To start things off, the term “bonus action” is a bit of a misnomer. You don’t actually have to do anything bonus or extra to get it! Everyone has access to bonus actions whether they know it or not. Coming up, we’ll cover what exactly you can do with a bonus action in D&D 5e.
First, we need to go over what a bonus action is and how it’s different from your other types of actions. Once those differences are clear, we can dive into different bonus actions and how to use them effectively! To review, your types of actions are as follows:
- Action (of course)
- Free Action
- Move Action
- Bonus Action
This may seem like a lot to keep track of, but the only ones you really need to know on your turn are your regular action and your bonus action; the rest come naturally. Once you know what a bonus action is and how to use it, we’ll show you the wide array of different options for bonus actions that come with each class!
What is a Bonus Action?
In theory, bonus actions are actions that require your character’s attention, but not as much as taking a full action. This can be seen in the bonus action that every single character has: two-weapon fighting. If a character is wielding two weapons with the light property (daggers, shortswords, etc), they can use their main action to attack with one of them, adding the relevant modifiers to damage. That character can then take a swing with their off-hand weapon as a bonus action! This attack adds their modifiers to the to-hit roll, but no modifier is added to damage – unless they have the proper fighting style. This represents the quicker bonus action off-hand hit.
Sometimes drinking a potion is ruled as a bonus action to keep the flow of combat quick and feeling good. It’s sad to use your barbarian’s whole turn to drink the magic strawberry Fanta instead of smashing heads in. One of my favorite home rules is if a character uses their normal action to drink a potion, they receive full healing from it, but if they chug it as a bonus action, they have to roll for the healing.
Bonus Action vs Action
An “action” usually represents the main move a character makes on their turn – casting a fireball, healing an ally, or becoming a blur of steel. Bonus actions are saved for quicker actions, such as speedier spells or off-hand attacks.
Bonus Action vs Reaction
Bonus actions must always be taken on your turn, same as movement or regular actions. Reactions, on the other hand, are things you can do on other turns to potentially shift the tide of combat. This could be making an opportunity attack or casting a counterspell as the enemy mage mutters a diabolical incantation.
Bonus Action vs Free Action
Free actions are moves characters can make that are even quicker than bonus actions and don’t prevent them from doing other things. Each player can interact with an object on their person as a free action, so long as it’s quick. This could be unsheathing your sword or pulling a hand crossbow from under your cloak. Other free actions that are always fun in combat are taunting your enemies or shouting advice at your allies. “I’ve eaten deer tougher than you!” or “Hit the baddie in its glowing bits!”
Bonus Action vs Move Action
Move actions are exactly what they sound like – your character moves! Sometimes bonus actions can modify how the movement action is taken, but characters always get an option to take the movement action (even if their speed is 0 and they can’t go anywhere).
How to Get Bonus Actions
There are some bonus actions that are accessible to every character as mentioned above, but some bonus actions are specific to classes, feats, items, and certain spells!
Bonus Actions for Classes
Here we’ll go through the classes and see their options for bonus actions.
For your barb, the main class feature is a bonus action: entering a RAGE! This is usually a one-and-done bonus action during combat, which frees up bonus actions of subsequent turns.
Path of the Battlerager allows you to use your bonus action to make an attack with your spiked armor, and even dash as a bonus action once you hit 10th level.
Path of the Berserker also gives you a bonus action attack, so long as you enter your frenzied rage.
If you make the wrong choice at 3rd level, taking Path of the Totem Warrior, the Eagle allows you to dash as a bonus action (Bear is the correct choice, by the way).
Finally, Path of Wild Magic can potentially give bonus actions if you’re lucky on your Wild Magic roll!
Bards have access to many bonus action spells, but we’ll go over those in another section. Bardic Inspiration is a bonus action to dole out, giving another player a die they can use to bolster their skill checks.
College of Glamour gives a pretty big bonus action option in Mantle of Inspiration – giving temporary hit points and allowing them to use their reaction to move up to their full speed.
A different bonus action is granted by the College of Spirits, from the Tales from Beyond feature. This uses the Bardic Inspiration die to summon spirits that take various effects.
College of Valor allows you to take an attack as a bonus action when your action is used to cast a bard spell.
As full casters, clerics also have a plethora of spells they can cast as bonus actions (some of the best ones, actually)! The first bonus action comes from an optional feature by which clerics can use a bonus action to consume a use of Channel Divinity to regain a spell slot.
Grave Domain allows the spare the dying cantrip to be cast as a bonus action at range.
If you’re a member of the Nature Domain, at 17th level, creatures charmed by your Charm Animals and Plants feature take heed of commands you issue as a bonus action.
Enchantment school spells can become a bonus action to cast if you follow the Order Domain.
Trickery Domain’s Invoke Duplicity illusion can be moved as a bonus action.
You can even fly as a bonus action if you are in dim light or darkness as a Twilight Domain cleric.
Lastly, War Domain clerics can make one attack as a bonus action if they attacked that same turn.
Druids can revert from their Wild Shape form as a bonus action at base. In addition, each subclass gives some extra bonus action “oomph.”
Circle of Dreams uses Balm of the Summer Court as a bonus action to heal a creature. At 10th level, you can also use a bonus action to teleport yourself up to 60 feet with the Hidden Paths feature.
With the Circle of Spores, at 10th level, once your spores are active, you can send your spores up to 30 feet away from you, triggering many subclass features at range.
Instead of transforming using Wild Shape, Circle of Stars druids can take on a starry form, one of which allows for even more bonus action attacks!
Combat Wild Shape on the Circle of the Moon subclass allows for Wild Shape to be used as a bonus action, freeing up that action for an attack in animal form. You can also expend a spell slot while in Wild Shape as a bonus action to heal.
Circle of the Shepherd druids can call forth a Spirit Totem as a bonus action, granting their nearby allies certain buffs.
Circle of Wildfire druids can use their bonus action to command their Wildfire Spirit once it has been summoned.
All fighters have the Second Wind feature, which can let them heal up as a bonus action. Two-weapon fighting is also a popular bonus action among fighters, as they get a fighting style to improve it at 1st level.
Arcane Archers learn to use their bonus action to curve their shots at 7th level, allowing them to use a bonus action to attempt a missed shot once more.
Many of the Battle Master maneuvers allow you to use your bonus action: Commander’s Strike, Feinting Attack, Grappling Strike, Quick Toss, and Rally.
Cavalier fighters can mark creatures, and if that creature hits anything that isn’t the fighter, they are allowed to make a special bonus action attack against them.
Echo Knights can summon and dismiss their echo as bonus actions, and can use many of their echo’s features as bonus actions as well.
Eldritch Knights can summon their bonded weapon as a bonus action, and at 7th level they can make an attack using their bonus action if they cast a cantrip as an action. At 18th level, they can do this if the action was a spell of any level.
At 10th and 15th levels, Gunslingers can attempt to repair a misfired weapon and reload as bonus actions, respectively.
Psi Warriors can regain one Psionic Energy die as a bonus action once per short or long rest. At 7th level, they can gain a flying speed for a turn as a bonus action, and at 15th, they are able to manifest half cover for creatures. They can also cast telekinesis at 18th level, and make attacks as a bonus action during.
Rune Knight’s runes take a bonus action to activate their effects in combat.
Samauri use their bonus action to grant themselves temporary hit points and advantage on attacks for that turn.
Monks can use their bonus action to make an unarmed attack as a bonus action if they took the attack action with a monk weapon or unarmed that turn. Once they gain access to Ki at 2nd level, monks can also make two unarmed strikes, dodge, disengage, or dash as their bonus action!
Way of Shadow monks can teleport from shadow to shadow starting at 6th level.
At 11th level, Way of the Ascendant Dragon monks can use their bonus action to gain either the Frightful Presence or Resistance features of their namesake.
Way of the Astral Self monks get a handful of spiritual bonus actions. They can summon their astral arms as a bonus action to gain reach, and use their wisdom modifiers instead of dexterity. At 6th level, they can create an astral visage that gives them darkvision, social advantages, and effective 60-ft telepathy or a booming voice. At 17th, they can summon all these things as a singular bonus action.
Path of the Kensei monks can use their bonus action and Ki to augment the damage to their unique Kensei weapon.
Monks following the Way of the Sun Soul can use their bonus action to fire off a unique radiant attack at 3rd level, the burning hands spell at 6th level, and turn on or off their aura of light at 17th level.
As an optional rule, paladins can do the same spell slot conversion as clerics can with their Channel Divinity.
Many paladin capstones are a unique bonus action transformation to an ideal paragon of their oath, granting loads of unique bonuses to each Oath.
Paladins taking the Oath of Glory can use their Channel Divinity as a bonus action to either grant themselves advantages to Athletics and Acrobatics checks or distribute temporary hit points to their allies.
Oath of Redemption paladins can use their bonus action to gain a +5 to their charisma checks for the next 10 minutes.
The Channel Divinity option for Oath of the Crown is a bonus action, and it can be used to compel a creature to a duel or heal up allies.
Fjord fjans rejoice, as the Oath of the Open Sea lets you use Channel Divinity as a bonus action and gain the ability to push back enemies on a successful hit.
Taking an Oath of Vengeance allows a paladin to use their bonus action to Channel Divinity to gain advantage on attacks against a creature for 1 minute.
An optional class feature gives all rangers the ability to Hide as a bonus action at 14th level. Given these optional features, at 10th level, they can also become invisible as a bonus action.
Beast Master rangers can use their bonus action at 7th level to command their pet to Dash, Disengage, or Help.
Unlike Beast Masters, Drakewarden rangers need to use their bonus action to command their drake companion to attack.
Horizon Walker rangers have multiple uses for their bonus action. They can use it to mark an enemy, and the next time they deal damage to that enemy, it becomes force damage and gains a little bonus too. At 7th level, they can cast the etherealness spell as a bonus action.
Monster Slayers gain what is essentially an extra hunters mark and they can use a bonus action to focus on one foe and deal an extra 1d6 to them once each turn.
Rangers with the Swarmkeeper subclass can gain a flying speed of 10 feet as a bonus action at 7th level.
Like monks, rogues get a good chunk of bonus action options that are usually actions. Their Cunning Action feature lets them Dash, Disengage, or Hide as a bonus action on their turn (with zero resource cost)!
Arcane Trickster rogues get perks to the mage hand cantrip, and can control it as a bonus action. At 13th level they can even use it to distract enemies and get advantage on them in combat with it!
If you are an Inquisitive rogue your Eye for Detail means you can check for things hidden with a perception check or make an investigation check as a bonus action. You can also glean information about a target in combat as a bonus action, allowing you to get your Sneak Attack damage on them.
As Masters of Tactics, Mastermind rogues can use the Help action as a bonus action instead, and can do so at range.
Things get spooky for the Phantom rogue at 13th level where they can become ethereal and ghostlike as a bonus action, granting them a flying speed and imposing disadvantage on attacks to hit them.
Far along the level progression, 17th level Scouts can make an extra attack as a bonus action that can also benefit from Sneak Attack.
Soul Knife rogues can replenish their psionic die as a bonus action and essentially do two-weapon fighting with their psychic blades. When they reach 9th level, they can also teleport 10 feet as a bonus action.
Swashbucklers can flex their physical prowess by using a bonus action to gain advantage on their next acrobatics or athletics check on that turn.
Lastly, Thieves can use their Cunning Action bonus action to use their thieves’ tools or use an object.
All sorcerers get access to Sorcery Points at 2nd level. As a bonus action, they can crunch down Sorcery Points to gain a spell slot, or vice versa! Higher level spells are worth more points. The Metamagic option “Quickened Spell” allows sorcerers to spend 2 Sorcery Points to make any action spell a bonus action spell (this is VERY good!).
Diving into origins, Aberrant Mind sorcerers can use their bonus action to create a telepathic link with another creature, and can converse with them mentally for the duration. At 14th level, they can spend sorcery points to activate their Revelation in Flesh feature to alter their body in many ways.
The 14th level feature for Clockwork Soul sorcerers allows them to use a bonus action to enter a Trance of Order in which attacks against them cannot be at advantage, and they are not allowed to roll under a 10 on an attack, ability check, or saving throw.
Fourteenth level is where all the good stuff happens, because Divine Soul sorcerers get a bonus action there too! They can use their bonus action to sprout wings and gain a flying speed. At 18th level, they can also use their bonus action to regain half their hit points, given they are under half, once per long rest.
Draconic Bloodline sorcerers also get wings as a bonus action at 14th level, because who doesn’t like flying?
Spooky scary Shadow Magic sorcerers can summon a Hound of Ill Omen as a bonus action at 6th level, stalking a creature they select. More 14th level mobility, as Shadow sorcerers can teleport from shadow to shadow up to 120 feet as a bonus action. They also gain the ability to shift into their Umbral Form at 18th level, using a bonus action and 6 Sorcery Points.
Storm sorcerers get their bonus actions starting from the very beginning. They can use a bonus action immediately before or after casting a non-cantrip spell to fly 10 feet without provoking attacks of opportunity. At 6th level, they can control the weather; if it’s raining, they can stop the rain from falling nearby, and if it’s windy, they can direct the wind.
Wild Magic sorcerers don’t inherently get any bonus actions, but some wild magic options give them bonus actions.
A handful of Eldritch Invocations give warlocks bonus actions to use, which are available starting at 2nd level.
Celestial warlocks can heal their allies as a bonus action using a pool of d6s they get as part of the subclass.
Those that pledge their patronage to the Fathomless can use their bonus action to create a tentacle that can be commanded to attack with further bonus actions.
Warlocks with a Genie patron can exit their lamp (or whatever vessel they choose) as a bonus action. At 6th level, they can fly for 10 minutes with a bonus action. When they can allow others inside their vessel at 10th level, they can also eject them as a bonus action.
Hexblades can use their subclass’ titular curse as a bonus action, granting them combat bonuses against a target.
Undead warlocks get a Form of Dread, which they can assume as a bonus action, becoming quite scary and gaining temporary hit points.
Finally, Undying warlocks can heal themselves and reattach severed limbs as a bonus action.
Wizards only have a few options for bonus actions, and they all depend on which school of magic they choose to learn.
Bladesinging wizards can enter their Bladesong as a bonus action, getting greater armor class, speed, and bonuses on concentration saves.
Wizards learning from the Order of Scribes can create a quill as a bonus action, and erase things written as another bonus action. At 6th level, they also gain the ability to conjure their Awakened Spellbook to become an extension of themselves.
School of Illusion wizards can manifest their illusions into reality as a bonus action, choosing one object from their illusion to substantiate for a minute.
Through infusions and magical tinkering, artificers can create some magical items that take a bonus action to activate or use.
In terms of subclasses, Armorers can use their bonus action to retract or deploy their armor’s helmet. If they have the guardian model, the Defensive Field option lets them gain temporary hit points as a bonus action.
For more boom, Artillerist artificers get to create Eldritch Cannons, controlling them with a bonus action. At 15th level, up to two cannons can be controlled with the same bonus action.
Battle Smiths get a small Steel Defender companion, and can issue commands to them during combat using a bonus action, else they take the Dodge action.
Blood hunters all get to activate their Crimson Rite as a bonus action, gaining an extra die to damage based on their blood hunter level. Many of their Blood Curses also use up a bonus action to apply with a variety of potential effects.
Order of the Lycan hunters can get in touch with their lupine form as a bonus action, dealing more damage and granting a higher armor class.
Witchers – I mean – Order of the Mutant blood hunters chug their mutagens as a bonus action. These give a lot of varied bonuses and drawbacks and can be catered to your particular hunter’s play style. Once they reach 7th level, they can ignore the negative side effect of a single mutagen as a bonus action. At 18th level a bonus action will let them immediately stop one mutagen and start up another.
The warlock-lite subclass, Order of the Profane Soul, gives you a bonus based on which patron you select. Celestial hunters can use their Blood Maledict to heal, and Genie hunters can use their Blood Maledict to gain a flying speed – both as a bonus action. Mystic Frenzy lets 7th level Profane Souls make an attack as a bonus action if they cast a cantrip that turn as their action.
Bonus Action Spells
For ease of viewing, we’ll present the bonus action spells sorted by level:
|Magic Stone, Shillelagh
|Compelled Duel, Divine Favor, Ensnaring Strike, Expeditious Retreat, Hail of Thorns, Healing Word, Hex, Hunter’s Mark, Sanctuary, Searing Smite, Shield of Faith, Thunderous Smite, Wrathful Smite, Zephyr Strike
|Branding Smite, Dragon’s Breath, Flame Blade, Healing Spirit, Kinetic Jaunt, Magic Weapon, Misty Step, Shadow Blade, Spiritual Weapon
|Ashardalon’s Stride, Blinding Smite, Lightning Arrow, Mass Healing Word, Spirit Shroud
|Grasping Vine, Guardian of Nature, Staggering Smite
|Banishing Smite, Far Step, Holy Weapon, Swift Quiver
|Fizban’s Platinum Shield, Tasha’s Otherworldly Guise
|Divine Word, Draconic Transformation
|Blade of Disaster
Bonus Action Feats
Many feats can grant access to bonus action spells, like Misty Step.
The Charger feat lets you use a bonus action to make an attack when you Dash as your action, gaining bonuses if you’ve moved in a straight line.
You can make tasty treats that give temporary hit points with the Chef feat, and your allies can guzzle them down as a bonus action.
Crossbow Expert allows a bonus action attack with a crossbow given the initial attack that turn is made with a one-handed weapon.
Dual Wielder doesn’t grant a bonus action, but lets you use non-light weapons when two-weapon fighting.
Great Weapon Master gives a bonus action attack if you score a critical hit or kill a creature that turn.
Polearm Master lets you bonk people with the other side of your glaive, halberd, quarterstaff, or spear as a bonus action if you attacked with the pointy end this turn.
Shield Master, among other bonuses, also allows you to shove a creature with your shield as a bonus action if you made an attack that turn.
A Tavern Brawler can use their bonus action to try to grapple a target hit by an unarmed strike of improvised weapon of theirs.
Telekinetic grants you the ability to shove a creature within 30 feet of you as a bonus action.
Bonus Action Spells 5e
There are a good number of spells that can be cast as a bonus action in 5e. Keep in mind that if you cast a leveled spell as a bonus action, you can’t cast one as an action, and vice versa. Some good options for spells are: Misty Step, Hex, Hunter’s Mark, or any of the “Smite” spells.
Bonus Action 5e Fighter
One of fighters’ solid bonus actions is Second Wind, which gives them some extra durability in fights. Other than that, they don’t have many bonus actions. You may want to supplement this with the “two-weapon fighting” style, letting your bonus action attacks hit harder. If you prefer sword and board, Shield Master lets you make use of your bonus action to shove things around with your shield.
D&D 5e Bonus Action List
We just made that list! Scroll up a bit, you can even sort by class or feats that give you bonus actions!
Bonus Action 5e Cantrips
There are only two cantrips that can be cast as a bonus action: Magic Stone and Shillelagh. This is because they both set up for attacks to be made, creating magical ammunition for a sling, or making a quarterstaff use wisdom to attack instead.
Dashing lets you move up to your movement speed on top of your usual movement action. Monks and rogues can do this as a bonus action as part of their class, but everyone can dash as an action.
Reactions are to be used during turns other than your own, usually in response to attacks, movement, or spells being cast.
Help Action 5e
The help action helps your allies (duh). Mechanically, it grants advantage to your ally who is trying to perform the task you are helping with. Maybe you’re pointing out a weak point in a dragon’s scales, or reminding the rogue to really listen to the tumblers click in the lock!
Wrapping Things Up
There are a huge number of options for your bonus action in D&D 5e. They offer a nice bit of utility and can even define a character or class. While some characters do use their bonus actions more efficiently than others (rogues, for example, almost always get use out of Cunning Action), there are at least options for everyone. This isn’t necessarily a comprehensive guide to how to craft your character around using the action economy. We want to give you an overview so you know what your options are and can find what works best for you! That’s the best part of D&D: you don’t need to play 100% optimally to have fun, it’s all about what you and your party think is the best!