Credit card late payments slipped in May to 4.18 percent from 4.27 percent in April, marking the fourth straight month of fewer consumers making late payments of 60 days or more, according to the latest Fitch Ratings index. So-called early stage delinquencies – those late 30 days or more – slid to 5.53 percent from 5.74 percent in April.

The government’s primary foreclosure rescue program has permanently reduced the mortgage payments of more than 170,000 borrowers through February, the U.S. Treasury reported today. But the percentage of those eligible homeowners who are either in the trial phase or approved for permanent status nudged just one point to 29 percent, compared to 28 percent in January and 25 percent in December.

Precisely when and how penalty APRs – or interest rate hikes for late payments – are applied is changing significantly beginning Feb. 22 with the arrival of credit card reform rules. Much to the benefit of card users who may inadvertently miss the due date by a few days, credit card issuers can now longer slap a higher interest rate on existing balances for an undetermined period of time.

Home equity loan delinquencies set a new high to 4.3 percent in the American Bankers Association’s third-quarter report on consumer loans that are late by 30 days or more. The home equity delinquency rate, up 29 basis points from the previous quarter, is a sign of the persistent housing market troubles and unabated foreclosure crisis.

American Express outshined credit card competitors in November with declines in defaults and late payments – reaching new lows for the year in those two vital categories. AmEx – the top credit card provider based on purchase volume – said defaults slipped to 7.6 percent in November, from 7.8 percent the previous month, the seventh consecutive monthly drop.

The Federal Reserve wants “Black Weekend” shoppers to use their credit cards wisely, so it is placing 45-second ads to drive the message home in movie theaters through Dec. 3. The ads will appear before movie previews at 12 “highly-attended theaters in major metropolitan areas,” the Fed announced.

Credit card delinquencies in the third quarter fell 6 percent, compared to the previous quarter, according to an analysis by TransUnion, one of the three U.S. credit bureaus. The results are somewhat encouraging; however, credit card issuers reported in recent days higher 30-day delinquencies for October.