Online casinos are never afraid to give out bonuses. This is especially true regarding free spins and deposit bonuses, which are the two most common offers found at internet casinos. Both of these deals give you a chance to pick up free money. But which offer should you take when given a choice between multiple bonuses?

The answer depends upon what type of bonus you prefer and if you’re looking for the best possible chance to earn free cash. If you have a tough time deciding between free spins and deposit bonuses, keep reading as I discuss the finer points of both. I’ll also cover if one deal gives you thebetter chance to win free money.

What Is a Deposit Bonus?

Online casinos commonly offer deposit bonuses to encourage you to play for real money. All you do to qualify is find an available deal and place a deposit. Of course, the casino won’t hand you the money upfront. Otherwise, you and anybody else could simply deposit just to get the bonus and cash everything out. You need to meet terms and conditions (covered later) before the money is actually yours. Once the terms are met, you can either continue playing real money games or withdraw the money.

Deposit bonuses are expressed as a match percentage of your deposit amount. Here’s an example on how this works:

  • A casino is offering a 150% match bonus up to $500.
  • You deposit $200.
  • 200 x 1.5 = $300 bonus

Deposit deals are great from the perspective that you can earn a big lumpsum of cash. But be aware thatT&Cs on some deals can be quite restrictive and make it difficult to withdraw the bonus.

How Do You Get a Deposit Bonus?

Signing up at an online casino is the first step towards qualifying for a deposit bonus. Registering for an account involves entering various details, including your name, email, home address, username, and password. You may also be prompted to enter a bonus code during the signup process. Bonus codes qualify you for specific deposit bonuses and other offers.

Check to see if the deposit deal that you’re after requires one of these codes. If so, you enter the code while registering for an account. The first deposit bonus that you receive from a casino is considered the “welcome” offer. These deals are only available to new players who are placing their initial deposit.

Also note that deposit bonuses can either be available through the casino itself or their affiliates. The latter can have permission to offer special deals in order to help their promotional efforts. The casino may offer a 100% match deposit bonus up to $300. But the affiliate may have permission to feature a 100% match offer up to $500.

Most casinos give you the chance to continue earning deposit bonuses after the initial welcome deal. This allows you to keep collecting bonus money as an existing member. If a casino doesn’t continue offering deposit deals after the welcome bonus, then you may want to find a new gaming site.

Earning a Deposit Bonus

Satisfying the casino’s terms and conditions is the key to releasing your deposit bonus. You can find T&Cs by scrolling down to the bottom of an online casino’s homepage and clicking the appropriate link. The casino may feature a special bonus terms and conditions page located within their main T&Cs. Whatever the case may be, you need to find these terms and thoroughly read them.

Most gaming sites are clear with their terms, enabling you to know exactly what’s required to earn your bonus. But a small percentage of casinos have ambiguous terms that are hard to decipher. We recommend avoiding casinos withT&Cs like these, because they can arise in disputes with the operator later on. Luckily, there are enough quality online casinos to where you don’t have to worry about playing at sites with murky terms.

Here are the common T&Cs that you’ll come across regarding deposit bonuses:

  • Wagering requirements (a.k.a. playthrough) – You must wager a certain multiple of the bonus (or bonus + deposit) before releasing your funds.
  • Claim time limit – You must visit your account area and claim any bonus deal within a reasonable timeframe.
  • Playthrough time limit – Casinos only allow you so many days or weeks to meet wagering requirements.
  • Max bet limits – Gaming sites cap the max wager that you can make whileearning a deposit bonus.
  • Game contributions – Some games with really high payback (e.g. blackjack, baccarat) don’t contribute the full amount towards playthrough.
  • Game restrictions – Certain games may not contribute anything towards meeting wagering requirements.
  • Country restrictions – Casinos ban certain countries from deals due to previous bonus abuse.

Wagering requirements are especially important, because these determine how difficult it will be for you to unlock a bonus. Higher requirements mean that you’ll have to bet more money and subsequently risk greater theoretical losses.

Here’s an example on how playthrough works:

  • You’re eligible for a $100 bonus.
  • Wagering requirements are 40x the bonus.
  • 100 x 40 = $4,000 must be wagered

Playthrough of 40x the bonus is common among 100% match offers. You want to look out for any deals that push wagering requirements up to 50x or higher. Game contributions are another crucial term. Casinos impose game contributions to avoid losing money to gamblers who play games with high return to player (RTP).

Sites would be killed if they allowed blackjack variations with 99.5% RTP or better to contribute the full amount towards playthrough. Therefore, they reduce contributions for these games to retain their edge. Table games like baccarat, blackjack, craps, European roulette, French roulette, and sic bo may only contribute 10-25% of the stated playthrough.

Here’s an example on how this works:

  • You’re eligible for a $200 bonus.
  • Playthrough is 45x the offer.
  • 200 x 45 = $9,000 must be wagered.
  • You’re playing baccarat, which only contributes 10% towards wagering requirements.
  • 9,000 / 0.1 = $90,000 must be wagered with baccarat

The idea of having to bet $90k total to earn a $200 bonus sounds ridiculous. But this is what casinos do to avoid giving the average player an overly profitable bonus deal.

What Are Free Spins?

Free spins give you the opportunity to play real money slots without betting anything. The obvious benefit here is that you can win money for free. Of course, free spins come in two different forms, including deposit and no deposit deals. A no deposit offer means that you receive free spins without having to deposit. These deals are nice from the perspective that you’re getting free spins for nothing.

The downside, though, is that terms and conditions on these offers are really strict. Gaming sites make it challenging for you to earn money from these deals since they don’t technically receive anything in return. Deposit free spins are awarded after you make a deposit. For example, a site may offer 100 free spins when you deposit$20 or more. These free spins still allow you to spin the reels without risking anything. The only difference is that the casino wants you to place funds on the site before qualifying.

Free spins allow you to generate winnings that can later be cashed out when you meet terms and conditions. How difficult it is to unlock your winnings depends upon the casino. Also note that free spins can either be used on all of the casino’s slots or restricted to a specific game. In the latter case, you must use your spins on the designated slot to be eligible for bonus winnings.

How Do You Get Free Spins?

Some online casinos offer no deposit free spins to anybody who signs up at their site. In these cases, all you do is register for an account to qualify. Once you complete account registration and agree to terms and conditions, you can then visit your cashier area and claim the offer. Deposit free spins require that you deposit a certain amount of money at the casino. For example, a site might award 50 free spins to anybody who deposits the $10 minimum.

You may be required to enter a bonus code regardless of whether you’re going for deposit or no deposit free spins. No deposit deals prompt you to enter the required code during the registration process. Deposit offers ask you to input the code during the banking process. In other cases, you don’t have to enter a code at all. Instead, you merely complete account registration or make the required deposit.

The value of your free spins can vary based on the nature of the offer and the casino you’re dealing with. Free spins are typically worth anywhere from $0.10 to $1. Earning high-value free spins is exciting, because you can win more money. But note that you must also meet higher playthrough in order to collect the winnings.

Earning Winnings from Free Spins

The first step to collecting free spin winnings is using all of your spins. You’ll be able to see what winnings you’re eligible for after exhausting your final spin.

Here’s an example:

  • You receive 50 free spins.
  • You win $10 after using all 50 spins.
  • You’re now eligible for up to $10 in bonus money

The next step is to meet the casino’s T&Cs so that you can release the winnings. Here are common free spin terms and conditions:

  • Playthrough –You must meet wagering requirements on the value of your winnings.
  • Designated games –Some free spin deals are only eligible for a specific game, or a group of games by a certain provider (e.g. NetEnt).
  • Claim time limit –You need to visit your account area and claim the free spins within a certain timeframe.
  • Restricted slots –Certain slots with high payback may not be eligible for meeting wagering requirements.
  • Win limit – Casinos usually cap the amount of winnings that you can earn through free spins.
  • Minimum win requirement – No deposit free spins often require you to win a minimum amount before cashing anything out.
  • Deposit requirement – Most sites require that you make a deposit in order to claim winnings from no deposit free spins.

Playthrough on free spins winnings usually range from 5x to 60x. The higher range isreserved for no deposit free spins, because they don’t require you to deposit any funds onto the casino.

Here’s an example of earning your free spin winnings:

  • You receive 100 free spins after depositing.
  • You generate $25 in winnings.
  • Playthrough is 20x the bonus.
  • 30 x 20 = $600 must be wagered

Upon meeting wagering requirements and other T&Cs, you’ll be able to cash out whatever winnings are leftover. Note that online casinos only give you a certain amount of time (e.g. 7 days) to meet free spin playthrough. The obvious goal is to satisfy wagering requirements within the given timeframe and before your winnings reach zero.

Comparing the Value of Free Spins vs Deposit Bonus

Some online casinos offer a variety of bonuses for new and existing players. All you need to do is look in the promotions section to find the appropriate code for your desired bonus. These options usually include a mix of deposit bonuses, free spins, and deposit + free spin offers. Many players simply choose the deal that they’re familiar with.

However, is there more value to be gained by choosing either free spins or a deposit bonus? The value is relative to the exact terms and conditions that you’re dealing with. Deposit offers may be far more lucrative than free spins at one casino, but less appealing at another site based on restrictive T&Cs. I’m going to offer two comparisons between deposit bonuses and free spins that show how value can shift based on the terms.

Here’s the first example:

Deposit Bonus #1

  • A casino is offering a 100% match bonus up to $200.
  • You deposit $200 and become eligible for the offer.
  • Playthrough is 40x the bonus.
  • 200 x 40 = $8,000 must be wagered.
  • You play a slot with 96% RTP (4% house edge) to unlock the bonus.
  • 8,000 x 0.04 = $320 in theoretical losses
  • 320 losses – 200 bonus = $120 net loss


Free Spins Offer #1

  • You deposit $20 and receive 50 free spins.
  • You earn $20 with the free spins.
  • Playthrough is 20x.
  • 20 x 20 = $400 must be wagered
  • You play a slot with 96% payback.
  • 400 x 0.04 = $16 in theoretical losses
  • 20 winnings – 16 losses = $4 net win


Here’s the second example:

Deposit Bonus #2

  • A casino is offering a 100% match bonus up to $200.
  • You deposit $200.
  • Playthrough is 35x the bonus.
  • 200 x 35 = $7,000 must be wagered.
  • You play a slot with 96% RTP.
  • 7,000 x 0.04 = $280 in theoretical losses
  • 280 losses – 200 bonus = $80 net loss


Free Spins #2

  • A casino is offering 50 free spins for a $20 deposit or greater.
  • You win $20.
  • Playthrough is 30x.
  • 30 x 20 = $600 must be wagered
  • You play a slot with 96% payback.
  • 600 x 0.04 = $24 in theoretical losses
  • 20 winnings – 24 losses = $4 net loss


Comparing the value of deposit bonuses and free spins is a little like apples vs. oranges. Deposit bonuses almost always add up to a theoretical loss. But you also get a lot of play for your deposit when including bonus winnings.

In the first example, you only lose $120 after $8,000 worth of play and earning your $200 bonus. This equates to a 1.5% house edge (120 / 8,000). The second deposit bonus example sees you lose $80 after $7,000 worth of play and earning the $200 reward. This equates to an even lower 1.1% house edge (80 / 7,000). Free spin deposit bonuses normally have lower playthrough than traditional deposit offers. The low wagering requirements give you a decent chance to win a few dollars upon meeting playthrough.

In the first example, you win $4 after meeting the 20x playthrough. However, the second example sees you theoretically lose $4 after reaching 30x wagering requirements. The second scenario means that you’d actually walk away from the deal with nothing. Therefore, you’ve essentially wasted your time going for this bonus.

It’s impossible to definitively say that free spins or deposit bonuses are the superior offer. You have to look at the terms and conditions for both types of deals to gain any real insight.Even then, it’s hard to totally compare free spins and deposit offers.

Free spin winnings are usually capped at $100 or lower. Furthermore, you only get to cash out what’s left over after meeting playthrough. All of this adds up to free spins offering a much lower bonus amount on average than deposit offers. But the advantage is that free spins give you a stronger chance to earn profits.

Deposit bonuses offer you an opportunity to earn lots of free cash. And you can withdraw the entire bonus upon meeting playthrough and other terms. Another benefit to deposit bonuses is that they’re usually open to more casino games, including slots, table games, and scratchcards. Free spins, on the other hand, are totally confined to slots.

The problem with deposit deals, though, is that the average player will suffer a net loss while releasing their bonus. These losses only become more significant when higher wagering requirements are involved. Both free spins and deposit bonuses have their positive and negative points. It’s up to you to decide which type of deal interests you more by reviewing all of the available information.

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