Car rental battle heats up online, consumers hurting

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Rental car confusion

Travel sites are battling with a few major car rental brands. So where does that leave travelers shopping online? The quick answer is that you may have to do more comparison shopping before you book a car.

On April 1, Alamo and National will remove their rental car listings from Orbitz and CheapTickets.

This is no April Fools' Joke. The companies behind the brands could not agree on a new contract, says Reuters. The move represents a deadlock over the fees that rental car companies must pay to list their bookings with online travel agencies.

For years, National and Alamo have been offered on Orbitz and CheapTickets, but sister company Enterprise has been absent.

Orbitz and CheapTickets will add Dollar and Thrifty as replacements, reports Christopher Elliott.

If you want to book tickets on Alamo, National, or Enterprise, you have to go directly to each brand's site, or shop at other major online travel agencies and search engines.

All of which goes to show that there's no one-stop shopping for rental cars. You need to check multiple sites before you book.

Or you could try one of four alternatives—off-airport rental, Zipcar, Rent-A-Wreck, or a major car dealership—by following Budget Travel's advice in "Wheel Deals."

This car rental spat isn't the only one that Orbitz is dealing with. As Budget Travel has reported, American Airlines flights are not displayed on Orbitz as part of a similar contract dispute. In that case, Expedia has taken sides with Orbitz and has also dropped most American fares from its site.


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