Goals from Joe Ralls, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Robert Glatzel secured the victory for the Bluebirds despite a Daniel Johnson equalizer.
Cardiff go close with first effort of the game
It was Cardiff who had the games first real chance of note of 10 minutes, when Albert Adomah cut inside from the right before unleashing a strike which went wide of the near post with Preston keeper Declan Rudd not moved in the North End goal.
Preston then managed to deal with a corner before Tom Barkhuizen was through on goal, he got crowded out, the ball fell kindly for Scott Sinclair whose effort was charged down by the Cardiff defenders.
Preston penalty claim waved away
With ten minutes to go before the break, Preston saw a penalty appeal waved away, a corner was sent into the area and Alan Browne was wrestled to the ground, but referee Oliver Langford, waved away the protests.
Preston start second half much better
It took until the 55th minute for the first real chance of the second half to arrive and it fell the way of Preston, Sinclair drove the ball forward before firing a shot towards the bottom corner from 20-yards which sees Alex Smithies dive and tip the ball behind for a corner which came to nothing after Jayden Stockley tried to get a shot on target.
Cardiff get the first goal of the game
Despite Preston having the first real clear cut chance of the second half, it was Cardiff who took the lead, Junior Hoilett saw a free-kick strike the wall, before it finds Dion Sanderson whose cross was met by Ralls at the back post and he guided the ball superbly into the bottom corner of the net.
Preston immediately respond to going behind
It was an immediate response from North End after they fell behind, Browne saw his effort blocked but luckily for Alex Neil's side Johnson was on hand to slot home the rebound, a goal, which was richly deserved especially since Preston had started the second half the stronger of the two sides.
Cardiff re-take the lead via a tidy finish
With eight minutes of normal time remaining Cardiff re-took the lead, Mendez-Laing and Lee Tomlin played a quick one-two which ended with Mendez-Laing supplying a simple but tidy finish to help the Bluebirds back into the lead.
Just seconds later and Preston could have been back on terms, Andrew Hughes, saw his header easily claimed by Smithies, who was under no real pressure from the North End strikers.
Glorious chance wasted by North End was punished by Bluebirds
Preston should have really secured a point but David Nugent, who was played in by Browne and Paul Gallagher, could only curl the effort beyond the post.
There were seven minutes of added time and within the first minute Cardiff made sure that miss by Nugent was punished.
Glatzel picked the ball up and cuts inside before seeing his effort take a deflection and go beyond Rudd to seal the victory for Cardiff City.