No deposit bonuses are among the most-popular offers in online gaming. They’re one of the few deals that give you a chance to win something for nothing.
These bonuses are easy to obtain too, because you merely need to register for an account to qualify. As long as your account is approved, you’ll receive the no deposit offer.
You can then take your bonus and play real-money games for free. If successful, you’ll collect winnings that can either be withdrawn or used to generate bigger prizes.
No deposit bonuses sound like the perfect deals for a low roller who’s hoping to build a bankroll. However, these offers are far from perfect.
In fact, no deposit bonuses have some flaws that you want to know about before considering. Keep reading as I uncover the 7 ugly truths behind these deals.
1 – No Deposit Bonuses Are Small
You’ve likely seen the flashy welcome bonuses offered at online casinos that are worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. For example, a gaming site may offer a 100% match bonus worth up to $1,000.
It makes total sense why casinos won’t give you hundreds of dollars in free funds. After all, your account registration details aren’t quite worth a $500 starting bankroll.
Nevertheless, you want to keep in mind that gaming won’t shower you with free cash. They merely dangle these bonuses in hopes that you’ll later make a deposit and play for real money.
2 – You Can Only Cash Out Winnings
One of the biggest misassumptions regarding no deposit bonuses is that they work like a deposit bonus. In the latter case, you can withdraw the given bonus (provided it’s cashable) after meeting terms and conditions.
Here’s an example of how this works:
- You deposit $100 under a 100% match bonus deal.
- You meet T&Cs.
- You’re now able to cash out the full $100.
No deposit bonuses don’t work like this. If you’re given a $25 bonus, you don’t get to withdraw $25 after satisfying T&Cs. You only get to cash out the winnings that are generated through the offer.
Here’s how no deposit bonuses work:
- You receive a $20 no deposit bonus.
- You win $10 by the time you meet T&Cs.
- You’ll only be able to cash out $10 — not $20.
Some players are disappointed to learn that they can only get the winnings. However, you can avoid this disappointment by knowing the deal ahead of time.
3 – The Playthrough Is High
Of all the terms and conditions, playthrough (a.k.a. rollover) is arguably the most important. This term is the basis for how much you’ll need to bet before collecting winnings from your bonus.
Rollover is expressed as a multiple of the bonus amount. Provided you’ve met the other terms, you’ll be able to collect your winnings after satisfying playthrough.
Here’s an example:
- You receive a $10 no deposit bonus.
- Rollover is 60x the bonus.
- 60 x 10 = $600 must be wagered before cashout out winnings
The problem here is that 60x playthrough is incredibly high. Most deposit bonuses, in contrast, only carry around 40x requirements.
Casinos are perfectly within their rights to set the bar high for winning with no deposit bonuses. But the high rollover makes it difficult for you to earn anything from these deals.
4 – Certain Games May Not Count Towards Rollover
The best strategy for satisfying playthrough is to play slots and table games with the highest return to player (RTP). But there’s one problem with this idea: not only games count the same towards rollover.
In the latter case, a slot with 97% RTP may only contribute 20% towards rollover.
Here’s an example of what to expect in this situation:
- You play a slot with 97% RTP.
- Playthrough on no deposit offers is normally 60x.
- But this game only contributes 20% towards rollover.
- 60 / 0.2 = 300x playthrough
The rollover has now been increased fivefold. You’re better off playing a slot with 95% RTP, or even lower, to earn your winnings in this case.
You want to thoroughly examine the restricted/reduced-contribution list before using a no deposit bonus. Your desired games may offer an unfavorable deal due to their reduced contributions.
5 – Your Winnings Will Be Capped
The ultimate online gambling dream would be to turn a no deposit bonus into a massive jackpot. For example, you might get extremely lucky and use a $10 bonus to win a $100,000 slots prize.
Casinos aren’t about to get burned by this dream scenario. They cap your winnings at a certain point with these offers.
You’re normally only able to win between $100 and $300 with these deals. You probably wouldn’t complain about earning hundreds of dollars for free, but this isn’t a life-changing fortune.
Gaming sites aren’t trying to satisfy your dreams with no deposit bonuses. They merely want to recruit you as a potential customer.
6 – You Have to Meet the Casino’s Minimum Withdrawal
Even if you win a few dollars, no deposit offers seem worth the signup effort. However, you won’t necessarily be able to withdraw this small amount.
Every online casino has a minimum cashout amount. They don’t want to waste their time processing withdrawals worth $2 or $3.
Most minimum cash outs range somewhere between $10 and $25. If you don’t earn enough with your no deposit bonuses to meet these amounts, then you can’t withdraw the money.
Here’s how this can be a problem:
- You win $5 after meeting T&Cs.
- The casino requires a $10 minimum withdrawal.
- You must keep playing until reaching this $10 amount to cash out.
Many gaming sites require you to make a deposit before withdrawing no deposit winnings. Therefore, you may be able satisfy the minimum cashout after placing your deposit.
7 – You May Not Be Able to Get the Welcome Bonus
Some casinos have a stipulation that you can only get either a no deposit bonus or welcome bonus — not both. In these situations, you need to decide what’s most important to you.
No deposit bonuses are great from the perspective that they offer a shot to win free money. Odds are, though, that you won’t earn anything significant from them.
Welcome bonuses often give you the chance to win hundreds or thousands of dollars. But they also require an investment and can end up costing you money by the time T&Cs are met.
You aren’t necessarily wrong by forgoing a welcome bonus in order to pursue a no deposit deal. This is especially true if you’re a low roller who just wants to try out a casino before depositing.
However, you want to know ahead of time if you’re giving up a chance at more bonus money just to chase no deposit winnings.
Conclusion – Are No Deposit Bonuses Still Worth Pursuing?
Now that you know the ugly truths of no deposit bonuses, you can decide if they’re truly worth the effort.
The benefit to these deals is obvious: you can win free money, with the only cost being the time it takes to complete account registration.
However, you also have to be prepared to waste plenty of time with these deals before you actually profit. The high playthrough, game restrictions, capped winnings, and minimum cashout are all working against you.
Casinos wouldn’t offer these deals if they lost big to the average player. They know that the chances of you winning anything by the time T&Cs are met are low.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean you should ignore no deposit bonuses. They’re nice offers depending upon what type of player you are.
If you’re somebody who’s just looking for a new casino and don’t care about big bonuses, then no deposit deals are great. They give you a free opportunity to cash in while trying out games.
They key, though, is to be realistic when signing up for no deposit offers. They won’t make you rich, because the winnings are capped anyways.
At best, you’re probably only going to wind up with a few bucks after meeting the lofty rollover. You’ll then need to make a deposit just to withdraw the winnings.
Some gaming sites also force you to choose between a no deposit and welcome bonus. You want to opt for the latter if earning big bonus money is your goal.
In summary, keep the downsides of no deposit bonuses in mind before jumping at these opportunities. Nothing is ever truly free, especially in the online gaming world.