Consumers doing a better job making payments on time

Consumers doing a better job making payments on time The rate at which consumers fell behind on their outstanding credit card debt and other balances slipped in the fourth quarter of last year, as consumers were once again more conscientious in their efforts to reduce debt.

Delinquency rates on outstanding balances across eight different loan types slipped to 2.49 percent in the final three months of 2011, from 2.59 percent at the end of the third quarter, according to new data from the American Bankers Association. That is the lowest rate for loan balances 30 days or more past due since 2008.

Meanwhile, delinquencies on credit card balances slipped once again as well, to 3.17 percent from the previous quarter's 3.25 percent, the report said. That is the lowest total seen since 2001.

Since the end of the recent recession, consumers have changed their borrowing habits considerably and are now far more likely to seek debt relief and avoid carrying a balance from one month to the next.  However, some experts caution that delinquencies will soon bottom out, meaning they may increase again toward all-time historic averages.