free bets.
- Minimum Odds – Most will also require minimum odds. So if it says odds of evens or more then you’ll need to place it on something that is at least evens, but can be greater if you want. So that 50/1 longshot in the 2:15 at Kempton is also fine.
- Betting Market – Some offers won’t specify a type of bet, meaning you can place it on whatever you like (provided it’s not excluded – see point #4 below). Other might restrict it to a specific sport – such as football or racing – or a particular bet type such as singles only, or only in play bets.
- Excluded Bets – The final thing to consider are whether anything is excluded. Whilst you might see an offer that doesn’t specify a specific bet type it could still have some bets that are excluded, normally things like totepool bets or bets linked to jackpots aren’t allowed unless the sign up offer is specifically aimed at those markets.
The exact rules you need to follow will be in the terms of the offer which we list alongside every free bet, so it’s generally pretty simple to follow.
As long as you make sure your qualifying bet ticks all of the relevant boxes you should be good to go.