So you're ready to switch broadband providers. You've compared the best deals, you're going to get a faster service, and save heaps of money. But there's a snag: your old provider also supplies your email address. Can you take it with you?
Free email offers are not quite as common as they used to be, and they're certainly less of a selling point. This means that if you do have an email address from an ISP, you've probably had it for a very long time.
Trouble is, they own that address. If you choose to switch providers there's no guarantee you'll be able to keep using it.
The process to switch broadband provider has been made much easier, and switching will certainly save you money. But the prospect of losing your email address can be a pretty compelling reason to stick with what you've got. So what can you do? Let's take a look.
Can you switch broadband suppliers and keep your email?
There's no simple answer to whether you can keep your email address after you leave a provider. Each company has their own policy, and you might need to contact them before you switch to find out exactly what will happen.
Here's what you can expect from the main providers:
- Sky: Sky's now-discontinued email service was provided by Yahoo, so you can carry on using it as normal. You can even sign in via the Yahoo website.
- BT: You can keep your BT email address if you're willing to pay. You have to sign up to the BT Premium Mail service which will set you back a hefty £7.50 a month. We wouldn't recommend that unless there's some reason why you absolutely need to keep your address.
- Plusnet: By default, your Plusnet email account will be closed when you close your broadband account. However, you can keep it open by requesting your account gets downgraded to a mail-only package, costing £1.06 a month. It's important to note that you must request this when you contact them to close your account - don't wait until afterwards.
- Virgin Media: When you leave Virgin Media you'll continue to have access to your email for 90 days after you close your account. This should give you enough time to set up and switch to a new email address.
- TalkTalk: On TalkTalk you need to pay to keep access to your email address. You do this by signing up to the TalkTalk Mail Plus service, which will cost you £5 a month, or £50 a year.
Bear in mind that even if you can keep your email address now, there's no guarantee you'll be able to keep it forever. Providers can change their policies, or discontinue services, at any time. And if you're no longer a customer of that provider you won't really have grounds to complain.
With this in mind, we'd always recommend against using an email address tied to a specific provider. And if you already use one, it's worth switching.
How to switch email addresses the easy way
The simple solution to all of the above is to switch to a new email address. Most of us have already got Google or Microsoft accounts, which give us free Gmail and Outlook email, respectively. Or if you don't fancy giving all your data to one of these tech giants, you could try a free, privacy-focussed service like Proton Mail instead.
The idea of switching email addresses sounds like a bit of a faff, but with some planning you can make it reasonably painless. The trick is to open and start using your new address at least a month before your old address gets shut down. That way you can get everything sorted and there should be no interruptions to your email access.
Here's a checklist of things you need to do:
- In your old account, set up email forwarding. This automatically sends a copy of all new messages to your new account.
- Log in to all your main online services and change the email address associated with those accounts. Prioritise the important ones first - banking, bills, subscription services like Netflix, social media accounts, and so on. Don't forget to change the main email account on your phone, too.
- Export your contacts from your old account. Send an email to your key contacts to let them know you've got a new address.
- If you used webmail on your old account, manually forward any important mails you need to keep to your new address. Alternatively, if you're switching to Gmail you can use the Import Mail and Contacts features to pull it all across in one go.
- Finally, for security purposes you could delete all the emails in your old account, and set a new, strong password. Although the account may shut down on its scheduled date, there's no guarantee that will happen. It might lie dormant for several months, which could leave it at risk of being compromised.
If you do miss any services that are linked to your old email address, don't worry. You'll still be able to log in to them after the account has closed down, as long as you can remember the password.
Once your new email address is up and running don't forget to sign up for our exclusive newsletter. It'll keep you bang up to date with all the hottest broadband deals and offers in your area.