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Today, I was looking for cars to rent in the states. Therefore I had to use several search engines of different companies.

A better way would be to use a matrix search engine like the ones used for booking flights. I would like to enter a pickup and drop off date and location and then the search engine should query a lot of different companies and list me the price for each alternative. I would also like to see a possibility to select nearby-pickups. For example big cities have several drop off locations, e.g. the airport, the main station, etc. At the moment I have to check every combination.

That's why my question is if there is something like a matrix car rental search engine as we know it from flights.

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Have you tried: kayak.com/cars ? –  Karlson Jun 28 '12 at 13:09
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There's loads of them. Just google "Car Rental" and you'll see. –  Rincewind42 Jun 28 '12 at 13:26
    
I did that. The first hit is Avis: I can't find a matrix search engine there. The second hit is carrentals.com: i don't see a matrix search there neither. The third hit is budget.com: no matrix search. The fourth hit is Sixt: again no matrix search. The fifth hit is Mobility. No matrix search. I did that for the first few pages, so I think my question is valid. –  RoflcoptrException Jul 3 '12 at 19:56
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This question deserves way more upvotes. –  gerrit Dec 8 '12 at 17:14
    
I have to agree - most of the aggregate sites are TERRIBLE. Skyscanner have tried but their car rental site is way behind their flight search site. –  TrojanName Jun 8 at 17:40
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Most of the major travel websites such as Expedia and Travelocity will allow you to search multiple rental car companies in one search. My personal preference is Orbitz who display the results in a clean table of company v's car size.

Where rental cars differ from airlines (and thus services like "matrix" that you're referring to from ITA Software) is that they work far less on published prices, and far more on discounts, "corporate" codes, and coupons. The rates you're going to get from any of the search engines above are generally not going to be as good as those that you'll get directly from the rental car company using a discount code or a company code for something like AAA (if you're a member), your airlines Frequent Flyer program, or even just a promo code or coupon listed on the rental companies website!

Personally I will normally use Orbitz to get a general feel for which of the rental companies is cheaper for the dates I'm after, and then head to those companies website and see if any coupons/AAA discount/etc will make the rate shown even cheaper.

And remember, most rental car companies do not charge to change/cancel bookings (except for pre-paid rates), and prices do change over time, so re-checking your rates as you get nearer to the booking can save you some real money!

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Here's a list of sites that I know of. None of these are anywhere near as good as the flight search or hotel aggregators. For example, I recently tried to book a car from Dublin, Ireland and I had to search separately for each rental location in Dublin (i.e. Dublin airport, south city centre, north city centre etc) - there were over 15 locations, and I had to manually plod through each one. This is ridiculously inefficient! I'm really amazed that no smart developers have spotted this gap in the market. Also I've only seen one search engine that allows you to filter on extra like Free Additional Driver, Fuel return choices etc etc (www.economycarhire.com).

www.Kayak.com
www.skyscanner.net
holidayautos.co.uk
arguscarhire.com
www.economycarhire.com
expedia.com

Hope this helps

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Also I should add that so many of the sites are very US-centric and less useful in Europe. –  TrojanName Jun 8 at 17:49
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