Americans continue to repay credit card debt

Moody's Investors Service announced the charge off rate for U.S. credit card users dropped for the fifth consecutive month, and that early-stage late payments to lenders hit an all-time low in December.

The charge off rate – which measures the percentage of credit card debt lenders write off as uncollectable – fell to 8.03 percent for the month, down sharply from the 8.58 percent observed in December.

Moody's also reported a strong year-over-year decline, as the charge off rate fell from from the 10.32 percent observed in December of 2009. In addition, Americans made more timely payments to lenders, as the delinquency rate for past credit card debt dropped to 4.17 percent, continuing 14 months of straight declines.

The delinquency rate was the lowest observed by the financial analytics company in more than three yeas, The Wall Street Journal reports. Early-stage late payments – those up to 59 days delinquent to lenders – also saw declines, dropping to 1.05 percent from 1.14 percent the previous month.

Despite the drop in delinquencies and late payments, consumers largely failed to make good on their previous assertions that they would forgo credit card use. Many lenders reported strong gains in December spurred on by strong consumer credit spending.