Two relatively new tools for online fare searches are now available: BookingBuddy.com and CheapFlights.com. Both serve as a portal to booking engines and both can be added to the mix of any fare search on the Web.

At the risk of repeating myself, the secret to getting the best fares on the Web is to check different Web sites for pricing.

When checking for flights from Boston to Madrid leaving on July 1st and returning on July 17th, I found a fare of $797 on Orbitz, $1,041 on Expedia and $1,374 on Travelocity.

The moral of the story is check, check, check.

Travel Web sites all have different algorithms and each company has different deals with different airlines, hotels, cruise lines and rental car companies.

BookingBuddy.com and CheapFlights.com both make it easier to compare prices between different travel sites.

BookingBuddy.com is simplicity exemplified. It is simply a program that allows a traveler to put in their itinerary only one time and then search 24 different airline and travel sites without re-entering the origin and destination information.

For hotels, BookingBuddy.com links searchers to 10 hotel sites. For automobile rentals the site links to 13 rental car Web engines.

BookingBuddy.com makes its money from click-throughs and advertising. It only makes a traveler’s life easier. I can’t find a downside.

CheapFlights.com offers something more – and something less. It presents the airfare range for upcoming flights. However, the prices provided are only general and are not presented based on specific days of travel.

The good part of the CheapFlights.com general search function is that low-cost airlines such as Southwest, Airtran and JetBlue are included in many of the searches. The bad part is that many of the majors seem to end up end up lumped together with Travelocity.

A search for airfares between Boston and Oakland turned up only American Airlines, America West, JetBlue, One Travel, Priceline and Travelocity. It is very general.

In a search of international flights between Boston and Paris, CheapFlights.com presented several consolidators such as 1-800-FLYEUROPE, AirfarePlanet.com, airlineconsolildator.com and UKAir.

While the consolidator information is useful providing alternative options, the booking engines needed to figure out exact pricing on specific days of travel are unwieldy.

At the bottom of the general airfares, CheapFlights.com provides a similar but far more limited service to BookingBuddy.com but only for Orbitz, Hotwire and Qixo.

CheapFlights.com has lots of promise, however, this is a site that is a work in progress.

For additional information and limited same-screen comparisons, CheapFlights.com comes out on top.

For simplification of the fare search operations, BookingBuddy.com is clearly superior.