We've all heard about the platinum cards with VIP benefits. And most of us know how to play the credit card and airline miles game. But you most likely have a credit card right now in your wallet with perks and benefits available that you are not using. Many cards available with no annual fee to consumers with excellent credit ratings have little known perks for travel, security and protection. Members of some cards gain play on exclusive golf courses or an airport concierge to meet you at the gate. But beyond vacations and tee times, you are also most likely missing out on money saving benefits, such as return protection for items not accepted by a retailer for return or primary rental car insurance at a reduced rate, roadside assistance or extended warranties. The caveat for most of the perks is that you must use their credit card to pay for the vacation, rental car or whatever other purchase is associated with the benefit.

If you don't know about the perks offered through your credit card, you aren't alone. The credit card companies don't typically call you to tell you about the benefits you aren't using or send you a postcard in the mail.

Here are four ways to find out what credit card benefits are available to you:

1. Check your credit card website

While many consumers simply log on to their credit card company's site only to pay their bill, it pays to visit the website for your specific card to see if the perks are listed. Many cards have websites devoted specifically to its benefits, such as MasterCard World and Visa Signature. Since travel offers and experiences are often available for a limited time, be sure to check the site often. Many sites also allow you to sign up for emails alerting you to cardholder opportunities. You'll also be able to sign up for the events or discounts directly on the website, but be sure to read any fine print or restrictions before committing to any perks with a price tag associated.

2. Call customer service

Since many credit card websites are not the easiest to navigate, you may find calling the customer service for your card to be the most straightforward way to get an answer. However, this route works best if you have a specific question, such as "Does my card offer price matching?" or "What are my benefits for rental car insurance?" If you are interested in special promotions, ask the representative to help you find where the specials are listed online or get help finding current promotions meeting your needs, such as a romantic getaway this spring. If you find that that the representative who answers your call is not knowledgeable about the perks, ask for a manager or the specific department specializing in benefits.

3. Read the fine print

While nobody wants to read pages of legalese, sometimes pulling out the paperwork you received with your card can be the quickest route to finding out what is available to you. Often you can find information about where to find the perks listed online and the details about purchase protection, debates and other consumer type benefits. You may also be able to uncover a specific phone number dedicated to your card or the benefits for your card hidden deep in the fine print.

4. Visit online credit card forums

Sometimes other credit card users are actually your best resource. Visit online forums devoted to credit cards, such as MyFico Forum and Credit Card Forum to find out about hidden perks. Most sites have message boards devoted to specific card companies and have many posts related to perks and current promotions. Spend some time reviewing information already posted and if you can't find an answer to your question, post a new question and you will most likely get help from consumers. Remember to verify any information you receive from online forums and not to give out any financial information online.

So before you plan your next trip or buy a new appliance for your home, take a few minutes to see what perks and benefits your credit card company is offering. Instead of a hitting a local restaurant for a special occasion, you may find yourself sipping wine in a Sonoma County vineyard.

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