Top 5 things to look for in a great welcome bonus
When deciding which online casinos to play at, one of the key things to look at is the Welcome Bonus. What they offer and how they go about it, can give you important information about how they treat their players. In this article we’ll go through 5 of the most important things to look for in a great welcome bonus. After you’ve read it, you’ll be better equipped the next time you’re looking for a new site to play at. We will touch on:
- Bonus eligibility: Can I get the welcome bonus?
- Bonus percentage: Am I getting my money’s worth?
- Wagering requirements: Can I actually win anything from this bonus?
- Withdrawals: How can I get my money?
- Limits: What games can I play and how?
While some of these tips and tricks may be common knowledge for the more experienced, a new online casino player needs to be properly prepared. We want to make sure that you get the best chance at a good casino experience and that means making sure you can filter the wheat from the chaff.
1. Can I get the welcome bonus?
Let’s assume that one evening you’re going around on the internet and are in search of a little bit of fun in an online casino. From one search to another you arrive at a new one you haven’t played at before and decide to give it a go. Their welcome bonus is pretty great at 300%. Wow, you actually get to play with £100 by depositing just £25. Sounds great! You put your payment details in, deposit and get ready to play a few rounds on their most played slot: Book of Dead. You enter the game, briefly check your balance and notice that you didn’t actually get anything extra. Thinking it’s all a technical glitch, you go to their live chat. Only now you find out that actually you are not entitled for the bonus because you played at another site a few weeks back. Isn’t that annoying?
So, the next time you go to a new site make sure you check eligibility terms, just to make sure you don’t get swindled out of a good offer you actually deserve. To keep it quick and easy, search their terms & conditions for words like “eligible” and “unable” to go to potentially relevant articles. You don’t need to read every word of legalese they put in there… just the important parts.
One thing to keep in mind is that sometimes casinos aren’t very good at keeping track of this limitation. At least they’re not good at it until you win. Then they magically remember that you, in fact, should not have received that welcome bonus. And because your winnings came from it, they’ll proceed to void them. Not good at all!
Also, make sure they don’t pull a fast one on you and limit the good welcome bonus to higher deposits. Most online casinos worth their salt will allow you to get the full bonus regardless of how much you deposit, as long as it’s above their minimum deposit limit. Unfortunately there are some which have a scale, somewhere hidden in their T&C’s where they say that unless you deposit at least £50, £100, £200, you’ll get a far inferior offer.
Let’s imagine you go to a new casino site. It presents itself well and advertises a good 100% welcome offer. Worth a shot! You deposit £25, launch your favourite game, Gonzo’s Quest, and instead of seeing a balance of £50 you only see 37. Scratching your head, you mumble a bit about how nobody creates reliable programs anymore and go to live chat to sort it out. It has to be a mistake. Of course, you’ll only now find out that you were under the minimum deposit to claim the full welcome bonus. Their support will now give you a diplomatic version of “tough luck mate”. Save yourself the headaches and give yourself a bit of time to check these things beforehand. Alternatively, we do our best to keep a list of trustworthy online casinos, to make it easy for you; we watch exactly for the things we’re sharing with you in this article.
2. Am I getting my money’s worth?
Let’s start with something: welcome bonuses are supposed to be 100% or more. This is the standard, anything below that should be an automatic question mark about the brand.
In order to hide this, nowadays a lot of the casinos end up advertising specific amounts of bonus given, leaving out the actual percentage of the deposit match. Why is this a problem? Because underneath those offers you might either get subpar matches. Worse, the bonus might be for very low amounts and split over way too many smaller bonuses, just so they can get you coming back over and over. So save your time and check the percent; you’re looking for stuff like “100% up to £100” or “200% up to £200” and not really ads like “giving up to £500 in bonus money”.
For your welcome bonus, you want a reasonably high limit just so you can get enough playtime in your first session to get a good feel for the brand. As such, we wouldn’t recommend caps lower than £100.
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3. Can I actually win anything from this bonus?
First let’s make sure we’re all on the same page regarding what a bonus is: every extra pound a casino gives you in addition to your deposit is a bonus. And these bonuses can’t be immediately withdrawn from your account because then the casino would lose money. So, in order for them to make sure you play with what they give you, they introduced this wagering requirement. This is a multiplier on the amount of money the casino gives you that you need to turnover before the money is yours to do whatever you want with it (even withdraw). So, as an example, if the casino gives you £100 as a bonus, and has a wagering requirement of 10x (or 10 times) it means you need to make total bets of £1,000 before whatever is left is yours.
One trick online casinos play on you is give you high bonuses, but also set high wagering requirements for those bonuses. In this way, even if you manage to win something with them, it will take forever to get your money and you might even lose it all before it becomes eligible for withdrawal.
Our suggestion is that you should look for 35x or lower wagering requirements. However we’d say that anything up to 45x is acceptable, as long as the other aspects of the brand are good. Anything bigger is a sign that the brand doesn’t really want to give a fair chance of actually winning something.
4. How can I get my money?
Let us help ease one of the “culture shocks” new online casino players tend to have when it comes to withdrawing money: documentation. The reality is that the casino is required to have some information on you before they can give you money, a bit like banks. They need to perform what’s called an online casino KYC procedure (Know-Your-Customer) in which they’ll require that you provide them with a valid ID, some kind of proof of residence and confirmation of ownership of the payment method used to deposit. There is nothing wrong with this as long as the casinos are properly licensed with the local government authorities. These are, for example, UKGC in the UK, SGA in Sweden or MGA for most of the other European countries.
Assuming your KYC check is fine, you want to make sure that you get your winnings in a reasonable time frame. Here are a few things you want to pay attention to:
Maximum withdrawal limits on bonuses
Sometimes when you manage to meet the wagering limit for a bonus, you’re still going to be limited to a maximum amount of money you can take home. Nowadays not a lot of casinos still follow this practice, however there are still some that do. Depending on how they implement this, it can range from just being a small negative point to being an outright red flag. If these limits are relative to the amount of bonus given, it can be acceptable as long as the multipliers are reasonable; we’d say that anything 10x or higher than the bonus amount is acceptable. However, if you start seeing lump sums in the hundreds, you’re going to want to keep it in mind.
Maximum amount allowed to be withdrawn per month
Most, if not all casinos have a maximum amount of money they will process each month for your winnings. You want to make sure this is not too low, otherwise it would be a bit funny to be able to deposit £10,000 in one night but only be able to get £5,000 back per month if you actually win. Yeah, you’re exactly right, we thought the same way when we noticed it.
Depending on their playing habits, what’s reasonable here varies. However we’d say that a decent casino would have at least 10,000£/€/$ per month withdrawal limits.
5. What games can I play and how?
Most of the time, in an effort to increase profits, online casinos will limit the games that you can play with the bonus and exclude the more profitable ones. There are two major types of limits that we’ve noticed so far:
In these cases, a certain set of games is outright going to be excluded from being played with bonus money. If you’re looking to play a particular game, this is certainly something you want to check before depositing your hard earned cash.
This is the more often encountered one. It consists of making every bet on a limited game count for less, thus making the effective wagering requirement significantly higher. To give you an example, let’s say a brand doesn’t like Butterfly Staxx. They can make the bets only count 50% for the purpose of meeting wagering requirements. This will double the wagering requirement for that particular bonus as long as you play this game. By applying this trick they can make a seemingly good welcome offer actually become an outright atrocious one. Even worse, the only way to find this out is by sifting through their extensive T&C where some online casinos format it in the most unreadable way possible.
To be completely honest, this is one of the main reasons we started reading T&Cs more carefully, since casinos almost always win in disputes regarding this aspect. We make sure to point it out in our casino reviews just so you don’t have to.
Now you’re ready to go off into the world and pick your next online casino. If you’d rather just start playing, you should try one of the online casinos we feel comfortable playing at. You can check out our list by following the link below. Happy hunting!