Is your email address costing you £100s/yr? Tips to help you ditch your broadband provider and keep your email address
Users often tell us they'd like to switch their broadband provider but don't as they worry about losing the email address connected to their account. But those who don't switch often overpay by £100s/year, so if the prospect of moving it, or losing it altogether fills you with dread, here's what you can do.
It used to be commonplace for internet service providers to offer its customers a dedicated email address when you signed up to its broadband – and some still do (including BT and Virgin). The idea was appealing, mainly because it was 'free', and for many, this went on to become their primary email address.
But as time went on, more and more services required you to register with your email, leaving you relying on that email address. And it turns out these email addresses weren't really 'free' after all, because not switching to a cheap deal and sticking with a provider just for the email address is costing many £100s/year. So if you're one of the nine million people who are out of contract, see what to do about your email address below, then check if you can pounce on one of the short-lived deals via our Broadband Unbundled comparison tool to slash costs.
Some providers let you keep access to your email after leaving for free – but not all do
Some providers let you take your email with you for free, others charge, while Virgin will delete your account after three months. See the rules with each provider in the table below.
Important: If you're thinking of leaving your provider but you want to keep your email, whether it charges or not, you must tell the firm BEFORE you leave. If you don't, it might delete your account (and also your inbox) once you've left.
|Internet provider||Email addresses||Can be used after you leave?|
|BTemail@example.com, @btopenworld.com, @talk21.com||
Free for web-only, £7.50 for normal service – see more info
@virginmedia.com, @ntlworld.com, @blueyonder.co.uk
@virgin.net (moved to TalkTalk in 2015)
It will delete your account (including your emails) 90 days after leaving it
|TalkTalkfirstname.lastname@example.org, @lineone.net, @tiscali.co.uk||
Free for two years for web-only, or £50/year for normal service – see more info
|Plusnet (including John Lewis)||email@example.com||
Free – if you ask for it
Free if you use it regularly – see more info
|John Lewis Broadbandfirstname.lastname@example.org, @waitrose.com, @greenbee.net||
(Due to be closed late 2022 – see more info)
Five tips to help you change your email address
These tips not only work if you are switching your broadband provider, they're also useful if you have used a work or university email address for various things that you don't want to rely on anymore.
Firstly, make a decision six months ahead that you're going to ditch your email address
With the gift of time, you get the opportunity to get everyone used to your new email address (see how to set one up below), while still having access to the old account so you don't lose any emails from those you'd forgotten to inform. It also gives a bit of peace of mind, so you migrate gradually, rather than in one big bang.
Then set up a NEW email address for FREE
You can set up a free email address which will be completely separate from your internet provider. Without recommending any email service in particular, as they all mostly do the same thing, Gmail, Outlook (and Hotmail) and Yahoo are the biggies and come with plenty of storage space as standard. You can use the links below to set up an account.
Register for Gmail Register for Outlook (and Hotmail) Register for Yahoo
Tell everyone your new email address as soon as possible
Once you have your new, free email address, you will need to tell everyone about it, not just your friends and family. It includes updating all accounts where you might use your email address to log in with or which companies use to send you updates, including your bank, insurance company and utility suppliers (see more examples).
Some companies allow you to change your email within your account settings once you've logged in, but with banks and other data-sensitive accounts, it might even require a phone call to the company to change.
And remember, the beauty of doing this six months ahead is you have that window with two email addresses running side-by-side should you forget to notify anyone of the change.
Set up forwarding and automatic replies
There are usually options within your email account settings to set up auto-forwarding or automatic replies. Setting up auto-forwarding means that any emails sent to your old email while it's still active will be automatically forwarded to your new email address – handy to ensure none slip through the net.
Also, setting up an automatic reply helps let others know you've changed your email address ahead of time. The online equivalent of 'recipient no longer lives here'.
Import your emails and contacts
Once you've set up your new email address, you'll need to think about if you want to move your old emails across to your new email account.
It's simple if you just want a few key emails, as you can forward them from your old account to your new one. If you want every email moved across, this step can get quite technical quite quickly, and there's no guarantee it'll work. But the biggies, including Gmail, have tools built in to help you move your inbox (old emails) across – see Google Support for instructions.
Also, if you need more help, some internet providers (including Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Plusnet and BT) have helpful user forums where other customers and company representatives can help you through the process of importing old emails and transferring contacts.
If you're still not comfortable moving to a new internet provider, at least haggle for a better deal
If you don't want to switch your email address and want to stay with your provider, you can try haggling with it for a better deal. If you're out of contract, it's likely you can save large as broadband firms are among the easiest to haggle with – see our Broadband haggling guide for top tips.