One of the main concerns long-time broadband customers have when looking to switch providers is whether they can keep their existing email address that’s linked to their broadband account.
In fact, we found in a recent survey that two million UK homes aren't switching their broadband for fear of losing their email address. And this is costing them around £121 a year in missed savings.
When you sign up for a new broadband package, most providers will include a free email address that many users, especially those that have been with their providers for a long time, use as their primary personal or family email account.
But can you keep your provider-linked email address if you switch broadband provider? The short answer is yes, sometimes — but the real question is, should you keep your email address when you switch broadband?
Keeping your email address when you switch broadband providers
Our survey found that nearly half of people with a provider-specific email address have had that same one for more than ten years. And around 40% of them say that they haven't switched their broadband since signing up.
Although it's a legitimate concern when you're considering changing your broadband provider, there are some quick, simple ways to make sure it doesn't become an issue.
Not all providers will allow you to keep your email address once you switch. For example, Virgin Media will delete your email account once you’ve left. However, a number of other providers allow you to retain access to your email address for a monthly fee. And these fees aren’t fixed with the same scrutiny as their broadband or landline fees.
Find out what each of the main broadband providers do with your email address if you switch from them.
Can I keep my email address if I leave BT?
You can still access your BT email address for 60 days after you switch to a new broadband provider. After that, you’ll have to subscribe to BT's Premium Mail service to retain access.
In June 2016, BT increased its monthly service fees for ex-broadband customers from £1.60 a month to £5 a month. Meaning that previous customers who still needed to access their email inbox and contacts saw their monthly costs triple unless they chose to switch back to BT.
Can I keep my email address if I leave Sky?
If you have an email address with Sky you can continue to use it after you switch to a new provider without having to pay a fee. However, Sky will eventually close down inactive accounts, so if you want to keep using it, you need to use it regularly.
Can I keep my email address if I leave Virgin Media?
Virgin Media will give you 90 days to access your email account after you switch providers. After that 90-day period, the account will be closed and all your messages and contacts will be deleted.
Can I keep my email address if I leave TalkTalk?
You can still access your TalkTalk email account for 12 months after you switch, during which you can still send and receive messages but won’t be able to use the ‘My Account’ feature to change passwords and actively manage the account. In this case, it’s best to set up any email forwarding before you cancel, just in case you aren’t able to set up that functionality after.
Also, TalkTalk email accounts that are left inactive for six months will be deleted automatically.
Can I keep my email address if I leave Plusnet?
Like BT, you can still access your Plusnet email account after you switch to a new provider if you’re willing to pay a monthly fee. When switching, you will need to notify Plusnet that you wish to continue using the email address, or it will be deleted along with the rest of your account information.
Move your email account to a free email service
If you were to leave your old provider-linked email account running for three years, you could end up paying £180 to keep accessing your inbox. It would be more cost-effective to spend a few minutes switching to a free email address instead. Here's how to set it up:
Note: Make sure you migrate to a new, free email account BEFORE you switch provider, as setting up a new email account and forwarding all your messages and contacts will require access to your old email account.
Moving your email to Gmail
- Open Gmail and click on the settings menu, indicated by the cog icon in the top right corner.
- Click ‘Accounts and Import’ and then Import mail and contacts’.
- You’ll need to enter your email address here and follow the on-screen instructions.
- Set up a forwarding system in your old account so that new email is automatically forwarded to your new email address, which may seem a bit tricky but would usually be found in your inbox settings.
- For example, with BT Connect, you would navigate to Manage Services > Email Summary > then highlight your email address in the box > click Email Forwarding.
- Enter your new Gmail address and click ‘Save’.
Once your new email is set up, it’s a good idea to export your contacts from your old account and send out an email to your main contacts to let them know you’ll be using a new address from now on.
Finally, in order to keep your information secure, delete all your old emails, especially ones that might have personal information in them. Then set a new, strong password to ensure that the old account stays secure until it’s finally closed down.
Set up an auto-responder
You might also want to set up an auto-responder for your old email address that lets friends and family know that their email has been forwarded to a new address.
This is essentially the same process as setting up an out-of-office message. Be sure to include your new email address and explain that you will be replying from this address so that they know not to mark it as spam.
Update accounts linked to your email address
Depending on how long you’ve had your email address, you may have a lot of additional services linked to this address. Be sure to update as many of your login details as possible while you still have access to your old provider-linked address as you may need to confirm the new details.
Here's a checklist of things you need to do:
- Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus and any other streaming services you use
- Energy and household bill payments
- Online banking
- Online payments (PayPal)
- Social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest)
- Cloud storage (OneDrive)
- Apple or Google accounts
- Online study platforms (e.g. Duolingo)
- Travel websites (Booking.com, Expedia)
If you’re not sure you’ve changed them all, check your browser’s ‘Saved Accounts’ section. Whenever you fill in a form or log into a website, your browser offers you the option to save your login details. Google Chrome’s password manager will have a list of all these websites along with your login details and passwords. Browse through those to see if there are any that require you to log in with your email address.
Even if you do miss any out you should still be able to log in with your old email address, as long as you still remember the password.