How Free Bets Work: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide

We all love a freebie, and this is especially true in the world of online sports betting. Read our definitive guide on free bets to get more bang for your buck.

They say that nothing in life comes free, but don't tell online sportsbooks that. For as long as Americans have been able to bet on the Superbowl online, eager sportsbooks have been dangling the promise of "risk-free" bets, offering the chance to win big without risking any of your own hard-earned cash.

Of course, the reality is a little more complicated - isn't it always? But it's still true that any average Joe with an eye on the market can easily gamble for real money without spending a thing. When you search for the best free bets in America right now, you quickly realize that free bets are like opinions: everyone seems to have one.

The trick is to study the small print and filter out the bad bookmakers to find truly worthwhile freebies that will give you more bang for your bankroll (which is definitely something you want). So, are you ready to save some money and bet on your favorite sports for free? If so, check out our comprehensive, one-stop-shop guide to free betting in 2022.

What is a Free Bet?

Okay, let's start from the very beginning. In the purest sense, a free bet is a marketing tool. It's a way for hyper-competitive sportsbooks to get your money, which they value for obvious reasons. Most of the biggest sportsbooks in America figure that it is worth splashing out for some freebies if it means winning over a loyal customer, and they are usually right about this.

When you sign up, you'll get some kind of free bet (we'll break down the different types of free bets in a minute).

This will let you make one or several bets with "money" provided by the sportsbook itself, with the expectation that any winnings from that free bet are yours to keep. Free bets can range from being worth a few bucks to thousands of dollars, so choose wisely.

How Do Free Bets Work?

A free bet is credited to your betting account that you hold with a particular bookmaker. This is why it's impossible to redeem a free bet without holding a valid account with a bookmaking platform.

You might have to enter a betting code to get the free bet or free betting credit added to your account, or it might just be sitting there waiting for you when you finish creating your account.

From here, you can simply spend it on a sports game, just like you would if you were betting with your own cash. But before you get too excited, remember that there'll be conditions and limits on how you can use your free bet.

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What Are the T&Cs for a Free Bet?

No matter which sportsbook you are using or what type of free bet you are gunning for, there'll be terms and conditions attached. That's just the world we live in. However, once you know what the T&Cs are and what they mean, you can be a bit more frugal and find some useful freebies to pad out your bankroll. These are the most common T&Cs applied to free bets:

Minimum Odds Requirements

In all US sportsbooks, there'll be minimum odds requirements for any game you want to spend your free bet on. Unsurprisingly, these will be odds where you already need to bet a lot to win a lot. A standard minimum odds requirement is -200, which means that you need to wager $200 to win $100.

Rollover Requirements

Also known as a wagering requirement, the rollover is the amount of cash that you need to wager before you can withdraw any winnings that you have accrued from a free bet. Let's say it's your lucky day, and your $100 free bet on the Superbowl won you a $1000 payout.

Let's also say that your $100 free bet has a 5x rollover requirement. In order to withdraw your $1000, you would first need to wager $500 of your own cash (100x5), regardless of whether those additional bets win or lose.

Time Limits

If a free bet seems incredibly generous, make sure to check the time requirements. Often, some of the really good freebies must be redeemed and used within a small window, such as within 48 hours of opening your account. You snooze, you lose. So act fast.

Wager Type

Most of the time, you can't just use your free bet on any type of bet you like. Usually, the free bet will only be eligible for use on specific types of bets, such as moneyline bets or parlays. This tends to make things a bit easier for bookmakers.

Payment Solution

All online sportsbooks will have a set range of payment platforms that they allow their bettors to make deposits and withdrawals from. Even within these, only a handful of platforms might be eligible for withdrawing free bet winnings. If you use PayPal, for example, check that your chosen sportsbook actually lets you use PayPal before you claim your free bet.

Type of Customer

Most free bets are dished out to brand new customers and are only available to them. However, the best sportsbooks will also reward loyalty frequently. Customers with a certain number of VIP points, or who have bet a certain amount, will also be offered free bets from time to time.

One Per Customer

This one is pretty unsurprising. When a sportsbook offers a free bet, they offer it to one per customer and often to one per household. When they say this, they mean it. Breaching this rule will get you banned from a platform quicker than you can say "parlay".

Okay, How Do I Get My Free Bet Right Now?

So, you're ready for your free bet. But how do you actually go about redeeming it? Here's how:

Check our Bonus List

In our bonus list, we’ve done all the hard work for you by collecting and ranking the best bonuses available from the biggest sportsbook brands around. Some (but by no means all) require you to enter a bonus code to redeem your free bet, so check out our list to find everything you need to access these offers.

Ask the Experts

Not all free bets are equal. Some are great, while some are worth quite literally less than nothing. Always consult impartial betting experts (like us) to find genuinely valuable free bets from trusted sources. You don't want to get burned.

Read the Small Print (Seriously. Do It.)

All free bets look great at first glance. After all, what could possibly be wrong with something that is free? However, you should take a few minutes to read the small print properly before you claim a bet. This is the most sure-fire way to ensure that you are eligible for the freebies and that it is actually worth your time.

Types of Free Bets to Look For

There's a massive variety of free bets out there for the enterprising gambler, if you know where to look. Typically, a quality sportsbook will offer these free bet options:

Risk-Free Bets

Probably the most common type of free bet in America, risk-free bets offer newbies the chance to win their stake back if they lose their first bet. Of course, this type of bet isn't really "risk-free" since you need to lose your stake to access it, and there’ll usually be some kind of rollover requirement before you can claw back your original wager. Nonetheless, this is a great bonus if you want to soften the blow of your first loss.

No Deposit Bonus

The holy grail of free bets, no deposit bonuses are genuine freebies that you can claim immediately upon signing up, without having to deposit any of your own money with a bookmaker. The only downside to these is that no deposit bonuses tend to be very small compared to others.

Matched Bet Bonus

The other side of the coin. A matched bet is a free bet that you get once you make a bet of your own, with your own money. A typical offer would consist of a $50 free bet once you have deposited and wagered $50 of your own.

Cashback Bonus

Not quite a free bet, but worth a mention. A cashback bonus will give you a percentage of your losses back over a given period of time (usually the previous week or fortnight). These bonuses are usually given out to reward active members. Who says loyalty doesn't pay?

Choose the Best Bonuses in America Today

In order to get your hands on the best free bets today, you need to know which sportsbooks are offering them. For this, we have got you covered. At OddsIndex, we review the best sportsbooks in the US and compile all of the free bets that are truly worth claiming. Check out our reviews to find a free bet of your own (or several).