There are so many bingo sites out there that the battle for your business is fierce. And in the online bingo world that can only mean one thing – bonuses. Lots and lots of bonuses!
On the web you’ll generally find two types of bonus. If you’re new to playing bingo online you may want to wet your whistle with a no deposit bonus – one which you receive after signing up and verifying your account but without having to put in any of your own money. And when you’re ready to put in some of your own cash you’ll be able to claim the second type of offer, the deposit bonus.
We’re also seeing more hybrid bingo and games offers that award part of the bonus in bingo credits which can be used to play the main bingo games, and part of the bonus as free spins or slot credits.
How do Bingo Bonus Offers Work?
Bingo offers such as bonuses and free play are one of the key ways that bingo sites are able to get new players through the door. We’re all after something for nothing, right? And whilst we know that this is very rarely the case, we’re still looking to get the best deals.
The thing is, the deals that are on the table will vary massively from bingo site to bingo site. Some offer way more value than others and some offers are more suited to certain types of players than others. Whilst it’s easy to just take the first offer that you see, you really need to do a little bit of research into how they work and how to get the most from your bonus.
The first thing to note is that not all offers are the same. In fact, some can work very differently, even though at a glance they look the same. Let’s run through some of the bonuses that you are able to find and how they work.
No Deposit Bonuses
The first one that we want to address is the no deposit bonuses. These are pretty much exactly as they say on the tin and when you register a new account with the bingo room, you will be issued with some free money.
The amount of money that you’re going to get will vary from site to site, but you can expect to get somewhere around £5 to £10 from most of these offers. There are some sites that will offer you free play for a certain amount of days as well, which is pretty cool.
The downside to this is that you won’t be able to withdraw this money and you won’t be able to withdraw any winnings unless you make a cash deposit. Some sites may also limit the amount that you can win and then withdraw even if you do make a deposit.
Whilst it may seem pointless if you can’t always get any money from these offers, they are actually brilliant for players who are looking to try before they buy. They allow you to play for real money and to experience every aspect of the bingo site without even having to register your banking details.
Are they the most valuable of offers? No. But, they offer people who are either looking to test a site, or those not wanting to play with their own money, a great opportunity to get some insight into the world of online bingo.
These are your most common bingo offers and likely what most of you will be looking to get. The deposit bonus works as a match on your opening deposit amount. The bingo room will match the amount you deposit up to a certain percentage, and then you will get that amount added as bonus money.
Bonus money comes with wagering requirements, which we talk more about later in this article, and you will have to hit these before you are able to withdraw any of this bonus money. In fact, some might require you to wager through any winnings as well, so bear that in mind.
In terms of the bonuses themselves, you can get offers anywhere from 5% up to 800% with some sites. A typical larger offer would be something like: deposit £5 and get £40 free. Again, they will come with wager requirements and each bonus from each site will differ in terms of what you need to do to clear the funds.
No Wagering Bonuses
One of the latest versions of bingo bonuses is that of a no wagering bonus. This is where the bingo site is going to give you a bonus and not attach any wagering requirements to that bonus.
How they generally work is something like: deposit £10 and get £30 worth of bingo tickets for free. You can then use these bingo tickets to play real money games and you get to keep the profits. Some offers can substitute these bingo tickets for things like bonuses, a time limit of free bingo (24 hours etc.), and even some free spins within their casino.
These are easily some of the best offers that you can get and even though they are few and far between, the offer on the table carries huge value. It’s also worth noting that you can get these with some of the bigger bingo brands as the companies start to be a little more generous and transparent with their offers.
If you’re a player that thinks they may struggle with the wager requirements that so many bonuses come with, these bonuses could be a great shout.
These bonuses are for existing players and they are one of few that exist for people who’ve already got an account. They are what is known as a re-deposit bonus. They work in much the same way as the deposit bonuses mentioned above, but they are based on the fact that you’ve already made one, played at the bingo site, and are ready to make another deposit.
You’re going to find that these offers generally aren’t as lucrative as the initial bonus, but if you are confident at clearing them and play regularly enough, they offer a lot of value.
Also bear in mind that you do not have to take these and you can opt out. If you struggled with your initial bonus, then not taking these reload bonuses are definitely a viable option.
Lots of bingo rooms offer up birthday bonuses for their players as a nice easy way to reward loyal players, or tempt back those who have gone quiet.
This can range depending on the site and how generous they are; sometimes this is just straight free cash to use on site or sometimes it’s a bonus.
They generally aren’t all that great to be honest, but they count as a nice gesture on your birthday regardless of the amount.
Loyalty programs are a big part of online bingo and most sites will reward you in one way or another for sticking with them rather than jumping ship. They can start to be quite lucrative as well, so if you are a regular player, make sure that this is something you take advantage of.
Most of them work by giving you points each time you play a game. The more games you play, the more points you earn, and we all know what points mean – prizes!
Some programs will have dedicated VIP sections as well, which makes these prizes a little more lucrative than the regular rewards section. If you are going to be playing high volume and high price, definitely get in touch with the bingo site to see what they can do to accommodate you. They love players that play higher stakes over long periods of time, so this is likely going to work in your favour rather than waiting for them to get in touch with you, which they may never do.
Bingo Bonus v Slots and Games Bonuses
An increasing modern trend in these promotions is that they actually combine the bingo bonus with a games or slots bonus as well. This can make the bonus look a lot bigger than it actually is, so if you are just looking to play solely on bingo games then you need to be aware of this.
From a wagering point of view, you will generally see that the side games bonus has a higher rate than the bingo. This means that when you play these games you will need to play more to clear it, which is actually easier to do given that it all happens much quicker than bingo.
Here’s an example of what it might look like:
- Offer – Bet £5 and play with £40
- Timeframe – Within 30 days
- Bingo – £15 bonus with 5x wagering requirements
- Slots/games – £25 bonus with 20x wagering requirements
As you can see, you may think you are getting one bingo bonus, but in fact the majority of it is slots or side games, and the wagering requirements for this are much higher.
Wagering requirements are terms that have been set by the bingo site that you need to adhere to in order to get hold of your bonus money. They have been designed in a fashion that means players can’t just sign up, get the bonus and then leave, without having to play for any specific number of hands.
Just about all bonuses will have some sort of wagering requirements attached. Even the “no wagering requirement” bonuses will have some sort of rules attached, which might be a limitation on qualifying games, for example. Whilst this isn’t a reflection on the amount that you need to play, it’s still a requirement and we would include it as one when we talk about them.
So what is a wagering requirement? Put simply it is the amount of money you need to play through before your bonus money can be withdrawn.
Let’s work through an example of what we mean.
You open an account and the offer is: deposit £5 and get £10 in bonus money. The wager requirement for this bonus is 5x the bonus and the deposit amount.
Note – you need to check the terms to see if the wager requirements include both the deposit and the bonus amount. It can make a big difference either way and ideally you want one that does not include the deposit, although these are pretty rare, so we’ve opted for one that does for this example.
This gives us a total of £15 (£5 deposit + £10 bonus) that we need to wager 5 times. This means that we need to place £75 worth of wagers to get the bonus money as withdrawable balance. Bear in mind that you cannot just deposit £75 and clear the requirements, you need to place this amount in wagers.
Some wagering requirements will also limit the amount that you can chip off your balance as well. For example, if you had £75 to clear, you couldn’t just play a single £75 game of bingo and clear the bonus. Most will set a maximum amount which might be £1 per bingo ticket bought. So, even if you bought a big ticket, only the maximum that they allow to contribute towards your bonus balance will count.
You also need to note what games can contribute towards your bonus. For example, if you have a full bingo bonus, then these games will contribute 100% towards that bonus. But any wagers that are made on slots or side games might only contribute say 50% of the amount spent. Some bingo sites will not allow any other game types to count towards clearing your bonus.
What’s the Holy Grail of Bonuses?
The fact is that most if not all bonuses come with a wagering requirement, but not all are equal. Being totally realistic about what you can expect overall from these offers, here’s an idea of what would be a good, attainable bonus offer from the bingo site.
- 200%+ match on your deposit
- Wagering of 4x your bonus amount only
- 90+ days in which to clear the balance
- 100% on bingo games, 50%+ on any other games
- Access to all bingo games for clearing (90-ball, 75-ball etc.)
- Withdrawal of balance does not void bonus or clearing rate
Like we said, you might be able to find even better than this, but anything around this offer or the like is a good and fair wagering requirement in the industry right now.
It’s not uncommon for bingo sites to ban players from taking advantage of their bonuses. This is an unfortunate area of the industry, but one that we wanted to address in case it ever happens to you.
One of the most common problems seems to be players that play with multiple sites under the same network. Because these sites are often linked in some way (and are sometimes actually the same company), if you’ve successfully been able to clear several bonuses on multiple occasions it may be that the bingo room bans you from getting any further bonuses from them.
Lot’s of people say that this is unfair as players are meeting the wagering requirements that are set out by the bingo site, and whilst we would absolutely agree, there isn’t all that much you can do about it unfortunately.
There are work arounds though, and the first one that we would state is to note the network that the bingo site is currently registered with. We’ve spoken in depth about how networks are linked throughout the site, so if you aren’t aware, go and check those out first. But, by avoiding multiple sites that are on the same network, you can crate less of a “paper trail” for yourself and you will have less chance of being banned from bonuses.
Also make sure that you don’t abuse these offers. If you keep taking bonus after bonus or even if you are using multiple accounts on one site (we highly recommend that you do not do this), this is not going to end all that well.
Whilst all this is pretty grim and people do get banned, even when following the rules, as long as you have a little bit of common sense you should be fine. Note who owns the bingo site and the networks they are on. There are literally hundreds of bingo sites online right now, so there should be plenty of choice to find an alternative.
Whilst jackpots aren’t a bonus as such as you can’t control when they will drop, they are something that we think players who are after bonuses should keep an eye out for. Jackpots are applied to certain games and they can work in different ways, with some more lucrative than others.
The biggest ones are that of the progressive jackpot games. These are where you add in a small part of every card that you buy into a jackpot pool and it keeps growing until someone wins. These are often run across a network, rather than an individual bingo site, so they grow quickly and can win huge sums of money as a result.
To give you an idea of the size of these jackpots, the biggest one ever recorded in the UK was that of John Orchard, a factory worker from Lincolnshire, who scooped an incredible £5.9million from just a 30p bingo card. There have been several other winners of similar sizes as well, showing just how lucrative online bingo can be.