Americans, don't get jealous! ;-)
In Austria, it's quite "usual" to go into minus in your bank account with very little in the way of penalties. Yes, I know that you have to pay interest when you go negative, but these penalties are peanuts when compared to what happens when you overdraw your checking account in the States. Not proudly, but I've been hundreds, if not a couple thousand, in the hole before (thank God for holiday pay). The interest sucks, but like I said, nowhere in comparison to if you did that in the States (on an account without overdraw protection).
Aside: When I was in college, I wound up accidentally bouncing a check for a pack of smokes ($2.05 at the time - I guess I only had about $1.50 in my account). The day after I flew up to Washington St. to spend 2 weeks Xmas with the fam. When I got back, that pack of cigarettes had cost me around $160. They had charged me processing fees (not to mention the store penalties) in addition to about $5 a day for being overdrawn. They sent a letter a day the entire time I was gone, and I got to watch the penalty increase envelope by envelope. That was some expensive tobacco.
Anyway, I've heard recently -- and been unable to corroborate -- that "going in minus" in Austria is also on its way out and that by or in 2008, it will be a system much closer to the US, i.e. all the penalties, etc. I also heard that Austria was one of the few, if not the only country, in the EU that was so "lax" about going into negative territory in your Giro account. I was just wondering if anyone could confirm this or if it is just another shot from the rumor mill?