Malky Mackay's class of 2013 had goalkeeper David Marshall to thank for a string of fine saves to keep out the in-form Addicks before the final whistle sparked memorable scenes in the Welsh capital 53 years to the day since they last achieved promotion to the top tier.
In Ricardo Fuller, Charlton possess a striker who is certainly no stranger to the top flight and the former Stoke targetman tested Marshall after just two minutes with a low curling shot that the Scot turned around the post.
In the 21st minute Johnnie Jackson's curling left-footed free-kick was superbly tipped onto his near post by Marshall.
Craig Bellamy was next to try his luck, curling a typical right-footed shot over the crossbar in the 28th minute after midfielders Jordon Mutch and Aron Gunnarsson had linked up well.
A minute later Kim Bo-kyung wasted a brilliant opportunity down the Cardiff right which had the full house on their feet.
Cardiff were beginning to find their rhythm with Jordon Mutch heading wide in the 33rd minute after a deep whipped cross from their skipper and Kim then rustled Ben Hamer's side-netting with a free-kick that a section of the ground believed was in.
And it took the Bluebirds just 30 seconds of the second half to carve out a chance, Craig Noone's cross was headed out as far as Andrew Taylor whose fizzing left-foot drive clipped the outside of the post.
Gunnarsson, making his 200th appearance in English football, was next to try his luck with a long-range banana shot before a driven effort from Leon Barnett warmed the gloves of Hamer as the home support upped the ante, aware that top flight football was potentially less than 30 minutes away.
But Mackay's men were once again indebted to Marshall for another top drawer save to stop Fuller spoiling their promotion party just after the hour mark.
The Scotland international was at full stretch to claw the curling goal-bound effort out of his bottom right hand corner and around the post.
In the 69th minute Cardiff looked to have finally made the breakthrough when Noone turned Mutch's curling delivery into the bottom corner but an offside flag cut his celebrations short.
A swift counter attack 10 minutes later saw the ball fall to Bellamy but his low shot was deflected wide and no one could get on the end of the former Liverpool man's inviting corner.
The news that Millwall had taken the lead against Watford was greeted by chants of 'the Blues are going up' as the realisation began to set in that the 51-year wait was over.