Last Updated on February 8, 2023 by Melissa S.
If you are a regular reader of personal finance blogs, you probably won’t have gotten far without seeing posts about Matched Betting. There is a very good reason for this – because it is one of the fastest ways to legitimately make some extra cash.
However, just like most things in life, it requires a lot of time and effort especially at the beginning, and getting your head around it can be a daunting prospect.
I came from a different starting point from a lot of Matched Betting newbies, because I already had a lot of betting accounts (mainly from cashback offers rather than gambling), so this made getting started even more of a challenge for me. However, I truly believe that with a bit of time and dedication, anyone can get to grips with it – if I can, then you can too!
What exactly is matched betting?
For those who don’t know, matched betting is a completely legal way to make money using the sign up offers that online bookies use to entice new customers. These are often in the form of free bets. So for example, if you open an account and deposit £20, you may be given a £10 free bet. Each offer is different and it is important you follow the terms and conditions correctly to guarantee you receive your free bets, but more on this later.
While matched betting is NOT gambling, it is important to point out that it is not 100% risk free. Although the risks are small compared to gambling, mistakes can be made. I would strongly recommend that if you have a previous problem with gambling then matched betting is not right for you.
Similarly, when you start out, ensure you are only using money for matched betting that you can afford to lose. You can get started with as little as £60.
How do I make money with matched betting?
Many of the offers require you to make a qualifying bet in order to receive your free bet. So for example, you might bet £10 of your deposit money on Man Utd to win – this is called a “back bet” as we are backing them to win. To ensure we don’t lose this £10, we need to also cover the other outcomes of the match – Man Utd to lose or draw.
To do this, we need to “lay” the bet, that is bet against Man Utd – this covers both other outcomes of the match.
You cannot do this on a regular bookmakers site, you need to use what is known as a betting exchange. Betfair is the most well known of these, but there are others such as Matchbook and Smarkets.
This is where it might start to get complicated, but this is why Outplayed is such a valuable tool for matched betting. The calculator within the website will calculate exactly how much you need to lay on your bet to ensure you win your £10 back whatever the outcome. With qualifying bets, you may lose a small percentage of your money – in this case with £10, no more than 30p – £1.50, but we will soon be able to win this back with our free bet.
Using your free bet
Once your free bet has been credited, you would repeat the process of backing and laying a bet using the Outplayed calculator to guide you. But because you are now using a “free” £10, your winnings will be complete profit. Typically you would make between £6-£8 profit on an offer like this, but it all varies.
The greater the odds, the more you will win, but the greater the amount you will need to put on your lay bet. (This is known as your liability). This is why you do need a bit of cash to invest to start you off. Many people recommend £100-£200, but you can start with as little as £60 and gradually build up your winnings.
How much can people typically make?
This really all depends on a number of things – how much time, effort and money you put in, as well as the odds for each bet which will affect your overall profits. There are training videos within Outplayed that will help to explain which bets are worth attempting depending on the difference between the back odds and lay odds. With £1000 in your matched betting pot for laying and backing bets, some people claim to be earning up to £1000 per month.
Now I understand how Matched Betting works, I can see how this could be achievable if you were committed to working hard on it – and why not, it’s free money after all!
Personally, I have earned between £200-£300 per month with a much smaller pot of £100, and only around half the sign up offers as I was already a customer of most of the “big name” bookies.
I’m not in the UK – Can I Do Matched Betting?
There’s good news for New York residents as NY sports betting bonuses are now available within your state. This is a new opportunity for US residents to take advantage of legal betting offers.
What happens when you run out of sign up offers?
The good news is that there are new online bookies popping up all the time. As I previously stated, I already had a lot of accounts but I found there were many new offers and bookies since I joined. There are also reload offers, that bookies offer to existing customers to encourage them to use their account regularly.
There are so many of these, especially during big sporting events such as The Cheltenham Festival or the World Cup, and Outplayed makes it easy to track these as it is updated weekly with reload offers.
Do I need to know about sport or gambling to understand Matched Betting?
Absolutely not. The only time I would ever place a bet is a day at the races, that is a far as my knowledge and understanding goes of either gambling or sports in general!
This sounds a bit too good to be true…
If you are interested in getting started, but understandably wary, you can head over to and get started with 2 free offers that can make you up to £40. Video and written tutorials are provided as well as their calculator and odds matching software which really helped me get my head around it.
After the free trial, there are a couple of different membership options which you can explore here. If you decide it’s for you, it would be pretty straightforward to make back the cost of this membership in a few bets.
Top tips for Matched Betting beginners
- Make sure you check if there are expiry dates on your free bets. Sometimes these can be only a few days after receiving, or you may have to message the live chat to claim – make sure you make a note of each one and set a reminder of when they need to be used.
- Do not deposit into a new bookies account using Paypal or other e-wallets such as Skrill. Often this will invalidate the T&Cs meaning you do not qualify for your free bet. However, it is fine to withdraw using e-wallets (if the site accepts them) and actually a much quicker way of withdrawing your funds.
- If possible, set up a separate bank account for your Matched Betting funds. This helps to keep track of your money and also means you don’t end up with your gas bill money sat in Betfair.
- Use a spreadsheet to keep track of all your matched betting details. Within the same spreadsheet document I use sheet 1 to keep a list of all my usernames and passwords for each site, sign up dates and offer expiry dates, and sheet 2 as a record of each bet placed, profit and loss (losses are only small on each qualifying bet as stated above). You can get a free download of my format here (coming soon!). Make sure you encrypt any files that store your passwords.
- Head over to forums for help and support. There are lots of Matched Betting support groups on Facebook, as well as a built in forum on Outplayed. No question is too stupid, and often you can find the answers just by browsing other people’s posts.
- Do a little bit every day. If you build up your skills gradually, your confidence (and your money) will grow.
About the Author
Melissa is a working parent who left behind a senior management salary for a better work/life balance. Following her own money saving and money making strategies she was able to clear debt and live a life she loves. Blogging, selling digital products on Etsy and selling preloved items on eBay are her favourite side hustles. Read her story here.