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Can I keep my email address if I change provider?

illustration of woman with email envelope icon
Getting a free email address when you sign up to a new broadband deal may seem like a good perk, but what happens to that email address when you decide to change providers?

The answer depends on which internet service provider (ISP) you’re currently signed up with. They all handle things differently and there are a few different options available.

One thing’s for sure. Being worried about losing your email address is no reason to avoid switching providers. It could end up setting you back a lot of money to keep that inbox up and running. As well as losing out on new customers deals and incentives, paying for premium email could cost you up to £90 per year. 

In this guide, we’ll check out how the main broadband providers deal with your email after you’ve cancelled.

By the end of this article, you’ll be able to find out whether you’ll be allowed to keep your email if you switch providers, or if you have to pay for the privilege.

We’ll also take some time to explain how you can transfer your emails to a new email address with as little disruption as possible.

Keeping email addresses when you change providers: Key points

  • Each broadband provider deals with email addresses in a different way after a customer leaves.
  • Virgin Media is the only mail provider that deletes your email account once you're no longer a customer.
  • Gmail is the best, free alternative. It also gives you flexibility to switch broadband providers.
  • It's possible to migrate your current email inbox over to Gmail. You can also auto-forward your emails to this.

How do I save my email when changing providers?

All broadband providers tackle this differently. You can use this table as a quick reference, or click on the links to jump to a more detailed explanation:

Provider Can you keep your email when you leave? Cost
BT Yes - Free Basic, or paid premium Free OR £7.50 per month
Sky Broadband (Yahoo Mail) Yes £0 if you log in every 6 months
TalkTalk Yes - paid premium (TalkTalk Mail Plus) £5 per month or £50 per year
Virgin Media No (closed after 90 days) -
Plusnet Yes (with notification) £0

Can I keep my BT email address if I change broadband provider?

Do you have an email ending @btinternet.com, @btopenworld.com or @talk21.com? The good news is, if you decide you want to switch from BT to a different provider, there are a few choices when it comes to keeping your email address.

You can strip your email back to a ‘basic’ email. With this, you won’t be able to create a new email address, but you’ll be able to keep your old one. You’ll still have protection from viruses, spam, and phishing as well as unlimited storage, but you’ll only be able to access your mail through www.bt.com. You won’t be able to use an email client or on your device.

To keep the same features you currently have, you can sign up to BT Premium email. This will set you back a costly £7.50 per month.

An alternative free option, if you have friends or family who are willing, is to link your email to their BT Broadband account.

If you don’t make a choice yourself, you’ll be moved onto the basic email option. Don’t panic too much if you realise shortly after you switch providers you need access to your email.

The Genie

The Genie says...

Once you leave BT, you'll have up to 60 days grace to upgrade to a Premium email account.

Of course, if you no longer have an active BT account, you’ll need to get in touch with BT customer services.

Can I keep my Sky email address if I change providers?

You’ll still be able to access your Sky Yahoo Mail when you leave. To keep your email address active, you’ll need to log in at least every six months. Without doing this, you run the risk of your account being deleted. If this happens, you won’t be able to reactivate it, or access your data.

For more help, you can find contact information on our Sky Broadband customer service and complaints page.

How do I keep my TalkTalk email address?

Be warned. Customers who don’t have an active broadband or fibre account will lose their email unless they sign up to TalkTalk Mail Plus. This premium package will cost you £5 per month, or you can pay upfront with an annual one-off payment of £50. For this, you’ll be able to access up to five mailboxes. 

You can sign up to TalkTalk Mail Plus online. If you’ve decided this is the option for you, this will be much easier to sort whilst you’re still a TalkTalk broadband customer. Take steps to arrange this before you change providers.

Can I keep my email account if I switch from Virgin Media Broadband?

If you have a @virginmedia.com or @ntlworld.com email address, take note. Virgin Media will close your account in 90 days if you leave to change to a new broadband provider. This means all your messages and contacts will be deleted. 

There are no back up or premium options available. For this reason, you may want to take steps to create a new email address and move things over before you cancel Virgin Media broadband.

Can I keep my Plusnet email address when I leave?

This one’s easy, but you’ll need to be on the ball! You should be able to keep your email address without extra cost. However, you’ll have to notify Plusnet you want to do this. If not, it will be deleted once you leave. If you’ve started the process of switching broadband providers, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Plusnet Customer Services.

How to move your email account over when you change broadband providers

We think it’s a good idea to get out of the mindset of using the email address that comes bundled with any broadband provider. As this article shows, it’s far too easy for providers to hold you to ransom if you want to switch in the future.

Instead, set up a new email address from a webmail provider such as Gmail, or an email client like Microsoft Outlook. Going forwards, it won’t matter if you switch your provider, and you’ll have a lot more control. Both are easy to access, have excellent functionality and come with lots of handy features. Gmail also has excellent spam filtering and will flag up suspicious emails.

It’s a good idea to do this as soon as you have a craving to look for a new broadband provider. Once done, you can make the switching process even easy by using our comparison tables to look for a better deal.

The easiest way to do this is by popping your address into our postcode finder.

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Steps to take if your broadband provider is deleting your email: moving over to Gmail

1. Download your contacts lists

First of all, log into the email account you have with your current provider. Dive into the ‘settings’ option and see if there’s a way you can download your contacts list. If you don’t know how to do this, you should be able to get some help with the technical support department from your old provider.

2. Set up email forwarding

In your mail settings, you should find an option to set up email forwarding or ‘auto-forward’. If you can’t find this, it may be that this feature is only available if you’re signed up to a premium email service. Here are some helpful links for the main providers on how to do that:

3. Move your old email messages over to Gmail

Of course, first of all, you’ll have to sign up and create a new account. Once this is done, Gmail makes it easy to import both old and new messages from another email account. This means you can carry out the next step well before you’ve cancelled your existing provider (you’ll just get a doubling up of emails!). There are full instructions on how to do this on the Gmail support page.

4. Import your old contacts

If you were able to download a contacts list file from your old email account, you can import these into Google, without adding them all manually. 

You can do this by logging into Gmail and clicking on ‘Google Contacts’. Click ‘Import’>’Select File’, choose your file and select ‘Import’.

5. How to let your contacts know you have a new email address

Rather than email everyone individually to let them know you have a new address, you can send a group email. To do this, go to ‘Google Contacts’ and select ‘Multiple contacts’ or ‘Selection>Actions>All’. 

6. Set up an auto-reply

Set up an auto-reply on your old address to let people know their email has been forwarded. You can take this opportunity to let people know your new email address, or you can keep that information private. However, everyone who sends you an email (including spam and mailing lists) will receive this reply.

7. Notify services and change important log-ins

You’ll need to work through and update the email address of important services. This is the most laborious part and make take some time. For this reason, it’s good to set this up in good time before you risk having the email from your cancelled provider deleted. Don’t forget to check:

  • Online Banking
  • Streaming services
  • Social media accounts
  • HMRC
  • PayPal
  • Travel websites or train accounts

Start by writing a list, so you can tick them off as you go.

One of the good things about setting up a new email address is that it’s a fantastic way of clearing out all the unwanted junk mail. This makes it worth being thorough and only letting contacts you trust know your new details.

If I switch back to my provider, can I use my old email address?

Of course, the time may come when you decide to switch back. However, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to resurrect your old email address. It’s always worth a shot, though! Get in touch with customer service is this is something you’d like to do. As long as someone else hasn’t taken your old username, you should be fine.

Expert Summary

There’s no getting away from the fact that you risk losing your email address when you switch providers. Sometimes, the only option to keep an email account when you leave a provider is to pay out for a premium mail package. Virgin Media email gives you no option. This will be closed down when you cancel your broadband contract.

Although many providers offer an email address as part of a broadband package, for future reference you might want to consider opting for a free email service such as Gmail or Outlook (formerly known as ‘Hotmail’) instead. This way, it won’t matter which broadband provider you’re with, or if you want to switch in the future. You’ll always have access to your email.

Why pod out for another expense when you can have an excellent, secure email address for free?

If your broadband provider does give you a grace period to access your email after you’ve cancelled your contract, you can work through the steps in this guide at any time. You could even start setting this up long before your current contract ends, or even before you’ve started to compare broadband. This way, you’ll never be held ransom and stuck with a provider, simply because you don’t want to risk losing your email.

Meet the author:

Online Editor

Broadband Genie's Editor, Emma Davenport, has been contributing to the site since 2007. She has 20 years of experience writing articles, guides and tutorials on consumer technology for magazines and online.

Specialist subject: Broadband advice for vulnerable people

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