When I first started to play online bingo, I was more confused than a goldfish in a shoe shop, especially when it came to all the different bingo bonus offers.
If you're having a similar difficulty deciphering what the various terms mean, don't worry, because I'm here to help. I've been playing for years now, and what I don't know about bonuses, including the benefits and pitfalls could be written on a bingo ball.
If you like to try out new sites, then bonuses are a great way to try before you buy.
However, some bonuses come with a sting in the tail – they offer you loads of free cash, but then it turns out you can't withdraw it – what kind of a swizz is that? So let's start with the first and most attractive bonus you'll most likely encounter:
On the surface, the no deposit bonus seems like a wonderful thing – you don't need to deposit any cash before you can sample the games. At some sites, you don't need to enter any financial details before you claim this bonus – Little Miss Bingo is one such place. Signing up takes about 30 seconds – you enter your name, email address, and alias – and that's it. A couple of moments later and you can play the games with free cash with no need to enter laborious credit card details.
The amount of free cash can vary, but the highest no deposit bonus tends to be around £20, with the lowest £1. These bonuses are designed to attract new players, and can usually only be spent on bingo, not slots. At first, it can seem like a very generous move, but there's a reason this free cash is offered.
Firstly, it is to keep you tied to a particular site – if you have cash in your account, you're less likely to jump ship and play elsewhere.
Secondly, if you make a win with your bonus cash, you won't be able to withdraw it until you've wagered a certain amount, and some sites are notorious for making you bet many times the amount of bonus cash. Gotcha! These are called 'wagering requirements', and are the bane of free bonus hunters everywhere.
This is where it starts to get confusing, because the terms 'no deposit bonus' and 'deposit bonus' sound very similar. A no deposit bonus is precisely that – you don't need to deposit before you play. The deposit bonus is something entirely different – when you put cash in your account, it's multiplied by a percentage – usually 100%, 200%, 300% etc. The cash match amount is usually capped as well, and it makes sense that the more you deposit, the better your bonus. However, don't get greedy, or carried away, and always remember to deposit and play responsibly.
Some sites have hideously complicated deposit bonus rules, and you'll need a calculator and in A'level in maths before you can figure out how much cash you're due. For that reason, I'm a big fan of Costa Bingo, which has a handy calculator to help you work out how much cash you're owed.
There are several other ways to earn free bonuses – you can earn bucks when you play chat games; you accrue loyalty points the more you play at a certain site, and some sites give away bonuses willy-nilly in tournaments, monthly promotions and team events.
If you ever get confused, you can always ask a chat moderator – they're highly trained to help answer questions like this, and they're used to new and experienced players alike asking for clarification on bonuses. If it all seems overwhelming at first, remember, we all had to start somewhere, and once you get the hang of bonus systems, you'll realise it's not all that difficult at all. Now go and try out a few new sites, and find out which bonus structures you prefer, and remember to have fun on your voyage of discovery.
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