Neither side could find a breakthrough in a game that was high on chances but low on quality.
Cardiff, who had striker Sammy Ameobi sent off late on, will feel this was two points dropped after hitting the woodwork twice but, for Charlton, this was also a draw that does little to help their escape from the drop zone.
Charlton fans were handing out 2,000 Pinocchio masks and stickers before kick-off in the latest protest at the club's owners.
And their mood would not have been helped if Anthony Pilkington's header had not been deflected over with barely a minute on the clock.
Cardiff threatened again when Ameobi saw an effort go inches wide.
Not that he knew much about it, as Peter Whittingham's free-kick was missed by Charlton goalkeeper Stephen Henderson and hit Ameobi before drifting just past the post.
Charlton were looking increasingly edgy which was no surprise given their plight.
Simon Makienok was winning little change out of Cardiff's defence and the visitors came the closest to a breakthrough after 32 minutes.
Joe Ralls was afforded too much space and the midfielder's 25-yard shot cannoned back off the post.
Charlton managed their first attempt on goal in the 39th minute when a slick move saw Reza Ghoochannejhad shoot straight at Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall.
Johnnie Jackson then wasted a glorious chance as he was left unmarked but could only head Johann Gudmundsson's corner into the ground and over.
Pilkington was unfortunate to see his dipping volley just slip past the post as a poor first half drew to a close.
Cardiff, with play-off aspirations, needed to up the pace.
And they looked to do just that as Pilkington forced Henderson into a smart save at his near post before Ameobi curled inches wide after seizing on a defensive mistake.
The Welsh side were getting closer as Pilkington met Scott Malone's cross but his clever flick rebounded off the crossbar.
It was one-way traffic, although Ghoochannejhad wasted a glorious chance for Charlton when he blazed wildly over on the hour mark.
Cardiff were in the box-seat but their final ball was letting them down. Their biggest hope of drawing first blood again came from distance when Ralls forced Henderson into a smart save.
Charlton made a late bid for victory with Zakarya Bergdich forcing Marshall into a routine save before Makienok almost won it when Bruno Ecuele Manga just cleared off his own line.
Ameobi was shown a second yellow card in stoppage time but it mattered little in a stalemate that little for either side's aspirations.