What to know about online casino bonuses and promotions

While choosing a casino, you’ll quickly discover that the bonuses and promotions also play a major role in your choice. Of course, the licenses, games and security come first, but to find a casino with an exciting bonus is important as well.

A casino bonus provides you with additional cash that can activate for various reasons. Some trigger when you register a new account while others give you more cash on your deposits and there are even special promotions that reward based on your VIP level. There’s no doubt about it, casino bonuses are brilliant for all your needs, but it’s also important to go through the terms and conditions to ensure the offer is fair.

Below, we go through each of the most popular bonuses and what you can expect from the terms and conditions. As with other sections in this guide, we include a FAQ section along with the explanation of the common casino bonus terms and conditions. With this, you can check out any casino offer, and easily size it up to see if it’s worth your while.

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Types of Online Casino Bonuses

No Deposit Bonus

No deposit bonuses are first on our list as these offers are commonly activated first. They aren’t available with all online casinos and those that do include them can either give you free bonus cash or reward you with free spins. Either way, these bonuses are 100% free and allow you to play games at the casino as if you’ve made a deposit.

A no deposit bonus usually activates when you register an account, which almost acts as a reward for your efforts and as a way of welcoming you to the gaming section. Most would activate the bonus to be available in your account as soon as the registration is complete, but some casinos do require a promotional code or that you need to contact the support team. All the information is available in the bonus terns and conditions. Read through these before you register to ensure you do what’s needed to activate it.

A cash welcome bonus used to be the most common as they offer you a small amount of free cash that you can use at the casino (usually NZ$5 to NZ$20). With this cash, you’ll be able to play just about any games they have on offer, but many establishments would limit the no deposit bonus to just pokies, table games or live dealer games.

A free spin no deposit bonus commonly includes 10 to 50 free spins that act as a double bonus as you get to play the spins and use the winnings you collect. With the free spin bonus terms and conditions, the casino would include information about the pokies you can play with the spins. Most casinos only allow one pokie while others give you the choice of multiple games.

The free spins are played as if you’re playing real money casino games, meaning you can activate all the same combinations, bonus features and other special winnings the game might provide. Should you enable features or combinations and receive winnings, these funds are added to your bonus account, meaning you’ll have cash to play other games as well. Sure, the bonus cash might only be available on pokies, but since you get to enjoy both the free spins and then play with the winnings, it's almost as if the bonus means a lot more and provides more opportunities to check out the casino.

For the above reasons and much more, you’ll find free cash no deposit bonuses aren’t as popular anymore. Instead, you’ll have a large selection of free spin no deposit bonus casinos that provide the best of both worlds as you get to play more games and your bonus value can be more than what the casino would’ve offered with a cash offer.

The no deposit bonus terms and conditions commonly include wagering requirements, limit the amount of time you can play the bonus, limit your withdraws for the bonus and could include game limitations for the bonus. All the information is available in the terms and conditions. Remember, since the casino is the only one risking money with these bonuses, higher wagering requirements can be expected.

Read also: No deposit casino bonus nz reviews

Welcome Bonus

Welcome bonuses would come after a no deposit bonus or would be the first bonus if the casino doesn’t offer a no deposit offer. These are the most common types of promotions as 99% of casinos provide them. They are the first offer that gives you free cash with your first deposit and are usually the most impressive. There are some casinos that don’t provide welcome bonuses, but these establishments don’t usually have any promotions whatsoever.

A welcome bonus can come in various shapes and sizes to give you more cash and opportunities for all your favourite games, whether it’s table games, live dealer casino games or pokies. They can give you a big first deposit only bonus, include multiple offers that covers the first 3 to 7 deposits and they can even include additional benefits such as free spins.

Any casino that offers a welcome bonus usually uses it as the focus. Therefore, it would be the first thing you see on the casino site, offering the bonus information is bright colours to grab your attention. A common welcome bonus would include “200% match up to NZ$200” or provide other impressive details with it as well.

A match bonus percentage and value are very important as it tells you how much of your deposit value will be added to your account as a bonus and what the maximum value of the bonus is. Using the example above, the 200% means you’ll receive 2x the amount you deposit as a bonus, meaning a deposit of NZ$20 would result in an account balance of NZ$60. The NZ$200 part indicates the maximum bonus value, which doesn’t limit the amount you can deposit, but rather the amount of bonus money you can receive. If you deposit NZ$100, you’ll max out the bonus as 200% of the deposit is NZ$200, giving you an account total of NZ$300. If you deposit NZ$200, you’ll still receive the full bonus, but you’ll simply have more cash to play with.

Welcome bonuses that include free spins tend to offer a great benefit as it includes a huge amount of spins for your advantage. Of course, it means you can play more games, win a lot more bonus cash and some casinos even include free spins with a higher bet, boosting your benefits even more. Most free spin welcome bonuses form part of a match bonus, meaning you get the free cash and the spins. Some would provide 200 free spins, but give it to you over 10 days, meaning 20 spins a day. On top of that, they’d offer these spins on different games, allowing you try out all the most popular titles and receive a boost in winnings each day.

The welcome bonus terms and conditions tend to be rather long, especially if free spins form part of the offer. Firstly, you’ll find the details about the match bonus itself, which would include wagering requirements of less than 60x (at fair casinos), game limitations, game contributions (explained below), limit as to how long you have to complete the wagering, betting limits and more.

The free spin bonus would limit the games you can play with the free spins and the amount of spins available per day. It would also include details about the free spin winnings and might include a winning limit, which is unlikely with welcome bonus free spins. The reward commonly includes wagering requirements and the other terms and conditions found with the regular welcome bonus that gives you free money.

Read also: Online casino welcome bonuses list for New Zealand (with reviews)

Reload Bonus/Match Bonus

A reload or match bonus is similar in many ways and usually becomes available after you’ve used up the welcome bonus. These are great additions as they offer the same advantages as the welcome bonus but don’t usually include such high wagering requirements. Instead, the casino uses these to keep you interested and give you more cash to play with.

Not all online casinos offer reload and match bonuses, but those that do, would dive these offers into special rewards that come around weekly. For example, on a Tuesday you might be able to make a deposit and receive an additional 50% with special terms and conditions or a Wednesday could give you free cash on your favour casino games such as live dealer games.

While some casino would online include a smaller match bonus such as 25% or 50%, you’ll find some offer much bigger bonuses, including 100% and even 200% bonuses. However, with any reload or match bonus that doesn’t form part of the welcome package, you’ll find the maximum bonus value is always less than the amount you’ll receive from a welcome bonus. These offers would usually include NZ$50 to NZ$100, which is a great boost to enhance your opportunities.

With match and reload bonuses, you’d always need to make a deposit before the bonus would activate. These offers are great for all types of casino players and many online establishments offer these each day of the week. It’s important to remember that these bonuses can come in various shapes and sizes. Some would give you free cash, others might include a free spin bonus that let’s you play games to determine the bonus value. There are also some casinos that offer both these bonuses in one.

The terms and conditions for a match and reload bonus are very similar to that of the welcome offer. You’d need to meet wagering requirements, which are usually a lot lower than that of the welcome bonus as the match value wouldn’t be as high. The game selection would also be limited to pokies, table games, live dealer games or another popular section of the casino. Visit the bonus terms and conditions to find out more details about game contributions, how much you can wager per round and how long the bonus remains valid, so you can complete wagering requirements.

Free Spin Bonus

Free spin casino bonuses have become popular choices for casinos over the last few years. These bonuses are mostly used by NetEnt and Microgaming casinos as the developer actually provides the bonus option to the casinos that feature their games. However, even casinos that don’t include these software developers have adapted to using the bonus style as players get to enhance their gaming experience with a double bonus while still having all the advantages of a standard casino offer.

These free spin bonuses are only available on pokies, but some casinos do reward special tokens that allow players to enjoy table games and live dealer games for free and still have the opportunity to win real money. The table game bonuses are very limited and only available at some casinos while free spin bonuses are widely available and provide great advantages, no matter what type of pokies you’re into.

As mentioned above, casinos that offer free spin bonuses can do so with a no deposit bonus and give you a huge amount of free spins with the welcome package as well. There are also many other ways to get your hands on a special free spin bonus, including weekly offers that reward free spins when you make a deposit, as a special reward based on your VIP level or as a simple nudge from the casino to play some games, especially when you haven’t played for a while.

There are also come casinos that give you enhanced free spins by offering a higher betting value per spin. These won’t be available as a no deposit free spin bonus but they are commonly used to give players an enhanced gaming opportunity when making a deposit. The terns and conditions for higher betting free spins tend to be the same as regular spins, but since you’ll be winning more, you’d need to wager more.

Of course, each of the above free spin offers would include different terms and conditions, but they’ll all include wagering requirements, unless you’re lucky enough to find a casino that gives you free spins with no terms and conditions, which you’ll only find with some match bonus casinos. The no deposit bonus free spins would feature the highest wagering requirements while the VIP free spin rewards would usually offer by the lowest deposit casino. Whatever the free spin amount is, it’s important to remember that the wagering requirements are calculated on the winnings from free spins, meaning you’ll only know the total amount once all the spins have been played.

The other terms and conditions we’ve seen with free spins include the games allowed for the free spins and the games you can play with the winnings you gain from the free spins. There are also time limits on how long you have to play the actual spins and how long you can take to complete the wagering for the winnings you’ve gained. The winnings would include more terms and conditions with some free spin bonuses, such as betting limits, winning limits, game contributions and more. Be sure to read through all the terms and conditions before accepting a bonus as free spins usually include a lot more T’s and C’s that just a regular match bonus.

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Loyalty Program

Casino loyalty programs are brilliant for all players and offered by most online casinos. These are one of the promotions that land-based casinos also offer players who’ve signed up for a membership. The difference is, at an online casino, you’ll receive these rewards from the moment you’ve signed up, even with no deposit bonuses.

A loyalty program provides points, based on the amount of money you deposit and how much you wager on slots. This doesn’t depend on the amount you lose or win but rather how often you play at the casino and how much you bet. Usually, the casino would give you 1 point when for every NZ$10 you spend. Of course, it depends on the casino and the games you play as the point rewards could change drastically. For example, some casinos would only give you 1 point once you wager NZ$100 or even NZ$200 on some table games, meaning it would take a lot longer to accumulate the points.

These points are great for those times that you need just a little bit more cash in your account as you can exchange the points and receive real or bonus number (depending on the casino). Either way, you’ll have more money in your account, which is completely free as you wouldn’t need to make a deposit or do anything else to get the cash.

The exchange rate usually works on 100 points per dollar and the casino would require a minimum number of points before you can exchange the cash. For example, some casinos require a total of at least 1,000 points before you can exchange it for cash, meaning you’ll receive at least NZ$10 once you decide to activate the loyalty points.

The great thing about some casino’s loyalty programs is that you get to “buy” a lot more than just money from the casino with these points. In fact, some online establishments have opened online stores where players can use their points. Not only can you buy cash money with the points, but you can also get free spins or buy your way into a special match bonus. Some casino stores include even more than that as you can save up your points and get your hands on a brand-new mobile device such as an iPhone X or even an iPad. Of course, the stores are rather rare, but it just goes to show that loyalty programs aren’t just there to give you some additional cash when you play enough games.

The terms and conditions for a loyalty program can be rather extensive as some casinos only allow you to earn points while playing certain games. For example, strict casinos only reward comp points while playing pokies while other give you the opportunity to earn points no matter what games you play, you’d simply earn less points with some games. Depending on the type of reward you get when exchanging the points, you’ll find the terms and conditions change drastically. Some casinos allow you to exchange for cash without any terms and conditions while other need you to wager the loyalty cash you receive and would include all the other common bonus terms and limitations.

With or without standard terms and conditions, these loyalty bonuses are well worth having as part of your casino account. Of course, receiving real cash with no strings is an advantage as you can play any games, but even just having the advantage of free bonus cash already helps a lot. You don’t have to accept the bonus on a certain day or even exchange your cash when you have a certain value. Instead, you can save and spend as you’d like. Be sure to check out the loyalty program’s terms and conditions to ensure you completely understand what you’ll receive points for and how it all works.

VIP Program

VIP programs are at the end of our list as they provide the biggest and most long-lasting rewards. All the bonuses we’ve mentioned above are usually enhanced even more by a VIP program, making these highly attractive and well worth joining.

Of course, there are many different types of VIP rewards, especially when you look at different casinos. Some would include multiple reward levels, each offering an even better gaming experience while others simply include a single level and give you some benefits such as an account manager and a few additional promotions. Of course, the VIP programs with multiple levels are the ones worth going for, especially if you desire more and more opportunities as you play your favourite games.

VIP programs begin in one of two ways. The first activates as soon as you register or make a deposit (casino dependent). These types of VIP programs tend to be the ones that include multiple levels and allow each player to gain benefits from the program without having to spend huge amounts of cash within a certain time period. They also include the biggest benefits, especially when you make your way to the higher levels. There are usually seven levels that are marked with valuable materials such as bronze, silver, gold, platinum, diamond and so on, which indicates the reward level you’re on.

The multilevel program usually includes enhancements for all your promotions, offers additional promotions that other players can’t access, increases your loyalty point ratio, provides access to free spin bonuses when new games release, adds the benefit of a private account manager and much more. Of course, the first level would only provide better birthday gifts and provides promotions that have much better wagering requirements. Once you reach the second or third level, you will really begin to see the benefits that these programs are known for. Each casino has their own range of advantages for VIP players but at the end of the day and it all comes down to similar benefits, it simply depends on your preferences.

The alternative beginning of a VIP program is by invitation, which requires you to spend a certain amount at the casino before you’ll even be considered for the program. The casino would contact you with an invite and revived all the benefits your gain from the very beginning. Instead of multiple levels, these programs usually provide a package that includes most of the benefits mentioned above. Of course, to get into the program requires a lot and you’ll need to keep your account above a certain level to ensure you remain a VIP player.

There are also a few casinos that use the VIP program to introduce new and exciting opportunities. Some casinos would take all the VIP players on international cruises and getaways while others simply focus more on casino rewards to give you better gaming features. With special promotions where players can win a trip overseas, a VIP player would usually have an advantage since the terms and conditions aren’t as strict to get to the top of the leader board. However, VIP players won’t have an advantage above others, but can simply use more money to take part in the bonus as they have access to more promotions and better terms and conditions.

One of the best advantages of being a VIP player is that all your promotions, special offers and other casino bonuses come with much better terms and conditions. Each of the promotions we’ve mentioned above would provide longer period to play the bonus, lower wagering requirements, higher winning limits, allow more games and provide the opportunity to win more! Therefore, it is well worth it ring a VIP program if the rewards are right and you’re able to meet the program’s requirements. If you’re just a regular player, be sure to choose a casino that includes you with the program from the very beginning as you can work your way up.

Wagering Requirements

Wagering requirements tend to be the most confusing for new players as these are unheard of at a land-based casino. On top of that, casinos explain the wagering requirements in a way that might not make sense, meaning you’ll always wonder what it means, how it works and what you need to do to complete it. Understanding how it works is very important as all the other terms and conditions revolve around these wagering requirements, meaning none of the other terms and conditions would mean much unless you understand what wagering is. Wagering requirements can also be referred to as playthrough requirements, which is exactly the same thing.

When a casino bonus has wagering requirements, it means you need to play at the casino before the bonus becomes real money and can be used or withdrawn as real cash. Each casino provides different wagering requirements and the amount of the bonus also plays a major role, but once you understand how it works, you’ll be able to workout what the requirements are for any bonus at any casino.

To explain wagering requirements, we’ll use an example that allows us to explain each aspect of the bonus and how it works. We’ll use a 100% match bonus up to NZ$200, which has wagering requirements of 40x. For the example, we’ll assume the player makes a deposit of NZ$20, meaning they receive another NZ$20 as the bonus provides a 100% match.

The casino’s terms and conditions would either state that wagering requirements apply to just the bonus (NZ$20) or to both the bonus and deposit value. If it applies to both, it means NZ$40 needs to be wagered 40 time and if it’s only the bonus, it means NZ$20 needs to be wagered 40 times.

So, now that we have the bonus value and the wagering requirements amounts, we can calculate how much we need to wager. In the example above, the total for the bonus only wagering requirements it would come to NZ$400 (NZ$20 x 20) and for the bonus and deposit it would come to NZ$800 (NZ$40 x 20).

The total indicates the amount of money you need to use at the casino by playing games. For example, if you’re playing pokies with a total bet per spin of NZ$2, it means you need to spin a total of 200 times to reach the NZ$400 requirements and a total of 400 times to reach the NZ$400 requirements.

Of course, this means impossible since you’ll only have an account balance of NZ$40, but keep in mind that the game provides winnings and bonus features, which keeps adding money to your account as you play. It’s important to remember that wagering requirements don’t need you to lose the amount stated, but rather to play the total amount stated.

It’s also possible to use a different betting value to complete the wagering requirements, which would mean you need to play more games or less, depending whether the value in decreases or increased. This is where your maximum bet comes in with the bonus terms and conditions as a casino would commonly limit the amount you can wager in each spin. However, these limits are within reason and allow players to use bets that are much higher what most players would require per spin.

It’s also important to look at the time you have to complete the wagering requirements as no deposit bonuses and free spin offers tend to provide limited time, which could change the way you use the bonus.

Game Contributions

As with wagering requirements, the bonus terms and conditions would include something called game contribution percentages, which tells you what games you can play and how much of the wager is contributed towards the requirements. As with the wagering information, this is yet another important section as it offers more information about how you can complete wagering and turn the bonus cash into real money.

The game contribution information is commonly stated as part of the bonus terms and conditions, but some casinos provide this information in their own terms and conditions. Either way, the information remains the same but would differ slightly from casino to casino. The easiest way to recognize this information is to look for a table that has game types listed along with percentages, such as:

  • Slots, scratch cards – 100% (excluding progressive jackpots and some titles)
  • Table Games – 20%
  • Video Poker – 10%
  • Single Deck Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat – 5%
  • Craps – 0%

The above is simply an example of what you can expect this information to look like. We will also use the info to explain how the contributions work and what this means. It’s important to read through the contribution percentages as casinos commonly exclude some games or reduce the contribution percentage.

So, let’s begin with slots (pokies), which provides 100% contribution for all games, but jackpot slots and other games that would be listed. A 100% contribution percentage means that the total betting amount is deducted from the wagering requirement value. Therefore, if you use the example as listed under wagering requirements and use a bet of NZ$2, it means the total wagering value would decrease by NZ$2 each time you spin the reels. If some slots only contribute 50%, it means the total wagering requirements would only decrease by NZ$1 as only half the bet counts. However, this doesn’t affect the game all your winning opportunities at all as the wagering and contributions have nothing to do with the way you play.

With the example above, you can easily see that other game types at the casino would take a lot longer to reach the wagering requirements of the casino. For example, if you had to reach the same wagering requirements by playing video poker, you would need to play a lot more as only 10% of the betting value per round would be deducted from the total requirements.

The percentage is decreased for some games as they offer a higher payout percentages, meaning the odds of winning are greater for the player as the house edge is lower. Games that contributes 0% are usually excluded while bonus money is active in the account. Therefore, if you would like to play these games, you would need to use your cash balance, which means you cannot play the bonus cash in the game. Many casinos don’t allow certain games at all while wagering requirements are active. If you enter these games, you’ll find your account balance is zero and no rounds can be played. However, once you enter the lobby or an allowed game again, all your balances will appear as normal.

Types of Bonuses FAQ

Q: Can I use more than one bonus at a time?

A: most online casinos only allow players to use one bonus at a time, but there are a few that would allow you to activate multiple offers. However, you would need to consider the fact that these bonuses all have terms and conditions and special wagering requirements that would stack up in your account. Therefore, you would need to reach all the wagering requirements before any withdrawals are available. It is best to play one bonus at a time and complete the wagering requirements before accepting another offer.

Q: What should I do if I can’t find the wagering and contribution information?

A: Most professional online casinos provide all the information you need as part of the bonus page, making it easy and simplistic as it should be. Some casinos and list the information you need as part of their own terms and conditions, meaning you need to go search through many pages to find the information you want. If the information is not clear and provides the details you need, it’s best to leave the bonus and choose a different casino.

Q: Is it worth accepting a massive bonus?

A: There are some casinos that provide humongous bonuses that range up to 1000% of your deposit value. Of course, these are very attractive as they provide huge amounts of free cash that can be used on all your favourite games. However, with such a big bonus you would need to reach much larger wagering requirements. For example, activating a 1000% match bonus with a deposit of just NZ$50, means you’ll receive NZ$500 as your bonus. If the wagering requirements are 40x, you’d need to play games to a total of NZ$20,000 before you can make a withdrawal.