Timothy Osborn posted on the AOPA Flying Club Network Facebook Page: “Question for established clubs: do you qualify your potential members with credit scores and/or criminal background checks?"
His question generated some good responses from clubs that don’t require any checks, clubs that check references but not credit, to clubs that do criminal and credit checks. Here’s a sampling of some of the responses:
Brad Fisher: We require that all applicants provide a copy of their driving record and a copy of their credit report. If they can show us a credit score of at least 700, we do not need the whole report. You can take a look at our application at our website (http://wmflyingclub.org/ ).
Larry Christine Stevens: We are non-profit club with two aircraft and we do credit checks only. It has helped over the years. We seem to get quality members.
Harry Hammond: We use AccuScreen for a packaged criminal, driving and credit performance check. Results in moments for a reasonable fee.
Dan Towey: Yes, our club does a BG check on everyone to rule out people who might owe lots of money.
Dave Glass: Wow good idea. Our club does not currently do this (we do check references), but I think we should.
David G Bitts: We do not require a credit check. We are a flying club, not a department store.
Dan Towey: Snarky comments about department stores aside, a club is very much "extending credit" to its members. I believe our club has had issues in the past with a couple large bills being abandoned because it was cheaper to give up the membership.
Tim Argo: We do not. As an equity club we use the value of a member's share as security against bad debt.
Peter Mellow: We just get a driving record.
Brad Fisher: We find that people with multiple traffic violations and bad credit tend to be irresponsible pilots.
Jeffrey Slutsky: Personally I would want to join a club that does a credit check on their customers. I have been in a partnership where my partner stopped paying his portion of the bills and I eventually had to buy him out (less unpaid bills).
Bob Buchner: We do not ask for credit reports or run criminal background checks or obtain driving records. We also don't let folks run up huge bills beyond their equity or security deposits. Those who do fly a lot usually take advantage of the pre-paid block discounts.
George R Miladinovich: I am in a club of 100 flying members and six planes. We do not do any credit or background checks. We offer $1,000 credit, which must be paid in 30 days after six months in the club. Until then, it is pay as you fly. Any accounts overdue lose their reservation privileges until paid up. Seems to work for us; I have not heard of any issues in that area. Our club is by member referral only. If anybody is interested in our club, see (www.condoraero.com). Always looking for new pilots.
Beaux Graham: No. Since we're an ownership club (3 planes, 28 members), everyone is financially invested in the club. If a member doesn't pay his bill, we can repo his share if necessary. (www.ChandelleFlyingClub.com)
John Olsen: No, we do not require a credit check or make members jump through any hoops besides the standard insurance checkouts. In the 50 years our club has been around, I'm not aware that we've ever had any issues serious enough to make us re-think the procedure. Since we operate out of an airline service airport, the airport does require a background check as part of obtaining your SIDA badge. Our club has about 85 members and 7 airplanes.