Jay McEveley put the home side ahead from close range before David Martin scored his first goal for Derby with a long-range shot to finish off Cardiff, who can now concentrate on more important matches.
With a play-off berth already booked, Cardiff made their intentions clear by making nine changes and Derby should have gone in front after only 39 seconds.
Nicky Hunt swept in a low cross from the right and Kris Commons, back in the side after a two month absence, drove the ball wide from 12 yards.
Derby, with manager Nigel Clough watching from the stands following a one-match touchline ban, made four changes of their own because of injuries and it needed a good save by Saul Deeney to keep out a 25-yard free-kick from Ross McCormack in the 13th minute.
The home side went close in the 33rd minute when Tomasz Cywka hit a skidding shot which was turned away by Peter Enckleman and Cardiff had a good chance a minute before the interval when McCormack went through only to slice the chance wide.
The open nature of the game suggested there would be goals and two arrived for Derby early in the second half.
McEveley bundled in the first from a Commons free kick in the 48th minute and Martin struck with a low 20-yard drive that Enckleman let slip under his body.
Cardiff's hopes of saving the game ended two minutes from the end when McCormack's 25-yard drive was superbly saved by Deeney who tipped it onto the bar.