Whether you are looking for an occasional extra weekend bet or regularly searching for matched betting offers, free bets form a big part of sports betting.
With tons of offers across all the biggest bookmakers, free bets give you the chance to get more value betting with the same stake.
For new customer offers, see our guide on sign-up offers. But you don’t just have to be a new customer to make the most of the many free bets being offered across the market.
Free bets are promotions offered by bookmakers, which allow you to place an extra bet once you have placed a qualifying bet.
It’s important to note that, in most cases, a bookmaker will not give you a free bet for nothing: free bets usually require a certain bet to be placed first. Once this bet is made, your account will be credited with a free bet on top of the bet you have already placed.
For example: If a bookmaker is offering a £10 free bet on a certain match, you will likely have to place a £10 bet first – ensuring it matches the required criteria. Once it has been placed, you will be credited with your free bet.
Free bets are also non-withdrawable, so they must be used only to bet and cannot simply be taken out at as cash.
Every free bet is different and comes with its own terms and conditions. But, across all cases, there are key characteristics that make free bets slightly different from a regular wager.
Firstly, if you win your free bet, you only collect the winnings – and not the stake back itself. A free bet is traditionally only one transaction, too. By this, we mean you cannot take a £20 free bet and place several smaller bets to total £20. It would have to all be staked on one particular selection.
Like free bets offers themselves, terms and conditions will vary across every offer and bookmaker, so it is important to familiarise yourself with the key aspects of your free bet promotion. Offers are usually dependent on specific events and odds. For example, qualifying bets can commonly only apply at a minimum price of 1/2 (1.5).
Cash out: Another rule that tends to apply universally across the betting market is that free bets cannot be cashed out. This means once you place your free bet, that pick will either win or lose and you will not be offered the chance to cash the bet out before the end of the match or
Additionally, free bet offers may require you not to cash out your qualifying bet. So if you bet £10 and immediately cashed out, you would no longer qualify for a free bet offer.
Being awarded a free bet is not always an instantaneous process – but this is no cause for panic. Some free bet offers will require you to ‘opt in,’ although you won’t receive your free bets as soon as you do this.
In some instances, you will be credited as soon as you place your qualifying bet, while others may see you credited after the settlement of your bet.
Another example is Sky Bet’s in-play free bet offer, which requires you to bet in-play in the first half for you to receive your free bet in the second half of a match. However, Sky Bet can actually award you the free bet as soon as you place your original stake.
Another crucial piece of information regarding free bets is that, generally, they do have an expiration date.
and are credited with a free bet, it can disappear if you don’t use it in time.
For most bookmakers, the standard expiration date on a free bet is seven days. For others, it can be 30 days, although it varies across offers so this is another reason to be sure of your terms and conditions.
Again, though, Sky Bet stands out in the market in this department, having now removed expiry dates from all their free bets.
To give you a feel for the types of free bets that exist – but also show you offers you can take advantage of right now – here are a few examples of the free bet offers currently out there in the market.
Available up to once a day, every day on all sports, 888sport offers a £5 free bet for every win at odds of 4/1 (5.0) or bigger. This means if you were already planning on betting on a long-odds selection or accumulator, victory would earn you another bet with 888.
The downside is the long odds, while the minimum bet is £10. The free bet would be credited upon settlement and expire after 7 days.
While this is offer is not as regular as something like 888’s daily promotion, it is the kind of offer bet365 will provide for big matches – for example a Champions League final – so it is definitely worth looking out for.
To qualify, you must place a pre-match single bet on the match in question (maximum £50). Your stake will then be matched for an in-play bet.
So a £25 pre-match bet would win a £25 free in-play bet and a £40 pre-match bet would win a £40 free in-play bet.
If you opt in with Sky Bet Club, you can guarantee yourself a straightforward weekly £5 free bet if you fulfil certain conditions.
The main condition is that you bet at least £25 in a given week, so there are very few strings attached here, as you can bet in “any increments” (1 x £25 or 5 x £5 etc).
However, there are some disadvantages – which Sky Bet makes very clear in the promotion – including the fact cashed out bets are excluded. Odds for all qualifying bets are also relatively steep, as they must be 1/1 (2.0) or greater – in other words evens or higher.
There are numerous free bets offers available throughout the market, similar to the above, so be sure to take advantage of the best ones while always double checking the terms and conditions.
Bookmakers will usually have a ‘promotions’ page for both new and existing customers – but you can also find the best offers right here on BetCompare.